Naval ranks of the Japanese Empire during World War II

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Imperial Japanese Military
Empire of Japan
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(Dai Nippon Teikoku Rikugun)
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(Dai Nippon Teikoku Kaigun)
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Military History of Japan during World War II

The following graphs present the rank insignia of the Japanese navy during World War II. These designs had been used from 1931-1945, but were discontinued after World War II, when the Imperial Japanese Navy was dissolved.

The same officer ranks were used for both the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy, the only distinction being the placement of the word Rikugun (Army) or Kaigun (Navy) before the rank. Thus, for example, a Captain in the navy shared the same rank designation as that of a Colonel in the Army-Taisa (Colonel), so the rank of "Rikugun Taisa" denoted an Army Colonel while the rank of "Kaigun Daisa" denoted a Naval Captain.

Commissioned officer ranks[edit]

All-forces ranks IJN Insignia
元帥海軍大将 Gensui Kaigun Taishō
(Marshal Admiral)
元帥徽章.svg
(Same insignia as Admiral; with enamelled breast badge)
海軍大将 Kaigun Taishō
(Admiral)
Japan-navy-1931-1944-sleeve 30-1-.gif
海軍中将 Kaigun Chūjō
(Vice-Admiral)
Imperial Japanese Navy Insignia Vice admiral 海軍中将.png
海軍少将 Kaigun Shōshō
(Rear-Admiral)
Imperial Japanese Navy Insignia Rear admiral 海軍少将.png
海軍大佐 Kaigun Daisa
(Captain)
Imperial Japanese Navy Insignia Captain 海軍大佐.png
海軍中佐 Kaigun Chūsa
(Commander)
Imperial Japanese Navy Insignia Commander 海軍中佐.png
海軍少佐 Kaigun Shōsa
(Lieutenant-Commander)
OF-3 - Kaigun Shosa (cuff).gif
海軍大尉 Kaigun Daii
(Lieutenant)
Imperial Japanese Navy Insignia Lieutenant 海軍大尉.png
海軍中尉 Kaigun Chūi
(Sub-Lieutenant/Lieutenant Junior Grade)
OF-1b - Kaigun Chūi (CUFF).gif
海軍少尉 Kaigun Shōi
(Ensign)
OF-1a - Kaigun Shōi (cuff).gif

Cadet and Warrant officer ranks[edit]

All-forces ranks IJN Insignia
海軍准尉 Kaigun Jun-i
(Warrant Officer)
Single 1/4 in. gold stripe with loop.
海軍少尉候補生 Kaigun Shōi Kōhōsei
(Midshipman)
Single 1/4 in. gold stripe

Enlisted ranks[edit]

All warrant and commissioned officer ranks had the same names as their army counterparts. For non-commissioned officers and enlisted, the naming changed in 1942. The first name is before, the second after that date. Both of them were different from the army names, but were equal in rank.

Before 1942 After 1942
Non-commissioned officers 下士官 (Kashikan) - selected from conscripts and given one year of training in the Navy NCO Academy.
一等兵曹 Ittōheisō
Petty Officer First Class
上等兵曹 Jōtōheisō
Chief Petty Officer
Rank insignia of jōtōheisō of the Imperial Japanese Navy.svg
二等兵曹 Nitōheisō
Petty Officer Second Class
一等兵曹 Ittōheisō
Petty Officer First Class
Rank insignia of ittōheisō of the Imperial Japanese Navy.svg
三等兵曹 Santōheisō
Petty Officer Third Class
二等兵曹 Nitōheisō
Petty Officer Second Class
Rank insignia of nitōheisō of the Imperial Japanese Navy.svg
Enlisted/seamen 兵 (Hei)
一等水兵 Ittōsuihei
Seaman First Class
水兵長 Suiheichō
Leading Seaman
Rank insignia of suiheichō of the Imperial Japanese Navy.svg
二等水兵 Nitōsuihei
Seaman Second Class
上等水兵 Jōtōsuihei (Senior Seaman)
Able Seaman
Rank insignia of jōtōsuihei of the Imperial Japanese Navy.svg
三等水兵 Santōsuihei
Seaman Third Class
一等水兵 Ittōsuihei (Seaman First Class)
Seaman
Rank insignia of ittōsuihei of the Imperial Japanese Navy.svg
四等水兵 Yontōsuihei
Seaman Fourth Class
二等水兵 Nitōsuihei (Seaman Second Class)
Seaman Recruit
Rank insignia of nitōsuihei of the Imperial Japanese Navy.svg

See also[edit]