Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Ijuin Matsuji (1893–1944)

Japanese navy admiral who engaged U.S. Navy forces in Empress Augusta Bay. Born in Tokyo on 21 April 1893, Ijuin Matsuji was the son of a future commander of the Combined Fleet. He joined the navy in December 1915 and served on a number of destroyers before commanding a destroyer flotilla in the years preceding World War II. In 1932, Ijuin was an aide-de-camp to the puppet emperor of Manzhoudiguo (Manchoutikuo), Aixinjueluo Puyi (Henry Pu-yi). During the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in August 1942, he was captain of the heavy cruiser Atago.

In October 1943, Ijuin was promoted to rear admiral and took command of 3rd Destroyer Squadron at Rabaul. His early skirmishing with U.S. Navy forces while supplying isolated Japanese garrisons proved inconclusive. On 6 October 1943, Ijuin led nine destroyers to evacuate Vella Lavella. Intercepted by an inferior U.S. naval force, he completed his mission. Each side lost one destroyer, and two U.S. destroyers were damaged.

On 1 November 1943, U.S. Marines landed at Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville. A Japanese force sortied from Rabaul, with Ijuin commanding the left flank of the screen made up of the light cruiser Sendai (flag) and three destroyers. Altogether, the Japanese had two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and six destroyers. A slightly larger U.S. Navy force defended the American transports. In the early morning of 2 November, the two sides collided near Empress Augusta Bay. In the ensuing engagement, the Sendai was sunk. Ijuin was rescued by a submarine and returned to Rabaul. He was not criticized for his role in the battle. He was then assigned to Singapore, where he died in an accident on 24 May 1944.

Tim J. Watts


Further Reading
D'Albas, Andrieu. Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. New York: Devin-Adair, 1957.; Dull, Paul S. A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy (1941–1945). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1978.; Morison, Samuel Eliot. History of the United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 5, The Struggle for Guadalcanal. Boston: Little, Brown, 1949.
 

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