The Influence of Alfred Thayer Mahan on the Imperial Japanese Navy

  • 2014

The Influence of Alfred Thayer Mahan on the Imperial Japanese Navy

Author:
James Smith
Abstract:

No navy imbibed Alfred Thayer's key ideas in as pure a form as the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Key leaders of the early modern IJN such as Akiyama Saneyuki and Sato Tetsutaro regarded Mahan as a source of inspiration and guidance. Especially significant was their adoption of Mahan's concept of the "decisive battle" between capital ships to decide command of the seas, which became an article of faith within the IJN. The IJN continued to believe in this doctrine despite the seemingly adverse position into which the arms limitations treaties of the interwar period seemed to lock Japan. Ultimately that doctrine blinded the leaders of the IJN to evolving technologies of naval warfare, and to Japan's own potential weaknesses in a war with America. Therefore, ironically, Mahanian doctrine proved to be a formula for defeat rather than a recipe for victory.