Famous Japanese Leaders

Find out more about the greatest Japanese Leaders, including Shinzō Abe, Akihito, Satoru Iwata, Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Akihito

Akihito.
10
Famous As: 125th Emperor of Japan
Birthdate: December 23, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan

Akihito served as the 125th emperor of Japan after succeeding his father to the Chrysanthemum Throne. As emperor, he played a crucial role in inspiring people in 2011 when Japan was struck by two major disasters: Fukushima I nuclear crisis and Great East Japan Earthquake. Akihito abdicated the throne in 2019, becoming the first emperor to do so since 1817.

 2 Tokugawa Ieyasu

Tokugawa Ieyasu.
7
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: January 31, 1543
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Okazaki Castle, Mikawa (now Okazaki, Japan)
Died: June 1, 1616

Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. He is considered one of the three "Great Unifiers" of Japan. He was the son of Matsudaira Hirotada, a minor local warlord. He grew up to be an ambitious young man with exemplary leadership qualities and eventually founded the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. 

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 3 Shinzō Abe

Shinzō Abe.
6
Famous As: Former Prime Minister of Japan
Birthdate: September 21, 1954
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tokyo

Shinzō Abe is a Japanese politician who became the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Japan after serving as prime minister of Japan from 2006 to 2007 and then from 2012 to 2020. Aged 52 at the time of assuming office as the prime minister, Abe is also the youngest Japanese post-war prime minister.

 4 Isoroku Yamamoto

Isoroku Yamamoto.
9
Famous As: Japanese Naval Officer Who Conceived The Pearl Harbor Attack in 1941
Birthdate: April 4, 1884
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nagaoka, Niigata, Japan
Died: April 18, 1943
Isoroku Yamamoto was a Marshal Admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy. During World War II, he served as the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet and oversaw operations such as the Pearl Harbor attack. He died when his fighter plane was shot down by the U.S. Air Forces
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 5 Hideki Tojo

Hideki Tojo.
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Famous As: 27th Prime Minister of Japan
Birthdate: December 30, 1884
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kōjimachi, Tokyo, Japan
Died: December 23, 1948

Hideki Tojo headed the Imperial Japanese Army and was the Japanese minister of war, apart from being Japan’s prime minister from 1941 to 1944. His tenure witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor. After Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers, Tojo was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death.

 6 Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
5
Famous As: Japanese Samurai
Birthdate: March 17, 1537
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Died: September 18, 1598

Japanese samurai and daimyō Toyotomi Hideyoshi of the Sengoku period, also known as the second Great Unifier of Japan, became the Chancellor of the Realm (Daijō-daijin) and Imperial Regent (kampaku). He constructed the Osaka Castle, banned slavery, and established the Tokugawa class system and the Council of Five Elders.

 7 Tomoyuki Yamashita

Tomoyuki Yamashita.
7
Famous As: Japanese General
Birthdate: November 8, 1885
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Otoyo, Kōchi Prefecture, Japan
Died: February 23, 1946

Tomoyuki Yamashita was a Japanese general who played an important role during World War II, during which he commanded the Imperial Japanese Army. He led Japanese forces during the Battle of Singapore and invasion of Malaya and his successful campaigns earned him the nickname The Tiger of Malaya.

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 8 Saigo Takamori

Saigo Takamori
5
Famous As: Samurai, Poet
Birthdate: January 23, 1828
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kagoshima
Died: September 24, 1877

Saigo Takamori was a samurai and he is considered as one of the most influential samurais in Japanese history. He was one of the three great nobles who led the Meiji Restoration. Saigo Takamori lived during the late Edo and early Meiji periods and led the imperial forces at the Battle of Toba–Fushimi. He was dubbed "the true last Samurai" after his death. 

 9 Minamoto no Yoshitsune

Minamoto no Yoshitsune.
4
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: 1159 AD
Birthplace: Kyōto
Died: June 15, 1189
Japanese samurai hero Minamoto no Yoshitsune has been immortalized through art, series, and kabuki theater. He is remembered for his legendary win against monk Benkei and his victory over the Heike army at Dan no Ura. After an ally’s son killed all his vassals, Yoshitsune committed ritual suicide, at 30. 

 10 Akechi Mitsuhide

Akechi Mitsuhide
3
Famous As: Samurai
Birthdate: March 10, 1528
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gife Prefecture
Died: July 2, 1582

 11 Date Masamune

Date Masamune
3
Famous As: Samurai
Birthdate: September 5, 1567
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Yonezawa
Died: June 27, 1636

 12 Takeda Shingen

Takeda Shingen
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Famous As: Daimyō
Birthdate: December 1, 1521
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kofu
Died: May 13, 1573

Takeda Shingen was an influential daimyo, or feudal lord of the Takeda clan, in Japan, apart from being an able military leader. Also known as the Tiger of Kai, he had long military conflicts with Uesugi and other leaders. His life inspired legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha.

 13 Emperor Komei

Emperor Komei
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Famous As: Emperor
Birthdate: July 22, 1831
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kyoto
Died: January 30, 1867

The 121st tennō, or emperor, of Japan, Emperor Kōmei, had a tumultuous reign, which witnessed Japan being pushed to open to the Western world. He was the last Japanese emperor with multiple nengō, or era names. He was known for imposing an order of killing and persecuting foreign traders and officials.

 14 Tokugawa Yoshinobu

Tokugawa Yoshinobu
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Famous As: Photographer, Shogun
Birthdate: October 28, 1837
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mito
Died: November 22, 1913

Tokugawa Yoshinobu was the 15th and last shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. During his tenure, he aimed to reform the shogunate but was largely unsuccessful. He resigned in 1867 and went into retirement, choosing to lead a private life away from the public eye. He had multiple hobbies, including photography, oil painting, archery, hunting, and cycling.

 15 Tadamichi Kuribayashi

Tadamichi Kuribayashi.
3
Famous As: General
Birthdate: July 7, 1891
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Died: March 26, 1945

Tadamichi Kuribayashi was a Japanese general who served in the Imperial Japanese Army. He played an important role in the battle of Iwo Jima where he served as the overall commander of the Japanese garrison. The battle of Iwo Jima inspired the 2006 Japanese-language American war film Letters from Iwo Jima where Tadamichi Kuribayashi was played by actor Ken Watanabe.

 16 Akio Toyoda

Akio Toyoda
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Famous As: Chief executive officer, President and chief executive officer
Birthdate: May 3, 1956
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nagoya

 17 Uesugi Kenshin

Uesugi Kenshin
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Famous As: Samurai
Birthdate: February 18, 1530
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Echigo Province
Died: April 19, 1578

Uesugi Kenshin was one of the most influential 16th-century Japanese military figures and a daimyō of the Sengoku period. His military prowess earned him the nickname Dragon of Echigo. Born Nagao Torachiyo, he changed his name after defeated leader Uesugi Norimasa took refuge in his home and adopted him.

 18 Hasekura Tsunenaga

Hasekura Tsunenaga
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Famous As: diplomat
Birthdate: 1571 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: August 7, 1622

 19 Okita Sōji

Okita Sōji
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Famous As: Military leader
Birthdate: 1842 AD
Birthplace: Edo, Japan
Died: July 19, 1868

 20 Goichi Suda

Goichi Suda
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Famous As: Video game producer
Birthdate: January 2, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nagano Prefecture

 21 Itō Hirobumi

Itō Hirobumi
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Famous As: Politician, Diplomat
Birthdate: October 16, 1841
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Yamaguchi Prefecture
Died: October 26, 1909

One of the most significant figures behind the modernization of Japan, Itō Hirobumi had led his country as its first prime minister and was also a genrō. Born to an adopted son of a samurai family, he contributed to the Meiji Restoration and the formation of the Japanese constitution.

 22 Taro Aso

Taro Aso
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: September 20, 1940
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Iizuka, Fukuoka, Japan

The current Japanese deputy prime minister and finance minister Taro Aso has also previously led the country as its prime minister. The Stanford alumnus is known for making controversial and racist statements. He also gained the nickname His Excellency Rozen for his love for the manga series Rozen Maiden.

 23 Tōgō Heihachirō

Tōgō Heihachirō
3
Famous As: Commander-in-Chief
Birthdate: January 27, 1848
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kagoshima
Died: May 30, 1934

 24 Fumimaro Konoe

Fumimaro Konoe
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: October 12, 1891
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chiyoda-ku
Died: December 16, 1945

Born into the aristocratic Konoe family of Japan, Fumimaro Konoe grew up to become the Japanese prime minister. He led his nation during the second Sino-Japanese War and resigned just before World War II. Suspected of war crimes by the U.S., he eventually committed suicide by consuming potassium cyanide.

 25 Minamoto no Yoritomo

Minamoto no Yoritomo
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Birthdate: May 9, 1147
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Owari Province
Died: February 9, 1199

Minamoto no Yoritomo is remembered founded the shogunate, a system of feudal lordship, which reigned over Japan for over 7 centuries. Part of the prestigious Kawachi Genji family, Yorimoto was hard-hearted enough to kill his relatives for gaining power. He also led the uprising known as the Gempei War.

 26 Junichiro Koizumi

Junichiro Koizumi
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 8, 1942
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan

Born into a family of politicians, Junichiro Koizumi had been the prime minister of his country and a Liberal-Democratic Party leader. The London School of Economics alumnus became hugely popular among the masses for his reforms, such as inclusion of more women in the cabinet and speaking against nuclear weapons.

 27 Tadashi Yanai

Tadashi Yanai
3
Famous As: Entrepreneur, Businessperson
Birthdate: February 7, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ube, Yamaguchi, Japan

 28 Yoshihide Suga

Yoshihide Suga.
9
Famous As: Prime Minister of Japan
Birthdate: December 6, 1948
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ogachi District, Akita, Japan
Yoshihide Suga, prime minister of Japan since September 2020, has also served as the longest-serving chief cabinet secretary of his country, under former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, and as the Japanese minister for internal affairs and communications. The son of strawberry farmer parents, Suga is also a qualified lawyer. 

 29 Patsy Takemoto Mink

Patsy Takemoto Mink
3
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: December 6, 1927
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paia, Hawaii
Died: September 28, 2002

Born to Japanese immigrants in Hawaii, lawyer and Democratic Party member Patsy Takemoto Mink became the first Asian-American woman and the second Hawaiian woman to be part of the U.S. Congress. She has fought for women’s and civil rights and has opposed the American participation in the Vietnam War.

 30 Akie Abe

Akie Abe
3
Famous As: Shinzō Abe's wife
Birthdate: June 10, 1962
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tokyo

Akie Abe is the wife of former Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe. The daughter of a confectionery magnate, Akie has previously worked for Dentsu Inc. She has also been a DJ, using the pseudonym Akky. She once partnered with Michelle Obama to promote classroom education for girls worldwide.

 31 Nobusuke Kishi

Nobusuke Kishi
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: November 13, 1896
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tabuse, Empire of Japan
Died: August 7, 1987

Beginning his career as a civil servant, Nobusuke Kishi entered politics as a vice minister of the Manchukuo government and later served in the Cabinet of Tōjō Hideki. Imprisoned for three years by the Allied Occupation authorities after the war, he eventually became the Prime Minister of Japan. As Prime Minister of Japan, he signed a new U.S.-Japan security treaty.

 32 Yasuhiro Nakasone

Yasuhiro Nakasone.
3
Famous As: Former Prime Minister of Japan
Birthdate: May 27, 1918
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Suehirocho, Takasaki, Gunma, Japan
Died: November 29, 2019

Yasuhiro Nakasone was a Japanese politician. He served as the president of the Liberal Democratic Party and prime minister of Japan from 1982 to 1987. For over five decades Nakasone served as a member of the House of Representatives. He is remembered for his work which helped reinvigorate Japanese nationalism, which plays a major role in the success of Japan.

 33 Yoshihiko Noda

Yoshihiko Noda
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: May 20, 1957
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Funabashi

Born to a paratrooper, Democratic Party leader and former Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda grew up amid abject poverty and was not related to the political elite of Japan. He eventually grew unpopular for his decision to reopen the nuclear plants that had been shut down after the Fukushima disaster.

 34 Taishi Shōtoku

Taishi Shōtoku
3
Famous As: Regent and Politician
Birthdate: February 7, 0574
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Yamato, Japan
Died: April 8, 0622

Apart from being a regent of Japan, Taishi Shōtoku, or Prince Umayado, had also enriched Japanese literature, chronicling the history of the country. He introduced the Seventeen-article constitution and also promoted Buddhism and Confucianism. He improved Japan’s diplomatic and cultural ties with China, by resuming sending envoys to the country.

 35 Ishida Mitsunari

Ishida Mitsunari
3
Famous As: Military Commander
Birthdate: 1559 AD
Birthplace: Ōmi Province
Died: November 6, 1600

 36 Yasuo Fukuda

Yasuo Fukuda
3
Famous As: Politician, Economist
Birthdate: July 16, 1936
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Takasaki

Born to former Prime Minister Takeo Fukudu, Yasuo Fukuda worked at a petroleum company before entering political arena as his father’s political secretary. Later he served as chief cabinet secretary to two more prime ministers before being elected to the position himself. He pledged to improve Japan’s relationship with China and North Korea; but resigned out of frustration a year later.

 37 Homma Masaharu

Homma Masaharu
3
Famous As: Japanese general
Birthdate: November 27, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sado, Japan
Died: April 3, 1946

 38 Kenzo Takada

Kenzo Takada
3
Birthdate: February 27, 1939
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Himeji

 39 Iwane Matsui

Iwane Matsui
3
Famous As: Soldier, Military personnel
Birthdate: July 27, 1878
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Aichi Prefecture
Died: December 23, 1948

 40 Naoto Kan

Naoto Kan
3
Famous As: Former Prime Minister of Japan
Birthdate: October 10, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ube, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan

Born to a factory manager, Naoto Kan was not related to the Japanese political elite. He grew up to form his own patent company and later became Japan’s prime minister. As the country’s health minister earlier, he had admitted the government’s fault in distributing HIV-tainted blood to patients of hemophilia. 

 41 Shigeru Yoshida

Shigeru Yoshida
5
Famous As: Former Prime Minister
Birthdate: September 22, 1878
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
Died: October 20, 1967

Shigeru Yoshida had been the prime minister of Japan in the face of Allied occupation after World War II. Born to an entrepreneur and a geisha, he had later been adopted by a friend of his father’s. He is best known for the Yoshida Doctrine, which ushered in economic prosperity.

 42 Yukio Hatoyama

Yukio Hatoyama
3
Famous As: Politician, Engineer
Birthdate: February 11, 1947
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bunkyō, Tokyo

Born into a family of Japanese politicians that has been compared to the Kennedy family of the U.S., Yukio Hatoyama has served as Japan’s prime minister and as the Democratic Party president. An engineer, who later obtained a PhD from Stanford, he has also taught at a few universities earlier.

 43 Mitsuru Ushijima

Mitsuru Ushijima
3
Famous As: Military personnel
Birthdate: July 31, 1887
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kagoshima
Died: June 22, 1945

 44 Satoru Sayama

Satoru Sayama
3
Famous As: Wrestler
Birthdate: November 27, 1957
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi, Japan

 45 Tokugawa Hidetada

Tokugawa Hidetada
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: May 2, 1579
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hamamatsu
Died: March 14, 1632

Tokugawa Hidetada was the second shōgun of the Tokugawa dynasty. Named to the shogunate by his father Tokugawa Ieyasu because of his even temper, he not only consolidated his family’s rule, but also banned Christianity and Christian literature in Japan, executing many missionaries and converts. To protect Japan from foreign influence, he also took steps to ban foreign trade.

 46 Eiji Toyoda

Eiji Toyoda
3
Famous As: Business magnate, Entrepreneur
Birthdate: September 12, 1913
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nagoya
Died: September 17, 2013

 47 Yukio Ozaki

Yukio Ozaki
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: December 24, 1858
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Matano, Kanagawa, Japan
Died: October 6, 1954

Considered the Father of Parliamentary Politics in Japan, Yukio Ozaki was a revered member of the House of Representatives, who served as Education Minister, Minister of Justice and also as the Mayor of Tokyo. Today, he is best remembered for his struggles to establish universal manhood suffrage and a governmental system responsible to the majority party in the Diet.

 48 Yoshiro Mori

Yoshiro Mori.
3
Famous As: Prime Minister of Japan
Birthdate: July 14, 1937
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Nomi
Tokyo Olympics head Yoshiro Mori shocked everyone with his sexist remark stating women members of the Japanese Olympic Committee talk too much. While the comment led to his resignation from the committee, he wasn’t liked for his inappropriate comments he made back when he was the prime minister either.

 49 Genda Minoru

Genda Minoru
3
Famous As: Aviator
Birthdate: August 16, 1904
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hiroshima, Japan
Died: August 15, 1989

Born in Hiroshima, Genda Minoru grew up to be one of the most influential naval officers of Japan. He was chosen by Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto for strategizing and drafting the plan to attack the Pearl Harbor, which resulted in the U.S.’s entry into World War II, the following day.

 50 Inukai Tsuyoshi

Inukai Tsuyoshi
3
Famous As: Politician, Prime Minister
Birthdate: June 4, 1855
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Okayama, Japan
Died: May 15, 1932