Ranks of the Imperial Japanese Navy

The following graphs present the rank insignia of the Imperial Japanese Navy from its establishment in 1868 to its defeat during World War II in 1945. These designs were used from 1931 onwards.

Commissioned officer ranks


Cap badges:

大日本帝國海軍 1
All-forces ranks IJN insignia (sleeve) IJN insignia (collar & shoulder boards)
大元帥、海軍大将 Daigensui-kaigun-taishō
(Lord high admiral / Admiralissimo)
Imperial Japan-Navy-OF-10-sleeve OF-10 - Kaigun Daigensui
元帥、海軍大将 Gensui-kaigun-taishō
(Admiral of the fleet / Grand admiral)
Imperial Japan-Navy-OF-9-sleeve元帥徽章
(Same insignia as admiral; with enamelled breast badge)
OF-8 - Kaigun Taisho
海軍大将 Kaigun-taishō
Imperial Japan-Navy-OF-9-sleeve OF-8 - Kaigun Taisho
海軍中将 Kaigun-chūjō
Imperial Japan-Navy-OF-8-sleeve OF-7 - Kaigun Chujo (collar)
海軍少将 Kaigun-shōshō
Imperial Japan-Navy-OF-7-sleeve OF-6 - Kaigun Shosho (collar)
海軍大佐 Kaigun-daisa
Imperial Japan-Navy-OF-5-sleeve OF-5 - Kaigun Taisa (Collar)
海軍中佐 Kaigun-chūsa
Imperial Japan-Navy-OF-4-sleeve OF-4 - Kaigun Chusa
海軍少佐 Kaigun-shōsa
Imperial Japan-Navy-OF-3-sleeve OF-3 - Kaigun Shosa (collar)
海軍大尉 Kaigun-daii
Imperial Japan-Navy-OF-2-sleeve OF-2 - Kaigun Taii (collar)
海軍中尉 Kaigun-chūi
(Sub-lieutenant / Lieutenant junior grade)
Imperial Japan-Navy-OF-1b-sleeve OF-1b - Kaigun Chui (coll)
海軍少尉 Kaigun-shōi
Imperial Japan-Navy-OF-1a-sleeve OF1a - Kaigun Shoi (collar)

Cadet and warrant officer ranks

All-forces ranks IJN insignia (sleeve) IJN insignia (collar & shoulder boards)
海軍少尉候補生 Kaigun shōi kōhosei
OF-D Kaigun Shōi Kōhosei (cuff) OFD Kaigun Shōi Kōhosei (collar)
兵曹長 Heisōchō
(Warrant Officer)
OR-9 Kaigun Jun'i (cuff) OR9 - Kaigun Jun'i (collar)

Enlisted rates

All warrant and commissioned officer ranks had the same names as their army counterparts. For seamen and petty officers, which were selected from enlisted men or conscripts and given one year of training in the Navy PO Academy, the naming changed in November 1942. Both of the names were different from the army names but were equal in rank.

Before 1942 After 1942 IJN insignia (upper sleeve)
Petty officers 下士官 (Kashikan)
一等兵曹 Ittōheisō
Petty officer first class
上等兵曹 Jōtōheisō
Chief petty officer
Rank insignia of jōtōheisō of the Imperial Japanese Navy
二等兵曹 Nitōheisō
Petty officer second class
一等兵曹 Ittōheisō
Petty officer first class
Rank insignia of ittōheisō of the Imperial Japanese Navy
三等兵曹 Santōheisō
Petty officer third class
二等兵曹 Nitōheisō
Petty officer second class
Rank insignia of nitōheisō of the Imperial Japanese Navy
Enlisted/Seamen 水兵 (Suihei)
一等水兵 Ittōsuihei
Seaman first class
水兵長 Suiheichō
Leading seaman
Rank insignia of suiheichō of the Imperial Japanese Navy
二等水兵 Nitōsuihei
Seaman second class
上等水兵 Jōtōsuihei (senior seaman)
Able seaman
Rank insignia of jōtōsuihei of the Imperial Japanese Navy
三等水兵 Santōsuihei
Seaman third class
一等水兵 Ittōsuihei (seaman first class)
Ordinary seaman
Rank insignia of ittōsuihei of the Imperial Japanese Navy
四等水兵 Yontōsuihei
(seaman fourth class)
二等水兵 Nitōsuihei (seaman second class)
Seaman recruit
Rank insignia of nitōsuihei of the Imperial Japanese Navy

Service branch colors

The branch of the Navy in which non-executive personnel served was indicated by a color code. For officers, including midshipmen, it was the color of cloth placed as background to the cuff stripes, on both sides of the gold lace on the shoulder boards, and as longitudinal piping on the collar patches. Midshipmen and cadets wore a colored anchor on the cap, which cadets wore on the shoulder boards as well.[2] The branch of enlisted men was denoted by the color of the Chrysanthemum flower on their rank patch; line personnel using the default gold.

Color Branch
Violet Engineering
Brown Ship and engine construction
Purple-brown Ordnance construction
Red Medical
Pale green Legal
White Paymaster
Black Survey officers
Light blue Aviation (Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service) and Hydrography
Green Chief carpenters (warrant officer)
Grey-blue Band master (warrant officer)

See also


  1. ^ Rosignoli, Guido (1980). Naval and Marine Badges and Insignia of World War 2. Blandford Colour Series. Link House, West Street, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1LL: Blandford Press Ltd. pp. 152–153.
  2. ^ Rosignoli, Guido (1980). Naval and Marine Badges and Insignia of World War 2. Blandford Colour Series. Link House, West Street, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1LL: Blandford Press Ltd. pp. 152–153.
Imperial Japanese Navy

The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN; Kyūjitai: 大日本帝國海軍 Shinjitai: 大日本帝国海軍 Dai-Nippon Teikoku Kaigun "Navy of the Greater Japanese Empire", or 日本海軍 Nippon Kaigun, "Japanese Navy") was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1868 until 1945, when it was dissolved following Japan's surrender in World War II. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) was formed after the dissolution of the IJN.The Imperial Japanese Navy was the third largest navy in the world by 1920, behind the Royal Navy and the United States Navy (USN). It was supported by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service for aircraft and airstrike operation from the fleet. It was the primary opponent of the Western Allies in the Pacific War.

The origins of the Imperial Japanese Navy go back to early interactions with nations on the Asian continent, beginning in the early medieval period and reaching a peak of activity during the 16th and 17th centuries at a time of cultural exchange with European powers during the Age of Discovery. After two centuries of stagnation during the country's ensuing seclusion policy under the shōgun of the Edo period, Japan's navy was comparatively backward when the country was forced open to trade by American intervention in 1854. This eventually led to the Meiji Restoration. Accompanying the re-ascendance of the Emperor came a period of frantic modernization and industrialization. The navy had several successes, sometimes against much more powerful enemies such as in the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, before being largely destroyed in World War II.

Japanese ranks and insignia during World War II

Japanese ranks and insignia during World War II are listed on the following pages:

Ranks of the Imperial Japanese Army

Ranks of the Imperial Japanese Navy

Keisuke Okada

Keisuke Okada (岡田 啓介, Okada Keisuke, 20 January 1868 – 7 October 1952) was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy, politician and Prime Minister of Japan from 1934 to 1936.

Ranks of the Imperial Japanese Army

The following tables present the rank insignia of the Imperial Japanese Army before and during World War II. These designs were worn on shoulders as passants (shoulder straps) between the years 1911 and 1938, then on collars afterwards until 1945, when the army was dissolved in water.

The same officer ranks were used for both the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy, the only distinction being the placement of the word Rikugun (army) or Kaigun (navy) before the rank. Thus, for example, a captain in the navy shared the same rank designation as that of a colonel in the army: Taisa (colonel), so the rank of Rikugun Taisa denoted an army colonel, while the rank of Kaigun daisa denoted a naval captain.

Washington Naval Treaty

The Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, was a treaty signed during 1922 among the major nations that had won World War I, which agreed to prevent an arms race by limiting naval construction. It was negotiated at the Washington Naval Conference, held in Washington, D.C., from November 1921 to February 1922, and it was signed by the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Italy, and Japan. It limited the construction of battleships, battlecruisers and aircraft carriers by the signatories. The numbers of other categories of warships, including cruisers, destroyers and submarines, were not limited by the treaty, but those ships were limited to 10,000 tons displacement each.

The treaty was concluded on February 6, 1922. Ratifications of that treaty were exchanged in Washington on August 17, 1923, and it was registered in the League of Nations Treaty Series on April 16, 1924.Later naval arms limitation conferences sought additional limitations of warship building. The terms of the Washington treaty were modified by the London Naval Treaty of 1930 and the Second London Naval Treaty of 1936. By the mid-1930s, Japan and Italy renounced the treaties, while Germany renounced the Treaty of Versailles which had limited its navy. Naval arms limitation became increasingly difficult for the other signatories.

Military ranks and insignia by country
Post-Soviet states
Commonwealth of Nations


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