Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

    ‘Kishi’s decision to prospect for oil on a large scale in the early 1920s may have been influenced by Isoroku Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy.  Yamamoto was born as Isoroku Takano in Kishi’s home town of Nagaoka.  His house was only a few streets from Kishi’s.  In 1915 Takano succeeded to the family of Tatewaki Yamamoto, the karo (chief retainer) of the daimyo family of Makino.  When Kishi went to the Russo-Japanese War, one of the fellow soldiers was Kihachi Takano, the brother of Isoroku Takano.’[2]

    ‘Commander Isoroku Yamamoto stayed in Boston and Washington D.C. from June 1919 to July 1921, refining his English language and inspecting actual conditions of this country.  He noticed importance of oil and airplanes in future naval battles, and studied these subjects intensively.  In the early half of 1921 he traveled this country widely to observe many oil-producing and oil-refining centers.  He was accompanied by Michio Kaku, a councilor for the Japanese Embassy. Yamamoto came to Southeast Texas and stopped at Kishi’s place.  (The following sentence is Orii’s conjecture.) The naval officer explained the approaching completion of Japan’s eight-battleship, eight-cruiser squadron, emphasized significance of petroleum for its efficient maneuvers, and asked Kishi to develop Texas oil resources for Japan.’[2]

    ‘Isoroku Yamamoto visited Kishi’s oil field again in February or March 1924.  Yamamoto, then a captain of the Imperial Japanese Navy, had completed a tour of inspecting the military state of affairs in Europe and the United States and was on the way back to Japan.  He was accompanied by Vice Admiral Kenji Ide, a member of the Military Council, and Michio Kaku, his traveling companion three years before and then head of the recently opened Japanese Consulate in New Orleans. Yamamoto was pleased to see oil exploration and production under Kishi’s direction.  Back in Japan, he advised the Nippon Petroleum Company to advance into this country and engage in oil business, but in vain.’[2]

    Taro Kishi recalled Yamamoto saying that he was not welcome in the gambling houses in New Orleans. They thought he was a professional gambler and excluded him from their establishments.

Visit of Isoruko Yamamoto (second from left) to Orangefield, 1924. The insert is the signatures of the visitors. This was found by Kazuhiko Orii in the guest book of Kichimatsu Kishi, now owned by Henry Hirasaki, Kishi's grandson. [Yamamoto Memorial Museum, Nagaoka]

    Upon inspecting various places in Europe, Isoroku visited the Orange Oil Fields in Texas in the U.S.  Isoroku made a serious inspection of the oil fields, which would have close relations to his hometown, and while so doing, he also felt a strong under strength of America.  This trip resulted in even strengthing his beliefs. That belief was that this era will be controlled by oil and aircrafts. [Morning Edition Niigata Nippou, March 28, 2003]

Isoroku Yamamoto
Commander of the Japanese Allied Naval Forces

    From the earlier days, he proposed the importance of oil and aircrafts.  He was knowlegeable of the U.S.  He opposed the tripartite agreement while he was a Naval Attache.  He died as the Commander of the Japanese Allied Naval Forces during WW II.

The aircraft which transported Yamamoto in his final flight. The U.S. had broken the Japanese code and knew which plane carried Yamamoto. The wreckage was recovered from New Guinea and moved to the Yamamoto Memorial Museum in 1997.