Armies of the Imperial Japanese Army

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The term Army(,gun) in the Imperial Japanese Army was used in a different ways to designate a variety of large military formations, corresponding to the army group, field army and corps in the militaries of western nations.

Imperial Japanese Army Official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan, from 1868 to 1945

The Imperial Japanese Army was the official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan from 1868 to 1945. It was controlled by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office and the Ministry of the Army, both of which were nominally subordinate to the Emperor of Japan as supreme commander of the army and the navy. Later an Inspectorate General of Aviation became the third agency with oversight of the army. During wartime or national emergencies, the nominal command functions of the emperor would be centralized in an Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ), an ad-hoc body consisting of the chief and vice chief of the Army General Staff, the Minister of the Army, the chief and vice chief of the Naval General Staff, the Inspector General of Aviation, and the Inspector General of Military Training.

Army group military organization consisting of several field armies, which is self-sufficient for indefinite periods

An army group is a military organization consisting of several field armies, which is self-sufficient for indefinite periods. It is usually responsible for a particular geographic area. An army group is the largest field organization handled by a single commander—usually a full general or field marshal—and it generally includes between 400,000 and 1,000,000 soldiers.

Field army military formation in many armed forces

A field army is a military formation in many armed forces, composed of two or more corps and may be subordinate to an army group. Likewise, air armies are equivalent formation within some air forces. A field army is composed of 100,000 to 150,000 troops.

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General Armies

Kwantung Army on maneuvers Kwantung Army Special Maneuvers2.JPG
Kwantung Army on maneuvers

The General Army(総軍,Sō-gun) was the highest level in the organizational structure of the Imperial Japanese Army. It corresponded to the army group in western military terminology. Intended to be self-sufficient for indefinite periods, the general armies were commanded by either a field marshal or a full general.

The initial General Army was the Japanese Manchurian Army, formed from 1904–1905 during the Russo-Japanese War as a temporary command structure to coordinate the efforts of several Japanese armies in the campaign against Imperial Russia.

Russo-Japanese War war between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan

The Russo-Japanese War was fought during 1904-1905 between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of operations were the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden in Southern Manchuria and the seas around Korea, Japan and the Yellow Sea.

In terms of a permanent standing organization, the Japanese Army created the Kantōgun, usually known in English as the Kwantung Army, to manage its overseas deployment in the Kwantung Territory and Manchukuo from 1906.

Kwantung Army military unit

The Kwantung Army was an army group of the Imperial Japanese Army in the first half of the 20th century. It became the largest and most prestigious command in the IJA. Many of its personnel, such as Chiefs of staff Seishirō Itagaki and Hideki Tōjō were promoted to high positions in both the military and civil government in the Empire of Japan and it was largely responsible for the creation of the Japanese-dominated Empire of Manchuria. In August 1945, the army group, around 713,000 men at the time, was defeated by and surrendered to Soviet troops as a result of the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.

Kwantung Leased Territory Japanese possession in Northeastern China until the end of World War II

The Kwantung Leased Territory was a Russian-leased territory (1898–1905), then a Japanese-leased territory (1905–1945) in the southern part of the Liaodong Peninsula in the Republic of China that existed from 1898 to 1945. It was one of the territorial concessions that the Chinese government under the Qing Dynasty was compelled to award to foreign countries during the second half of the 19th century. The territory included the militarily and economically significant ports of Lüshunkou and Dalian.

Manchukuo former Japan puppet state in China

Manchukuo was a puppet state of the Empire of Japan in Northeast China and Inner Mongolia from 1932 until 1945. It was founded as a republic, but in 1934 it became a constitutional monarchy. It had limited international recognition and was under the de facto control of Japan.

Subsequent general armies were created in response to the needs of the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II, in which increased overseas deployment called for an organizational structure that could respond quickly and autonomously from the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff in Tokyo. As a result, Japanese forces were re-organized into three separate overseas operational commands: (Manchuria, China and Southeast Asia), with the Japanese home islands forming a fourth.

Second Sino-Japanese War military conflict between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from 1937 to 1945

The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from July 7, 1937, to September 2, 1945. It began with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937 in which a dispute between Japanese and Chinese troops escalated into a battle.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Tokyo Metropolis in Kantō

Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis, one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, has served as the Japanese capital since 1869. As of 2014, the Greater Tokyo Area ranked as the most populous metropolitan area in the world. The urban area houses the seat of the Emperor of Japan, of the Japanese government and of the National Diet. Tokyo forms part of the Kantō region on the southeastern side of Japan's main island, Honshu, and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Tokyo was formerly named Edo when Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu made the city his headquarters in 1603. It became the capital after Emperor Meiji moved his seat to the city from Kyoto in 1868; at that time Edo was renamed Tokyo. Tokyo Metropolis formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo. Tokyo is often referred to as a city but is officially known and governed as a "metropolitan prefecture", which differs from and combines elements of a city and a prefecture, a characteristic unique to Tokyo.

Towards the end of World War II, the home island command (i.e. the General Defense Command) was restructured geographically into the First General Army in the east, Second General Army in the west, and the Air General Army in charge of military aviation.

The General Defense Command was a headquarters organization equivalent to an army group within the Imperial Japanese Army established to control all land and air units stationed within Japan proper, Korea and Taiwan during the Pacific War.

The Air General Army was a Japanese military unit responsible for the defense of the country against Allied air raids during the last months of World War II. The Air General Army was formed in April 1945 to better coordinate Japan's air defenses in response to the mounting air offensive against Japan and the expected invasion of the country later that year. The army was disbanded following the end of the war.

Military aviation use of aircraft by armed forces in combat or other military capacity

Military aviation is the use of military aircraft and other flying machines for the purposes of conducting or enabling aerial warfare, including national airlift capacity to provide logistical supply to forces stationed in a theater or along a front. Airpower includes the national means of conducting such warfare, including the intersection of transport and war craft. Military aircraft include bombers, fighters, transports, trainer aircraft, and reconnaissance aircraft.

With the official Japanese surrender in September 1945, all of the general armies were dissolved, except for the First General Army, which continued to exist until November 30, 1945, as the 1st Demobilization Headquarters.

NameActiveOperational Area
Kwantung Army (関東軍,Kantōgun)1906–1945Manchukuo
China Expeditionary Army (支那派遣軍,Shina hakengun)1939–1945China
Central China Expeditionary Army (中支那派遣軍,Nakashina hakengun)1938–1939China
Southern Expeditionary Army Group (南方軍,Nampōgun)1941–1945Southeast Asia, Southwest Pacific
General Defense Command (防衛総司令部,Bōei Sōshireibu)1941–1945Japanese home islands
First General Army (第1総軍,Dai-ichi Sōgun)1945Eastern and northern Honshū (including Tokyo)
Second General Army (第2総軍,Dai-ni Sōgun)1945 Kyūshū, western Honshū and Shikoku
Air General Army (航空総軍,Kōkū Sōgun)1945Army aviation units across the home islands

Area Armies

Area Armies(方面軍,Hōmen-gun) in Japanese military terminology were equivalent to field armies in western militaries. Area Armies were normally commanded by a general or lieutenant general. There is much confusion between the similarly numbered Area Armies and Armies in historical records, as many writers often did not make a clear distinction when describing the units involved.

NameActiveMain areas of operations
First Area Army (第1方面軍,Dai ichi hōmen gun)1942–1945Manchukuo
Second Area Army (第2方面軍,Dai ni hōmen gun)1942–1945Manchukuo
Third Area Army (第3方面軍,Dai san hōmen gun)1942–1945Manchukuo
Fifth Area Army (第5方面軍,Dai go hōmen gun)1944–1945Japanese home islands
Sixth Area Army (第6方面軍,Dai roku hōmen gun)1944–1945China
Seventh Area Army (第7方面軍,Dai nana hōmen gun)1944–1945 Indonesia, Malaya, Singapore
Eighth Area Army (第8方面軍,Dai hachi hōmen gun)1942–1945 Solomon Islands, New Guinea
Tenth Area Army (第10方面軍,Dai jyū hōmen gun)1944–1945 Taiwan
Eleventh Area Army (第11方面軍,Dai jyū ichi hōmen gun)1945-1945Japanese home islands
Twelfth Area Army (第12方面軍,Dai jyū ni hōmen gun)1945-1945Japanese home islands
Thirteenth Area Army (第13方面軍,Dai jyū san hōmen gun)1945-1945Japanese home islands
Fourteenth Area Army (第14方面軍,Dai jyū yon hōmen gun)1942–1945 Philippines
Fifteenth Area Army (第15方面軍,Dai jyū go hōmen gun)1945-1945Japanese home islands
Sixteenth Area Army (第16方面軍,Dai jyū roku hōmen gun)1945-1945Japanese home islands
Seventeenth Area Army (第17方面軍,Dai jyū nana hōmen gun)1945-1945 Korea
Eighteenth Area Army (第18方面軍,Dai jyū hachi hōmen gun)1943–1945 Thailand
Burma Area Army (緬甸方面軍,Biruma hōmen gun)1943–1945 Burma
Central China Area Army (中支那方面軍,Naka-Shina hōmen gun)1937–1938China
Northern China Area Army (北支那方面軍,Kita-Shina hōmen gun)1937–1945China
Southern China Area Army (南支那方面軍,Minami-Shina hōmen gun)1940–1941China
Northern District Army (北部軍,Hokubu gun)1940–1945Japanese home islands
Eastern District Army (東部軍,Tobu gun)1923–1945Japanese home islands
Western District Army (西部軍,Seibu gun)1937–1945Japanese home islands
Central District Army (中部軍,Chubu gun)1945-1945Japanese home islands
Shanghai Expeditionary Army (上海派遣軍,Shanhai Haken gun)1932, 1937–1938China

Armies

The Japanese Army(,gun) corresponded to an army corps in American or British military terminology. It was usually commanded by a lieutenant general.

Auxiliaries

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