Were any Japanese generals of WWII held in high regard by their foes?

Were any of their army commanders as well regarded as Rommel, Guderian, or Kesselring?

Their navy seems to have had all the star power.

Since the US war with Japan was primarily a naval war, most of the Japanese commanders famous in the US are naval commanders, but in terms of some famous Japanese World War II Generals, there’s General Homma (the “tiger of Manila”, invaded the Philippines, was forced into retirement by the Japanese army for leniency, was executed by the US for the Bataan Death March), General Kuribayashi (commanded the defense of Iwo Jima, died in battle), General Yamashita (the “tiger of Malaya”, conquered Malaya and Singapore, defended the Philippines, was executed by the US for atrocities commuted at Singapore and the Philippines), and General Matsui (Commanded Japanese forces that took Shanghai and Nanking, was executed by the US for atrocities committed at Nanking).

So the answer is no, I s’pose. The whole “atrocities” thing probably had something to do with it.

IIRC it was the Japanese Army that was so enthusiastic about going to war with the U.S.

I’m not sure one contradicts the other.

It might have, but prior to the end of the war I suspect that it was not the determining factor.

Japan did not have the same sort of “celebrity” approach to warfare that the Europeans had. Hitler and Goebbels made a point of publicly lionizing their generals, (and encouraged their generals to engage in much of the same sort of self-promotion). The Japanese were much more into declaring their nation victorious rather than describing the feats of any individual. (In addition, of course, there was less communication in the popular press emanating from Japan, where far fewer Americans could translate any reports that they did broadcast.)

Yamamoto was known to many in the U.S. Navy from the period he spent in the U.S., but I am not sure that he was really known to the American public before we assassinated him. Even Nagumo is probably known more for the many recountings of the Pearl Harbor raid and the Battle of Midway that were produced after the war. I do not recall stories in old editions of Yank or Stars and Stripes that mentioned any Japanese senior officers.

Yamamoto was killed in air-to-air combat. Does that qualify as assassination?

The US knew he was going to be doing an inspection tour, and arranged for eighteen fighters to intercept his transport and shoot it down. I’d call that assassination.

I’d call it a successful attack on a high-value target. It’s no different that bombing, say, a key radar array.

The best general the Japanese had was probably Tomoyuki Yamashita who the guy in charge of the invasions of Singapore and Burma. In 1941-42, He cut a swathe through South East Asia, which the British were powerless to stop.

Tomoyuki Yamashita may well have been effective when advancing, but he faced units that were not well trained.

This was true of pretty much all of the Japanese army, but when they faced well trained, supplied and disciplined opposition they were mown down. The murderous behaviour of the Japanese military, and especially the army as a whole worked against them as it provided the motivation to fight.

Yamamoto was a military officer and so killing him was no more an assassination than bombing a tank. “Assassination” carries with it hints of meaning of criminal or underhanded motives and methods. Killing Yamamoto was a perfectly legitimate act.

Interestingly enough, prior to the war Yamamoto was the subject of countless threats of assassination… from pro-war militarists.

True. Admiral Yamamoto, the top naval commander, was dead-set against it. He said directly, no beating around the bush, that they would definitely lose. Once the decision was made, he did his best to win, but he knew, and said so, that no-one’s best would be good enough.

He was in an unarmed plane, that was specifically hunted for because the US knew where and when he was going to be there. You could call it assassination, but that implies an illegitimate killing. He was a perfectly valid military target, so the word does not actually apply.

Uh no, there’s nothing to admire about the Japanese army in WWII.

Atrocities in Hong Kong.

I guess it depends on your definition. I’d call deliberately killing an enemy officer an assassination - I’m not saying anything about legitimacy, mind you. On the other hand, all the dictionaries I’ve looked at have something along the lines of

I wouldn’t really call it murder, given that it was a military operation, though, so there’s certainly an argument either way. Kill by sudden attack certainly would fit. Wikipedia’a article on assassination actually references Yamamoto’s death, and, from my point of view, there’s not really a better word than assassinate to describe it.

I don’t really see any difference between that and, say, the sharpshooter who killed Nelson at Trafalgar. Both knew who they were shooting at.

He famously said, after the Pearl Harbor attack, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

I don’t want to continue to hijack this thread, so I’m responding in a new thread over here.

I will be interested in how that thread develops, but just to clarify my point, here, I do not ascribe any negative connotations to the word assassinate in the way I applied it. Yamamoto was not killed in a sea battle; he did not go down with his ship. He was specifically targeted to be killed at a particular time and place, (thanks to broken code that revealed his itenerary), and a flight of fighters was sent with the specific intention of shooting down his transport for the purpose of killing him. I think it was a great job of a regretable action, but it meets my definition of assassination (that corresponds with Merriam-Webster’s definition #2).