In 1939, Honda was promoted to lieutenant general and appointed chief of staff of the China Expeditionary Army in Manchuria. In 1940, he took command of the 8th Infantry Division. He continued involvement in training as chief of the Armored Warfare Division of the Military Education Department in 1941. In April 1943, he took command of the Twentieth Army in Manchuria.
In April 1944, Honda took command of the newly formed Thirty-Third Army in north Burma. By this time, the Japanese position in Burma was deteriorating under Allied attacks. Honda's outnumbered forces were nearly destroyed by troops under U.S. General Joseph Stilwell in October 1944. In January 1945, Honda made a desperate attempt to prevent the Allies from seizing the Burma Road, but his army was defeated and Burma was lost to the Japanese. The remnants of Honda's army continued to fight sporadically until their formal surrender on 28 August 1945. Honda retired after the war and died in Tokyo on 17 July 1964.
Allen, Louis. Burma: The Longest War, 1941–45. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1984.; Prefer, Nathan A. Vinegar Joe's War: Stilwell's Campaigns for Burma. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 2000.