Famous Japanese Military Leaders

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

Vote for Your Favourite Japanese Military Leaders

 1 
Isoroku Yamamoto
(Japanese Naval Officer Who Conceived The Pearl Harbor Attack in 1941)

Isoroku Yamamoto
13
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

 2 
Tokugawa Ieyasu
(Military Leader)

Tokugawa Ieyasu
10
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. 

 3 
Hiroo Onoda
(Japanese Army intelligence officer)

Hiroo Onoda
6
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.
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 4 
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. 

 5 
Akechi Mitsuhide
(Japanese Samurai General of the Sengoku Period Best Known as the Assassin of Oda Nobunaga)

Akechi Mitsuhide
5
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. 

 6 
Tokugawa Yoshinobu
(15th and last shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan)

Tokugawa Yoshinobu
4
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.

 7 

Tadamichi Kuribayashi
5
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.

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 8 
Tomoyuki Yamashita
(Japanese General)

Tomoyuki Yamashita
6
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.

 9 
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. 

 10 
Okita Sōji
(Captain of the First Unit of the 'Shinsengumi', a Special Police Force in Kyoto During Late Shogunate Period)

Okita Sōji
5
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.

 11 
Itō Hirobumi
(Politician, Diplomat)

Itō Hirobumi
4
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.

 12 
Hasekura Tsunenaga
(The First Japanese Ambassador to the Spain and to the Americas)

Hasekura Tsunenaga
4
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

 13 
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

 14 
Ishida Mitsunari
(Japanese Samurai Who Commanded The Western Army During the 'Battle of Sekigahara')

Ishida Mitsunari
4
Birthdate: 1559 AD
Birthplace: Ōmi Province
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.

 15 
Homma Masaharu
(Japanese general)

Homma Masaharu
4
Birthdate: November 27, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sado, Japan
Died: April 3, 1946

 16 
Tamon Yamaguchi
(Military officer)

Tamon Yamaguchi
0
Birthdate: August 17, 1892
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: June 5, 1942

 17 
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.

 18 
Genda Minoru
(Aviator)

Genda Minoru
3
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.

 19 
Kantarō Suzuki
(Political leader)

Kantarō Suzuki
3
Birthdate: January 18, 1868
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kuze, Izumi, Japan
Died: April 17, 1948

Kantarō Suzuki was the last leader of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association and the last premier of Japan at the time of World War II, following which he surrendered to the Allied powers. He had previously gained accolades for his role in the Russo-Japanese War and the First Sino-Japanese War.

 20 
Tokugawa Tsunayoshi
(Military Dictator)

Tokugawa Tsunayoshi
3
Birthdate: February 23, 1646
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: February 19, 1709

 21 
Ōkubo Toshimichi
(Bushi, Politician)

Ōkubo Toshimichi
2
Birthdate: September 26, 1830
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Satsuma Province
Died: May 14, 1878

 22 
Enomoto Takeaki
(One of the Founders of the Imperial Japanese Navy)

Enomoto Takeaki
2
Birthdate: October 5, 1836
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Edo, Japan
Died: October 26, 1908

 23 
Kenji Doihara
(Army officer)

Kenji Doihara
2
Birthdate: August 8, 1883
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Okayama, Japan
Died: December 23, 1948

 24 
Yamagata Aritomo
(Politician, Military personnel)

Yamagata Aritomo
3
Birthdate: June 14, 1838
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hagi
Died: February 1, 1922

 25 
Maeda Toshiie
(Head of Maeda clan (1560–1599))

Maeda Toshiie
2
Birthdate: January 15, 1538
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Arako, Japan
Died: April 27, 1599

Samurai warrior Maeda Toshiie was a leading general of the Sengoku period and served Oda Nobunaga. He was known for his mastery with a traditional Japanese blade-like weapon called yari. He showcased his military exploits in battles such as the Battle of Tedorigawa and trusted a core group of vassals.

 26 
Sadao Araki
(Military personnel)

Sadao Araki
2
Birthdate: May 26, 1877
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Komae, Tokyo, Japan
Died: November 2, 1966

 27 

Takasugi Shinsaku
2
Birthdate: September 27, 1839
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan
Died: May 17, 1867

 28 
Taira Kiyomori
(Military leader)

Taira Kiyomori
2
Birthdate: February 10, 1118
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Japan
Died: March 20, 1181

 29 
Osami Nagano
(Admiral)

Osami Nagano
2
Birthdate: June 15, 1880
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kōchi, Japan
Died: January 5, 1947

 30 
Terauchi Masatake
(Military Officer)

Terauchi Masatake
2
Birthdate: February 5, 1852
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Yamaguchi, Yamaguchi, Japan
Died: November 3, 1919

Born Tada Jusaburō, Terauchi Masatake changed his name after being adopted by the Terauchi family. He was the army minister for a decade and later became the prime minister of Japan. Known for its aggressive foreign policies, his government collapsed when riots broke out over a rice shortage in Tokyo.

 31 
Yoshio Tachibana
(Military personnel)

Yoshio Tachibana
0
Birthdate: February 24, 1890
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ehime, Japan
Died: September 24, 1947

 32 

Ashikaga Yoshiaki
2
Birthdate: December 5, 1537
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Japan
Died: October 9, 1597

Ashikaga Yoshiaki is remembered as the last shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate. He deposed his cousin, Ashikaga Yoshihide, the fourteenth shogun, to take over the as the next shogun. However, Yoshiaki was deposed by Oda Nobunaga and banished from Kyoto. He later became a Buddhist monk. 

 33 
Seishirō Itagaki
(Military personnel, Politician)

Seishirō Itagaki
0
Birthdate: January 21, 1885
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Morioka, Iwate, Japan
Died: December 23, 1948

 34 
Katsura Taro
(Politician)

Katsura Taro
2
Birthdate: January 4, 1848
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hagi, Yamaguchi, Japan
Died: October 10, 1913

Three-time Japanese prime minister Katsura Taro supported the imperialists in the Meiji Restoration. He was the deputy army minister during the Sino-Japanese War. Though initially opposed to the concept of political parties and was elected as a military candidate, he later launched his own party, Rikken Dōshikai.

 35 

Konishi Yukinaga
2
Birthdate: 1555 AD
Birthplace: Sakai, Japan
Died: November 6, 1600

 36 
Nobuhito, Prince Takamatsu
(Military personnel, Politician)

Nobuhito, Prince Takamatsu
0
Birthdate: January 3, 1905
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: February 3, 1987

 37 
Seiichi Itō
(Military personnel)

Seiichi Itō
0
Birthdate: July 26, 1890
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Miyama, Fukuoka, Japan
Died: April 7, 1945

 38 

Minamoto no Yoshitomo
2
Birthdate: 1123 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: February 11, 1160

 39 
Saitō Makoto
(Political leader)

Saitō Makoto
1
Birthdate: October 27, 1858
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Isawa District, Iwate, Japan
Died: February 26, 1936

Japanese naval officer Saitō Makoto had initially worked as a naval attaché in the U.S. He later served as the governor of Korea and the minister of the Japanese navy, eventually becoming the prime minister of Japan. He was assassinated by members of the February 26 rebellion in 1936.

 40 
Heitarō Kimura
(Military personnel)

Heitarō Kimura
0
Birthdate: September 28, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saitama, Japan
Died: December 23, 1948

 41 

Ashikaga Yoshimasa
1
Birthdate: January 20, 1436
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
Died: January 28, 1490

Ashikaga Yoshimasa, a significant figure of the Ashikaga shogunate, ushered in a cultural renaissance in Japan. While he later wished to pass on his authority to his younger brother, his wife demanded their son be made the successor, and the succession dispute eventually led to the Ōnin War.

 42 
Ōoka Tadasuke
(Magistrate)

Ōoka Tadasuke
1
Birthdate: 1677 AD
Birthplace: Edo, Japan
Died: February 3, 1752

 43 
Katsu Kaishū
(Statesman)

Katsu Kaishū
2
Birthdate: March 12, 1823
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Honjo, Tokyo, Japan
Died: January 19, 1899

Count Katsu Yasuyoshi, or Katsu Kaishū, was a Japanese naval officer who was in command of the first ship from Japan to the U.S. He also led a moderate Tokugawa shogunate faction but later surrendered to the imperialists and adopted a mediating approach, playing a major role in the Meiji Restoration.

 44 
Ōmura Masujirō
(Political leader)

Ōmura Masujirō
1
Birthdate: May 30, 1824
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Suzenji, Yamaguchi, Japan
Died: December 7, 1869

Born to a doctor, Ōmura Masujirō initially studied Confucian ethics and Dutch, before being sent to Osaka study Western medicine. However, he later deviated to Western naval sciences and became a prominent military strategist, revolutionizing the Imperial Army with the introduction of conscription and thus going beyond the samurai system.

 45 
Kodama Gentarō
(Japanese statesman)

Kodama Gentarō
1
Birthdate: March 16, 1852
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tokuyama, Suō Province, Japan
Died: July 23, 1906

Kodama Gentarō is largely credited with modernizing the Japanese army by ushering in Western techniques of warfare. He had served both as the Japanese minister of war and the governor-general of Taiwan. He is known for his notable contribution in the Russo-Japanese War and the first Sino-Japanese War.

 46 
Michiaki Kamada
(Military personnel)

Michiaki Kamada
0
Birthdate: January 15, 1890
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ehime, Japan
Died: October 18, 1947

 47 
Morihiro Higashikuni
(Military personnel)

Morihiro Higashikuni
0
Birthdate: May 6, 1917
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: February 1, 1969

 48 

Kuroda Nagamasa
1
Birthdate: December 3, 1568
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Himeji, Japan
Died: August 29, 1623

 49 
Iwane Matsui
(Former general in the Imperial Japanese Army and the commander of the expeditionary force sent to China in 1937)

Iwane Matsui
3
Birthdate: July 27, 1878
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Died: December 23, 1948

 50 
Kōsō Abe
(Military personnel)

Kōsō Abe
0
Birthdate: March 24, 1892
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mikawa, Yamagata, Japan
Died: June 19, 1947