Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff

The Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff (軍令部, Gunreibu) was the highest organ within the Imperial Japanese Navy. In charge of planning and operations, it was headed by an Admiral headquartered in Tokyo.


Created in 1893, the Navy General Staff took over operational (as opposed to administrative) authority over the Imperial Japanese Navy from the Navy Ministry. It was responsible for the planning and execution of national defense strategy. Through the Imperial General Headquarters it reported directly to the Emperor, not to the Prime Minister, Diet of Japan or even the Navy Ministry. It was always headed by an admiral on active duty, and was based in Tokyo.

"The ministry was responsible for the naval budget, ship construction, weapons procurement, personnel, relations with the Diet and the cabinet and broad matters of naval policy. The General Staff directed the operations of the fleet and the preparation of war plans".[1]

After the Washington Naval Conference of 1921-22, where Japan agreed to keep the size of its fleet smaller than that of the United Kingdom and the United States, the Imperial Japanese Navy became divided into the mutually hostile Fleet Faction and Treaty Faction political cliques. The Navy Ministry tended to be pro-Treaty Faction and was anxious to maintain the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. However the Navy General Staff came to be dominated by the Fleet faction, and gradually gained ascendancy in the 1930s with increasing Japanese militarism.The Navy General Staff pushed through the attack on Pearl Harbor against the wishes of the more diplomatic Navy Ministry.

After 1937, both the Navy Minister and the Chief of the Navy General Staff were members of the Imperial General Headquarters.

With the defeat of the Empire of Japan in World War II, the Navy General Staff was abolished together with the Imperial Japanese Navy by the American occupation authorities in November 1945 and was not revived by the post-war Constitution of Japan.


The General Staff was organized as follows:

  • 1st Section: Operations Bureau
  • 2nd Section: Weapons and Mobilization Bureau
  • 3rd Section: Intelligence Bureau
  • 4th Section: Communications Bureau

Chiefs of the General Staff

No. Name Portrait Rank Term of Office
Start End
1 Baron Itō Toshiyoshi Rear Admiral 8 March 1889 17 May 1889
2 Baron Arichi Shinanojō Rear Admiral 17 May 1889 17 June 1891
3 Viscount Inoue Yoshika Rear Admiral 17 June 1891 12 December 1892
4 Viscount Nakamuta Kuranosuke Vice Admiral 12 December 1892 18 July 1894
5 Count Kabayama Sukenori Vice Admiral
(after 5 May 1895)
18 July 1894 11 May 1895
6 Count Itō Sukeyuki Vice Admiral
(after 28 September 1895)
Marshal Admiral
(after 31 January 1905)
11 May 1895 20 December 1905
7 Marquis Tōgō Heihachirō Admiral 20 December 1905 1 December 1909
8 Baron Ijuin Gorō Vice Admiral
(after 1 December 1910)
1 December 1909 22 April 1914
9 Baron Shimamura Hayao Vice Admiral
(after 28 August 1915)
22 April 1914 1 December 1920
10 Baron Yamashita Gentarō Admiral 1 December 1920 15 April 1925
11 Baron Kantarō Suzuki Admiral 15 April 1925 22 January 1929
12 Katō Hiroharu Admiral 22 January 1929 11 June 1930
13 Taniguchi Naomi Vice Admiral 11 June 1930 2 February 1932
14 Prince Fushimi Hiroyasu Admiral
Marshal Admiral
(after 27 May 1932)
2 February 1932 9 April 1941
15 Nagano Osami Admiral
Marshal Admiral
(after 21 June 1943)
9 April 1941 21 February 1944
16 Shimada Shigetarō Admiral 21 February 1944 2 August 1944
17 Oikawa Koshirō Admiral 2 August 1944 29 May 1945
18 Toyoda Soemu Admiral 29 May 1945 15 October 1945


  1. Spector



  • Asada, Sadao (2006). From Mahan to Pearl Harbor: The Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-042-8. 
  • Schencking, J. Charles (2005). Making Waves: Politics, Propaganda, And The Emergence Of The Imperial Japanese Navy, 1868-1922. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-4977-9. 
  • Spector, Ronald (1985). Eagle Against the Sun. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-394-74101-3. 

See also

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