Masaki Honda was born in Japan in 1889. He joined the Japanese Army and in 1940 was given command of the 8th Division. This was followed by the post as head of the Military Education Branch Armoured Department (1941-43) and the 20th Army (1943-44).
In January 1945 Honda was ordered to hold a north-south line from Lashio to Mandalay. Honda was under instruction to stop General Joseph Stilwell and the US-Chinese troops from reopening the Burma Road.