Oku Yasukata

Count Oku Yasukata (奥 保鞏, 5 January 1847 – 19 July 1930) was a Japanese field marshal and leading figure in the early Imperial Japanese Army.

Oku Yasukata
奥 保鞏
Oku Yasukata.jpg
Japanese General Count Oku Yasukata
Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office
In office
July 30, 1906 – January 20, 1912
Preceded byKodama Gentarō
Succeeded byHasegawa Yoshimichi
Personal details
Born(1847-01-05)5 January 1847
Kokura, Buzen Province, Japan
Died19 July 1930(1930-07-19) (aged 83)
Tokyo, Japan
AwardsOrder of the Golden Kite (1st class)
Military service
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Branch/service Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service1871–1911
Rankfield marshal 元帥徽章.svg
CommandsIJA 5th Division, IJA 1st Army, Imperial Guard of Japan, IJA 2nd Army


Early lifeEdit

Born in Kokura (in present-day Kitakyūshū) to a samurai family of the Kokura Domain in Buzen Province, Oku joined the military forces of the nearby Chōshū Domain during the Chōshū expedition[disambiguation needed] and the Boshin War in their struggle to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate and bring about the Meiji Restoration.[1]

Military careerEdit

Appointed a commander of the new Imperial Japanese Army, Oku fought against the disgruntled samurai insurgents during the Saga Rebellion of 1871. He was later a survivor of the Taiwan Expedition of 1874. During the Satsuma Rebellion, he defended Kumamoto Castle during its siege as commander of the 13th Infantry Regiment.

During the First Sino-Japanese War Oku succeeded General Nozu Michitsura commander of the IJA Fifth Division of the IJA First Army. Later, he successively held posts as commander of the Imperial Guards and Governor-general for the defense of Tokyo. He was elevated to the title of danshaku (baron) under the kazoku peerage system in 1895, and was promoted to army general in 1903.[2]

During the Russo-Japanese War, Oku went to the front as commanding general of the IJA 2nd Army and was noted for his role in the Battle of Nanshan, Battle of Shaho, Battle of Mukden, and other campaigns.[3]

Oku was awarded the Order of the Golden Kite (1st class) in 1906, and elevated from baron to hakushaku (count) in 1907. In 1911, he received the largely honorary rank of Field Marshal.[4]

Oku refused to attend strategy and staff meetings, and thereby gained a reputation for being both a "lone wolf" and also a brilliant tactician capable of independent action. However, Oku's reluctance to attend the staff meetings was due to his partial deafness, and inability to comprehend and contribute to the discussions.[5]

Post-war lifeEdit

Oku had absolutely no interest in politics, and lived in virtual seclusion after the war. When he died of an Intracranial hemorrhage in 1930, many people were astonished, thinking that he had died years previously.[5]



  • Craig, Albert M. Chōshū in the Meiji Restoration. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961.
  • Dupuy, Trevor N. (1992). Encyclopedia of Military Biography. I B Tauris & Co Ltd. ISBN 1-85043-569-3.
  • Harries, Meirion (1994). Soldiers of the Sun: The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army. Random House. ISBN 0-679-75303-6.
  • Keane, Donald (2005). Emperor Of Japan: Meiji And His World, 1852–1912. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-12341-8.
  • Paine, S.C.M. (2003). Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895: Perception, Power, and Primacy. Cambridge University Press.
  • Jukes, Geoffry (2002). The Russo-Japanese War 1904–1905. Osprey Essential Histories. ISBN 978-1-84176-446-7.

External linksEdit

  • National Diet Library. "Oku Yasukata". Portraits of Modern Historical Figures.


  1. ^ Craig, Choshu in the Meiji Restoration
  2. ^ National Diet Library, Portraits of Modern Historical Figures
  3. ^ Jukes, The Russo-Japanese War
  4. ^ Dupuy, Encyclopedia of Military Biography
  5. ^ a b Japanese wikipedia article
  6. ^ 『官報』第562号「叙任及辞令」May 19, 1885
  7. ^ 『官報』第2971号「叙任及辞令」May 27, 1893
  8. ^ 『官報』第3644号「叙任及辞令」October 21, 1895
  9. ^ 『官報』第3644号「叙任及辞令」October 21, 1895
  10. ^ 『官報』第5072号「叙任及辞令」June 1, 1900
  11. ^ 『官報』第6573号「叙任及辞令」May 31, 1905
  12. ^ 『官報』号外「叙任及辞令」December 30, 1906
  13. ^ 『官報』号外「叙任及辞令」December 30, 1906
  14. ^ 『官報』号外「叙任及辞令」November 10, 1928