In April 1945, the Japanese battleship Yamato, the pride of the Imperial Japanese Navy and heaviest battleship in the world, was dispatched from Japan with nine other warships on a suicide mission against Allied forces attacking Okinawa. Before reaching Okinawa, the task force was heavily damaged by American carrier-borne aircraft. The Yamato and five other Japanese warships were sunk. Of Yamato’s 3,000-man crew, only 269 survived.

The loss of the Yamato was a tragic blow to Japanese morale. Viewed as the supreme symbol of naval power, many citizens believed that Imperial Japan could never fall as long as this great warship was still in action.