Imperial Japanese Army

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  • Established: 1872
  • Japanese: 大日本帝国陸軍 (dai nippon teikoku rikugun)

The Imperial Japanese Army, established during the Meiji period, was the first modern/Western style national army in Japan. Built upon a foundation of military conscription (commoner soldiers, rather than elite warriors), it was initially organized based on a French model, but was reorganized according to Prussian models beginning in 1878. The Imperial Japanese Army saw its first major engagements in the Taiwan Expedition of 1874, the suppression of shizoku rebellions in the 1870s (including, chiefly, the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion), and the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895.

Following difficulties and failures in Taiwan, Kyûshû, and elsewhere, in 1878 Yamagata Aritomo initiated a thorough reorganization of the military. This included strengthening the reserves, and the domestic manufacture of modern military equipment in considerable volume. Yamagata also established a training college, where new and modern/Western training methods were incorporated; most of the generals and educators at the training school were from Yamagata's home province of Chôshû.


  • Conrad Schirokauer, David Lurie, and Suzanne Gay, A Brief History of Japanese Civilization, Wadsworth Cengage (2013), 192.