Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff

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Imperial Japanese Navy HQ, 1930s

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 Naval General Staff[edit]

# Date Name
1 8 March 1889 – 17 May 1889 Rear Admiral Itō Toshiyoshi
2 17 May 1889 – 17 June 1891 Rear Admiral Arichi Shinanojo
3 17 June 1891 – 12 December 1892 Rear Admiral Inoue Yoshika
4 12 December 1892 – 18 July 1894 Vice Admiral Nakamuta Kuranosuke
5 18 July 1894 – 11 May 1895 Vice Admiral Kabayama Sukenori
6 11 May 1895 – 20 December 1905 Vice Admiral Itoh Sukeyuki
7 20 December 1905 – 1 December 1909 Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō
8 1 December 1909 – 22 April 1914 Vice Admiral Ijuin Gorō
9 22 April 1914 – 1 December 1920 Vice Admiral Shimamura Hayao
10 1 December 1920 – 15 April 1925 Admiral Yamashita Gentarō
11 15 April 1925 – 22 January 1929 Admiral Suzuki Kantarō
12 22 January 1929 – 11 June 1930 Admiral Katō Hiroharu
13 11 June 1930 – 2 February 1932 Vice Admiral Taniguchi Naomi
14 2 February 1932 – 9 April 1941 Admiral Prince Fushimi Hiroyasu
15 9 April 1941 – 21 February 1944 Admiral Nagano Osami
16 21 February 1944 – 2 August 1944 Admiral Shimada Shigetarō
17 2 August 1944 – 29 May 1945 Admiral Oikawa Koshirō
18 29 May 1945 – 15 October 1945 Admiral Toyoda Soemu


  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[edit]

External links[edit]