Tanaka file photo [1018]

Raizo Tanaka

Given NameRaizo
Born27 Apr 1892
Died9 Jul 1969


ww2dbaseBorn in 1892, Raizo Tanaka graduated the Japanese Navy Academy at the age of 21 in 1913. As a midshipman, he served on armored cruiser Azuma, armored cruiser Nisshin, and battleship Aki. At the rank of sub-lieutenant, he served aboard armored cruiser Kasagi and battlecruiser Kongo. Between Dec 1916 and Dec 1917, he studied at the basic torpedo and naval artillery schools. He then served aboard destroyer Hatsushimo, destroyer Kusunoki, and then battleship Katori. Between Dec 1919 and Dec 1920, he studied the advanced course at the torpedo school. Between 1921 and Nov 1923, at the rank of lieutenant, he served as the executive officer of submarine tender Karasaki, armored cruiser Iwate, destroyer Shiokaze, light cruiser Yura, and the torpedo school. In Dec 1926, he was assigned to the Kure Naval District. In 1930, at the rank of lieutenant commander, Tanaka took command of destroyer Tachikaze. In 1931, he was promoted to the rank of commander and was made the commanding officer of destroyer Ushio. Between Dec 1932 and Dec 1936, he served with the Yokosuka Naval District. Between Dec 1937 and Dec 1938, he was the commanding officer of light cruiser Jintsu. Between Dec 1938 and Nov 1939, he was the Chief of Staff of the Mako naval port in the Pescadores Islands in the Taiwan Strait. Between Nov 1939 and Nov 1940, he was the commanding officer of Kongo, which had been converted into a battleship since his prior service. In Sep 1941, at the rank of captain, he was made the commanding officer of 2nd Destroyer Squadron, returning to light cruiser Jintsu to break his flag. In Oct 1941, he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral. He led the 2nd Destroyer Squadron in support of the invasion of the Philippine Islands and the Dutch East Indies, engaging in the Battle of the Java Sea during the latter campaign. He led the same squadron during the Battle of Midway, escorting the convoy carrying invasion troops; his unit did not see combat during this battle. In 1942, his ships were engaged in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons; he suffered injuries during this battle as Jintsu was attacked by US Marine Corps aircraft. He then conducted an efficient night time campaign of transport and supply for the Japanese campaign on the island of Guadalcanal using his fast destroyers, which were nicknamed "rat transportation" by the Japanese for the nocturnal nature of the runs and "Tokyo Express" by the Americans. On 30 Nov 1942, while personally leading a night time run, he brilliantly orchestrated the Battle of Tassafaronga, sinking one US cruiser, USS Northampton, and damaging three others despite having been ambushed by the Americans. In the following month, while personally leading another run, his destroyer was torpedoed by a US Navy PT boat and he was injured; he was transferred to Singapore to recuperate. Becoming a scapegoat for the eventual loss of Guadalcanal despite having achieved several impressive victories against Allied warships, he was relegated to shore duties in Burma, where he was to remain until the end of the war. He retired from military service in 1946 at the rank of vice admiral. Tanaka passed away in 1969.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Mar 2015

Raizo Tanaka Interactive Map


Portrait of Raizo Tanaka, 1940sPortrait of Raizo Tanaka, date unknown

Raizo Tanaka Timeline

27 Apr 1892 Raizo Tanaka was born in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan.
1 Dec 1937 Raizo Tanaka was named the commanding officer of light cruiser Jintsu.
15 Dec 1938 Raizo Tanaka stepped down as the commanding officer of light cruiser Jintsu and was named the Chief of Staff of the Mako naval port at Pescadores islands, Taiwan.
15 Nov 1939 Raizo Tanaka stepped down as the Chief of Staff of the Mako naval port at Pescadores islands, Taiwan.
26 Sep 1941 Raizo Tanaka was named the commanding officer of 2nd Destroyer Squadron; he broke his flag aboard light cruiser Jintsu.
15 Oct 1941 Raizo Tanaka was promoted to the rank of rear admiral.
21 May 1942 Raizo Tanaka led the 2nd Destroyer Squadron, consisted of light cruiser Jintsu and 10 destroyers, out of Kure, Japan to escort the invasion fleet of the Midway operation.
25 Aug 1942 Raizo Tanaka was wounded during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons while aboard light cruiser Jintsu.
30 Nov 1942 Near Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, a formation of US cruisers sailing from Espiritu Santo ambushed a nighttime fast destroyer convoy led personally by Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka south of Savo Island in the Solomons. Tanaka's quick thinking led to a Japanese victory in the Battle of Tassafaronga. Cruisers USS Northampton, USS Pensacola, USS Minneapolis, and USS New Orleans (New Orleans-class) were badly damaged by torpedoes. Cruiser USS Northampton was sunk by Type 93 torpedoes launched by Japanese destroyer Oyashio. Light cruiser USS Honolulu reported gunfire hits (along with other ships) on Japanese destroyer Takanami which broke apart and sank.
12 Dec 1942 Raizo Tanaka personally led a night time fast destroyer supply run and suffered injuries when his destroyer was torpedoed by a US Navy PT boat.
29 Dec 1942 Raizo Tanaka was transferred to Singapore to recuperate from combat wounds suffered on 12 Dec 1942.
15 Oct 1944 Raizo Tanaka was promoted to the rank of vice admiral.
26 Jun 1946 Raizo Tanaka retired from military service.
9 Jul 1969 Raizo Tanaka passed away in Japan.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Jeffrey McMeans says:
11 Jul 2009 11:26:49 PM

One of the great unknown people here. He was certainly the spunkiest man with a brain. Some of his plans seemed a little whacky, like floating supplies ashore after being dumped into the ocean offshore Guadalcanal, but able to turn on the offense and make great getaways!
2. Sean B says:
14 Sep 2009 09:41:31 AM

He pops up again and again in every history recounting the battles in the South Pacific in WW2 and is highly regarded in all of them.

It's a shame he was relegated to shore duty as punishment for the Guadalcanal debacle...but fortunate for the Allies.

So little else seems to be known of him. I wish there was a definitive history of his exploits or that he left a memoir.
3. rascal says:
11 Jan 2010 06:55:05 AM

He was a superb commander of torpedo squadron in WWII. JIN assaigned high rank officers according to their age and score
in the naval academy not to the talent. This didn't work,of course.
4. Anonymous says:
14 Jun 2010 10:16:52 AM

Japanese Destroyer Captain book is a good resource.
5. Bob McKown says:
14 Apr 2012 04:08:52 PM

Tanaka had also fallen into disfavor with the Imperial Japanese Navy High Command and on 29 December 1942 was transferred to Singapore.

Even the American Navy remarked on his tactics and were glad he was taken from command.

Tanaka retired from the navy on June 26 1946 and died on July 9 1969.

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More on Raizo Tanaka
Event(s) Participated:
» Dutch East Indies Campaign, Java
» Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Islands
» Guadalcanal Campaign
» Solomon Islands Campaign

Ship(s) Served:
» Iwate
» Jintsu
» Kongo
» Yura

Raizo Tanaka Photo Gallery
Portrait of Raizo Tanaka, 1940s
See all 2 photographs of Raizo Tanaka

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"Since peace is now beyond hope, we can but fight to the end."

Chiang Kaishek, 31 Jul 1937

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