Mako: A Tribute to a Fine Actor
Pearl Harbor

Fiction and Facts

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The Actor

"A brilliant man would have found a way not to fight a war."

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant." - Mako as Admiral Yamamoto


Veteran actor Mako portrays Admiral Yamamoto, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor. He believes audiences in Japan will be critical of the movie for failing to demonstrate that Admiral Yamamoto tried to avoid war with United States, but lost out to General Tojo and Japans Army brass.

"The conflict that existed between the Japanese Army and the Japanese Navy is non-existent in this film, he said. If they knew they were going to budget for such things as special effects and aerial combat scenes in this movie, they could have set aside a little money for historical consultants and translators to ensure accurate historical material was woven into the scenario of Pearl Harbor." - Mako

See the quote here


Commander in Chief of The Imperial Japanese Navy, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is played by Academy Award-nominated actor Mako. Mako, who was born and raised in Japan until he was 15 years old, was only in second grade when the navy's combined fleet attacked Pearl Harbor. "I remember going to school in the morning. I think it was Monday, and feeling there was a strange atmosphere. Everybody was talking in whispers: We started a war with America. I remember
thinking, War? What does that mean? I had seen footage of the war with China, all the destruction. I realized that's what war meant. It was as if I got hit in the solar plexus and couldn't breathe. A kind of fear and panic overtook my body."

Mako was pleased with the global vision the film presents. "Historically, Hollywood pictures about World War II depict the Japanese as the evil side," he explains. "That's too much to cope with. Every war is started for a reason, usually economic, and in that sense this picture depicts the Japanese side in a fair light. There is no evil blackness about any of the characters."

Although Mako is not a history buff, he was aware of Yamamoto's background. Educated at Harvard, Yamamoto had served as a naval attach to various Japanese embassies, including the United States. When Japan first considered war with America, Yamamoto objected and was very vocal about his position against a strike.

"He was well learned in terms of Western culture," notes Mako. "So many from the military, admirals and generals, became ministers in the cabinet and steam-rolled the politics of that time. They had no perception of Western culture or attitudes and didn't understand Western resources. In that sense Yamamoto was up against the wall and out-numbered. Since it was inevitable that they were going to war, he did his job with the utmost."

Read the entire article HERE

In a smart yet understated performance, Mako must bear the weight as the film's antagonist and he is allowed to portray Admiral Yamamoto as a reasoned, thoughtful strategist who becomes difficult for the audience to hiss. Two key lines define his character. When Yamamoto is congratulated for his brilliant attack plan, he replies, "A truly brilliant man would find a way not to go to war." Another cast member, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, reportedly suggested Yamamoto's line complaining that the U.S. oil embargo was pushing Japan into war, a line that takes the edge off the Japanese motives.

Read the rest of Frank Abe's review here (The first I've read to highlight Mako's performance, and ONLY Mako from Pearl Harbor!)

The Admiral

"A brilliant man will find a way not to fight a war."

"We have awakened a sleeping giant and have instilled in him a terrible resolve." - Admiral Yamamoto after he was informed of the successful attack.


Historical links pertaining to the event of Pearl Harbor - What Really Happened

Covers everything - pictures, notes, facts, maps, and more!

National Geographic site with info. about the real events/people of Pearl Harbor, as well as the movie itself

Historical Photos before, during, and after the attack on PH

Lots of good information about the actual Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

Movie links related to Pearl Harbor

The Facts Behind the Fiction - what really happened

Filming locations for the movie "Pearl Harbor" - with photos and addresses.

Touchstone Pictures' "Pearl Harbor" - Official Web Site

View movie trailers for Pearl Harbor

Mr. Movie refers to Mako as a "screen legend" - Right on!! (Although be warned the rest of his review of the movie is negative).

Collection of movie reviews

Interviews with the producers & stars of PH (but no interview with Mako)

Movie Goofs - viewers report inconsistencies found in the movie

Shop for Pearl Harbor items on

From a different perspective.....

A look at the movie through Asian eyes's thoughts about the movie & it's portrayal of the Japanese

Asian reviewer's thoughts on the film

Asian female reviews Pearl Harbor

What Japan thinks of the film