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Rear-Admiral Onishi, Takajiro

Takajiro Onishi was born in 1891 and became one of Japan's leading airmen. In early 1941, when he was chief of staff of the Eleventh Air Fleet, a land-based force, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (Yamamoto, Isoruko) asked him to undertake a feasibility study into the concept of the Hawaii Operation, the attack on Pearl Harbor. Onishi's first reaction was negative. First, the practicality seemed low, but second, and more important, the American reaction would, he predicted, be extreme and guarantee their unshakeable commitment to defeating Japan. He was the only Japanese commander to realize this. He did, however, undertake the study, putting Commander Minoru Genda (Genda, Minoru) to work on it. Genda defined the eight essentials to be fulfilled for success. On the outbreak of war Onishi led the attack on Clark Field, near Manila in the Philippines and destroyed American air power in the region for the time being. In October 1944 he became commander of Fifth Air Base in Luzon, acting in support of the Japanese efforts to stop the Americans in the Leyte Gulf. He had only 100 aircraft and therefore set up the Special Attack Group, the unit that became known as the first kamikaze force. At first very effective, it was, naturally, a diminishing asset. After the Japanese surrender on 15 August 1945 Onishi committed suicide.

See also: Genda, Minoru; Hawaii Operation; Pearl Harbor; Yamamoto, Isoroku