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Imperial Japanese Navy in World War 2


 A Note on the Japanese award for Gallantry

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The Order was instituted in 1890 and conferred for bravery, leadership or command in battle. There were seven grades as follows:

General and Flag officers: 1st - 3rd grade

Officers: 2nd - 4th grade

Junior officers: 3rd - 5th grade

Non-commissioned officers: 4th - 6th grade

Soldiers and Sailors: 5th - 7th grade

A total of 1,067,492 were awarded until its official abolition in 1947. Only 41 of the 1st Grade and 201 of the 2nd Grade were awarded to all arms through the period 1890 to 1947. Of the grand total, approximately 630,000 relate to World War 2 or the Pacific war. The numbers awarded to the Navy between 1941 and 1945 are not known but include those listed in the right column.


Although Japanese military and naval culture was very different from that of most other belligerents in World War 2, it is of interest to investigate how the top Japanese award for gallantry compares with those of other nations.

Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net.


Sources: All the contents of this page have been obtained from the Internet by searching for: Imperial Japanese Navy, Order of the Golden Kite. I am particularly grateful to those who prepared the relevant items in the following sites:

Imperial Japanese Navy Page
Naval History


  Order of the Golden Kite 1st Class

Vice Adm Nobutake Kondo, commander 2nd Fleet, took part in invasions of Malaya, Philippines and Dutch East Indies, Cover Force Midway operation, Battles of Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz and First Guadalcanal when battleship ‘Kirishima’ was sunk.

Adm of the Fleet Isoroku Yamamoto, C-in-C Imperial Japanese Navy, on South Pacific inspection tour, ambushed and shot down by USAAF Lightning fighters 18th April 1943


  Order of the Golden Kite 2nd Class

Vice Adm Takeo Takagi, took part in invasion of the Philippines, Battles of Java Sea and Coral Sea. Reported killed during US invasion of Saipan in 1944

Adm Isoroku Yamamoto (above)


  Order of the Golden Kite 3rd Class

Vice Adm Nobutake Kondo (above)

Adm Osami Nagano, Chief of the Naval General Staff. Arraigned as war criminal for ordering attack on Pearl Harbor. Died in 1947 during trial.

Vice Adm Chuichi Nagumo took part in attacks on Pearl Harbor and Darwin and Battles of Midway, Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz. Commited suicide at time of US capture of Saipan


  Order of the Golden Kite 4th Class (only one award identified)

Chief Petty Officer Kazuo Tanaka, Kamikaze pilot, killed 6th April 1945, posthumously promoted to Ensign

  Order of the Golden Kite 5th Class  (no WW2 naval awards have been identified)
  Order of the Golden Kite 6th Class  (no WW2 naval awards have been identified)
  Order of the Golden Kite 7th Class  (no WW2 naval awards have been identified)

Many awards must have been made to the officers and men who took part in the often huge and in the early days, successful Japanese Navy operations throughout the Pacific War.

Note: Japanese first names normally follow their surname. The Western convention of first name first and surname last is followed above.


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revised  5/12/10