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Interrogation of Japanese Prisoners Taken After Midway Action, 9 June 1942


Serial 01753 JUNE 21 1942
From: Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Fleet.
To: The Chief of Naval Operations (Director of Naval Intelligence)
Via: The Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet.
Subject: Interrogation of Japanese Prisoners taken after Midway Action 9 June 1942.


1. Two Japanese naval ratings were rescued from a raft on 9 June after the Midway Action by U.S.S. Trout and brought to Pearl Harbor for interrogation. Names of prisoners were: Katsuichi Yoshida, a Chief Radioman, and Kenichi Ishikawa, third class fireman, both from the Japanese cruiser Mikuma. Upon arrival Pearl Harbor it was necessary to send Yoshida to the Naval Hospital, Pearl Harbor, due to crushed ribs. An additional report will be made when this man has been interrogated. Ishikawa was interrogated by this office and the following information obtained. It is believed this man told the truth to the limit of his knowledge of the Japanese Navy. Contrary to usual practice this man was not in the least reticent about discussing Japanese Naval affairs. He should be catalogued for further interrogation, if such be desired.

2. As has been estimated, Crudiv 7 was made up of the four cruisers Mogami, Mikuma, Kumano and Suzuya. This division arrived at Kure from Singapore on 22 April where they went into drydock. It was on this date that Ishikawa first joined the Mikuma from the Kure Armed Guard. On 15 May the division left Kure for three days of exercises with Batdiv 1 in the area around Hashirajima, which is an island south of Kure in the Inland Sea. The division returned to Kure on the 18th of May and liberty was granted that evening. (This man did not corroborate the statement previously obtained from Nakamura taken by the Nashville in the raid upon Japan, who stated that since the beginning of the war there had been no liberty in the Japanese Navy). Crudiv 7 sailed from Kure the night of 18 May by way of the Bun go Channel for Guam. One day before arriving at Guam, Ishikawa stated he saw 15 or 20 transports. The trip to Guam took 4 or 5 days. Upon arrival at Guam, ships entered the harbor, moored alongside a tanker and received fuel. Stayed at Guam one day then departed for the Midway Attack in company with Crudiv 7 and two destroyers. At this point the prisoner stated the new name for Guam is Omiyajima as has been previously reported. Upon leaving Guam the division officer informed his division (the engineering division) of the plan to attack Midway. He also stated that after leaving Guam, his division officer announced at Quarters that upon the completion they would proceed to the Aleutian Islands and from there to Australia. The ship refueled once between Guam and the point of attack. As far as can be determined Crudiv 7 was not in visual contact with the transports or any other ships, other than the two DDs, at any time after the first day prior to the arrival at Guam. About two days prior to the attack on this division by American aircraft, the Kumano and Suzuya left the company of the Mogami and Mikuma and the prisoner knew nothing further of their part in the engagement or any casualties they might have incurred.

3. The prisoner stated he had spent three nights on the raft. Since he was picked up on the 9th of June it is believed that the Mikuma was sunk on the 6th of June. The first attack occurred two days prior to the sinking, at which time the ship received a bomb hit in the Warrant Officers Mess. This would make the first attack on 4 June. The following day the ship received no attacks, but on the 6th about noon time, she was again attacked, by 2-engine bombers and received hits on the fo'cas'le, bridge area and amidships. The hit on the fo'cs'le put the forward guns out of commission. The hit near the bridge area set off some ready service AA shells, causing considerable damage to bridge structure and personnel. Several torpedoes were exploded amidships by the hit in that vicinity. The ship caught fire and two destroyers tried to come alongside to rescue personnel; but were driven away and forced to abandon the attempt to rescue survivors, when attacked by an additional flight of American aircraft. One of these destroyers received a hit on the stern and broke out into flame aft. Ishikawa did not know if this destroyer sank. The Mikuma capsized and sank within an hour and a half after initial bombing this date and he found himself on a raft with 19 other men, after having jumped over the side. He estimated there were several hundred men in the water, but the majority of the crew had not been able to get off the ship, before she turned over. When picked up by the Trout on the 9th there were only two men remaining on the raft, the others having either died or fallen off the raft while asleep at night. The men had no food nor water during these three days.

4. At some time after the first attack on the 4th a notice was published on board the Mikuma to the effect that the Midway attack had been abandoned and that this division would operate with Batdiv 1. Just when this notice was published is not known, but thought to be on the 5th. Ishikawa believes that the transports were ordered to return to home waters at this time.

5. Ishikawa saw the Mikuma turn over and sink. He did not know if the Mogami had been sunk or not. However, at the time of the Mikuma's sinking he stated Mogami was on fire (this command has photographs of the burning and abandoning of a Mogami class cruiser with extensive damage amidships and aft. These pictures were shown to Ishikawa, who stated that it was not the Mikuma, because the Mikuma's extensive damage had been forward and around the bridge area). To recapitulate: Insofar as Ishikawa knew the Japanese have sustained the following damage: Mikuma sunk, Mogami on fire, one destroyer hit on fantail, which caught fire aft.

6. The Mikuma carried three planes and two catapults, one plane being stowed in a hangar. He described a method of plane recovery, whereby the plane would taxi up alongside the ship beneath the crane and be hooked on without the use of Cast Recovery apparatus.

7. His description of the engineering plant of the Mikuma corresponded to the information given in Janes' Fighting Ships 1940.

8. He was asked specifically if the Japanese Navy had any sort of electric apparatus which could determine the approach of enemy planes, prior to the time that the enemy planes could be seen and if at any time he had ever seen any bedspring-like antennaes above the mast or director of any ships of the Japanese Navy. We made a statement to the effect that we had heard from a German that the Japanese had such an instrument. He denied any knowledge of Radar equipment, but was of the impression that they had some sort of apparatus on board, which involved the use of earphones for detection of approaching planes and surface vessels. (Photographs of the damaged Mogami class cruiser show no Radar Screens). The Mikuma carried no underwater sound apparatus or depth charges.

9. Ishikawa when questioned about the Japanese carrier strength stated he knew of the following ships" Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Ryujo, Zuikaku, Shokaku and Zuiho. He stated he had never seen nor heard of a carrier named Shoho or Ryukaku. He also said that he had served with a petty officer who had had service on a new converted carrier named the Hayataka (first character is Hayai meaning fast, second character is Taka meaning falcon). (Note: Being an enlisted man, Ishikawa may have been confused on the characters. He later changed his mind, stating that the first character was JUN, hayataka meaning falcon). He sated that the conversion of the Hayataka had just been completed 22 May. He had never heard of carriers name Jun (or Shun) yo or Hiyo. When questioned as to whether the Tsurugisaki and Takasaki had been converted into aircraft carriers, he professed ignorance. he several times stated that he had heard of an aircraft carrier named the Chokai (first character CHO meaning bird, second character KAI meaning sea). His attention was called to the fact that the Japanese had a cruiser named Chokai, but he insisted that there was also an aircraft carrier named Chokai. His reason was that once in Kure a friend of his pointed out two aircraft carriers in the harbor and called them the Hayataka and Chokai. The Yawata Maru he stated is now an aircraft carrier.

10. He stated that the battleship Yamato was the latest battleship in the Japanese Navy and was the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief, Combined Fleet, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. He stated that this ship was 57,000 tons, but he did not know the number of stacks nor the number of guns or turrets, although having professed seeing this ship. He did not believe the Japanese were building battleships, but he did not definitely know, because of the great secrecy surrounding shipbuilding. At this point it might be well to state that he claimed the Hayataka was built at the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Company at Nagasaki and thought the displacement was around 20,000 tons. He also stated he had heard the Japanese were building quite a number of submarines.

11. When questioned concerning the sinking of the Houston, he stated that although he was not aboard the ship at the time, he had heard by rumor that the Houston and another ship had been sunk by planes of the Zuikaku from behind, along with destroyers.

12. He stated he saw the Zuikaku in Kure on the 22nd of May. He said so far as he knew she had not been damaged after the battle of the CORAL SEA.

13. When asked concerning the attitude of the average seaman towards the present war, he stated that they considered it their duty to fight. He also said the average citizen had the same feeling toward the war although as individuals, there is no enmity toward Americans. He said that the Japanese people realized that Japan had struck the first blow in the war, but felt that America had started the war by the imposition of economic restrictions upon Japan. The general attitude being that everybody wanted peace, but that it was their duty to fight until the war was won.

14. The prisoner stated that food was not too plentiful at home, but they had all they wanted to eat on board. Cigarettes are plentiful for the men. A special holiday is declared at irregular intervals, possibly to celebrate some military success, at which time beer and sake is passed out to all hands. The officers and men habitually wear khaki, except when very warm, at which time the top is removed, exposing the white undershirt.

15. According to Ishikawa, he received no accounts of the bombing of Tokyo by way of newspapers or conversations with other Japanese. He knew Tokyo had been bombed, however, but had no idea of the extent of the damage. Likewise, he knew nothing of the CORAL SEA Engagement, and professed complete ignorance of geographical names associated with the Southwest Pacific.

16. Ishikawa is 22 years of age (21 years according to Occidental Calendar), nonchalant and most content with his lot as a prisoner of war in the United States. He has no particular desire to return to Japan before the termination of the war -- in fact, he would prefer to remain here. From all observations, he is endeavoring to be cooperative within the resources of his meager knowledge of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

C. W. Nimitz

Copy to:


    ComSoWesPac (2 copies - 1 copy for BELLCOMIN).
    Comsopac (1 copy)
    Combat Intell., 14th N.D. (1 copy)
    C.T.F. 11 (1 copy)
    C.T.F. 16 (1 copy)
    C.T.F. 17 (1 copy)
    C.T.F. 18 (1 copy)



Source: Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet report, Serial 01849 of 28 June 1942, World War II action reports, Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740.



Published: Tue Mar 20 11:51:15 EDT 2018