Dai-gensui (大元帥 grand marshal) was the highest rank of the Greater Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy from the 1870s to 1945, when the Empire of Japan was dissolved. The rank was only ever held by the Emperor of Japan as commander-in-chief of the Empire's Armed Forces and, separately, the highest ranking officer in each of the Armed Services. The rank was equivalent to a generalissimo or general of the armies and admiral of the navy, being a six-star rank senior to the rank of gensui ("marshal"). It formally became obsolete in 1947 when the Imperial Japanese armed forces were abolished.

Hirohito in dress uniform
The Shōwa Emperor in the dress uniform of a grand marshal (c. 1935)


The term originated in the Chinese military title da yuan shuai (大元帥), a title higher than yuan shuai (元帥, pronounced gensui in Japanese).

Decree No. 252 by the Dajokan, dated 7 September 1872 first made formal mention of the rank of dai-gensui; however, no appointments to the rank were made before the rank was abolished along with that of gensui on 8 May 1873. By "Draft Ordinance No. 142" of the Constitution of the Empire of Japan (Chapter 1 Part 1) of 30 September 1889, the Emperor was officially given the rank of dai-gensui and installed as supreme commander of the Army and Navy.

The kanji characters also refer to a Buddhist deity, Daigensui Myō'ō (大元帥明王), a Wisdom King worshipped by the Imperial Court since Emperor Ninmyō and by the Shingon sect, for its legendary miraculous power to quell foreign enemies and rebellions, just like a military leader.


Shoulder insignia
Collar insignia

The insignia of a dai-gensui were identical to those of a full general, with the addition of the gold imperial chrysanthemum.

List of dai-gensui

The holders of this rank were:

Holder Lifetime Time in rank Notes
Meiji Emperor 3 November 1852 – 30 July 1912 1872–1873
Taishō Emperor 31 August 1879 – 25 December 1926 1912–1926
Shōwa Emperor 29 April 1901 – 7 January 1989 1926–1945 Held the rank until 15 August 1945 when Japan surrendered to the Allies, rank officially abolished in 1947.

See also

  • Other pronunciations of the characters 大元帥
  • The higher rank of gensui (元帥)
    • Yuan shuai, the original Chinese title
    • Wonsu, the Korean equivalent
    • Nguyên soái, the Vietnamese equivalent


Da yuan shuai

Da yuan shuai (ta yuan shuai; Chinese: 大元帥; pinyin: dà yuán shuài; Wade–Giles: ta4 yüan2 shuai4) was a Chinese military rank, usually translated as grand marshal or generalissimo.

During the early Republic of China, the rank of "grand marshal of the army and navy" (陸海軍大元帥 lù hǎijūn dàyuánshuài) was assumed by Yuan Shikai in 1913, Sun Yat-sen in 1917 and Zhang Zuolin in 1927.The rank was replaced by the Nationalist Government with the "general special class" or "generalissimo" (特級上將 Tèjí shàng jiàng) and awarded to Chiang Kai-shek in 1935.

The rank of "grand marshal of the People's Republic of China" (中華人民共和國大元帥 Zhōnghuá rénmín gònghéguó dàyuánshuài) was proposed after the establishment of the People's Republic (perhaps for Mao Zedong), but was never conferred.


Gensui (元帥) may refer to:

Grand marshal (大元帥 dai-gensui), highest rank in Greater Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy, held by the Emperor of Japan;

Field marshal (元帥陸軍大将 gensui rikugun-taishō), OF-10 officer in Imperial Japanese Army;

Marshal (陸軍元帥 rikugun gensui), only held by Saigō Takamori in July 1872–May 1873.

Marshal-admiral (元帥海軍大将 gensui kaigun-taishō), OF-10 officer in Imperial Japanese Navy.

Gensui (Imperial Japanese Army)

Marshal-army general (元帥陸軍大将, gensui rikugun-taishō) was the highest title in the pre-war Imperial Japanese military.

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 UK 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.

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

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

Head of the Royal Thai Armed Forces

The Head of the Thai Armed Forces (Thai: จอมทัพไทย; RTGS: Chom Thap Thai) is a position vested in the Thai monarch, who as sovereign and head of state is the commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Armed Forces.

The position is only nominal. The armed forces are actually managed by the Ministry of Defence, headed by the Minister of Defence (a member of the cabinet) and commanded by the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, which in turn is headed by the Chief of the Defence Forces.

Highest military ranks

In many nations the highest military ranks are classed as being equivalent to, or are officially described as, five-star ranks. However, a number of nations have used or proposed ranks such as generalissimo which are senior to their five-star equivalent ranks. This article summarises those ranks.

Kamen Rider Stronger

Kamen Rider Stronger (仮面ライダーストロンガー, Kamen Raidā Sutorongā, Masked Rider Stronger in English) is a Japanese Tokusatsu television show. It is the fifth entry in the Kamen Rider Series, the show was broadcast on TBS and MBS from April 5, 1975 to December 27, 1975. Stronger is a co-production between Ishinomori Productions and Toei, and was created by Shōtarō Ishinomori.

Star (classification)

Stars are often used as symbols for ratings. They are used by reviewers for ranking things such as films, TV shows, restaurants, and hotels. For example, a system of one to five stars is commonly employed to rate hotels, with five stars being the highest quality.


Taewŏnsu (literally grand marshal, usually translated as generalissimo) is the highest possible military rank of North Korea and is intended to be an honorific title for Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. The rank is senior to that of wonsu (marshal). The title also exists in Chinese military history as dàyuánshuài (same Sino-Korean characters 大元帥), and was briefly taken by Sun Yat-Sen.

Yuan shuai

Yuan Shuai (元帥) was a Chinese military rank that corresponds to a marshal in other nations. It was given to distinguished generals during China's dynastic and republican periods. A higher level rank of da yuan shuai (大元帥), which corresponds to generalissimo, also existed.



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