Arima Masafumi (1895-1944)

Photograph of Arima Masafumi

Chiran Kamikaze Peace Museum

Via Wikimedia Commons

Arima Masafumi was born in Kagoshima prefecture to a family of Confucian scholars. Graduating from the Naval Academy in 1915, he served on a large number of ships early in his career, and graduated from the Naval Staff College in 1928. He became a naval aviator in the early 1930s and commanded naval air stations just prior to war.

Arima became captain of the Shokaku on 25 May 1942 and participated in the Battle of Santa Cruz.  Promoted to rear admiral in 1943, he was in command of 26 Air Flotilla in the Philippines at the time of the American invasion in 1944.  He proposed that suicide tactics be employed, and personally led one of the first special attack missions after tearing off his rank insignia, on 26 October 1944.  The mission accomplished nothing, but mistaken reports that a U.S. aircraft carrier had been sunk encouraged other commanders to follow a similar path.

Described as "slender, gentle, softspoken" (Hastings 2007), and as "the picture of dignity" (Inoguchi et al. 1958) who wore his full uniform even in the tropics, he seemed an unlikely candidate to usher in the most desperate tactic used by the Japanese during the war.

Service record

1895-9-25   born
Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 33rd in a class of 95. Assigned to Iwate
1916-8-22   BB Shikishima
1916-12-1 Ensign  
1917-9-10   CL Iwate
1918-11-1   DD Uzuki
1918-12-1 Lieutenant junior grade     
1919-1-18   BB Suwo
1919-12-1   Torpedo School Basic Course
1920-5-31   Gunnery School Basic Course
1920-12-1   BB Kongo
1921-12-1 Lieutenant Gunner School Advanced Course
1922-12-1   DD Ashi
1923-12-1   CL Idzumo
1925-4-15   BB Hiei
1926-12-1   Naval College A-Course
1927-12-1 Lieutenant commander
1928-12-10   BB Haruna
1929-9-5   Staff, 3 Naval District
1931-8-20   AC Asama
1932-11-15   Staff, Cruiser Divison 3
1933-5-20   Staff, Cruiser Division 7
1933-11-15 Commander  
1934-11-15   Instructor, Naval College
1937-7-11   Staff, Cruiser Division 10
1937-10-20   Staff, Cruiser Division 14
1937-12-1 Captain Commander, AV Kamikawa Maru
1938-9-1   Commander, Sasebo Air Group
1938-12-15   Commander, Kisarazu Air Group
1939-11-15   Commander, Yokohama Air Group
1941-4-17   Executive officer, Yokosuka Air Group
1942-5-10   1 Naval District
1942-5-25   Commander, CV Shokaku
1943-2-16   Chief, Bureau of Education, Naval Air Command
1943-5-1 Rear admiral
1944-4-1   Staff, Central Pacific Area Fleet
1944-4-9   Commander, 26 Air Flotilla
1944-10-26 Vice admiral
Killed in action


Dupuy (1992)

Hastings (2007)

Inoguchi, Nakajima, and Pineau (1958)

Materials of IJN (accessed 2007-4-27)

Prados (1995)

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