The Imperial Japanese Navy (1868–72)

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The Meiji restoration in 1868 led to the overthrow of the Shogunate. From 1868, the newly formed Meiji government continued with reforms to centralize and modernize Japan. The Boshin war started soon. Although the Tokugawa shogunate had been overthrown, tensions between the former ruler and the restoration leaders led to the war.

On 26 March 1868, the first naval review in Japan was held in Osaka Bay, with six ships from the private domain navies of Saga, Chōshū, Satsuma, Kurume, Kumamoto and Hiroshima participating. The total tonnage of these ships was 2,252 tons, which was far smaller than the tonnage of the single foreign vessel (from the French Navy) that also participated. The following year, in July 1869, the Imperial Japanese Navy was formally established, two months after the last combat of the Boshin War.

Enomoto Takeaki in Ezo, aged 32 (1868-1869)

Enomoto Takeaki in Ezo, aged 32 (1868-1869)

Enomoto Takeaki, admiral of the Shogun’s navy, also refused to surrender all his ships, remitting just four ships, and escaped to northern Honshū with the remnants of the Shogun’s Navy, which were eight steam warships and 2,000 men. Following defeat of resistance on Honshū, Enomoto Takeaki later fled to Hokkaidō where he established the breakaway Republic of Ezo. A military force was dispatched by the new government to defeat the rebels culminated with the Naval Battle of Hakodate in 1869. The French-built ironclad Kotetsu, originally ordered by the Tokugawa shogunate, was received by the Imperial side and was used decisively towards the end of the conflict.

Kōtetsu, Japan's first ironclad warship, as CSS Stonewall c. 1865.

Kōtetsu, Japan’s first ironclad warship, as CSS Stonewall c. 1865.

The Kotetsu ship had an extraordinary service life with many countries involved before finally it was commissioned by Japan. On January 6, 1865 the vessel took on a Confederate crew at Copenhagen and was recommissioned the CSS Stonewall while still at sea. The arrival of the “formidable” Stonewall in America was dreaded by the Union, and several ships tried to sink her. Stonewall sprang a leak, however, after leaving Quiberon, Brittany and Captain Page steamed her into Spain for repairs. On March 24 Captain Page steamed the Stonewall out to sea, challenging the U.S. Navy vessels, which turned and fled, fearful of engaging the ironclad. After realizing that the enemy ships had departure, Captain Page steamed for Lisbon. It was planned to cross the Atlantic Ocean. There, the plan consisted in a surprise attack at Port Royal, which was a major base of Major General Sherman on South Carolina. The ship reached Nassau on May 6, and then sailed on to Havana, Cuba. During this stay, the Captain Page learned of the war’s end. There he decided to sell her to the Spanish Captain General of Cuba. The vessel was then turned over to United States authorities in return for reimbursement of the same amount. She was temporarily de-commissioned, stationed at a U.S. Navy dock, until she was offered for sale to the Japanese government of the Tokugawa shogunate. Therefore, France, Confederates, Spain, Union and Japan were the countries which operate the ship.

In the following months after 1868, military forces of the government were put under several organizations which were created and then disbanded until the creation of the establishment of Ministry of Military Affairs (Hyōbushō). The Army Ministry would be created created in April 1872, along with the Navy Ministry, to later replace the Ministry of the Military (兵部省 Hyōbushō) of the early Meiji government. For the first two years of the Meiji state no national, centrally controlled navy existed, the Meiji government only administered those Tokugawa vessels captured from the early phase of the Boshin war.All other naval vessels remained under the control of the various domains which had been acquired during the bakumatsu period. The naval forces mirrored that of the political environment of Japan at the time in which the domains retained their political as well as military independence from the imperial government. Katsu Kaishu a former Tokugawa navy leader was brought into the government because of his naval experience and his ability to control Tokugawa personnel who retained positions in the government naval forces. Upon assuming office Katsu Kaishu recommended the rapid centralization of all naval forces government and domain under one agency.

Kaishu Katsu seated in traditional clothing

Kaishu Katsu seated in traditional clothing

The incident involving Enomoto Takeakis’ refusal to surrender and his escape to Hokkaidō with a large part of former Tokugawa Navy’s best warships embarrassed the Meiji government politically. The imperial side had to rely on considerable naval assistance from the most powerful domains as the government did not have enough naval power to put down the rebellion on its own. In 1871 the domains were abolished altogether and as with the political context the centralization of the navy began with the domains donating their forces to the central government. As a result in 1871 Japan could finally boast a centrally controlled navy, this was also the institutional beginning of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Soon in February 1872, the Ministry of Military Affairs was replaced by a separate Army Ministry and Navy Ministry. In October 1873, Katsu Kaishu became the first Navy Minister.


▽ Imperial Japanese Navy – Nihon Kaigun


organization of the imperial japanese navy

Nihon Kaigun organization
The structure and history of the
Imperial Japanese Navy



aircraft carriers of the imperial japanese navy

Aircraft Carriers
The battle and light aircraft carriers
of the Imperial Japanese Navy



battleships of the Imperial Japanese Navy

The Battleships and Battlecruisers of
the Imperial Japanese Navy



heavy cruisers of the imperial japanese navy

Heavy Cruisers
The heavy cruisers of the
Imperial Japanese Navy



light cruisers of the imperial japanese navy

Light Cruisers
The light cruisers
of the Imperial Japanese Navy



destroyers of the imperial japanese navy

The destroyers squadrons of the
Imperial Japanese Navy



submarines of the imperial japanese navy

The submarines fleet
of the Imperial Japanese Navy



auxiliary ships of the imperial japanese navy

Auxiliary Ships
The training, hospital, and other
auxiliary ships in the IJN



timeline of the japanese imperial navy warships

The TimeLine of ships
The design and operations
timeline records of the IJN warships



japanese land-based air groups

Naval Air Groups
The Land-Based Japanese
Navy Air-Groups



Japanese navy landing forces

Naval Landing Forces 1928-1945
Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces (SNLF),
Landing Forces (SNLF) 海軍特別陸戦隊



japanese secret weapons and technologies

Secret Weapons of the IJN
The secret weapons and teachnologies
of the Imperial Japanese Navy



strategic plans and doctrines of the IJN

Strategic Plans of the IJN
The strategic doctrines and
plans of the IJN

▽ Simulations & Wargames

▽ World War II: Pacific Theater


war in the pacific: admiral edition computer game

War in the Pacific: Admiral Edition
A computer-based simulation of
the entire Pacific War with incredible detail.



Empire of the sun_2nd edition boardgame wargame

The Empire of the Sun (2nd Ed.)
An strategy boardgame for the
Pacific War with solitaire playability.



pacific war boardgame

Pacific War
A fantastic monster game for the
Pacific War with many scenarios.



pacific war 2nd edition boardgame

Pacific War (2nd Ed.)
The 2nd Edition of the masterpiece
Pacific War game is coming soon!

▽Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF)


organization of the JMSDF

The organization of the JMSDF
The units and structure of
the Modern Japanese Navy (JMSDF)



districts of the jmsdf

The Regional District Forces
The locations and bases of the
five regional districts of the JMSDF



DDH helicopter destroyers of the jmsdf

Helicopter Destroyers DDH
The modern helicopter destroyers
of the Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force



DDG Guided missile destroyer of the JMSDF

Guided Missile destroyers DDG
The advanced guided missile destroyers
of the Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force



DD destroyers of the JMSDF

Destroyers DD
The destroyers of the
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force



Landing Tank ships of the jmsdf

Tank Landing Ships LST
The tank lading ships of the
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force



submarines of the jmsdf

Submarines SS
The submarine fleet of the
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force



auxiliary ships of the jmsdf

Support and Auxiliary ships
Patrol and other support ships of the
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force



aviation and helicopter units of the jmsdf

The aviation of the JMSDF
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force aircrafts
and helicopter fleet



naval landing forces of the jmsdf

Naval landing forces of the JMSDF
The naval forces for landings
of the JMSDF



new weapons of the jmsdf

Future projects of the JMSDF
New coming units and future
developments of the JMSDF



strategy of the jmsdf

The strategy of the JMSDF
The current doctrine and
strategy of the JMSDF



strategy of the jmsdf

News & manoeuvres
News and military
exercises of the JMSDF

▽ Simulations & Wargames

▽ World War II: European Theater


unconditional surrender

Unconditional Surrender
A boardgame with innovative mechanics
for the entire World War II in European Front.



supreme commander

The Supreme commander
A strategic game at corps/army level
for the World war II in Europe.




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