Count (May 3, 1844 – February 3, 1923) was a soldier
who served in the Imperial Japanese Army
). He was the head of the Japanese First Army
) during the Russo-Japanese War
; and his forces enjoyed a series of successes during the Manchurian fighting at the Battle of Yalu River
, the Battle of Liaoyang
, the Battle of Shaho
and the Battle of Mukden
Born as the son of a samurai
in the Satsuma
domain in southern Kyūshū
in what is now Kagoshima prefecture
, Kuroki fought for the Shimazu clan
against the Shogunal
forces in the Boshin War
during the Meiji Restoration
. He was a commander of the infantry
at the Battle of Toba-Fushimi
and later at the Battle of Utsunomiya Castle
Imperial Japanese Army
In 1871, Kuroki enlisted with the rank of captain
in the newly established Imperial Japanese Army and, within four years, was soon promoted to lieutenant colonel
During the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, Kuroki commanded a regiment against his own clan, and 17 years later, as lieutenant general, he commanded the IJA 6th Division in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), during which time he took part in the Battle of Weihaiwei.
Promoted to the rank of general
in November 1903, Kuroki was appointed commander of the Japanese 1st Army
upon the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War
the following year. After landing his forces at Chemulpo
in mid-February, Kuroki advanced north routing a smaller Russian force at the Battle of the Yalu River
on 30 April
. Commanding the Japanese left flank at the Battle of Liaoyang
, he repulsed a disorganized Russian attack from 25 August
During the Battle of Shaho, Kuroki's forces again successfully defended against the Russian offensive under General Aleksei Nikolaevich Kuropatkin from 5 October-17 and later commanded the Japanese right flank at the Battle of Mukden from 21 February-10 March 1905.
In the same way that the Russo-Japanese War is arguably identified as the first modern war, Gen. Kuroki can be described as one of the first modern generals, not only because his forces were the ultimate victors. In addition to directing the fight against the Russians, Kuroki was obliged to devote attention to a large coterie of Western observers. Press coverage of the war was affected by restrictions on the movement of reporters and strict censorship. In all military conflicts which followed this 1904-1905 war, close attention to more managed reporting was considered essential.
Kuroki's senior military attaché, Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton, would somewhat mis-apply lessons learned in Kuroki's retinue. At Gallipoli in 1915, the Chief Field Censor was William Maxwell, a British journalist who had been in Kuroki's entourage during 1904-1905.
These experiences provided a model that a young American military attaché, Capt. John J. Pershing would adapt a decade later in Europe when he persuaded American journalist Frederick Palmer to take on the task of press accreditation for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). Palmer, like Pershing, had experienced the Russo-Japanese War through the filter Gen. Kuroki had imposed.
Despite his success and previous military record, Kuroki was one of two senior field commanders denied promotion to Field Marshal
, thought to be largely because of his Satsuma origins at a time when the government was dominated by Chōshū
rivals although this may have been due to the internal politics within the Japanese Imperial Army of the time.
Retiring from military service in 1909, he received the title of danshaku (baron) and later hakushaku (count) under the kazoku peerage system.
From 1917 onwards served as a until his death in 1923.
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