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The term Army(軍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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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, 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, 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 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.
|Kwantung Army (関東軍Kantōgun)||1906–1945||Manchukuo|
|China Expeditionary Army (支那派遣軍Shina hakengun)||1939–1945||China|
|Central China Expeditionary Army (中支那派遣軍Nakashina hakengun)||1938–1939||China|
|Southern Expeditionary Army Group (南方軍Nampōgun)||1941–1945||Southeast Asia, Southwest Pacific|
|General Defense Command (防衛総司令部Bōei Sōshireibu)||1941–1945||Japanese home islands|
|First General Army (第1総軍Dai-ichi Sōgun)||1945||Eastern 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)||1945||Army aviation units across the home islands|
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.
|Name||Active||Main areas of operations|
|First Area Army (第1方面軍Dai ichi hōmen gun)||1942–1945||Manchukuo|
|Second Area Army (第2方面軍Dai ni hōmen gun)||1942–1945||Manchukuo|
|Third Area Army (第3方面軍Dai san hōmen gun)||1942–1945||Manchukuo|
|Fifth Area Army (第5方面軍Dai go hōmen gun)||1944–1945||Japanese home islands|
|Sixth Area Army (第6方面軍Dai roku hōmen gun)||1944–1945||China|
|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)||1945-1945||Japanese home islands|
|Twelfth Area Army (第12方面軍Dai jyū ni hōmen gun)||1945-1945||Japanese home islands|
|Thirteenth Area Army (第13方面軍Dai jyū san hōmen gun)||1945-1945||Japanese 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)||1945-1945||Japanese home islands|
|Sixteenth Area Army (第16方面軍Dai jyū roku hōmen gun)||1945-1945||Japanese 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)||1937–1938||China|
|Northern China Area Army (北支那方面軍Kita-Shina hōmen gun)||1937–1945||China|
|Southern China Area Army (南支那方面軍Minami-Shina hōmen gun)||1940–1941||China|
|Northern District Army (北部軍Hokubu gun)||1940–1945||Japanese home islands|
|Eastern District Army (東部軍Tobu gun)||1923–1945||Japanese home islands|
|Western District Army (西部軍Seibu gun)||1937–1945||Japanese home islands|
|Central District Army (中部軍Chubu gun)||1945-1945||Japanese home islands|
|Shanghai Expeditionary Army (上海派遣軍Shanhai Haken gun)||1932, 1937–1938||China|
The Japanese Army(軍gun) corresponded to an army corps in American or British military terminology. It was usually commanded by a lieutenant general.
Kanji Ishiwara was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. He and Itagaki Seishirō were the men primarily responsible for the Mukden Incident that took place in Manchuria in 1931.
The Imperial Japanese Army Air Service or Imperial Japanese Army Air Force or, more literally, the Greater Japan Empire Army Air Corps, was the aviation force of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). Just as the IJA in general was modeled mainly on the German Army, the IJAAS initially developed along similar lines to the Imperial German Army Aviation; its primary mission was to provide tactical close air support for ground forces, as well as a limited air interdiction capability. The IJAAS also provided aerial reconnaissance to other branches of the IJA. While the IJAAS engaged in strategic bombing of cities such as Shanghai, Nanking, Canton, Chongqing, Rangoon, and Mandalay, this was not the primary mission of the IJAAS, and it lacked a heavy bomber force.
Organization of the Kwantung Army of Japan
Organization of Japanese forces in the South-East Asian theatre of World War II.
GensuiBaronNobuyoshi Mutō was Commander of the Kwantung Army in 1933, Japanese ambassador to Manchukuo, and a field marshal in the Imperial Japanese Army.
The Imperial Japanese Army Railway and Shipping Section was the logistics unit of the Imperial Japanese Army charged with shipping personnel, material and equipment from metropolitan Japan to the combat front overseas.
The Manchukuo Imperial Navy was the navy of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo.
The 1st Division was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call sign was the Jade Division. The 1st Division was formed in Tokyo in January 1871 as the Tokyo Garrison, one of six regional commands created in the fledgling Imperial Japanese Army. The Tokyo Garrison had responsibility for the eastern region of Honshū, centered on the Tokyo metropolitan area. The six regional commands were transformed into divisions under the army reorganization of 14 May 1888, based on recommendations by the Prussian military advisor Jakob Meckel to the Japanese government.
Jo Iimura was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army in the Pacific War.
The Japanese First Area Army was a field army of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, based in northern Manchukuo and active in combat against the Soviet Union in the closing stages of the war.
The Japanese 4th Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army based in Manchukuo from the Russo-Japanese War until the end of World War II.
The Japanese 6th Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army initially based in Manchukuo as a garrison force under the overall command of the Kwantung Army. At the end of World War II it was active in east China.
The Japanese 44th Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army during the final stages of World War II.
The Japanese 3rd Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army based in Manchukuo as a garrison force under the overall command of the Kwantung Army during World War II, but its history dates to the Russo-Japanese War.
The Second General Army was an army group of the Imperial Japanese Army responsible for the defense of western Honshū, Kyūshū and Shikoku during the final stage of the Pacific War.
The Japanese 34th Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army during the final stages of World War II.
The Japanese Third Area Army was a field army of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, based in southern Manchukuo and active in combat against the Soviet Union in the very final stages of the war.