The ensign of the Imperial Japanese Army
Announcement from Imperial General Headquarters on January 1942
Ukiyo-E, depicting the retreat of shogunate forces in front of the Imperial Army (Kangun). Yodo Castle is shown in the background.
The Showa Emperor Hirohito as head of the Imperial General Headquarters in 1943. Navy officers are seated left while Army officers are seated right.
The Koishikawa Arsenal in Tokyo, inaugurated in 1871, soon after the Meiji restoration.
Announcement from Imperial General Headquarters January 1942
Prince Aritomo Yamagata, a field marshal in the Imperial Japanese Army and twice Prime Minister of Japan. He was one of the main architects of the military foundations of early modern Japan. Yamagata Aritomo can be seen as the father of Japanese militarism.
Soldiers parading before the Showa Emperor Hirohito on Shirayuki
Barrack of the Imperial Guard, circa 1940
Marquis Nozu Michitsura, a field marshal in the early Imperial Japanese Army. He was appointed as chief of staff of the Imperial Guard (Japan) in 1874.
Marquis Jutoku Saigo, a general in the early Imperial Japanese Army. He is the nephew of Saigō Takamori, the leader of Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. Many of the rebels were incorporated into the Imperial Army after the failure of the armed uprising.
Commander-in-chief Saigō Tsugumichi (sitting at the center) pictured with leaders of the Seqalu tribe.
Count Nogi Maresuke, a general in the Imperial Japanese Army and the third governor of Taiwan
Type 13(Top) & Type 22(bottom) Murata rifle. Murata rifle was the first indigenously produced Japanese service rifle adopted in 1880.
Japanese troops during the Sino-Japanese War
Count Akiyama Yoshifuru, served as a cavalry regimental commander in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895. In the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, he led his troops against the Cossack cavalry divisions of the Imperial Russian Army.
Prince Katsura Tarō, three times Prime Minister of Japan. Katsura was the Vice-Minister of War during the period. He commanded the IJA 3rd Division under his mentor, Field Marshal Yamagata Aritomo, during the First Sino-Japanese War.
Type 30 rifle was the standard infantry rifle of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1897 to 1905.
Ōshima Ken'ichi, Minister of War during the period
Japanese riflemen during the Russo-Japanese War
The Type 38 rifle was adopted by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1905
Commanding Officers and Chiefs of Staff of the Allied Military Mission to Siberia, Vladivostok during the Allied Intervention
IJA amphibious assault ship Shinshū Maru, the world's first landing craft carrier ship to be designed as such.
Army uniforms between 1941 and 1945 (US Army poster)
Type 38 rifle
Type 97 Chi-Ha, the most widely produced Japanese medium tank of World War II
Type 99 light machine gun
Indonesian child recruits being trained by Japanese officers as human shield, 1945
Many thousands of Indonesian were taken away as forced labourers (romusha) for Japanese military projects, including the Burma-Siam and Saketi-Bayah railways, and suffered or died as a result of ill-treatment and starvation. Pictured is an internment camp in Jakarta, c. 1945
Disposition of the Imperial Japanese Army in Japan at the time of its capitulation, 18 August 1945
IJA Japanese officers, 1930s
IJA Korean Volunteer army, 1943
IJA Taiwanese soldier in Philippines during World War II

The Imperial General Headquarters (大本営) was part of the Supreme War Council and was established in 1893 to coordinate efforts between the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy during wartime.

- Imperial General Headquarters

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.

- Imperial Japanese Army
The ensign of the Imperial Japanese Army

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Postcard with view of Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office HQ, circa 1910

Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office

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Postcard with view of Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office HQ, circa 1910

The Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office (参謀本部), also called the Army General Staff, was one of the two principal agencies charged with overseeing the Imperial Japanese Army.

In wartime, the Imperial Army General Staff formed part of the army section of the Imperial General Headquarters, an ad hoc body under the supervision of the emperor created to assist in coordinating overall command.

Ministry of the Army

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The Army Ministry (陸軍省), also known as the Ministry of War, was the cabinet-level ministry in the Empire of Japan charged with the administrative affairs of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA).

At the same time, the Imperial Japanese Army prohibited its generals from accepting political offices except by permission from Imperial General Headquarters.

Inspectorate General of Military Training

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The Inspectorate General of Military Training (教育総監部) was a section of the Imperial Japanese Army charged with military education and training in the army, except military aviation training.

It was headed by an inspector general who was responsible for overseeing technical and tactical training, and who reported directly to the Emperor of Japan via the Imperial General Headquarters rather than to the Army Minister or the Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office.

Empire of Japan

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Historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 until the enactment of the post-World War II 1947 constitution and subsequent formation of modern Japan.

Historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 until the enactment of the post-World War II 1947 constitution and subsequent formation of modern Japan.

The Empire of Japan at its peak in 1942:
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The Naval Battle of Hakodate, May 1869; in the foreground, and of the Imperial Japanese Navy
The Empire of Japan at its peak in 1942:
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Prominent members of the Iwakura mission. Left to right: Kido Takayoshi, Yamaguchi Masuka, Iwakura Tomomi, Itō Hirobumi, Ōkubo Toshimichi
Emperor Meiji, the 122nd emperor of Japan
Ōura Church, Nagasaki
Interior of the Japanese Parliament, showing the Prime Minister speaking addressing the House of Peers, 1915
Prince Aritomo Yamagata, who was twice Prime Minister of Japan. He was one of the main architects of the military and political foundations of early modern Japan.
Baron Masuda Tarokaja, a member of the House of Peers (Kazoku). His father, Baron Masuda Takashi, was responsible for transforming Mitsui into a zaibatsu.
The Tokyo Industrial Exhibition, 1907 (Mitsubishi pavilion and Exhibition halls)
Marunouchi District in 1920, looking towards the Imperial Palace
A 1-yen banknote, 1881
Thomas Blake Glover was a Scottish merchant in Bakumatsu and received Japan's second highest order from Emperor Meiji in recognition of his contributions to Japan's industrialization.
Prince Katsura Tarō, thrice Prime Minister and the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan. Katsura commanded the IJA 3rd Division under his mentor, Field Marshal Yamagata Aritomo, during the First Sino-Japanese War.
Map of the Japanese Empire in 1895. This map was issued shortly after the Japanese invasion of Taiwan and is consequently one of the first Japanese maps to include Taiwan as a possession of Imperial Japan.
Marquess Komura Jutaro, 1911. Komura became Minister for Foreign Affairs under the first Katsura administration, and signed the Boxer Protocol on behalf of Japan.
French illustration of a Japanese assault on entrenched Russian troops during the Russo-Japanese War
Japanese riflemen during the Russo-Japanese War
Count Tadasu Hayashi was the resident minister to the United Kingdom. While serving in London from 1900, he worked to successfully conclude the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and signed on behalf of the government of Japan on January 30, 1902.
Port Arthur viewed from the Top of Gold Hill, after its capitulation in 1905. From left are the wrecks of Russian pre-dreadnought battleships Peresvet, Poltava, Retvizan, Pobeda and the protected cruisers Pallada
Emperor Taishō, the 123rd emperor of Japan
Topographic map of the Empire of Japan in November, 1918
Native Micronesian constables of Truk Island, circa 1930. Truk became a possession of the Empire of Japan under a mandate from the League of Nations following Germany's defeat in World War I.
Commanding Officers and Chiefs of Staff of the Allied Military Mission to Siberia, Vladivostok during the Allied Intervention
Groundbreaking ceremony of Ginza Line, the oldest subway line in Asia, 1925. Front row, right to left: Rudolf Briske, Noritsugu Hayakawa, Furuichi Kōi, Ryutaro Nomura.
Count Itagaki Taisuke is credited as being the first Japanese party leader and an important force for liberalism in Meiji Japan.
Count Katō Komei, the 14th Prime Minister of Japan from June 11, 1924, until his death on January 28, 1926
Emperor Shōwa during an Army inspection on January 8, 1938
Tokyo Kaikan was requisitioned as the meeting place for members of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association (Taisei Yokusankai) in the early days.
Japanese Pan-Asian writer Shūmei Ōkawa
Rebel troops assembling at police headquarters during the February 26 Incident
A bank run during the Shōwa financial crisis, March 1927
National Diet Building, 1930
Political map of the Asia-Pacific region, 1939
Japanese troops entering Shenyang, Northeast China during the Mukden Incident, 1931
The Japanese occupation of Peiping (Beijing) in China, on August 13, 1937. Japanese troops are shown passing from Peiping into the Tartar City through Zhengyangmen, the main gate leading onward to the palaces in the Forbidden City.
IJN Special Naval Landing Forces armed with the Type 11 Light Machine Gun during the Battle of Shanghai, 1937
Signing ceremony for the Axis Powers Tripartite Pact
Founding ceremony of the Hakkō ichiu (All the world under one roof) monument in 1940
A map of the Japanese advance from 1937 to 1942
Victorious Japanese troops march through the city center of Singapore following the city's capture in February 1942 (Photo from the Imperial War Museum)
Imperial Japanese Army paratroopers are landing during the Battle of Palembang, February 13, 1942.
A model representing the attack by dive bombers from USS Yorktown (CV-5) and USS Enterprise (CV-6) on the Japanese aircraft carriers, and in the morning of June 4, 1942, during the Battle of Midway
Group of Type 2 Ka-Mi tanks on board of 2nd class transporter of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1944–1945
The rebuilt battlecruiser sank at her moorings in the naval base of Kure on July 24 during a series of bombings.
The Japanese archipelago and the Korean Peninsula in 1945 (National Geographic)
A drawing depicting a speech in the Imperial Japanese Diet on November 1, 1945, the end of the Second World War. In the foreground there are several Allied soldiers watching the proceedings from the back of the balcony.
From left to right: Marshal Admiral Heihachirō Tōgō (1848–1934), Field Marshal Oku Yasukata (1847–1930), Marshal Admiral Yoshika Inoue (1845–1929), Field Marshal Kageaki Kawamura (1850–1926), at the unveiling ceremony of bronze statue of Field Marshal Iwao Ōyama
Population density map of the Empire of Japan (1920).
Population density map of the Empire of Japan (1940).
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army
Naval ensign of the Empire of Japan
Flag of the Japanese Emperor

In 1947, with American involvement, a new constitution was enacted, officially bringing the Empire of Japan to an end, and Japan's Imperial Army was replaced with the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

To coordinate operations, the Imperial General Headquarters, headed by the Emperor, was established in 1893.

The Emperor in 1935

Hirohito

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The 124th emperor of Japan, ruling from 25 December 1926 until his death in 1989.

The 124th emperor of Japan, ruling from 25 December 1926 until his death in 1989.

The Emperor in 1935
Hirohito in 1902 as an infant
Emperor Taishō's four sons in 1921: Hirohito, Takahito, Nobuhito and Yasuhito
The Crown Prince watches a boat race at Oxford University in the UK in 1921
In May 1921, he visited Edinburgh, Scotland
Prince Hirohito and British Prime Minister Lloyd George, 1921
Prince Hirohito and his wife, Princess Nagako, in 1924
Imperial Standard as Emperor
Emperor Hirohito after his enthronement ceremony in 1928, dressed in sokutai
The Emperor on his favorite white horse Shirayuki (lit. 'white-snow')
Emperor Hirohito riding Shirayuki during an Army inspection on 8 January 1938
The Emperor as head of the Imperial General Headquarters on 29 April 1943
The Emperor with his wife Empress Kōjun and their children on 7 December 1941
Emperor Hirohito on the battleship Musashi, 24 June 1943.
Gaetano Faillace's photograph of General MacArthur and the Emperor at Allied General Headquarters in Tokyo, 27 September 1945
Emperor Hirohito visiting Hiroshima in 1947. The domed Hiroshima Peace Memorial can be seen in the background.
US President Richard Nixon with Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kōjun in Anchorage (27 September 1971)
Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kōjun arriving in the Netherlands (8 October 1971).
The Empress, First Lady Betty Ford, the Emperor, and President Gerald Ford at the White House before a state dinner held in honor of the Japanese head of state for the first time. 2 October 1975.
Emperor Shōwa in his laboratory (1950)
Hirohito's tomb in the Musashi Imperial Graveyard, Hachiōji, Tokyo
Political map of the Asia-Pacific region in 1939

Hirohito became the heir apparent, and he was formally commissioned as a second lieutenant in the army and an ensign in the navy.

The Emperor was thus the leader of the Imperial General Headquarters.