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 was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II, and the final commander of the Japanese naval forces defending the Oroku Peninsula during the Battle of Okinawa.


Ōta was a native of Nagara, Chibamarker. He graduated 64th out of 118 cadets from the 41st class of the Imperial Japanese Navy Academy in 1913. Ōta served his midshipman duty on the cruiser Azuma on its long distance training voyage to Honolulumarker, San Pedro, San Franciscomarker, Vancouvermarker, Victoriamarker, Tacomamarker, Seattlemarker, Hakodate and Aomori. After his return to Japan, he was assigned to the battleship Kawachi, and after his commissioning as an ensign, to Fusō. After promotion to lieutenant in 1916, he returned to naval artillery school, but was forced to take a year off active service from November 1917 – September 1918 due to tuberculosis. On his return to active duty, he completed coursework in torpedo school and advanced courses in naval artillery. After brief tours of duty on the Hiei and Fusō, he returned as an instructor at the Naval Engineering College. .
Japanese commanders on Okinawa prior to the Battle of Okinawa

Ōta also had experience with the Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces (SNLF, the Japanese equivalent of the Royal Marines), having been assigned as battalion commander to Japanese SNLF forces in the 1932 First Shanghai Incident. He was promoted to commander in 1934. In 1936, he was named executive officer of Yamashiro, and was finally given his first command, that of the fleet oiler Tsurumi in 1937. He was promoted to captain in December the same year..

In 1938, with the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Ōta was assigned to command the Kure 6th SNLF. In 1941, he was assigned to the command the SNLF under the Japanese China Area Fleet at Wuhanmarker in China. He returned to Japan the following year, and was assigned to command the 2nd Combined Special Naval Langing Force that was earmarked for the seizure of Midway in the event of a Japanese victory over the United States Navy at the Battle of Midwaymarker. Although this never came to pass, he was promoted to rear admiral and commanded the 8th Combined Special Naval Landing Force at New Georgiamarker against the American First Raider Battalion.. He then served in various administrative capacities until January 1945, when he was reassigned to Okinawamarker to command the Japanese Navy's forces as part of the Japanese reinforcement effort prior to the anticipated invasion by Allied forces.

In Okinawa, Ōta commanded a force with a nominal strength of 10,000 men. However, half were civilian laborers conscripted into service with minimal training, and the remainder were gunners from various naval vessels with little experience in fighting on land. Ōta was able to organize and lead them into an effective force, which fought aggressively against the Allied forces, withdrawing slowly back to the fortified Oroku Peninsula. On 11 June 1945, the U.S. 6th Marine Division encircled Ōta’s positions, and Ōta sent a farewell telegram to the IJA 32nd Army Headquarters at 1600 hours, 12 June. On 13 June, Ōta was either killed in combat, or committed seppuku -- ritual suicide. He was posthumously promoted to vice admiral.

The last telegram

Since the enemy attack began, our Army and Navy has been fighting defensive battles and have not been able to tend to the people of the Prefecture. Consequently, due to our negligence, these innocent people have lost their homes and property to enemy assault. Every man has been conscribed to partake in the defense, while women, children and elders are forced into hiding in the small underground shelters which are not tactically important or are exposed to shelling, air raids or the harsh elements of nature. Moreover, girls have devoted themselves to running and cooking for the soldiers and have gone as far as to volunteer in carrying ammunition, or joining in attacking the enemy. .

This leaves the village people vulnerable to enemy attacks where they will surely be killed in desperation. Some parents have asked the military to protect their daughters against rape by the enemy, prepared that they may never see them again. Nurses, with wounded soldiers, wander the battlefield aimlessly because the medical team had moved and left them behind. The military has changed its operation, ordering people to move to far residential areas, however, those without means of transportation trudge along on foot in the dark and rain, all the while looking for food to stay alive. .

Ever since our Army and Navy occupied Okinawa, the inhabitants of the Prefecture have been forced into military service and hard labor, while sacrificing everything they own as well as the lives of their loved ones. They have served with loyalty. Now we are nearing the end of the battle, but they will go unrecognized, unrewarded. Seeing this, I feel deeply depressed and lament a loss of words for them. Every tree, every plant is gone. Even the weeds are burnt. By the end of June, there will be no more food. This is how the Okinawan people have found the war. And for this reason, I ask that you give the Okinawan people special consideration from this day forward. .


External links


  3. Prange, Miracle at Midway, page 63
  4. Alexander. Storm Landings. Page 206
  5. Astor. Operation Iceberg. page 462.
  6. Weist. The Pacific War:Campaigns of World War II. page 223
  7. Feifer, The Battle of Okinawa.
  10. Lacey, Stay Off the Skyline. Page 64

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