Note that the Imperial Japanese Navy built eight battlecruisers between 1907 and 1915. Four were in use at the start of World War II: Hiei, Kirishima, Haruna and Kongo. The first two were sunk in November 1942.
By year of commission
Year Heavy cruiser Light cruiser
1944 Ioshima, Sakawa, Yasoshima
1943 Noshiro, Oyodo, Yahagi
1941 Kashii (*)
1940 Katori (*), Kashima (*)
1937 Kumano, Suzuya
1935 Mikuma, Mogami
1932 Atago, Chokai, Maya, Takao
1929 Ashigara, Haguro, Miyoko
1927 Aoba, Kinugasa
1926 Furutaka, Kako
1925 Abukuma, Jintsu, Naka
1923 Isuzu, Yubari, Yura
1922 Kinu, Nagara, Natori
1921 Kiso, Kitakami, Oi, Tama
1919 Tatsuta, Tenryu
- = built as headquarters and training ships as opposed to combat vessels.
- Note that the Ioshima was actually a recycling of the Chinese cruiser Ning Hai sunk in 1937 and that Yasoshima was a recycling of the Chinese cruiser Ping Hai also sunk in 1937
- the four light cruisers built in 1942 and 1943 were intended as command ships for destroyer flotillas and could be described as heavy destroyers as opposed to light cruisers
Four heavy cruisers were sunk in 1942: Furutaka, Kako, Mikuma and Kinugasa. Eight were sunk in 1944 and four in 1945. Myoko and Takao survived the war.
Although 1932 clearly showed Japanese shipyards could produce it would be reasonable to expect one or perhaps two heavy cruisers per year. The Ibuki was started in April of 1942 and launched in May of 1943. She was never completed – the decision was made to convert her into a light aircraft carrier in December 1943. That work was suspended in March of 1945 in favor of construction of small submarines. A sister ship to Ibuki was started in June 1942 but then stopped in favor of work on the carrier Amagi. It is hard to understand why there were no more heavy cruisers produced after Tone in 1938 and Chikuma in 1939.
Even harder to understand is the huge gap in light cruisers – none produced between 1925 and essentially 1943. As noted above, the ten light cruisers built in the 1940s were not really typical light cruisers so one could say construction stopped in 1925. Of 23 finished, three survived the war: Sakawa, Kashima and Kitakami. Two were sunk in 1942, 2 in 1943, 16 in 1944 and 4 in 1945.