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. To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House. I wonder if our politicians, among whom armchair arguments about war are being glibly bandied about in the name of state politics, have confidence as to the final outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.
As quoted in At Dawn We Slept (1981) by Gordon W. Prange, p. 11; this quote was stated in a letter to Ryoichi Sasakawa prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Minus the last sentence, it was taken out of context and interpreted in America as a boast that Japan would conquer the entire continental United States. The omitted sentence showed Yamamoto's counsel of caution towards a war that would cost Japan dearly.
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. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack.Isoroku Yamamoto
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
The fiercest serpent may be overcome by a swarm of ants.Isoroku Yamamoto