Tamon Yamaguchi

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Tamon Yamaguchi (1892-1942) was a rear admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy, an aviation specialist and diplomat, considered exceptionally able but choosing to sacrifice himself at the Battle of Midway.

A 1912 graduate of the Japanese Naval Academy. He studied American History, between 1921 and 1923, at Princeton University, then returned to Japan and graduated from the Staff College in 1924.

He was a member of the Japanese delgation to the 1930 London Naval Conference, and then was Japan's last naval attaché to the United States (1834-1937). Ellis Zacharias suggested he ran espionage networks during his tenure.

Returning to sea duty, he was Chief of Staff of the 5th Fleet from 1938 to 1940. In 1940, he was promoted and given command of the 2nd Carrier Division of IJN Hiryū and IJN Soryu, and led them in the Battle of Pearl Harbor.

Yamaguchi, considered one of Japan's best carrier admirals, along with Jisaburo Ozawa, was more steeped in the bushido code. He chose to go down with Hiryū, depriving Japan of a significant talent. Ozawa, in contrast, survived a series of sinkings but continued to provide expert command. A number of writers have speculated that Yamaguchi might have replaced Isoroku Yamamoto, after his death, as Commander-in-Chief, Combined Fleet, but it must be questioned if the Imperial Japanese Navy's emphasis on seniority would have permitted this.

Another factor at Midway is that he urged his commander, Adm. Chuichi Nagumo, to attack the U.S. forces in terms that, in the IJN, might have been considered insubordinate.