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Kuroki Tamemoto
General Kuroki Tamemoto
Born (1844-05-03)May 3, 1844
Died February 3, 1923(1923-02-03) (aged 78)
Place of birth Satsuma, Japan
Place of death Tokyo, Japan
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.svg Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service 1864-1869, 1871-1909
Rank General
Commands held IJA 6th Division, IJA 1st Army
Battles/wars Boshin War
First Sino-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War

Count Tamemoto Kuroki GCMG (黒木 為楨?, May 3, 1844 – February 3, 1923) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army. He was the head of the Japanese First Army during the Russo-Japanese War; and his forces enjoyed a series of successes during the Manchurian fighting at the Battle of Yalu River, the Battle of Liaoyang, the Battle of Shaho and the Battle of Mukden.

Early life

Born as the son of a samurai in the Satsuma domain in southern Kyūshū in what is now Kagoshima prefecture, Kuroki fought for the Shimazu clan against the Tokugawa Shogunate forces in the Boshin War of the Meiji Restoration. He led a platoon of infantry of the 1st Battalion at the Battle of Toba-Fushimi and later at the Battle of Utsunomiya Castle and was appointed a lieutenant in February 1869.

Imperial Japanese Army

In July 1871, Kuroki was commissioned a captain in the 1st Battalion, now part of the newly established Imperial Japanese Army. Advancements followed in rapid succession. He was appointed to the 1st Grenadier Battalion in August 1872 and promoted to major. In February 1875, aged only 31, he was appointed commander of the 12th Hiroshima Infantry regiment and promoted to lieutenant-colonel. During the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, Kuroki commanded a regiment against his own clan. He was promoted to colonel in November 1878 and appointed commander of the 2nd Grenadiers. He was promoted to major-general in May 1885 and to lieutenant-general in November 1893. He commanded the IJA 6th Division in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), during which time he took part in the Battle of Weihaiwei.

Russo-Japanese War

Promoted to the rank of general in November 1903, Kuroki was appointed commander of the Japanese First Army upon the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War the following year. After landing his forces at Chemulpo near Seoul in mid-February, Kuroki advanced north routing a smaller Russian force at the Battle of the Yalu River on 30 April-1 May 1904. Commanding the Japanese left flank at the Battle of Liaoyang, he repulsed a disorganized Russian attack from 25 August-3 September.

Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton (facing front) with Japanese General Kuroki after the Japanese victory in Battle of Shaho (1904).

Western military attachés and war correspondents with the Japanese forces after the Battle of Shaho: 1. Robert Collins; 2. David Fraser; 3. Capt. Francois Dhani; 4. Capt. James Jardine; 5. Frederick McKenzie; 6. Edward Knight; 7. Charles Victor-Thomas; 8. Oscar Davis; 9. William Maxwell; 10. Robert MacHugh; 11. William Dinwiddie; 12. Frederick Palmer; 13. Capt. Berkeley Vincent; 14. John Bass; 15. Martin Donohoe; 16. Capt. ____; 17. Capt. Carl von Hoffman; 18. ____; 19. ____; 20. ____; 21. Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton; 22. ____; 23. ____; 24. ____; 25. ____.

During the Battle of Shaho, Kuroki's forces again successfully defended against the Russian offensive under General Aleksei Nikolaevich Kuropatkin from 5 October-17 October and later commanded the Japanese right flank at the Battle of Mukden from 21 February-10 March 1905.[1]

In the same way that the Russo-Japanese War is arguably identified as the first modern war,[2] Gen. Kuroki can be described as one of the first modern generals, not only because his forces were the ultimate victors. In addition to directing the fight against the Russians, Kuroki was obliged to devote attention to a large coterie of Western observers.[3] Press coverage of the war was affected by restrictions on the movement of reporters and strict censorship. In all military conflicts which followed this 1904-1905 war, close attention to more managed reporting was considered essential.[4]

Kuroki's senior military attaché, Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton, would somewhat mis-apply lessons learned in Kuroki's retinue. At Gallipoli in 1915, the Chief Field Censor was William Maxwell, a British journalist who had been in Kuroki's entourage during 1904-1905.[5]

These experiences provided a model that a young American military attaché, Capt. John J. Pershing would adapt a decade later in Europe when he persuaded American journalist Frederick Palmer to take on the task of press accreditation for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF).[6] Palmer, like Pershing, had experienced the Russo-Japanese War through the filter Gen. Kuroki had imposed.

Later years

Despite his success and previous military record, Kuroki was one of two senior field commanders denied promotion to Field Marshal, thought to be largely because of his Satsuma origins at a time when the government was dominated by Chōshū rivals although this may have been due to the internal politics within the Japanese Imperial Army of the time.[7]

Retiring from military service in 1909, he received the title of danshaku (baron) and later hakushaku (count) under the kazoku peerage system. From 1917 onwards served as a Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan (内大臣 Naidaijin?) until his death from pneumonia in 1923.


From the Japanese Wikipedia

  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (30 May 1905)
  • Hon. Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (GCMG) (20 February 1906)[8]
  • Baron (1 April 1906)
  • Order of the Golden Kite, 1st Class (1 April 1906)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flowers (1 April 1906)
  • Count (1909)


  1. Connaughton, Richard Michael. (1988). The War of the Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear: A Military History of the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-5, p. 231.
  2. Sisemore, James D. (2003). "The Russo-Japanese War, Lessons Not Learned." U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; Kepplinger, Hans Mathias et al. "Instrumental Actualization: A Theory of Mediated Conflicts," European Journal of Communication, Vol. 6, No. 3, 263-290 (1991).
  3. Roth, Mitchel P. and James Stuart Olson. (1997). Historical Dictionary of War Journalism, p. 267.
  4. Walker, Dale L. "Jack London's War." World of Jack London website.
  5. Knightly, Philip. "Beating the censor – Ashmead-Bartlett's efforts to reveal the real story of Gallipoli," Visit Gallipoli (Information Services Branch of the Board of Studies NSW for the Department of Veterans' Affairs); Knightly, Phillip (2004). The First Casualty, p. 107; Roth, p. 196.
  6. Roth, p. 230.
  7. Humphreys, Leonard A. (1995). The Way of the Heavenly Sword: The Japanese Army in the 1920s, p. 3.
  8. The London Gazette, 15 May 1906


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