Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa was a senior officer in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War Two. Ozawa commanded the Japanese fleet that fought and was defeated at the Battle of the Philippine Sea and he fought at Leyte Gulf.
Ozawa was born in 1896. He joined the Japanese Naval Academy and graduated from it in 1909. He rose through the ranks so that by 1936, as Japan was moving into a more militaristic phase, he held the rank of Rear Admiral. In 1937, Ozawa was appointed Chief-of-Staff of the Combined Fleet and in 1940, he was promoted to Vice Admiral and president of the Japanese Naval Academy.
Japan attacked Pearl Harbour in December 1941, and after this attack Ozawa became responsible for Japan’s naval operations in the South China Sea. In early 1942 (January to March), his fleet was involved in the invasions of Java and Sumatra.
In June 1942, he commanded the fleet that took on Admiral Raymond Spruance’s 5th Fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. In this battle, Ozawa, who had always supported the power of aircraft carriers at sea, lost nearly 400 sea-based planes in the so-called ‘Great Marianas Turkey Shoot’. He was severely handicapped in this battle when returning pilots to his carriers told of how they had sunk four US carriers and destroyed many American planes. Buoyed by such ‘success’, Ozawa was only too keen to take the fight to the Americans. It was only when it was apparent that his force had been severely weakened, that Ozawa retreated to Okinawa where he tended his resignation – which was not accepted.
What was left of Ozawa’s fleet fought at the Battle of Leyte Gulf against the naval force of Admiral William Halsey. However, the damage done to Ozawa’s fleet in June 1944 was too great, especially as Japan had so few resources that she could not fully replace what had been lost – be it planes or carriers. The Japanese Navy continued to create problems for the Americans but they could not stop the steamroller that was the American military in the Pacific.
Jisaburo Ozawa died in 1966.
|“With the possible exception of Yamamoto, Ozawa was the ablest strategic thinker amongst he Japanese admirals, a quality which no doubt accounted for his appointment as a professor in the naval Academy in 1935.Captain Donald Macintyre