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

1942                                                                                Agano

1941                                                                                 Kashii (*)

1940                                                                                 Katori (*), Kashima (*)

1939                            Chikuma

1938                             Tone

1937                             Kumano, Suzuya

1935                             Mikuma, Mogami

1932                             Atago, Chokai, Maya, Takao

1929                             Ashigara, Haguro, Miyoko

1928                             Nachi

1927                             Aoba, Kinugasa

1926                             Furutaka, Kako

1925                                                                              Abukuma, Jintsu, Naka

1924                                                                              Sendai

1923                                                                               Isuzu, Yubari, Yura

1922                                                                               Kinu, Nagara, Natori

1921                                                                               Kiso, Kitakami, Oi, Tama

1920                                                                               Kuma

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.