Shimada Shigetaro (1883-1976)

Photograph of Shimada Shigetaro

U.S. Navy. Via Wikipedia Commons.

Shimada Shigetaro graduated from Eta Jima in 1904 and was a Class A student at the Naval War College, graduating in December 1913. He served as naval attaché in Italy during the First World War. Between the wars he commanded battleship Hiei and held important staff positions, rising to the rank of full admiral.

Shimada was the Navy minister under Tojo's war cabinet, organized on 18 October 1941. He had recently returned from command of China Area Fleet, was out of touch with Tokyo politics, and offered little opposition to Nagano's calls to go to war before the Japanese Navy ran out of fuel. However, he expressed skepticism of a staff report claiming that Japan's shipbuilding capacity would be 400,000 tons the first year and 600,000 tons the second (Hoyt 1993):

Young people are too optimistic. There is the problem of repairing warships, too, so ship construction probably will be 200,000 to 300,000 tons, about half.

After the embarrassment of the Allied raids on Truk in mid-1944, Shimada relieved Nagano as chief of the Naval Staff while continuing to serve as Navy minister. He was forced out as Navy minister after the Marianas debacle, and was soon relieved as chief of the Naval Staff as well. He chose to retire on 20 January 1945.

Shimada was charged by the Allies with 55 separate war crimes, but was convicted only of crimes against the peace. For this, he was sentenced to life in prison by the Tokyo tribunal, but he was released on account of ill health in 1955. He lived another twenty-one years.

Shimada was very tall and devoutly religious. He drank little, smoked not at all, and was known to be devoted to his mother. Cautious by nature, he tried to please everyone and therefore stood up to no one, earning him the sobriquet within the Navy of Yurufun or "Droopy Drawers." After a newspaper published a photograph showing Shimada standing behind Tojo, the public began quietly speaking of him as Tojo's "tea servant." He was so deferential to Tojo's wishes that Admiral Okada, one of the Genro or elder statesman advising the Emperor, told Shimada that he had lost the respect of the Navy and should resign.

Service record

1883-9-24   born
Midshipman Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 27th in a class of 192. Assigned to AS Karasaki Maru
1905-1-3   CL Izumi
1905-8-31 Ensign  
1906-7-6   Torpedo Boat Division 7
1907-8-5   Gunnery School Basic Course
1907-9-28 Lieutenant junior grade
1907-12-16   Torpedo School Basic Course
1908-4-20   Training Torpedo Boat Divison
1908-10-23   CL Niitaka
1908-12-23   CL Otowa
1909-10-11 Lieutenant
1909-11-16   Yokosuka Sailor Corps
1910-5-23   Naval College B-Course
1910-12-1   Gunnery School Advanced Course
1911-5-23   BC Tsukuba
1912-4-15   BB Settsu
1913-12-1   Naval College A-Course
1915-12-13 Lieutenant commander     
BB Shikishima
1916-2-10   Resident officer, Italy
1916-8-1   Assist Attache, Italy
1919-8-5   Staff, Training Fleet
1920-6-3   Navy General Staff
1920-12-1 Commander  
1922-11-20   Executive officer, BB Hyuga
1923-12-1   Instructor, Naval College
1924-12-1 Captain  
1926-12-1   Commander, Submarine Division 7
1927-11-15   Navy General Staff
1928-8-20   Commander, CL Tama
1928-12-10   Commander, BB Hiei
1929-11-30 Rear admiral
Chief of staff, 2 Fleet
1930-12-1   Chief of staff, Combined Fleet
1931-12-1   Schoomaster, Submarine School
1932-2-2   Chief of staff, 3 Fleet
1932-6-28   Chief, N3, Navy General Staff
1934-11-15 Vice admiral
1935-12-2   Vice chief, Navy General Staff
1937-12-1   Commander, 2 Fleet
1938-11-15   Commander, 2 Naval District
1940-5-1   Commander, China Area Fleet
1940-11-15 Admiral  
1941-9-1   Commander, 1 Naval District
1941-10-18   Navy Minister
1944-7-17   Chief, Navy General Staff
1944-8-2   Supreme War Council
1948-11-12   Sentenced to life in prison for war crimes

Paroled for ill health
1976-6-7   Dies


Fuller (1992)

Hoyt (1993)

Materials of IJN (accessed 2008-3-13)

Prados (1995)

Prange (1981)

Russell (1958)

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