Anglo – Japanese Naval Cooperation 1914 – 1918

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Anglo – Japanese Naval Cooperation 1914 – 1918

Admiral Sato Kozo (seated, center) Commanded a Flotilla of
14 Destroyers Based in Malta

by Timothy D. Saxon

The captain of the attacking submarine achieved complete surprise with his bold midday maneuver near Crete. Stealing to within two hundred meters of an unwary convoy escort, he fired at point-blank range. His torpedo ran true, striking the destroyer between its forward stacks and severing the vessel’s bow. Its unlucky crew, packed into the crowded mess for the noonday meal, suffered horrific losses. The explosion and consequent inferno claimed sixty-seven members of the ship’s company and its commander. Despite heavy damage, however, the battered warship survived and later reached port in Piraeus, Greece.1

At first glance, the 11 June 1917 attack by the U-27 on an allied destroyer operating off the Greek coast appears unremarkable among the countless similar engagements of the First World War at sea. Nonetheless, the identities of these two combatants still startle observers more than eighty years later. First, it was an Austro-Hungarian submarine that torpedoed the allied destroyer; theAustro-Hungarian Navy challenged allied naval supremacy in the Mediterranean Sea throughout the First World War. The identity of the destroyer is even more astonishing—the U-27’s victim was the Sakaki, a warship of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Japan rendered vital, worldwide naval support to Great Britain during the First World War, culminating in the service of Japan’s first and only Mediterranean squadron. This long-forgotten Japanese flotilla fought alongside allied warships throughout the most critical period of the struggle against German and Austro-Hungarian U-boats in 1917 and 1918.

Japanese cooperation is all the more surprising given that both British and American historians have characterized Japan’s role in the First World War as that of a “jackal state,” one that took a lion’s share of the kill after only minimally assisting the cause.2 The record tells a different story. Japan in fact stretched its naval resources to the limit during the First World War. Japanese naval assistance in the Mediterranean Sea in 1917 boosted the strength of allied naval escorts during the darkest days of the war. Beyond the Mediterranean, an argument can be made that without Japanese assistance Great Britain would have lost control of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. That would have isolated the British Empire’s two dominions in the Far East, Australia and New Zealand, from the campaigns in Europe and the Middle East. Other British colonies, from Aden and India to Singapore and Hong Kong, would have been exposed. Despite this help, Japan, at best a mistrusted and suspect ally of Great Britain in 1914, emerged from the conflict feared and despised by its “friends.”

A more balanced view of Japan’s role does not overlook the gains garnered by Japan for its exertions. It argues, though, that Japanese gains were commensurate with its efforts and in keeping with the diplomatic understandings that had existed at the beginning of the war. Japan did not participate in the First World War for altruistic reasons—but then neither did Great Britain, France, Italy, or Russia. The concessions Japan received in China and the broadening of its Pacific empire were no more than comparable to the gains made by Great Britain, France, Italy, and Britain’s Pacific dominions. Japan participated in the war as an ally of Great Britain while simultaneously pursuing an expansionist policy designed to maximize its territorial gains in China and the Pacific islands. In the event, Japan’s acquisitions were unquestionably in line with the sacrifices it made and the assistance it rendered to its allies during the conflict.

At the end of the war, Japanese wartime diplomacy did not take on the Wilsonian, idealistic modes that Western leaders by then espoused.3 The Japanese discovered that the new idealism did not apply when it came to affirming (in the Treaty of Versailles) racial equality or equal opportunities for expansion. The British and Americans resisted Japanese expansion before, during, and after the First World War, out of fear of competition in the Pacific and racial hatred of the proud, at times arrogant, Japanese.

How did the Imperial Japanese Navy cooperate with the Royal Navy during the First World War? Although the Anglo-Japanese alliance of 1902 did not require it, Japan declared it would support Britain in the war against Germany and sent an ultimatum to Berlin demanding withdrawal of German warships from Japanese and Chinese waters. Japan helped establish control of the Pacific and Indian Oceans early in the war by seizing the German fortress and naval base of Tsingtao and Germany’s colonies in the Pacific (the Carolines, Marshalls, and most of the Mariana islands); Japanese naval forces also aided Great Britain in driving German warships from the Pacific. At the outbreak of the war, Vice Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee commanded six cruisers of the German Far Eastern Squadron at Ponape in the Carolines; the Japanese declaration of war compelled him to lead most of his force east to South America and the battles of Coronel and the Falklands. The Japanese navy maintained allied control of Far Eastern and Indian waters throughout the war, assuming responsibility for patrolling them when demands on British naval forces exceeded resources, and in 1917 freeing American naval forces for service in Europe. Japanese forces provided escorts for convoying troops and war materials to the European theater of operations from the British dominions in the Far East. Japan built warships for allied nations and sold merchant shipping to the allies during the war when their shipyards, already working at maximum effort, could not meet such needs. Finally, Japan rendered direct naval assistance in the Mediterranean Sea in 1917 and 1918 when the allied navies faced the prospect of abandoning that sea in the face of the Central Powers’ increasingly successful submarine operations.

The Origins of British Naval Dependence on Japan

The Anglo-Japanese alliance of 1902 resulted from the threat that Russia presented to both states by its moves toward India, Korea, and Manchuria.4 As the alliance matured, Winston Churchill (from 1911), like his predecessors as First Lord of the Admiralty, pursued a naval policy envisioning that the outbreak of a general war in Europe would require Japanese assistance in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. As tensions between Great Britain and Germany increased with the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, British naval strength underwent a reorganization that saw the Channel, Atlantic, and Mediterranean forces’ battleship strength increased at the expense of those in the Pacific Ocean. What had been an anti-Russian disposition of British naval forces tilted decisively toward an anti-German alignment after the Russo-Japanese conflict.5

Churchill, almost from the day he took the helm as First Lord in October 1911, accelerated the withdrawal of battleships from the Mediterranean and China seas and their redeployment against the growing naval power of Wilhelmine Germany in the North Sea.6 By March 1914, British naval strength in the Far East had decreased from five battleships and an armored cruiser in March 1904 to two battleships, a battle cruiser, and two cruisers.7

In March 1914, Churchill, arguing for his policy in the House of Commons, acknowledged that defeat of the main British naval force in European waters would leave a small force of Pacific-based dreadnoughts vulnerable. Any British naval force in Far Eastern waters must inevitably be inferior to the main fleet of a European rival. On the other hand, Churchill pointed out, “two or three ‘Dreadnoughts’” in Australian waters “would be useless the day after the defeat of the British Navy in Home waters.”8

This policy produced a growing naval dependence on Britain’s allies. France took up the slack in the Mediterranean, and Japan assumed a correspondingly larger role in the defense of the China Seas.9 With France, this policy worked well, as the British attempted to settle outstanding colonial problems with that nation and afterwards participated in the creation of the Entente Cordiale.

No such reservoir of good will existed between Japan and Great Britain; preexisting tension concerning Japan’s imperial ambitions tested relations throughout the First World War. The strains ultimately contributed to the collapse of the Anglo-Japanese alliance. Japanese expansion beyond Manchuria during 1913 and 1914 increased the deep suspicion of Japanese intentions on the part of the British foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey.

Grey opposed any Japanese participation in the war, fearing that Japan would see an opportunity to expand beyond reasonable bounds.10 In the teeth of Admiralty objections, therefore, he worked to prevent Japan’s entry into a European conflict as the situation worsened throughout the summer of 1914. On 1 August, Grey notified his counterpart in Tokyo, Kato Takaaki*, that Great Britain would require Japanese assistance only if Germany attacked its Far Eastern colonies or fighting spread into the Far East. Grey worried not only about Japanese expansion into the German colonies in China and the Pacific Ocean but also that Australia, New Zealand, and the United States would strongly oppose apparent British support of that expansion. In the end, German steps to mobilize reserves at the key port of Tsingtao and to disperse warships into the Pacific, along with the aggressive First Lord’s insistence on expanding the war against German naval forces worldwide, forced Grey’s hand.11

On 11 August 1914, Churchill, worried by what he considered Grey’s clumsy attempts to prevent Japanese entry into the war, or limit Japanese action once in it, warned the foreign secretary:

I think you are chilling indeed to these people. I can’t see any half way house between having them in and keeping them out. If they are to come in, they may as well be welcomed as comrades. This last telegram [to Japan] is almost hostile. I am afraid I do not understand what is in yr mind on this aspect—tho’ I followed it so clearly till today.

. . . This telegram gives me a shiver. We are all in this together & I only wish to give the fullest effect & support to your main policy. But I am altogether perplexed by the line opened up by these Japanese interchanges.

You may easily give mortal offence—wh will not be forgotten—we are not safe yet—by a long chalk. The storm has yet to burst.12

Churchill’s remonstrance helped to alter Grey’s opposition to Japan’s full participation in the war.

The Japanese government of Prince Yamagata Aritomo delivered an ultimatum on 15 August 1914 requiring the dismantling of German power in Pacific. The demarche demanded that German naval vessels either leave or surrender at Kiaochow and that Germany allow the destruction of fortifications there and surrender to Japan the Shantung Peninsula. Japanese demands also included that the German islands scattered throughout the Pacific be turned over to Japan. The Germans made no response, and Japan formally declared war on 23 August 1914.13

Strong evidence existed that justified Grey’s fears of Japanese ambitions. One was the substantial size of Japan’s navy see (Table 1). The Japanese clearly entered the war in large part to increase their prestige among the great powers and to expand their holdings in China and the Pacific. Moreover, Japanese officials had chafed under several unequal treaties imposed after the Western opening of the country in the 1850s.14 Still, such motives for participation in the war were no better or worse than those secretly advanced at the start of World War I by other belligerents. What truly upset Japan’s Western allies was their inability to act in a paternalistic fashion toward what they considered an inferior. Hostile views of Japan prevailed at the beginning of the war, and they did not diminish during the struggle despite Japan’s help for its allies. In fact, such antipathy increased as Japan dared to act as any Western state would have done. This racial animosity is a reason why the institutional memory of the extensive assistance that Japan rendered to the allied cause during the war was so short-lived. Such memories were inconvenient for the account of the war that anti-Japanese groups in Great Britain and the United States wished to perpetuate.

The Joint Expedition against Tsingtao

Wartime Anglo-Japanese cooperation in the Far East opened on a sour note. Immediately upon entry into the war, Japan moved to secure the Kiaochow or Shantung Peninsula, known as the “German Gibraltar of the East” (Map 1). The peninsula,

where lay the German naval base at Tsingtao (modern Qingdao, on Kiaochow Bay), served as the peacetime station for the German Far Eastern squadron. Preparing for its capture, Kato informed his British allies that Japan would return Tsingtao to China after conquest, but only at a price. He also intimated that Japan did not require British support for the operation, but Grey ignored that and sent the South Wales Borderers and a detachment of Sikh troops under Brigadier General N. W. Barnardiston to join the assault. A small British squadron participated in the blockade of Kiaochow Bay, which began on 27 August.15

The Anglo-Japanese expedition arrived off Tsingtao on the 26th. Major and modern units of the German fleet had evacuated Tsingtao in the days preceding the Japanese declaration of war, leaving only the antiquated Austro-Hungarian armored cruiser Kaiserin Elisabeth, five gunboats, and two destroyers.16 The weakness of the German vessels allowed the Japanese navy to use older ships; the Japanese blockaded Tsingtao harbor with three obsolete, ex-Russian battleships, two ex-Russian coastal-defense ships, seven cruisers, sixteen destroyers, and fourteen support ships. The battleship Triumph, a destroyer, and a hospital ship formed the British contribution to the blockading fleet.17

Vice Admiral Baron Kamimura Hikonojo’s Second Fleet transported Japanese and British troops to China to conduct the siege. The initial Japanese landing occurred at Lungkow (modern Long Kou) on 2 September. A naval landing force captured Lau Shau Bay, northeast of Tsingtao, on 18 September, for use as a forward base for further operations against Tsingtao. British troops entered China via other routes on 24 September.18

The Anglo-Japanese naval force maintained a tight blockade of the Tsingtao harbor while clearing mines and providing to allied ground forces vital intelligence collected by the Japanese tender Wakamiya’s seaplanes. The Wakamiya’s aircraft are also credited with conducting at this time “the first successful carrier air raid in history,” sinking a German minelayer at Tsingtao. Throughout the siege, troops ashore called upon naval gunfire support and Japanese seaplanes to bombard enemy positions.19

The Japanese navy suffered a serious loss and embarrassment on 18 October, when the old German torpedo boat S-90 evaded destroyers guarding the harbor and sank the antiquated cruiser Takachiyo with two torpedoes. The S-90 had escaped the notice of patrolling destroyers by waiting for them to reach the far end of the harbor entrance, then running out at high speed and surprising the second line of ships, a destroyer leader and older Japanese cruisers. The Imperial Japanese Navy also lost the destroyer Shirotae, a torpedo boat, and three minesweeping vessels in the process of capturing Tsingtao, with a total of 317 personnel killed and seventy-six wounded, the majority in the sinking of the Takachiyo.20

The German garrison of 3,500 regulars and 2,500 reservists, joined by the entire crew of the Kaiserin Elisabeth, mounted a vigorous defense of Tsingtao. Nonetheless, the Japanese kept British ground forces from playing an active role in the campaign.21 The combined German and Austro-Hungarian force surrendered on 7 November 1914, when the Japanese fought their way into Tsingtao. The British contingent, deliberately excluded from Japanese plans, learned of the assault only after the fact.22 German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners taken in Tsingtao spent the remainder of the war in Japan. The Japanese army reported losses of 414 killed and 1,441 wounded in taking the German citadel.23

The Japanese retained control of Tsingtao and steadily expanded their grip over the Shantung Peninsula, occupying the German railroad running through the region. Thus the effective result of the first Anglo-Japanese operation of the war was the establishment of Japanese control over large areas of Manchuria; mistrust between the two states sharply increased.24

Japanese Patrols and Escorts

While Admiral Kamimura’s Second Fleet was aiding in the conquest of Tsingtao, ships of the First Fleet joined with British, French, and Australian ships in driving von Spee’s roving cruiser squadron from the Pacific. Immediately upon the outbreak of war, Vice Admiral Tamin Yamaya sent the battleship Kongo toward Midway to patrol sea lines of communication and ordered the cruiser Izumo, then off the coast of Mexico, to defend allied shipping there. On 26 August he detached the battle cruiser Ibuki and cruiser Chikuma to Singapore to help allied forces in that region.25 The Chikuma unsuccessfully searched the Dutch East Indies and the Bay of Bengal as far as Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for the German cruiser Emden.26 Admiral Matsumura Tatsuo, with the battleship Satsuma and cruisers Yahagi and Hirado, patrolled sea routes to Australia searching for German raiders.27

More pressing duties soon diverted the Ibuki from Singapore. Responding to the attacks by the German cruiser Emden on allied Indian Ocean shipping, the Ibuki dashed across the South Pacific to Wellington, New Zealand. On 16 October it conducted the first of what would be many voyages wherein Japanese warships escorted Australian–New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) troops to the Middle East.28 The Ibuki and other Japanese warships were to accompany ANZAC troops as far west as Aden on the Red Sea throughout the war.29 Other Japanese units escorted French troopships sailing from the Far East to reinforce units fighting on the western front.30 (Although the Australian and New Zealand troop convoy did not encounter the Emden, a radio report from the Cocos Islands led to the detachment of the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney from the escort. Near those isolated isles, the Sydney surprised the Emden and destroyed the raider by gunfire after forcing it onto the reefs.)31

Also during October, Japanese naval forces under the command of Vice Admiral Tochinai Sojiro reinforced British units searching the Indian Ocean for German raiders. Tochinai ultimately employed the cruisers Tokiwa, Yakumo, Ibuki, Nisshin, Chikuma, Hirado, Yahagi, and Ikoma, plus part of the British fleet, in hunting down the raiders.32 On 1 November 1914, the Japanese navy agreed to a British request to assume all patrols in the Indian Ocean east of ninety degrees east longitude. Much of Admiral Tochinai’s force, and other warships withdrawn from Tsingtao, guarded this area for the remainder of the month.33 In addition, after the German warship Geier’s appearance at the neutral port of Honolulu on 15 October 1914, the battleship Hizen and cruiser Asama took up positions off that port until the American government interned the Geier on 7 November. The Hizen and Asama then joined the Izumo off the coast of South America and swept those waters for German warships.34

The employment of Japanese ships provoked a mixed response from the governments of Australia and New Zealand. They fully endorsed using Japanese ships as escorts for troop convoys but sharply disapproved when in late 1914 the Japanese First Fleet seized the German colonies of the Marshall, Mariana, and Caroline Islands (Map 2).35 Tamin’s forces took Jaluit

in the Marshall Islands on 4 October, sailing from there to seize the superb harbor at Truk in the Carolines on 12 October. A second force under Rear Admiral Tatsuo Matsumura captured the German port of Rabaul, on New Britain, on 1 October. It continued on 7 October to Yap, where it encountered the German vessel Planet. The crew of the Planet scuttled the vessel rather than have it fall into Japanese hands, and the Japanese captured Yap without further incident. The Japanese navy stationed four warships at Suva in the Fiji Islands and six at Truk for patrol operations in late 1914.36

The British and Japanese governments reached a tentative arrangement in late 1914 concerning the captured German possessions in the Pacific Ocean. The Japanese now held the Marianas, Carolines, and the Marshalls, as well as Yap. Australian forces had taken New Guinea and nearby territories. Troops from New Zealand, just beating Japanese forces to Samoa, now held a firm grip on the strategic island. Rather than risk an incident that might lead to a confrontation, the British agreed that thenceforth forces of the Empire would seize no German territories north of the equator.37

In 1914 the Royal Navy could ill afford to offend its strongest ally in the Pacific. Faced with worldwide responsibilities defending British trade and possessions, it sought direct Japanese involvement in the European theater of operations from the beginning of the war. Sir Edward Grey issued the first formal appeal for Japanese naval assistance on 6 August 1914. It resulted in the previously mentioned deployment of Japanese naval units to Singapore. On two further occasions in 1914, British appeals for deployments of Japanese naval forces to the Mediterranean and the Baltic met with rejection.38

Internal politics throughout the Meiji period gave the Army greater political power in government councils than the Navy ever enjoyed. Although the Navy’s position had strengthened somewhat in the Yammato cabinet, which left office in April 1914, the balance of power in the succeeding Okuma cabinet allowed the Army to veto the deployment of naval units to the European theater of operations in November 1914. Conflict between Great Britain and Germany, which had trained, respectively, the Navy and Army, led to a difference of opinion between the two services. The Prussian-trained Army sympathized with the German-led Central Powers, while the Navy, trained by and modeled after the Royal Navy, supported Britain and the Entente.39 This conflict of loyalties dogged the Japanese government throughout the war in its attempts to aid Great Britain.40

Japanese warships rendered a new form of assistance to Great Britain in February 1915, when they helped to suppress a revolt by Indian soldiers stationed in Singapore. Admiral Tsuchiya Mitsukane’s warships, the old cruisers Tsushima and Otowa, landed marines, who joined with British, French, and Russian forces in quelling the rising.41 Also in 1915, the Imperial Japanese Navy committed many units to help hunt down the German cruiser Dresden and for such other tasks as guarding against the escape of German shipping that had taken refuge in the port of Manila. Japanese warships operating from Singapore guarded the South China Sea, Sulu Sea, and Dutch East Indies throughout the year.42

Sir Edward Grey again requested Japanese aid in February 1916. In that month, the destruction of shipping by mines secretly laid by German auxiliary cruisers led to an increase in the number of ships deployed for antiraider patrols. This time the Japanese government dispatched a destroyer flotilla to Singapore to guard the vital Malacca Straits and a cruiser division to the Indian Ocean for patrol duties.43 Ships of the Japanese Third Fleet began patrol operations in the Indian Ocean and in the Philippine Islands near Luzon. The cruisers Yahagi, Suma, Niitaka, and Tsushima, accompanied by a squadron of destroyers, initiated patrols in the South China Sea, Sulu Sea, Dutch East Indies, and Indian Ocean. Several units maintained a presence off Mauritius and South Africa, and the Chikuma and Hirato journeyed to Australia and New Zealand to escort vessels transiting the area.44

“Japan Is Not Taking a Full Share”

Despite such widespread deployment of Japanese units to protect allied shipping, at the end of 1916 Admiral John Jellicoe, commanding the Grand Fleet, expressed the British skepticism about Japanese intentions in a revealing missive to Admiral David Beatty, who commanded Jellicoe’s battle cruiser squadron. He described Japan’s conduct in the war thus far as not “entirely satisfactory.” While allowing for the idea that mutual antipathy between Japan and the United States had prevented more help from the Japanese, he voiced the suspicion that the Japanese harbored the idea of creating a “greater Japan which will probably comprise parts of China and the Gateway to the East, the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, and the Malay States.” He faulted the Japanese government for operating under the mistaken belief that the “German military machine was invincible”; recent German losses at the Somme and Verdun, he felt, would correct this impression. His statement that “apart from the selling of guns and ammunition to the Russians and ourselves, Japan is not taking a full share of the war,” accurately depicted the growing resentment in Great Britain of Japan’s unwillingness to join operations in the European theater.45 His thinking paralleled that of other key British naval officers who spoke of the Japanese as “not to be trusted very far,” even while requesting their assistance in the critical Mediterranean theater.46

Seen through Japanese eyes, Japan’s role in the First World War takes on a quite different appearance. Not only were the Japanese armed forces divided about which side to support, early in the conflict the average Japanese citizen hardly knew that Japan was at war at all. Lacking any sense of immediate danger to Japan emanating from Germany, most Japanese who were aware of the war found it unfathomable. While officially supporting the Entente, the Japanese government kept the war out of the limelight at home.47

The wartime experience of a British officer in Japan illustrates this low-key approach to the conflict. In November 1917, a time when the Imperial Japanese Navy was engaged in operations in two oceans and the Mediterranean Sea, Malcolm Kennedy (a British army officer participating in an exchange program with the Japanese military) toured the Japanese countryside and discovered that the war was having no direct impact on the life of the average Japanese peasant. Stopping twice to speak with peasants, Kennedy was amazed to encounter complete disbelief when he told them that Japan was at war.

They were frankly incredulous when I assured them, that not only was there a war, but that Japan was taking part in it. Their incredulity was based on the fact that the young men of the village had not been called up for service. If Japan was really at war, they argued, surely all the male youth of the country would be summoned to the colors.48

That finally changed in 1918, when Japan experienced serious social dislocation as a result of the conflict. Wages had failed to keep pace with the inflation that had developed with the wartime prosperity. In August 1918, resentment of the new class of narikin—Japanese who prospered during the war—exploded in rice riots in Osaka, Kobe, and Nagoya.49

Also complicating Japanese participation in the war was a slight to Japanese pride created by severe restrictions placed on Japanese physicians in Singapore. Also, the inferior status accorded Japan in trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand made full cooperation with the British and dominions difficult.50

British requests for naval assistance in the European theater and the South Atlantic grew more insistent in late 1916 and early 1917 as the naval situation deteriorated in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.51 German raiders continued to operate effectively in the Indian Ocean, as documented by the successful voyage of the raider Wolf, which sank some 120,000 tons of allied shipping between 1916 and 1918 while tying down “a host of British, French, and Japanese naval craft . . . in the fruitless hunt—21 cruisers, 14 destroyers, 9 sloops, etc.”52 The Japanese government responded by pressuring the British cabinet, which had dragged its feet in acknowledging Japanese claims to the Shantung Peninsula and the Pacific islands taken from the Germans, for recognition of these gains. Japanese officials argued to their British counterparts that in their desire to retain their conquests they were asking no more than the Russians, whom the allies were permitting to occupy Constantinople. The War Cabinet wrestled with the problem through January and February of 1917, worrying about the potential response of the dominions and of the Americans, who were edging closer to participation in the conflict.53

The Japanese agreed in February 1917 to expand the patrols already protecting commerce in the Dutch East Indies, Sulu Sea, South China Sea, and Indian Ocean as far south as the Cape of Good Hope. The Japanese navy also increased its involvement in safeguarding commercial shipping off Australia’s east coast and New Zealand. In this effort the cruisers Izumo, Nisshin, Tone, Niitaka, Akashi, Yakumo, Kasuga, Chikuma, Tsushima, Suma, Yodo, three squadrons of destroyers, and a “special duty flotilla” participated. 54

Japan also extended considerable help to the allied cause by supplying arms and shipping to its European friends. In 1914, the Japanese navy returned to Russia three cruisers captured in the Russo-Japanese War. The vessels subsequently rejoined the Russian Baltic Fleet.55 Also, Japanese factories supplied arms and munitions to Russia and Great Britain.56 In 1917, Japanese shipyards hastily constructed (in five months) twelve destroyers identical to the Japanese Kaba class for France; Japanese sailors delivered the ships to French forces in the Mediterranean.57 In December 1916, the British chancellor of the exchequer sought and gained the War Cabinet’s approval for the purchase of six Japanese merchant ships, totaling 77,500 tons.58 The British further requested in May 1917 that the Japanese supply shipping for Chinese workers recruited to work in Europe; Japanese warships helped to escort the convoys to France.59 Later in the war, Japan and the United States agreed that Japanese shipyards would produce 371,000 tons of shipping for the U.S. Shipping Board. Although the war ended before the merchant vessels were complete, Japan willingly helped in this effort, according to an American account.60 Moreover, the Japanese government agreed to charter an ever-growing portion of Japan’s merchant fleet for allied use.61

In contrast to this lucrative charter and construction work, persistent British attempts to purchase Japanese warships as replacements for Royal Navy losses irritated the Japanese government and stung Japanese pride. Fearing further raids on the English coast by swift units of the German navy, Admiral Jellicoe proposed in mid-1917 that Great Britain purchase two battle cruisers from the Japanese. He doubted that the Japanese could be persuaded simply to deploy ships to join the Grand Fleet—adding, in a revealing slight, “Even if they did, it is doubtful whether they would be a match for German battle-cruisers when fully manned by Japanese.”62 The government in Tokyo rejected either selling the warships or sending them to serve with the Grand Fleet.63 However, the service later rendered by the Japanese flotilla in the Mediterranean may have caused Jellicoe to reappraise his low estimate of Japanese capabilities.

Japanese Assistance to the United States

A major (and in light of later events, particularly ironic) upshot of the Japanese wartime naval relationship with Great Britain was a similar, if much smaller, relationship with the United States. In effect, the Imperial Japanese Navy now extended further, if roundabout, aid to the Royal Navy by making it possible for the U.S. Navy to assist the British directly. The Royal Navy’s most pressing lack at this point was escort ships; it importuned the Americans to help make good that shortage. Doing so meant shifting U.S. naval forces to the Atlantic from the Pacific, which produced for the Americans a shortfall of their own in the latter theater. To fill it, they, like the British in 1914, approached their new Pacific ally, Japan.

American intervention in the war required a complete rethinking of American naval strategy and construction policies, which before 1917 had assumed an allied defeat followed by an attack by German and Japanese forces against the United States. Shortly after the American entry into the war, a British mission headed by Arthur Balfour sought to alter the American naval construction program, which then called for a massive buildup of capital warships (in part to remain capable of fighting a German-Japanese combination).64 In April and May 1917, Balfour entered into secret discussions with American officials, including Woodrow Wilson’s personal emissary, Colonel Edward M. House. The British proposed that the Americans construct large numbers of desperately needed escort ships in return for a promise of British help in case of a Japanese-American conflict. The two parties ultimately deferred such an agreement for fear of offending Japan, which remained an important ally of Great Britain even at this late stage of the war.65 Nonetheless, that these negotiations occurred shows the depth of Anglo-American antipathy and mistrust toward Japan in 1917.

American leaders viewed their relations with Japan through a prism of concern about China and racial bigotry. James Reed writes that before the First World War, “Pacific coast politicians; labor union leaders; Hearst chain journalists (whose idea of news embraced lovely white maidens found dead in the flea-bag hotels of debauched Japanese); and, perhaps not least of all, the Navy officer corps, whose War Plan Orange was really a war plan yellow,” were sources of anti-Japanese feeling in the United States. Such feelings joined with the American “Open Door” policy concerning China to turn American opinion against Japan. American leaders viewed Japan as seeking unfair territorial and political advantage in China, a state known to most Americans only through the eyes of the many missionaries serving there.66

American entry into the First World War dictated a renewed attempt to resolve the impasse in American-Japanese relations. Like Great Britain at the beginning of the war, the United States now found itself dependent on Japanese good will and assistance in the Pacific. A Japanese mission to Washington led by Ishii Kikujiro concluded an agreement that permitted American warships to redeploy to the Atlantic and support the British fleet.67 Under that secret agreement, Japanese warships patrolled the waters of the Hawaiian Islands for the remainder of the conflict. The cruiser Tokiwa replaced the last major American warship in the Pacific, the armored cruiser USS Saratoga, at Honolulu in October 1917, allowing the ship to join the U.S. naval forces in the Atlantic. The cruiser Asama replaced the Tokiwa in August 1918 and protected commerce in Hawaiian waters until it returned to Japan in February 1919.68

Despite the cooperative manner in which the Japanese extended their wartime responsibilities, American resentment of dependence upon the Japanese throughout the war and of Japanese gains in Micronesia closely paralleled that seen in British quarters.69 The Japanese returned this antagonism after 1917, when the view took root among naval officers that differences between the two powers were irreconcilable short of war. Japanese expansion into Siberia in 1918, seen by some Japanese as preempting American containment on all sides, was to add to the antipathy between the two nations. By 1917, even while acting as an ally, the Japanese navy had officially designated the United States its “most likely enemy” in any future conflict.70

Operations in the Mediterranean

In early 1917, Japan finally deployed forces to the European theater of operations. The lead Japanese warships departed Singapore under the command of Admiral Sato Kozo for the Mediterranean on 11 March. Sato sailed for Malta with the cruiser Akashi and destroyers Ume, Kusunoki, Kaede, Katsura, Kashiwa, Matsu, Sugi, and Sakaki, which collectively constituted the Tenth and Eleventh Destroyer Flotillas. The task force hunted German raiders while crossing the Indian Ocean, arriving at Aden on 4 April. On 10 April Sato agreed to an urgent British request to escort the Saxon, an English troop transport; it sailed from Port Said to Malta guarded by Ume and Kusunoki. The remainder of the Japanese squadron quickly followed and commenced operations against German and Austrian submarines threatening allied shipping in the Mediterranean.71

The Tenth and Eleventh Flotillas reached Malta at the nadir of allied fortunes in the Mediterranean.72 Of the approximately twelve million British registered tons (BRT) of shipping lost during the war, 3,096,109 tons fell prey to mines and submarines in the Mediterranean. From February until December of 1917, allied shipping losses worldwide amounted to 2,566 ships, or 5,753,751 BRT, 48 percent of wartime losses.73 Allied losses in the Mediterranean in April 1917 totaled 218,000 tons, 7 percent of the total sinkings there during the entire war.74 Desperately short of escorts, the allies seriously considered the ideas of reducing the number of ships transiting the Mediterranean by sending them on the safer passage around the Cape of Good Hope, and of evacuating the British contingent at Salonika.75

The arrival of Sato’s cruiser and eight destroyers did not by itself tip the scales toward the allies in the Mediterranean. Nonetheless, the task given the Japanese squadron was an important one—protecting troop transports shifting vital reinforcements to France after the bloody offensives at Arras, Chemin des Dames, and in the Champagne.76 The appearance of Japanese escorts at Malta permitted the allied command to speed the passage of transports. Japanese vessels escorted the transports directly from Egypt to France without stopping at Malta except when convoys formed at that port.77

The destroyers Sakaki and Matsu and other Japanese warships participated in the dramatic rescue of troops from the torpedoed transport Transylvania on 4 May 1917. Some 413 men died in this tragedy off the French coast, but Japanese, French, and Italian naval forces saved most of the three thousand troops despite the danger of further torpedo attack. The Times History of the War reported that “the Admiralty sent a telegram of thanks and congratulation to the Japanese admiral in the Mediterranean for the splendid work of rescue performed by the Japanese on this occasion.”78

The Japanese navy relieved the Akashi in June 1917 with the armored cruiser Izumo and reinforced the Malta squadron with the destroyers Kashi, Hinoki, Momo, and Yanagi. As the tempo of antisubmarine operations in the Mediterranean accelerated, Japanese sailors temporarily manned two British gunboats, which they designated the Tokyo and Saikyo, and two British destroyers, renamed the Kanran and Sendan. At peak strength in 1917, the Japanese Mediterranean flotilla numbered seventeen warships.79

By late summer of 1917, British doubts about the competence and value of the Japanese warships, doubts initially expressed by such officers as Captain George P. W. Hope, director of the Operations Division of the Admiralty War Staff, had vanished. On 21 August Admiral George A. Ballard, Senior Naval Officer-in-Charge at Malta, reported to the Admiralty that the Japanese had rendered invaluable service in escorting troop transports since their arrival at Malta. He reminded the Admiralty that until the Imperial Japanese Navy destroyers had arrived the allies had been short of escorts for this vital duty. Ballard praised the operational capacity of the Japanese:

French standards of efficiency are certainly lower than British, however, and Italian standards are lower still. With the Japanese it is otherwise. Admiral Sato’s destroyers are kept in a highly serviceable condition and spend at least as large a proportion of their time at sea as our own, which is far from being the case with the French and Italian vessels of any class. The Japanese moreover are very independent in all matters of administration and supply whereas the French will never do anything for themselves if they can get it done for them.80

Japanese efficiency meant many more days spent at sea than the warships of other British allies, multiplying the impact of the Japanese contribution to the Mediterranean war effort.

The importance of Japanese escorts dramatically increased when in 1918 the Germans launched their spring offensive on the western front. The British responded with further large movements of troops from the Middle East to Marseilles. Japanese units escorted more than a hundred thousand British troops directly across the Mediterranean during the critical months of April and May. After the crisis ended, Japanese warships convoyed troops from Egypt to Salonika in support of the allied fall 1918 offensive. By the end of the war the squadron had accompanied 788 allied ships across the Mediterranean, including transports conveying seven hundred thousand troops to the fighting fronts. In thirty-four engagements with German and Austrian submarines the Japanese suffered damage to two destroyers, Matsu and, as we have seen, Sakaki.81

Japanese naval forces remained in European waters until May 1919. After the armistice, units of Admiral Sato’s Second Special Mission Squadron helped supervise the Central Powers’ surrendered fleets. The cruiser Izumo and destroyers Hinoki and Yanagi sailed from Malta to Scapa Flow to help guard the German fleet and prepare for the return to Japan of seven surrendered German submarines.

Sato dispatched the destroyers Katsura, Matsu, Sakaki, and Kaede to Brindisi to aid in supervising German and Austro-Hungarian ships surrendering in the Mediterranean. He then rode the cruiser Nisshin, with the eight remaining destroyers, to Constantinople in December 1918. Detaching the destroyers Kashiwa, Kanran, and Sendan (the latter two would be returned to the Royal Navy in 1919) to superintend enemy warships at Constantinople, the balance of the squadron returned to Malta, where it received new orders from Japan to escort German submarines from England back home as part of Japan’s war spoils. Sending the Ume and Kusunoki to the Adriatic for patrol duty, Sato left for England, gathering the remaining Japanese escorts on the way.

The Japanese squadron made Portland, England, on 5 January 1919. The Izumo, Hinoki, Yanagi, and the seven German U-boats joined Sato’s fleet, which then returned at the end of March to Malta, where it was rejoined by the Ume and Kusunoki. The tender Kwanto serviced the U-boats at Malta then joined the cruiser Nisshin and two destroyer flotillas in escorting the submarines to Japan. All reached Yokosuka without incident on 18 June 1919. The Izumo and the last destroyer detachment left Malta on April 10 for various ports, including Naples, Genoa, and Marseilles, and a final trip to Malta on May 5. The warships left ten days later for the voyage to Japan, reaching Yokosuka on 2 July 1919.82

“God Grant Our Alliance . . . May Long Endure”

British leaders had nothing but praise for the Japanese Mediterranean squadron before it sailed for home. Winston Churchill voiced the general high opinion when he said he “did not think that the Japanese [squadron] had ever done a foolish thing.” The governor of Malta, Lord Methuen, who reviewed Japanese warships there in March 1919, also lauded the Japanese navy for “its splendid work in European waters” and expressed the hope, “God grant our alliance, cemented in blood, may long endure.”83

The Japanese warships’ performance in the Mediterranean certainly merited high praise. Japanese destroyers’ ratio of time at sea to time in port was the highest of any allied warships during the war: Japanese warships were under way 72 percent of the time. The British record was 60 percent, the Greek and French only 45 percent. British officers credited the Japanese warships with excellent performance—at least, they added, when all went according to plan. Postwar British criticisms that the Japanese “acted inferior to our men when unforeseen situations cropped up” reflect British prejudices expressed during the war, prejudices not supported by the actual record. That record clearly demonstrates instead how seriously Japanese naval officers took their duty. The commanders of several Japanese warships are reported to have committed Hari-Kari when ships they were convoying were lost.84

Still, why did the British so quickly forget Japan’s assistance to the allied cause, not only in the Mediterranean Sea but in the Pacific and Indian Oceans? See (Table 2) Why did the British permit the Anglo-Japanese alliance to lapse in 1921? The most obvious reason was that the end of the war simplified the situation in the Pacific. The lack of a common foe removed the main justification for the alliance. With the German threat to Britain’s Far East possessions eliminated and the nascent Soviet Union no longer threatening India, the crown jewel of the Empire, Great Britain did not require Japan’s naval cooperation. American pressure pushed the British into an adversarial relationship with the Japanese, whose new island possessions sat astride American communications with the Philippines and Guam. Prewar racial and diplomatic animosity between Japan and the United States, set aside in 1917 and 1918, quickly reemerged despite wartime Japanese assistance to the United States in the Pacific. Japan’s valuable role as an ally never appeared in Western histories of the war.

At home, some Japanese politicians reacted badly to Western treatment of Japan during the war and at Versailles. As early as April 1917, and understanding that the allied public knew little or nothing of Japan’s contributions, Japanese diplomats had offered the British a memorandum for publication in allied newspapers.85 Many resented how at Versailles the “three Great Powers acted as judges” in a confrontation with Chinese delegates over the Japanese occupation of Shantung. The apparent hostility toward Japan after the war, despite its service, led an increasing number of Japanese military officers to believe in an American and British conspiracy against Japan, founded on racial animosity.86

The severing of the Anglo-Japanese alliance, in fact, steered Japan toward cooperation with Germany. The arrival of the seized German submarines began a new, long-term relationship between the Japanese and German navies. German influence and technology quickly supplanted those of the British. The two services began to exchange personnel. Numerous Japanese officers received training in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, facilitating the Imperial Japanese Navy’s ultimate break with its British mentors.87

The British had their empire, and the Americans felt no shame in professing their “Manifest Destiny,” but both attacked Japanese imperial ambitions as excessive. After 1918, neither nation proved willing to maintain the close naval cooperation with Japan that had benefited all parties during the First World War. So it was that despite the strong record of Japanese assistance to Great Britain during that conflict, the true legacy of that cooperation proved to be alienation. Thus began the breach between East and West that led to the Japanese attack upon British (and American) possessions in the Far East as part of a true two-ocean conflict, just twenty-three years after Japan, Great Britain, and the United States had been allies in the “war to end all wars.”


 1. Japanese naval attache to Sir Oswyn Murray, 6 May 1918, Admiralty [hereafter ADM]137/1576 (H.S. 1576. Mediterranean. Central and General Areas II, IV, V, XI. Various Subjects 1918 II); Paul G. Halpern, The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1914–1918 (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1987), p. 344; U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, July 1917, p. 1616; and Hans Hugo Sokol, Oesterreich-Hungarns Seekrieg 1914–1918, 2 vols., 2d ed. (Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck-u. Verlags Anstalt, 1973), vol. 2, p. 523.

 2. See Arthur J. Marder, Old Enemies, New Friends: The Royal Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy (Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1981), p. 5. Marder asserts, “The Royal Navy had little reason to be grateful to the Japanese in the First World War. Japan refused to send any ships to fight Germany until 1917, when a destroyer flotilla was sent to the Mediterranean, and made hay in the Far East while the British were committed in Europe, as through the seizure of German-occupied Tsingtao and German islands in the Pacific—the Marshalls, Marianas, Carolines, and Palau.” For a similar American view see Robert Lansing, War Memoirs of Robert Lansing (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1970), p. 281. Lansing characterizes Japan’s entry into the war and its subsequent gains as based on a “pretext” that the Anglo-Japanese alliance required its participation.

 3. Akira Iriye, Across the Pacific: An Inner History of American–East Asian Relations (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1967), pp. 135–7.

 4. Ian H. Nish, The Anglo-Japanese Alliance: The Diplomacy of Two Island Empires, 1884–1907, 2d ed. (London: Athlone Press, 1985), pp. 17–9, 111–6, 230.

 5. Ruddock F. Mackay, Fisher of Kilverstone (Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1973), p. 328; and Nish, Anglo-Japanese Alliance, p. 353.

 6. Peter Lowe, Great Britain and Japan, 1911–15 (London: Macmillan, 1969), pp. 178–9; and Peter Padfield, The Great Naval Race (New York: David McKay, 1974), p. 293.

 7. Churchill’s response (1 May 1914) to Mr. Middlemore’s questions in the Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 5th. Ser., vol. 61 (1914).

 8. Churchill’s Statement (Navy Estimates) (17 March 1914) in Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 5th. Ser., vol. 59 (1914).

 9. Padfield, p. 293.

10. Lowe, pp. 177–8.

11. Edward S. Miller, War Plan Orange (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1991), pp. 109–10; and Michael Montgomery, Imperialist Japan: The Yen to Dominate (London: Christopher Helm, 1987), pp. 233–4; and Lowe,p. 181.

12. For Grey’s plans vis-à-vis Japan, see Sir Edward Grey to Greene, 36531, 4 August 1914; 37691, 10 August 1914; 37900, 11 August 1914, Confidential Print, Japan (1914) Foreign Office [hereafter FO] 410/63, Public Records Office [hereafter PRO], London, England; and Sir Martin Gilbert, Winston Churchill, vol. 3, 1914–1916 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971), p. 43.

13. Greene to Grey, 39546, 15 August 1914; a Mr. Inouyé to Grey, 42297, 23 August 1914, FO 410/63; “Memorandum For Colonel Graham,” 16 September 1921, Office of Naval Intelligence [hereafter ONI], Record Group [hereafter RG] 38, Naval Attache Reports, U-4-B, 11083, National Archives, Washington, D.C., p. 1; and A. Morgan Young, Japan in Recent Times, 1912–1926 (New York: William Morrow, 1929; repr. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1973), pp. 71–2 (page citations are to the reprint edition).

14. Ian H. Nish, Japanese Foreign Policy (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977), pp. 93, 95; and Masamichi Royama, Foreign Policy of Japan: 1914–1939 (1941; repr. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1973), pp. 3, 7, 17–8.

15. Montgomery, p. 237; and Greene to Grey, 28 August 1914, 43927, FO 410/63.

16. ONI, “Japanese Naval Activities during European War,” 11 December 1918, RG 38, Naval Attache Reports, U-4-B, 11083, pp. 2–3, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

17. “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activities during the War,” 11 December 1918, translation of official statement issued by Japanese Navy Department on 8 December 1918, ONI, RG 38, Naval Attache Reports, U-4-B, 11083, p. 2, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

18. Randal Gray, ed., Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships, 1906–1921 (London: Conway’s Maritime Press, 1985), p. 222; Montgomery, p. 237; and ONI, “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activities,” p. 3.

19. ONI, “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activities,” p. 3; and Gray, ed., p. 240.

20. ONI,“Japanese Naval Activities during European War,” pp. 3–7, and “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activities,” p. 4; and Gray, ed., p. 222.

21. Lowe, pp. 196–7.

22. Montgomery,p. 237.

23. ONI, “A Brief Account of Japan’s Part in the World War,” 16 September 1921, RG 38, Naval Attache Reports, U-4-B, 11083, National Archives, Washington, D.C., p. 2.; Gray,ed., p. 222; and Anthony E. Sokol, The Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Navy (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1968), pp. 89–90.

24. Montgomery, p. 238.

25. ONI, “Operations—Japanese Navy in the Indian and Pacific Oceans during War—1914–1918,” RG 45, Subject File 1911–1927, WA-5 Japan, box 703, folder 10, NND 913005, p. 98, and “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activities,” p. 5; and Stephen Howarth, The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun (New York: Atheneum, 1983), p. 128.

26. ONI, “Japanese Naval Activities during European War,” p. 11.

27. ONI, “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activities,” p. 7.

28. ONI, “Operations—Japanese Navy,” pp. 55–8, and “Japanese Naval Activities during European War,” p. 13; M. P. Lissington, New Zealand and Japan, 1900–1941 (Wellington, New Zealand: A. R. Shearer, 1972), p. 27; and Howarth, p. 128.

29. ONI, “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activities,” p. 6.

30. ONI, “Operations—Japanese Navy,” p. 38.

31. Ibid., p. 64; and H. S. Gullett, “Australia in the World War (I) Military,” in The Cambridge History of the British Empire (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1933), vol. 7, part 1, pp. 547–8.

32. ONI, “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activities,” p. 6.

33. ONI, “Operations—Japanese Navy,” p. 38, and “Japanese Naval Activities during European War,” p. 13.

34. ONI, “Operations—Japanese Navy,” pp. 98, 115–7, “Japanese Naval Activities during European War,” pp. 11–2, and “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activities,” p. 9.

35. Mr. Haracourt to the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, enclosure 3 in no. 389, 74500, 23 November 1914, FO 410/63; Governor Lord Liverpool to Haracourt, enclosure in no. 260, 13 May 1915, Confidential Print, Japan (1915) FO 410/64; Gray, ed., p. 222; and Lissington, p. 26.

36. ONI, “Japanese Naval Activities during European War,” p. 9, and “Operations—Japanese Navy,” pp. 121–3, 126–8, 130–2, 141–2.

37. ONI, “Japanese Naval Activities during European War,” p. 13.

38. Grey to Greene, 6 August 1914, 36648, FO 410/63; Gilbert, p. 202; and Howarth, pp. 7, 128.

39. Leslie Conners, The Emperor’s Advisor: Saionji Kinmochi and Pre-War Japanese Politics (London: Croon Helm, 1987), p. 55; Kiyoshi Ikeda, “The Douglas Mission and the British Influence on the Japanese Navy,” in Themes and Theories in Modern Japanese History, ed. Sue Henny and Jean-Pierre Lehmann (London: Athlone, 1988), pp. 171–84; Lowe, p. 182; and Marder, Old Enemies, New Friends, p. 3.

40. Howarth, p. 128.

41. ONI “Operations—Japanese Navy,” p. 21; ONI “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activities,” p. 5; and Gray, ed., p. 222.

42. ONI “Operations—Japanese Navy,” pp. 70–1.

43. See the exchange in: W. F. Nicholson (Admiralty) to Foreign Office, 20396, 1 February 1916; Grey to Greene, 26545, 4 February 1916; W. F. Nicholson (Admiralty) to Foreign Office, 24943, 8 February 1916; Grey to Greene, 27477, 9 February 1916; Greene to Grey, 30818, 16 February 1916; Admiralty to Foreign Office, 34976, 22 February 1916, Confidential Print, Japan (1916) FO 410/65, PRO, London, England; ONI “Operations—Japanese Navy,” p. 22; and Howarth, p. 128.

44. Greene to Grey, 65807, 6 April 1916, FO 410/65; ONI “Operations—Japanese Navy,” pp. 22, 73–5; ONI “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activities,” p. 5.

45. Admiral John Jellicoe to Admiral David Beatty, 30 December 1916, A. Temple Patterson, ed. The Jellicoe Papers, vol. 2, 1916–1935, Publications of the Naval Records Society, vol. 111 (London: Spottiswoode, Ballantyne, 1968), vol. 2, p. 135.

46. Admiral Sir Henry Jackson to Rear Admiral John de Robeck, 9 February 1916, in Paul G. Halpern, ed., The Royal Navy in the Mediterranean, 1915–1918, Publications of the Naval Records Society, vol. 126 (London: Temple Smith, 1987), p. 99. See also the fears of Admiral Sir Henry Oliver, Chief of the Admiralty War Staff, who worried that Japan might use British requests for naval assistance in the Mediterranean to “get a permanent footing there.” Quoted in John Fisher, “‘Backing the Wrong Horse’: Japan in British Middle Eastern Policy, 1914–1918,” The Journal of Strategic Studies, June 1998, p. 63.

47. Early in November 1917, the British ambassador to Japan reported, “I notice indications in the press and elsewhere of a desire to awaken Japanese public from apathy and indifference with which they have hitherto regarded the war, and which has found encouragement in high places. Some of the papers even warn their readers that Japan should be prepared for a possible appeal for military aid from the Allies.” Greene to Balfour, 214763, 8 November 1917, Confidential Print, Japan (1917) FO 410/66.

48. Malcolm D. Kennedy, The Estrangement of Great Britain and Japan, 1917–1935 (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1969), p. 13.

49. Greene to Balfour, 180776, enclosure 1 in no. 6, Memorandum, Japan’s After-War Labour Problem, 19 September 1918, Confidential Print, Japan (1918) FO 410/67; and Young,pp. 114–8.

50. G. V. Fiddes (Colonial Office) to Foreign Office, 21 March 1916, 54458, Confidential Print, Japan (1916), FO 410/65; and Lissington, p. 31.

51. Admiralty to Foreign Office, 256472, 18 December 1916, FO 410/65; Balfour to Greene, 256472, 9 January 1917; and Greene to Balfour, 22137, 27 January 1917, FO 410/66.

52. Arthur J. Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow, vol. 4, 1917: Year of Crisis (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1969), p. 100.

53. War Cabinet Papers, 29 January 1917, CAB 23/1/47; 1 February 1917, CAB 23/1/51; 12 February 1917, CAB 23/1/63; and 14 February 1917, CAB 23/1/65.

54. Balfour to Greene, 27203, 5 February 1917, FO 410/66; and ONI, “Operations—Japanese Navy,” p. 77, and  “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activities,” pp. 6–7.

55. “Memorandum for Colonel Graham,” p. 2.

56. W. Long to the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Governor of New Zealand, enclosure in no. 9, Colonial Office to Foreign Office, 29366, 5 February 1917, FO 410/66.

57. ONI, “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activities,” p. 1; Gray, ed., p. 205; and Hansgeorg Jentschura, Dieter Jung, and Peter Mickel, Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945, trans. Antony Preston and J. D. Brown (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1977), p. 135.

58. War Cabinet Papers, 15 December 1916, CAB 23/1/8.

59. War Cabinet Papers, 30 May 1917, CAB 23/2/150; and ONI, “Operations—Japanese Navy,” p. 77.

60. “Memorandum For Colonel Graham,” p. 2.

61. ONI, “Japanese Naval Activity and Other Contributions to the European War,” 16 October 1918, RG 38, U-4-B, 11083, National Archives, Washington, D.C., p. 2.

62. Jellicoe to the First Lord, Sir Eric Geddes, 21 July 1917, The Jellicoe Papers, vol. 2, p. 185.

63. Marder, Year of Crisis, pp. 43–4.

64. David F. Trask, Captains & Cabinets: Anglo-American Naval Relations, 1917–1918 (Columbia: Univ. of Missouri Press, 1972), pp. 102–4.

65. Sir C. Spring-Rice to Lord Robert Cecil, 14 May 1917, War Cabinet Papers, 22 May 1917, CAB 23/2/142; and Trask, pp. 104–11.

66. Rice to Grey, 77210, 30 November 1914, FO 410/63; and James Reed, The Missionary Mind and American East Asia Policy, 1911–1915 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1983), pp. 96, 99.

67. ONI, “Japanese Naval Activity and Other Contributions to the European War,” p. 1, and “Official Report of Japanese Naval Activity,” p. 8; and Ian Nish, “Japan in Britain’s View of the International System, 1919–37,” in Anglo-Japanese Alienation, 1919–1952, ed. Ian Nish (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1982), p. 29.

68. Greene to Balfour, 214266, 7 November 1917, FO 410/66; William Reynolds Braisted, The United States Navy in the Pacific, 1909–1922 (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1971), p. 335; and ONI, “Operations—Japanese Navy,” pp. 99, 172.

69. Miller, pp. 110–1.

70. Iriye, pp. 131, 135.

71. ONI, “Operations—Japanese Navy,” pp. 10–1; and Paul G. Halpern, A Naval History of World War I (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1994), p. 393.

72. Halpern, Royal Navy in the Mediterranean, p. 209.

73. Sokol, Oesterreich-Hungarns Seekrieg, vol. 2, p. 518.

74. Sokol, The Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Navy, p. 121.

75. Halpern, Royal Navy in the Mediterranean, pp. 70, 209.

76. Ibid., p. 213.

77. ONI, “Operations—Japanese Navy,” p. 12.

78. “Naval Transport and Convoy,” The Times History and Encyclopedia of the War, 22 vols., 11 June 1918, vol. 16, p. 173; “The Navy’s Work in 1917,” ibid., 18 December 1917, vol. 14, p. 164; and Henry Newbolt, History of the Great War (Based on Official Documents) Naval Operations, 5 vols. (London: Longmans, Green, 1928), vol. 4, p. 295.

79. ONI, “Operations—Japanese Navy,” p. 11.

80. See Hope’s Minutes, 23 February 1917; Ballard (Senior Naval Officer Malta) to Admiralty, 21 August 1917, ADM 137/1412 (H.S. 1412. Mediterranean. Central & General Areas II, IV, V, and XI); Various Subjects 1917  I, pp. 384–5; and Ballard to Admiralty, 21 August 1917 in Halpern, Royal Navy in the Mediterranean,  pp. 236, 279, 282.

81. ONI, “Operations—Japanese Navy,” pp. 12–3.

82. Ibid., pp. 13–5.

83. Howarth, Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun, p. 130.

84. Arthur J. Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow, vol. 5, Victory and Aftermath (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1970), pp. 36–7; and “Memorandum For Colonel Graham,” p. 1. This American postwar analysis of Japanese operations notes that “Japan sent one or more squadrons of destroyers to assist in the protection of troop and supply ships in the North Sea and the Mediterranean. The service of these squadrons was highly creditable to Japan.”

85. I have no evidence from contemporary publications, but a Mr. N. Kato had an article (based on a paper given to the Central Asiatic Society) printed in The New Europe: A Weekly Review of Foreign Politics, vol. 2, 18 January–12 April 1917 (London: Constable 1917), pp. 136–42. It seems the Japanese were running a public relations campaign about this time. For the Japanese memorandum, Lord Robert Cecil to Greene, 86671, enclosure in no. 21, Memorandum, 25 April 1917, FO 410/66.

86. See Viscount Kato’s remarks as reported to the British government in Mr. Alston to Earl Curzon, 105971, 20 June 1919, FO 410/67. Kato not only reacted “very strongly” to the embarrassing situation that Japan encountered during the peace talks but addressed the “race problem,” stating that for Japanese subjects abroad, it “was settled to this extent that it had practically been abandoned long ago as being impossible of adjustment.”

87. Hosoya Chihiro, “Britain and the United States in Japan’s View of the International System, 1919–1937,” in Anglo-Japanese Alienation, 1919–1952, ed. Ian Nish (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1982), pp. 8–9.

Forschungsmitarbeiter Mitch Williamson is a technical writer with an interest in military and naval affairs. He has published articles in Cross & Cockade International and Wartime magazines. He was research associate for the Bio-history Cross in the Sky, a book about Charles ‘Moth’ Eaton’s career, in collaboration with the flier’s son, Dr Charles S. Eaton. He also assisted in picture research for John Burton’s Fortnight of Infamy. Mitch is now publishing on the WWW various specialist websites combined with custom website design work. He enjoys working and supporting his local C3 Church. “Curate and Compile“
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