In March 1943, Nakagawa was promoted to colonel and assigned as commander of the 2nd Infantry Regiment of the Guandong (Kwantung) Army. In April 1944, his regiment was deployed to Peleliu Island in the southwest Pacific, where he commanded some 6,000 defending troops. Nakagawa adopted new tactics for the island. With scant resources and lacking the firepower to prevent a U.S. landing, Nakagawa ordered construction of the main defenses in the island's interior to extract the highest possible cost in American lives. He also prohibited suicidal attacks as wasteful of manpower and unlikely to achieve satisfactory results. Following the landing by U.S. Marines on 15 September 1944, Nakagawa directed a protracted three-month defense of the island that cost U.S. forces some 9,600 casualties. Of the Japanese defenders, only 33 surrendered or were captured. Nakagawa was himself killed in action on 24 November 1944, the same day he was promoted to brevet major general. The Marines secured Peleliu three days later. Nakagawa's defensive tactics were later duplicated on Iwo Jima.
Gailey, Harry A. Peleliu. Annapolis, MD: Nautical and Aviation Publishing, 1983.; Hallas, James H. The Devil's Anvil: The Assault on Peleliu. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1994.