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Minoru Genda (源 田 実, Genda Minoru ?, Hiroshima, August 16, 1904 – Matsuyama, Ehime, August 15, 1989) was a Japanese soldier who served in the Japanese Imperial Navy before and throughout the Second World War.
He stood out especially for having collaborated with Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in the design of the plan for the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by Japanese aircraft from the aircraft carrier fleet, which meant the entry of the United States. in the war.
Minoru Genda was born into a family that stood out for the studies of their children, since two of them studied at the University of Tokyo. For his part, another of his brothers chose to pursue a military career, entering the Imperial Japanese Military Academy. Minoru, after making his first studies in Hiroshima, decided for the Navy, entering the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy.
In the period before the Second World War, Minoru Genda stood out for his enthusiasm for the promotion of the air weapon, while urging his commanders to study practical applications of its use in combat.
The attack on Pearl Harbor
Map showing how the attack on Pearl Harbor developed. The two waves of Japanese air attack approached from different directions. The US radar that detected them at a distance of 200 miles (320 km) was at the top end of this map.
In February 1941, Admiral Yamamoto sent a letter to Genda, then a member of the staff of the First Air Division and considered to be the best pilot in the Imperial Japanese Navy, in which he asked him to “investigate detailed the viability of an attack plan “with planes to Pearl Harbor, recognizing that” it would not be easy to carry out something like this “. Two months later Yamamoto received the answer written by Rear Admiral Takijiro Onishi, head of the Eleventh Air Division, who disappointed him because Onishi and Genda only spoke of bombardment in chopped and in height and had ruled out the use of torpedoes launched from airplanes due to the shallow depths of the Pearl Harbor waters – the Japanese torpedoes needed about thirty meters to avoid embedding themselves in the bottom and heading towards their target, while the average depth at Pearl Harbor was twelve meters. But Yamomoto insisted that the attack with torpedoes was possible and responded that they would have to be improved and the pilots trained in their use Yamamoto and Genda had known each other since 1933, when Genda was stationed aboard the aircraft carrier Ryujo.
Genda and Onishi went to work on solving the problems posed by the use of torpedoes. With the help of the technicians they were able to drastically reduce the depth at which they had to sink to be able to target, and trained the pilots to fly very low and thus reduce the possibility that the torpedoes were embedded in the seabed when they were launched. from the airplanes. In September the war simulation exercises began in Kinko Bay, Kagoshima, chosen for its resemblance to Pearl Harbor. None of the pilots who participated, except Genda and Onishi, knew what the objective was. By the end of September, the plan to attack Pearl Harbor was ready. On October 20, it was approved by the General Staff of the Imperial Navy.
The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7 was crowned with success: Japanese forces lost only 64 men, one submarine and five pocket submarines. Of the 441 available Japanese planes, 350 took part in the attack and 29 were shot down during the course of the battle, with what appeared to be Yamamoto’s bold plan had achieved its objectives. However, the facts showed in the long run that the victory had not been a broad strategic victory, but only a small tactical victory that in the end ended with the concept of the battleship as the main weapon forever, and that also caused the entry into the war of the world’s leading economic power.
Genda participated during the following years in various battles throughout the theater of operations of the Pacific, managing to survive the war.
Years after the war
After the Second World War with the Japanese surrender, Genda continued his career in the Japanese Self-Defense Air Force (between 1954 and 1962), reaching the rank of General of Division (Kūshō (空 将)).
After retiring from the army, he was deputy in the Japanese Parliament between 1962 and 1986 in the ranks of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD), the main Japanese party of conservative ideology.
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