Gensui (Imperial Japanese Army)

Rikugun-gensui (陸軍元帥, Field marshal), formal rank designations: Gensui-rikugun-taishō (元帥陸軍大将, Marshal-(army corps) general) was the highest title in the pre-war Imperial Japanese military.

Gensui Badge
Country Japanese Empire
Service branch Imperial Japanese Army
Formation19 July 1872
Next higher rankDai-gensui
Next lower rankArmy general
Equivalent ranksGensui (Navy)

The title originated from the Chinese title yuanshuai(元帥).

The term gensui, which was used for both the Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy, was at first a rank held by Saigō Takamori as the Commander of the Armies (陸軍元帥 Rikugun-gensui) in 1872. However, in May 1873 Saigō was "demoted" to general, with gensui thereafter no longer a rank as such, but a largely honorific title awarded for extremely meritorious service to the Emperor - thus similar in concept to the French title of Marshal of France. Equivalent to a five-star rank (OF-10), it is similar to Field Marshal in the British Army and General of the Army in the United States Army.

While gensui would retain their actual ranks of general or admiral, they were entitled to wear an additional enamelled breast badge, depicting paulownia leaves between crossed army colors and a naval ensign under the Imperial Seal of Japan. They were also entitled to wear a special samurai sword (katana) of a modern design on ceremonial occasions.

In the Meiji period, the title was awarded to five generals and three admirals. In the Taishō period it was awarded to six generals and six admirals, and in the Shōwa period it was awarded to six generals and four admirals. The higher title of dai-gensui was comparable to the title of generalissimo and was held only by the Emperor himself.

List of Rikugun-gensuiEdit

Note that several were promoted the same year they died; these were posthumous promotions.

Marshal Name (Birth – Death) From
X July 19, 1872 Saigō Takamori (1827–1877) Kagoshima
1 January 20, 1898 Prince Yamagata Aritomo (1838–1922) Yamaguchi
2 January 20, 1898 Prince Komatsu Akihito (1846–1903) Imperial Family
3 January 20, 1898 Prince Ōyama Iwao (1842–1916) Kagoshima
4 January 31, 1906 Marquis Nozu Michitsura (1840–1908) Kagoshima
5 October 24, 1911 Count Oku Yasukata (1847–1930) Fukuoka
6 January 9, 1914 Count Hasegawa Yoshimichi (1850–1924) Yamaguchi
7 January 9, 1914 Prince Fushimi Sadanaru (1858–1923) Imperial Family
8 January 9, 1914 Baron Kawamura Kageaki (1850–1926) Kagoshima
9 June 24, 1916 Count Terauchi Masatake (1852–1919) Yamaguchi
10 December 12, 1919 Prince Kan'in Kotohito (1865–1945) Imperial Family
11 April 27, 1921 Baron Uehara Yusaku (1856–1933) Miyazaki
12 January 27, 1929 Prince Kuni Kuniyoshi (1873–1929) Imperial Family
13 August 8, 1932 Prince Nashimoto Morimasa (1874–1951) Imperial Family
14 May 3, 1933 Baron Nobuyoshi Muto (1868–1933) Saga
15 June 21, 1943 Count Hisaichi Terauchi (1879–1946) Tokyo
16 June 21, 1943 Hajime Sugiyama (1880–1945) Fukuoka
17 June 2, 1944 Shunroku Hata (1879–1962) Fukushima

The title was also bestowed on King George V of the United Kingdom on October 28, 1918.

See alsoEdit