Lieutenant General Koichiro Bansho (JGSDF, Ret.) served for thirty-five years in the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), starting his career as an infantry officer in 1980 with the Infantry and Ranger specialty after graduating from the National Defense Academy. In 1989, he became a military staff member at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after studying at the Command and General Staff College. Then, after becoming a company commander of the 45th Infantry Regiment in 1993, LTG Bansho was assigned to the Ground Staff Office (GSO).
Upon graduation from the U.S. Army War College with a master’s in strategic studies in 2000, LTG Bansho was chief of the Policy and Programs section, GSO. He then took command of the 3rd Infantry Regiment in Hokkaido, and subsequently commanded the first Japanese contingent to Iraq deployed in Al-Samawah in 2004.
After his service as chief of the Public Affairs Office, GSO, LTG Bansho was commandant of the JGSDF Officer Candidate School, and later became director of the Policy and Programs Department (G5), GSO, in 2009. A significant assignment of LTG Bansho’s was when he was called up as the chief of the Japan-U.S. Bilateral Coordination Center for the first Japan-U.S. bilateral disaster relief operation known as Operation Tomodachi, in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.
After his mission to the G5 and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), LTG Bansho was the commanding general of the 3rd Division in 2011. He was then assigned as vice chief of staff to the JGSDF in 2012. LTG Bansho’s final command was of the Western Army, which was responsible for the defense of the Southwestern region of Japan from 2013 to 2015.
After retiring from the JGSDF in August 2015, LTG Bansho assumed the role of senior adviser to the Marubeni Corporation in December 2015, and served as an advisor to Japan’s National Security Council from 2016 to 2018. Currently, he is president of the All-Japan Jukendo Federation (a bayonet fencing style of martial art) and is a visiting professor at Takushoku University.