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The Imperial Japanese Navy and the First World War: Unprecedented Opportunities and Harsh Realities

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Chapter Summary

At the end of the First World War, few institutions reflected Japan's newfound power, confidence, status, and wealth better than the Imperial Japanese Navy. Navy leaders such as Kato Tomosaburo realized that a long war of attrition against America would likely end in ruin. Kato understood that this was a competition that Japan could never win, given the industrial and economic disparities that existed between both nations. This was perhaps the most important lesson that future navy leaders in the late 1930s could have drawn from this conflict but chose not to. When faced with an even greater naval race after the US Congress passed the Two Ocean Navy Act of 1940, a program devised to increase the US navy by seventy per cent, Japanese navy leaders chose a different course of action than the one advanced by Kato following the First World War.

Keywords: first world war; Imperial Japanese navy; Kato Tomosaburo; Two Ocean Navy Act



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