Ito Seiichi (1890-1945)

Photograph of Ito Seiichi
Wikipedia Commons

Ito Seiichi was born in Fukuoka prefecture and graduated from the Japanese Naval Academy in 1911. He graduated from the Naval Staff College in 1923 and held several cruiser commands. During the 1920s he attended Yale University in the United States, and served as assistant naval attaché under Yamamoto. During this tour of duty, he became well acquainted with Ray Spruance, who was then serving as assistant chief of naval intelligence.

At the outbreak of war, he was a vice admiral and vice chief of staff of the Navy General Staff, and quite accurately estimated during pre-war planning that the Japanese offensive in Southeast Asia would take six to eight months to be completed. He initially opposed the Midway operation, but reversed himself when Yamamoto put his prestige behind the operation.

Ito continued to fill staff assignments until November 1944, when he relieved Kurita as commander of 2 Fleet. Under prodding from the Emperor, and in spite of his own opposition to suicide tactics, Ito sailed with the Yamato on its suicide mission to Okinawa in May of 1945. He chose to go down with the ship, locking himself in his cabin when it became clear the ship was doomed, after giving a final order to the surviving escorts to rescue survivors and return to Japan.

Ito has been described as a superb naval officer, a moderate who was approachable in demeanor. Fukudome told Prange (1981) that Ito was "a steady man, a thorough worker and deep thinker. He was considered an excellent officer with a good future. He lacked only one thing — aggressiveness and a fighting spirit."

Service record

1890-7-26   Born in Fukuoka prefecture
1911-7-18 Midshipman Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 15th in a class of 148. Assigned to CL Aso
1912-3-29   BB Aki
1912-12-1 Ensign CL Yahagi
1913-12-1   Torpedo School Basic Course
1914-5-27   Gunnery School Basic Course
1914-12-1 Lieutenant junior grade
CL Soya
1915-8-23   BC Ikoma
1916-4-1   DD Kikuzuki
1917-7-2   3 Naval District
1917-12-1 Lieutenant Naval College B-Course
1918-4-15   Torpedo School Advanced Course
1918-12-1   DD Nara
1920-3-15   DD Umikaze
1920-5-6   CL Iwate
1921-4-20   DD Shiokaze
1921-12-1   Naval College A-Course
1923-10-15   Staff, Cruiser Division 5
1923-12-1 Lieutenant commander     
1924-12-1   Kasumigaura Air Group
1925-3-2   Navy General Staff
1927-5-1   Resident in United States
1927-12-1 Commander  
1929-7-10   Instructor, Naval Academy
1931-12-1 Captain AO Tsurumi
1932-3-8   Resident in China
1932-9-15   Resident in Manchuria
1933-4-1   Member, Manchuria Expeditionary Force
  CL Kiso
1934-4-1   Chief, S1, Bureau of Personnel, Navy Ministry
1935-11-15   Commander, CA Mogami
1936-4-15   Commander, CA Atago
1936-12-1   Commander, BB Haruna
1937-11-15   Chief of staff, 2 Fleet
1937-12-1 Rear admiral
1938-12-15   Director, Bureau of Personnel, Navy Ministry
1940-11-28   Commander, Cruiser Division 8
1941-4-10   Chief of staff, Combined Fleet
1941-9-1   Vice chief, Navy General Staff
1941-10-15 Vice admiral
1944-12-23   Commander, 2 Fleet
1945-4-7 Admiral Killed in action


Dupuy (1992)

Feifer (1992)

Fuller (1992)

Gandt (2010)

Leckie (1962)

Materials of IJN (accessed 2008-4-1)

Prange (1981)

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