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Lieutenant General Maeda Toshinari
Lieutenant General Maeda Toshinari
Born (1885-06-05)June 5, 1885
Died September 5, 1942(1942-09-05) (aged 57)
Place of birth Tokyo, Japan
Place of death off Labuan island, Malaysia
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.svg Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service 1905-1942
Rank Lieutenant General
Unit Imperial Guard
Commands held IJA 8th Division
Battles/wars Pacific War
Awards Order of the Rising Sun

Marquis Toshinari Maeda (前田利為侯爵 Maeda Toshinari Kōshaku?, 5 June 1885 – 5 September 1942), was a Japanese general and the first commander of the Japanese forces in northern Borneo (Sarawak, Brunei, Labuan, and North Borneo) in World War II.


Maeda Toshinari was born as the 5th son of the former daimyo of the Nanokaichi Domain in Kozuke province (modern Tomioka city, Gunma prefecture), Maeda Toshiaki. He was adopted as heir into the main branch of the Maeda clan in 1900. He became marquis and the 16th head of the Maeda clan on 13 June 1900.[1]

As was common with sons of the kazoku aristocracy, he served for a session in the House of Peers in the Japanese Diet in 1910, while pursuing his military education. He graduated from the 23rd class of the Army War College in 1911. He was an outstanding student, and was awarded the Emperor's Sword on graduation. In 1913, he went to Germany for further studies, and from there went on to Great Britain.

On 7 August 1923, he became a battalion commander in the 4th Regiment of the Imperial Guard of Japan.

From 26 July 1927 to 1 August 1930 he served as military attaché to Great Britain. On his return in 1930, he was made regimental commander of the 2nd Regiment of the Imperial Guard. In 1935, he was made a member of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff. From 1936-1937, he was superintendent of the Army War College, and on 2 August 1937, he was promoted to lieutenant general, commanding the IJA 8th Division. On 31 January 1939, he retired from active duty and was placed on the reserve list.[2]

However, with the start of the Pacific War, Maeda was recalled to active service, and assigned command of the Borneo theatre of operations on 6 April 1942. In September of that year, he was killed in an air crash flying to Labuan Island which was renamed for him during the period of the Japanese occupation. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of full general.

His former home in Meguro, Tokyo, built in 1929 still exists. It was requisitioned by SCAP after the end of World War II for use as a residence by General Ennis Whitehead, commander of the 5th Air Force, and later by General Matthew Bunker Ridgway. Afterwards, it reverted to the Tokyo Metropolitan government, which converted it into the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Modern Culture. Likewise, his former summer mansion in Kamakura (built in 1936) was used as a summer residence by Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, and later donated to the city of Kamakura for use as the Kamakura Museum of Literature.

His daughter, Sakai Miiko (1926–1999), became a non-fiction author, writing several works on the kazoku and their tragic history in Showa period Japan.


  • Dupuy, Trevor N. (1992). The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc. ISBN 0785804374. 

External links[]


  1. Dupuy, Encyclopedia of Military Biography
  2. Ammenthorp, The Generals of World War II
Preceded by
Maeda Toshitsugu
16th Lord Maeda
Succeeded by
Maeda Toshitatsu

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