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Toyoda Soemu (1885-1957)


Photograph of Toyoda Soemu

Wikipedia Commons

Toyoda Soemu was born in Oita prefecture and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1905 and the Naval Staff College. He became a specialist in gunnery and served as naval attaché in London from 1919 to 1922. He commanded a cruiser and a battleship and held a number of important staff posts, reaching the rank of vice admiral by 1935.

Toyoda had a reputation as a brilliant staff officer who had a habit of driving subordinates to nervous breakdowns. He was also famous for his sarcastic manner. He shared Yamamoto's attitudes towards war with the United States and despised the Army clique that ruled Japan. He made these views public in 1943. However, Toyoda was also an extreme nationalist and xenophobe, which may have influenced his behavior in the final days of the war.

Commander of 2 Naval District at Kure when war broke out, Toyoda became the penultimate commander of Combined Fleet on 3 May 1944, shortly before the Battle of the Philippine Sea, which he hoped could reverse the course of the war. When this battle was lost, it was clear to many Japanese leaders that the war was lost as well.

Shortly after the battle, Navy minister Yonai asked Toyoda whether the fleet could hold out through the end of the year. Toyoda, understanding that this was a veiled request for support in ending the war, replied that it would be extremely difficult to do so. However, Yonai failed to persuade the other Japanese cabinet members. Toyoda therefore resigned himself to the probable destruction of the Japanese fleet in attempting to defend the Philippines, which was essentially the outcome of the Leyte campaign. Toyoda himself was caught on Formosa during Halsey's preparatory air strikes, and the early stages of the campaign were largely directed by his chief of staff, Kusaka. Toyoda believed the reports of huge American warship losses off Formosa were greatly exaggerated, but apparently felt obligated to launch Sho-go anyway.

In May 1945, Toyoda relieved Oikawa as chief of the Navy General Staff and served in this post to the end of the war. To the disappointment of Yonai, Toyoda joined the two most powerful officers in the Army, Army Minister Anami and Chief of Staff Umezu, in their stand against any surrender. This split the Navy and deadlocked the Cabinet, leading to the Emperor's intervention to force the decision to capitulate.

Toyoda was cleared of war crimes charges after the war and had his sword returned to him by U.S. Fleet Admiral Nimitz in 1952.

Service record

1885-5-22   Born in Oita prefecture
1905-11-28     
Midshipman Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 26th in a class of 171.  Assigned to CL Hashidate
1906-8-30   CL Nisshin
1906-12-20 Ensign  
1907-9-28   DD Asatsuyu
1908-7-31   Gunnery School Basic Course
1908-9-25 Lieutenant junior grade
 
1909-1-20   Torpedo School Basic Course
1909-4-30   Torpedo Boat Division 14
1910-12-1   Naval College B-Course
1911-5-22   Gunnery School Advanced Course
1911-12-1 Lieutenant BC Kurama
1913-12-1   Instructor, Gunnery School
1915-12-13   Naval College A-Course
1917-4-1 Lieutenant commander     
 
1917-12-1   Aide-de-campe to Yoshimatsu Motaro
1919-12-1   Resident in United Kingdom
1921-12-1 Commander  
1922-12-1   Executive officer, CL Kuma
1923-4-1   1 Naval District
1923-6-1   Staff, Bureau of Naval Affairs, Navy Ministry
1925-12-1 Captain Instructor, Naval College
1926-7-15   1 Naval District
1926-11-1   Commander, CL Yura
1927-11-15   Commander, Submarine Division 7
1928-12-10   Chief, S1, Bureau of Education, Navy Ministry
1930-12-1   Commander, BB Hyuga
1931-12-1 Rear admiral
Chief, N2, Navy General Staff
1933-9-15   Chief of staff, Combined Fleet
1935-3-15   Director, Bureau of Education, Navy Ministry
1935-11-15 Vice admiral
 
1937-10-20   Commander, 4 Fleet
1938-11-15   Commander, 2 Fleet
1939-10-21   Director, Naval Shipbuilding Command
1941-9-18 Admiral Commander, 2 Naval District
1942-11-10   Supreme War Council
1943-4-21   Commander, 1 Naval District
1944-5-3   Commander, Combined Fleet
1945-5-29   Chief, Navy General Staff
1945-10-15   Navy Department
1945-11-30
Retires
1957-9-22   Dies


References

Craig (1967)

Dupuy et al. (1992)

Fuller (1992)

Kotani (2009)

Materials of IJN (accessed 2008-4-2)

Tillman (2005)



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