Kuroki Tamemoto (黒木為楨)

Tamemoto KUROKI (May 3, 1844 - February 3, 1923) was a military man of the Imperial Japanese Army in Japan. He was the army general.

His alias (common name) was Shichizaemon
His wife was the second daughter of Katsushige NAKAMURA, Hyaku


In 1844, he was born in Nekonokusurikoji (猫之薬小路), Kajiya-machi (Hogiri, Shitakajiya-machi), near Kagoshima-jo Castle in Satsuma Province, as the son of a feudal retainer of Satsuma clan, Tameuemon CHOSA. Later, he became the adopted son of 黒木万左衛門 Manzaemon KUROKI, and began using the family name Kuroki.

He took a part in the campaign of the Boshin War. In the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, he lead a small-sized musket unit and forced the foot soldiers of the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) army to withdraw by the barrage of gunfire, and in the Siege of Utsunomiya-jo Castle, he created momentum to the victory, actively fighting by rushing to the castellated walls and clinging to it.

In 1871, he became a member of Goshimpei (army to convoy the emperor) and he held the post of Konoe taii (Senior Lieutenant of Imperial Guard). During the Satsuma Rebellion, he went to the front as the regimental commander of the 12th Regiment of Foot Soldiers, and during the Sino-Japanese War, he participated in the attack to Ikaiei (a harbor city in the Sandong Peninsula, present Weihai in China) as the division commander of the 6th Division (Japanese Army). After the war, he was conferred the baronage for his military merits.

In 1903, he became the army general. During the Russo-Japanese War, he advanced from the Yalu River to the Battle of Mukden fighting various battles along the way as the commander of the First Troop (Japanese Army), and the Russian army was afraid of him, calling him 'Kurokinsky' (after his family name Kuroki). After the war, he was conferred the title of count for his distinguished military service. In 1909, he incorporated into the reserve duty. In 1917, he was appointed privy councilor.

On February 3, 1923, at 10:00 p.m., he died of pneumonia at his residence in Aoyama, Tokyo City. He was 80 years old (by kazoe: the traditional calculation that makes one one year old at birth).

After his death, the family headship was took over by Sanji KUROKI. Sanji was raised to the count ranked Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) and decorated the Third Order of Merit, after serving as Sanyo (the councilor) of Teito Fukko-in (The Imperial Capital Reconstruction Board) and a member of the House of Peers. Tamemoto's third son Kiyoshi KURODA (count) became the adopted heir of Count Kiyonaka KURODA, the son of Lieutenant General (army) and Count Kiyotaka KURODA who was the prime minister, then succeeded the peerage of count.

Personal Profile

He was a daring and impetuous commander as a typical samurai of Satsuma, and he was also an impulsive military person, who valued experience more than logic. To show his personality, there remains an anecdote, in which he is said to have threw the Emperor Meiji onto the ground without mercy, when the Emperor casually challenged him to Sumo.

He demonstrated an excellent capacity of waving a baton as a commander in the open battle, making use of his experience for many years and his native intuition; and, the Japanese Army's unexpected run to a victory at the outset of the Russo-Japanese War owed greatly to his ability. However, he sometimes run out of the General Headquarters' policy owing to his reckless character, and during the Battle of Mukden, the General Headquarters (Japanese Army) in Manchuria repeatedly gave him an order to 'terminate the march' in order to detain his prominent actions.

After the Russo-Japanese War, most of the military commanders were promoted to the post of marshal (Japanese Army); however, he exceptionally ended his career as an army general. It was natural that he would have been appointed the marshal for his military career and great achievement.
However, Kuroki himself disliked the title of marshal, which he considered as a mere painted honorary position, and he was satisfied with the status of a commander in the field until the end of his career (In a letter directed to one of his colleagues, his words of such meaning can be found.)
But besides of this, it is said that the reason came from his rigid and wild character, which was unpopular among the military executives.