Tanaka was a Commander of destroyer flottillas, the most highly trained units of the Japanese Navy, and particularly expert in night action. Commanding from his flagship, the Jintsu, he was involved in every major battle of the first 18 months of the war. At Midway, Tanaka commanded the transport group of the Midway Occupation Force. He was especially notorious for running the ‘Tokyo Express’ which operated nighttime supply runs to the Japanese on Guadalcanal and regularly slipped through the greatly superior American naval forces equipped with radar. At the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal 12-14 November 1942, Tanaka escorted by KONDO attempted to land eleven transports at Guadalcanal. He was only able to land 2000 soldiers and paltry amounts of rice and ammunition. On 30 November while trying to float barrels of supplies ashore to Guadalcanal, Tanaka was surprised by a larger American force and was able to inflict a humiliating defeat on them due to the superior training and experience of his men in night action. In July 1943 Tanaka was still trying to reinforce, troops on Kolombangara in the Solomons. US methods of nightfighting had improved and Tanaka’s flagship was devastated by gunfire and sank. Shortly after, Tanaka protested about the waste of resources in trying to supply these islands; in reply he was dismissed.