The Kwangtung Army was the part of the Imperial Japanese Army formation that initially garrisoned the Kwangtung Leasehold, and, after Japan took control of Manchuria, was their major force there and fighting China. It contained some of the most hard-line officers, and there were considerable questions, toward the end of the war, if it should be withdrawn for defense of the Home Islands.
It was commanded, during the Manchurian Incident and into 1932, by Shigeru Honjo. Honjo was succeeded by Nobuyoshi Muto, who was reassigned from his position as Inspector-General of Military Education after cadets assassinated Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai Muto and subsequent leaders bore the dual titles of Army commander and Ambassador to Manchukuo. In 1933, Muto, who had opposed Emperor Hirohito's position in the policy planning of 1928, pleaded for more liberality and mercy for the people of the Japanese colony of Manchukuo. Shortly afterwards, Muto either died or committed suicide. 
Hirohito replaced Muto with Taka Hishikari, who served until 1934. From 1934 to 1936, Kenkichi Ueda held the positions, but the commander during most of WWII was Yoshijiro Umezu, who became War Minister in 1944. The final commander was Otozo Yamada .
- "JAPAN: Murder, Muto & Manchuria", Time, 8 August 1932
- David Bergamini (1971), Japan's Imperial Conspiracy, Morrow, p. 561