Famous Japanese Leaders

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Find out more about the greatest Japanese Leaders, including Shinzō Abe, Akihito, Satoru Iwata, Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu.
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 1 
Shinzō Abe
(Former Prime Minister of Japan)
Shinzō Abe
27
Birthdate: September 21, 1954
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tokyo
Died: July 8, 2022

Shinzō Abe was 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 was also the youngest Japanese post-war prime minister.

 2 
Akihito
(125th Emperor of Japan)
Akihito
18
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.

 3 
Tokugawa Ieyasu
(Military Leader)
Tokugawa Ieyasu
14
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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 4 
Hiroo Onoda
(Imperial Japanese Army Intelligence Officer Who Fought in World War II)
Hiroo Onoda
4
Birthdate: March 19, 1922
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kainan, Wakayama, Japan
Died: January 16, 2014
Hiroo Onoda was a Japanese intelligence officer who had served in World War II and was the penultimate Japanese soldier to surrender. He hid in the Philippines for 29 years, unable to figure out the war had ended, until he was officially relieved from duty. He later wrote an autobiography.
 5 
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
(Japanese Samurai)
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
8
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.

 6 
Hideki Tojo
(27th Prime Minister of Japan)
Hideki Tojo
12
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.

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 7 
Isoroku Yamamoto
(Japanese Naval Officer Who Conceived The Pearl Harbor Attack in 1941)
Isoroku Yamamoto
24
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
 8 
Antonio Inoki
(Japanese Retired Professional Wrestler and Founder of 'New Japan Pro-Wrestling')
Antonio Inoki
4
Birthdate: November 20, 1943
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Yokohama, Japan

Once a reputed Japanese martial artist and wrestler, Antonio Inoki grew up in Brazil, where he won several contests of shot put, discus, and javelin. At 17, he went to the Japanese Wrestling Association and was mentored by Rikidōzan. He later established the New Japan Pro Wrestling.

 9 
Yoshihide Suga
(Prime Minister of Japan)
Yoshihide Suga
9
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. 
 10 
Minamoto no Yoshitsune
(Military Leader, Samurai)
Minamoto no Yoshitsune
4
Birthdate: 1159 AD
Birthplace: Kyōto, Japan
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. 
 11 
Akechi Mitsuhide
(Japanese Samurai General of the Sengoku Period Best Known as the Assassin of Oda Nobunaga)
Akechi Mitsuhide
3
Birthdate: March 10, 1528
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gife Prefecture
Died: July 2, 1582
Akechi Mitsuhide was a Japanese samurai general who lived during the Sengoku period. He is best remembered as the assassin of Oda Nobunaga, a Japanese daimyo and leading figure of the Sengoku period. Mitsuhide served as a general under Nobunaga during the latter's war of political unification. He betrayed Mitsuhide, forcing him to perform seppuku in Kyoto. 
 12 
Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi
(Pioneer of European Integration and Founding President of the ‘Paneuropean Union')
Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi
4
Birthdate: November 16, 1894
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: July 27, 1972

Son of an Austro-Hungarian diplomat father and a Japanese mother, Richard Nikolaus Graf Coudenhove-Kalergi, also known as Aoyama Eijiro in Japan, grew up to be a skilled politician and established the Pan-European Union. He was the first to receive the Charlemagne Prize and also had citizenships of Czechoslovakia and France.

 13 
Takeda Shingen
3
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.

 14 
Tokugawa Yoshinobu
(15th and last shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan)
Tokugawa Yoshinobu
5
Birthdate: October 28, 1837
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
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 
Date Masamune
(Regional Ruler of Japan’s Azuchi–Momoyama Period Through Early Edo Period)
Date Masamune
3
Birthdate: September 5, 1567
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Yonezawa, Yamagata, Japan
Died: June 27, 1636
 16 
Emperor Komei
(Emperor)
Emperor Komei
3
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.

 17 
Tadamichi Kuribayashi
3
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.

 18 
Tomoyuki Yamashita
(Japanese General)
Tomoyuki Yamashita
7
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.

 19 
Okita Sōji
(Captain of the First Unit of the 'Shinsengumi', a Special Police Force in Kyoto During Late Shogunate Period)
Okita Sōji
3
Birthdate: 1842 AD
Birthplace: Edo, Japan
Died: July 19, 1868

Okita Sōji was a Japanese military leader who served as the captain of the pilot batch of the Shinsengumi, Kyoto's special police force during the late shogunate period. Okita Sōji is often counted among the best swordsmen of the police force. Okita Sōji has been immortalized in various novels, manga series, and period dramas.

 20 
Akie Abe
(Shinzō Abe's wife)
Akie Abe
3
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.

 21 
Nobusuke Kishi
(Former Prime Minister of Japan (1957 – 1960))
Nobusuke Kishi
3
Birthdate: November 13, 1896
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tabuse, Yamaguchi, 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.

 22 
Itō Hirobumi
(Politician, Diplomat)
Itō Hirobumi
3
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.

 23 
Akio Toyoda
(Chief executive officer, President and chief executive officer)
Akio Toyoda
3
Birthdate: May 3, 1956
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nagoya
 24 
Hasekura Tsunenaga
(The First Japanese Ambassador to the Spain and to the Americas)
Hasekura Tsunenaga
3
Birthdate: 1571 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: August 7, 1622

Hasekura Tsunenaga was a Japanese samurai who served under Date Masamune, the daimyō of Sendai. He is best remembered for heading a diplomatic mission called the Keichō Embassy and is regarded as the first Japanese ambassador in Spain and in the Americas. Hasekura Tsunenaga's life and career have inspired several works of art including a 1980 novel titled The Samurai

 25 
Goichi Suda
(Video game producer)
Goichi Suda
5
Birthdate: January 2, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nagano Prefecture
 26 
Saigo Takamori
(Samurai, Poet)
Saigo Takamori
5
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. 

 27 
Fumimaro Konoe
(Politician)
Fumimaro Konoe
3
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.

 28 
Junichiro Koizumi
(Former Prime Minister of Japan (2001 - 2006))
Junichiro Koizumi
3
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.

 29 
Uesugi Kenshin
3
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.

Minamoto no Yoritomo
3
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.

 31 
Koxinga
(Ming Loyalist General and Former Ruler of the Kingdom of Tungning (1661 - 1662))
Koxinga
3
Birthdate: August 27, 1624
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hirado, Hizen Province, Japan
Died: June 23, 1662

Koxinga was a Ming loyalist who opposed and resisted the Manchu invasion of China. In 1661, he established the House of Koxinga after defeating the Dutch military camp in Taiwan. He then ruled the Kingdom of Tungning from 1661 to 1662. Today, Koxinga is considered a deity in coastal China and is worshiped in places like Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

 32 
Tōgō Heihachirō
(One of The Greatest Naval Heroes of Japan)
Tōgō Heihachirō
3
Birthdate: January 27, 1848
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kagoshima
Died: May 30, 1934

Tōgō Heihachirō was a Japanese naval officer who served as the fleet admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Nicknamed The Nelson of the East, Tōgō is considered one of the greatest naval heroes of Japan. He served as a Commander-in-Chief during the Russo-Japanese War of the early 1900s where he was victorius. Tōgō is considered a national hero in Japan

 33 
Fumio Kishida
(Diplomat, Politician)
Fumio Kishida
2
Birthdate: July 29, 1957
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Shibuya-ku

Born into a family of politicians from Hiroshima, Fumio Kishida graduated in law and then stepped into politics. The Liberal Democratic Party member has been the minister of foreign affairs and is the current representative from Hiroshima 1st district. He is also associated with the nationalist group Nippon Kaigi.

 34 
Yasuhiro Nakasone
(Prime Minister of Japan (1982-87))
Yasuhiro Nakasone
3
Birthdate: May 27, 1918
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: 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.

 35 
Taishi Shōtoku
(Regent and Politician)
Taishi Shōtoku
3
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.

 36 
Yoshihiko Noda
(Politician)
Yoshihiko Noda
3
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.

 37 
Homma Masaharu
(Japanese general)
Homma Masaharu
3
Birthdate: November 27, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sado, Japan
Died: April 3, 1946
 38 
Ishida Mitsunari
(Japanese Samurai Who Commanded The Western Army During the 'Battle of Sekigahara')
Ishida Mitsunari
4
Birthdate: 1559 AD
Birthplace: Ōmi Province, Nagahama, Japan
Died: November 6, 1600

Ishida Mitsunari was a Japanese military commander and samurai of the late Sengoku period. He is best remembered for commanding the Western army during the famous Battle of Sekigahara. Like many other Japanese samurai, Ishida Mitsunari has been fictionalized and depicted in many novels, TV series, and video games.

 39 
Tarō Asō
(Former Deputy Prime Minister of Japan (2012 - 2021))
Tarō Asō
3
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.

 40 
Shigeru Yoshida
(Former Prime Minister of Japan (1948 - 1954))
Shigeru Yoshida
5
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.

 41 
Naoto Kan
(Former Prime Minister of Japan (2010 - 2011))
Naoto Kan
3
Birthdate: October 10, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ube, Yamaguchi, 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. 

 42 
Yukio Hatoyama
(Politician, Engineer)
Yukio Hatoyama
3
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
(Japanese General Who Commanded 'The 32nd Army' in the 'Battle of Okinawa')
Mitsuru Ushijima
3
Birthdate: July 31, 1887
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kagoshima
Died: June 22, 1945

Mitsuru Ushijima was a Japanese general best remembered for his service in the Second World War. He commanded the 32nd Army in the Battle of Okinawa, an important battle of the Pacific War. Mitsuru Ushijima lost the battle and committed suicide before getting caught by the enemies.

 44 
Eiji Toyoda
(Business magnate, Entrepreneur)
Eiji Toyoda
3
Birthdate: September 12, 1913
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nagoya
Died: September 17, 2013
 45 
Joi Ito
(Activist, Entrepreneur, Venture capitalist)
Joi Ito
4
Birthdate: June 19, 1966
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kyoto

Joi Ito is a Japanese venture capitalist and entrepreneur best known for his association with Internet and technology companies. He is credited with founding several companies like Infoseek Japan, Digital Garage, and PSINet Japan. Over the years, Joi Ito has been honored with several prestigious awards like the Golden Plate Award and the IRI Medal. 

 46 
Tamon Yamaguchi
(Military officer)
Tamon Yamaguchi
0
Birthdate: August 17, 1892
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: June 5, 1942
 47 
Honda Tadakatsu
3
Birthdate: March 17, 1548
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Okazaki
Died: December 3, 1610

Considered as one the Four Heavenly Kings of the Tokugawa, Honda Tadakatsu was an important samurai general of the Sengoku and a veteran of over one hundred battles. Known for his loyalty to Tokugawa Ieyasu, he was later rewarded with the fief of Otaki and the domain of Kuwana. Also known as Honda Heihachirō, he never suffered any major wound.  

 48 
Tokugawa Hidetada
(Politician)
Tokugawa Hidetada
3
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.

 49 
Tadashi Yanai
(Founder and President of 'Fast Retailing')
Tadashi Yanai
3
Birthdate: February 7, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ube, Yamaguchi, Japan

Tadashi Yanai is a Japanese businessman best known as the founder of Fast Retailing, Uniqlo's parent company. Yanai also serves as the president of Fast Retailing. One of the wealthiest businessmen in the world, Tadashi Yanai was also included in Bloomberg Markets Magazine's 50 Most Influential People list in 2012. Yanai is also known for his philanthropic efforts.

 50 
Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni
(Politician, Military personnel)
Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni
3
Birthdate: December 3, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kyoto
Died: January 20, 1990