I don’t really know how to pronounce it properly, but the English translation is one of the more famous coded messages in American history…and the subject of this evening’s very brief lesson.
When Admiral Nagumo left Kyushu in late November of 1941, he did so with what was, at that time, the largest fleet (named the Kido Butai) in the world. He also left with a bit of unfinished business. The fleet was headed for a spot a couple of hundred miles northwest of Hawai’i, from where it would launch attacks against Pearl Harbor. The actual attack orders comprised the unfinished business.
The Japanese government pretty much knew that it was going to war, but still held out a bit of hope that diplomacy would win the day. The problem was that Japan wasn’t really interested in making any serious concessions, so “diplomacy” basically came down to the United States giving Japan whatever she wanted in the Pacific. And that wasn’t going to happen.
So on December 2, 1941, the coded message, Niitakayama Nobore (“Climb Mount Niitaka“), arrived on Nagumo’s flagship. The Admiral then opened a set of top secret documents which confirmed that Japan would be going to war with the United States, Britain, and Holland. It also gave a date for the opening of hostilities…December 8th (the 7th on the Pearl Harbor side of the International Date Line).
The stage was set…unless the U.S. discovered Kido Butai, Pearl Harbor was squarely centered in the Japanese bullseye.