29 Isoroku Yamamoto Quotes from Japanese Marshal Admiral

Yamamoto Isoroku, originally Takano Isoroku (1884), was a key Japanese naval officer who masterminded the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack.

Graduating from the Japanese Naval Academy in 1904, he was injured during the Russo-Japanese War.

Adopted by the Yamamoto family in 1916, he studied English at Harvard and took flight training in 1924.

During his 1926-28 U.S. stationing, he gained insights into American naval prowess and industrial strength.


Back in Japan, Yamamoto championed the development of fast carrier-borne aircraft, such as the Zero fighters.

While he orchestrated the Pearl Harbor attack, he also predicted a protracted war with the U.S. would spell doom for Japan. In 1943, U.S. intelligence led to his plane being targeted and shot down, ending his life.

Yamamoto’s legacy is his revolutionary focus on carrier-based aircraft tactics, coupled with a blend of tactical brilliance and strategic misjudgment.

Here are some of the top quotes by Isoroku Yamamoto.

Best Isoroku Yamamoto Quotes


Even a burglar hesitates to go back for more. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.


A military man can scarcely pride himself on having smitten a sleeping enemy; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.


You cannot invade mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.


I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.


People who don’t gamble aren’t worth talking to. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.


I was once the captain of Akagi, and it is with heartfelt regret that I must now order that she be sunk. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

I sincerely desire to be appointed Commander in Chief of the air fleet to attack Pearl Harbor so that I may personally command that attack force. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

As long as tides of war are in our favor, the United States will never stop fighting. As a consequence, the war will continue for several years, during which materiel will be exhausted, vessels and arms will be damaged, and they can be replaced only with great difficulties. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.


Japan has always regarded the aircraft carrier as one of the most offensive of armaments. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

Anyone who has seen the auto factories in Detroit and the oil fields in Texas knows that Japan lacks the national power for a naval race with America. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

Today, as chief Of the guardians of the seas Of the land of the dawn, I gaze up with awe At the rising sun! ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

Famous Isoroku Yamamoto Quotes

In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.


If we are to have a war with America, we will have no hope of winning unless the U.S. fleet in Hawaiian waters can be destroyed. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

The most important thing we have to do first of all in a war with the U.S., I firmly believe, is to fiercely attack and destroy the U.S. main fleet at the outset of the war so that the morale of the U.S. Navy and her people goes down to such an extent that it cannot be recovered. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

Even though there wasn’t much damage, it’s a disgrace that the skies over the imperial capital should have been defiled without a single enemy plane being shot down. It provides a regrettably graphic illustration of the saying that a bungling attack is better than the most skillful defense. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

I felt from the start that America was not likely to relinquish lightly positions established at the cost of such sacrifices, and I pressed the view that a high degree of preparation and willingness to make sacrifices would be necessary on our side, but everybody here always persists in facile optimism until the very worst actually happens. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

Top Isoroku Yamamoto Quotes


To fight the United States is like fighting the whole world. But it has been decided. So I will fight the best I can. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

I entered the navy with the great ambition of becoming a naval soldier and going to war. Either I die from this festering wound – because I refuse to have my arm amputated – or I recover from it and continue being a soldier. I have a one-in-two chance, and I shall bet my life on it! ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

Unless more efforts based upon long-range planning are put into military preparations and operations, it will be very hard to win the final victory. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

A man of real purpose puts his faith in himself always. Sometimes he refuses even to put his faith in the gods. So from time to time, he falls into error. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

The fate of the Empire rests on this enterprise. Every man must devote himself totally to the task in hand. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.


I’m against war with the United States. But I am an officer of the Imperial Navy and a subject of His Majesty the Emperor. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it is not enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. We would have to march into Washington and sign the treaty in the White House. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

Popular Isoroku Yamamoto Quotes

Never tell anyone outside my staff that the Submarine Force and the First Air Fleet were responsible for the failure at Midway. The failure at Midway was mine. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

The example afforded before the Great War by Germany – which, if only it had exercised forbearance for another five or ten years, would by now be unrivaled in Europe – suggests that the task facing us now is to build up our strength calmly and with circumspection. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

If a war breaks out with the United States, the navy will have to put all its strength into interceptive operations, so… massive sea-borne supplies might be momentarily interrupted. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.


A brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

Although a precise outlook on the international situation is hard for anyone to make, it is needless to say that now the time has come for the Navy, especially the Combined Fleet, to devote itself seriously to war preparations, training, and operational plans with a firm determination that a conflict with the U.S. and Great Britain is inevitable. ~ Isoroku Yamamoto.

So these were the 29 top Isoroku Yamamoto quotes and sayings.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Herodotus quotes and Horace Walpole quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar