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Abstract

Well known as the powerful opponent of the United States Navy and the other Allied navies during the Second World War, the Imperial Japanese Navy have a long-storied career through time. However, most works are written about the Japanese Navy’s combat actions during the Second World War. This paper would examine the Japanese Navy from the inception in 1868, up to the beginning of the American entry of the Second World War in 1941, as more competent writers covered the war years and its end. I will detail the Navy’s search for political independence, its rivalry with the Imperial Japanese Army over budgets and political influence, building up its fleet size, using and manipulating public opinion to help achieve its goals and its successes in warfare, plus its hubris. The Empire of Japan’s economy was not as powerful compared to the other major European and American naval powers, however its obsession with political independence, prestige of a strong military, and the need to engage in economic competition, including colonization, often forced the nation and the military themselves to often engage in matters outside of their capacity, such as continual military expansion despite lack of funds. This paper aims to tell the Japanese Navy’s story outside of the Second World War and demonstrate that it was more than just a footnote in naval history, it was able to rise above its humble beginnings, punch above its weight in certain engagements and help elevated the Empire of Japan into a world power until its final defeat in 1945.

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