Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita, Imperial Japanese Navy

Takeo Kurita (April 28, 1889 - December 19, 1977) was a Vice Admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Rear Admiral Kurita commanded a cruiser division during the East Indies invasion and during the Battle of Midway where he lost the cruiser Mikuma. As a Vice Admiral, Kurita led a battleship division in the Guadalcanal campaign, bombarding Henderson Field on October 14, 1942. He commanded major naval forces during the Central Solomons campaign and the Battle of Philippine Sea in June 1944. As Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Second Fleet during the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea and the Battle off Samar (the Battle of Leyte Gulf) he led the heavy battleships IJN Yamato and IJN Musashi, the battleships IJN Nagato, IJN Kongo, and IJN Haruna and ten cruisers and thirteen destroyers. Using the empty decks of the Japanese carriers as a decoy to lure the powerful American 3rd Fleet away from the landing beaches, he braved air and sub attacks that sank the Musashi and several other ships. He fell upon the outmatched and outgunned "Taffy 3" of the US Navy's 7th Fleet. He did not press his attack on the beachhead in the face of determined American resistance. Kurita thought the effort a waste of ships and lives, especially since he could not get his fleet to Leyte Gulf until after the landings, leaving little more than empty transports for his huge battleships to attack. He bitterly resented his superiors, who, while safe in bunkers in Tokyo, ordered Kurita to fight to the death against hopeless odds and without air cover. In December, in order to protect him against assassination, he was assigned to be president of the Japanese Navy War College at Etajima, Hiroshima Prefecture. Admiral Kurita was criticized by the Japanese militarists for not fighting to the death. It was not until he was in his eighties that Kurita admitted privately to a former Etajima student that he withdrew the fleet from the battle because he did not believe in wasting the lives of his men in a futile effort, having long since believed that the war was lost.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
United States Naval Historical C
Date Photographed: 
Monday, January 1, 1945