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Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan

Article about: Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan Foreword As I had already finished writing a complete history of Japanese War Medals, I thought I might start something on the commemorative medal

  1. #61

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    The first Medal to go Metric




    1st September 1923 11:58 AM

    That year in April, Shigeko, my grandmother gave birth to my uncle, her fourth and last child. Shortly before that birth, however, Dr. Irisawa (Emperor Taisho’s personal physician) had asked his senior assistant, grandfather Etsuzo, to take a Professor’s post at the Kumamoto Medical School, way down south in Kyushu; what was only supposed to be a short stay to stand in for another professor, who had to go on extended sick-leave. (This, however, turned out to be a long stay until after WW2)

    So Shigeko wasn’t planning to join him in the southern island, but was to remain with their 4 children at the family villa in Kamakura along with the baby’s nanny. Her elder sister’s son and daughter were also staying there, as their mother was in Tokyo to welcome back her husband, just returning from a trip overseas.

    Therefore Shigeko and the nanny were in charge of 6 children at that little house in Kamakura that day.

    1st of September was the first day of school; a short school day, so luckily all the kids were already back home from school when the quake struck. The baby was out with his nanny at the Hase Temple, taking a nap in the cool shades at the tranquil temple precinct. So the five children were just starting lunch with Shigeko.

    Suddenly, there was a deep rumbling sound, soon followed by severe jolts that swung the hanging light in an ever increasing arch until it was hitting the ceiling. The piano crashed over and everything came raining off the shelves.

    To the panicking children, Shigeko commanded loudly. “Children, all get under that table, now! And repeat the chant, ‘Nannmu Kanzeon Bosatsu, Nannmu Kanzeon Bosatsu’” (Buddhist mantra meaning, “I worship and adore thee, Goddess of Mercy”)

    The children were shoved under a dining table no larger than one tatami mat in size and all prayed as told. Shigeko was totally disregarding her own safety and was frantically trying to save the frightened children. Her tiny daughter still held a spoon tightly in her hand, as she too bowed in prayer under the table.

    Jolts returned several times, but as it finally quieted down and they came out from under the table, they saw that the neighbor’s house was completely demolished flat and heard cries for help from under the rubble. And in their garden, there was a large fissure, gaping like a mouth. The house on the other side of the street had also spilled over onto the street and was completely blocking it.

    Luckily the nanny also returned safely from the temple with the baby by then. She told how the big temple gate building had collapsed and how she crawled over the rubble to come home.

    Those near the seashore were chased by a Tsunami that reached far inland, taking many houses out to sea. Near the mountains, families were buried alive under landslides. People covered in blood were being carried away on makeshift stretchers using door panels.

    Soon they heard that a fire had broken out along the street in front of the Great Buddha and the wind was carrying the flames downwind in their direction. When they gazed in that direction, they saw black smoke billowing up into the sky. They were trapped by Tsunami to their south, fire to their north and landslides to their west.

    Shigeko was made painfully aware that the fate of these 6 children all rested solely on her shoulders. So before attempting escape, along the only safe corridor remaining to the east, Shigeko commanded them to remove their Kimono waist sashes and use it to tie themselves to each other into a string of people. This was done to prevent someone getting washed away in a Tsunami.

    Their house might collapse any time, too, so they first sought shelter in a bamboo forest, as bamboos develop extensive and very finely entwined net-like root systems. So seeking shelter in a bamboo forest was traditionally the best survival trick to prevent being swallowed into a crevice.

    Later when they eventually returned home again when it was all over, they saw that their garden fence had been trampled down by a crowd of people escaping through their garden. This was because the collapsed house across the street had otherwise completely closed off the street.

    The toppled over house across their street was the home of a carpenter’s family. So soon he and Shigeko came to an agreement that they should build a makeshift shelter in the garden. They lined up rows of wooden beams on the ground and hammered floor boards unto them, with a few pillars standing here and there. In this manner, they created floor space about the size of two 8 mat rooms. Then they suspended two large mosquito nets over this floor, assigning one to Shigeko’s family and the other to the family of the carpenter.

    As they lay down on that floor and looked up that night, the children saw the beauty of the stars filling the skies, a sight so breathtaking that the horrible experience of that day almost seemed to be some far away event.

    The exhausted children slept tightly, but Shigeko couldn’t get any sleep, as all through the night, refugees were passing through and slept a while inside the nets before continuing on. So at times, there were as many as 15 people in the temporary shelter.

    As a new day broke, the fear of fire and Tsunami receded, but they heard the Mega Quake and the fires had razed Tokyo to the ground.

    The next day, their shelter got a roof, as the carpenter brought a tent from somewhere. That was how they lived for a week or two.

    Other family acquaintances, that had become homeless, joined life in this shelter. One pregnant woman whose husband was missing in Tokyo constantly wept. Her husband was a former student that once boarded in the home of Shigeko’s family in Tokyo. A maid that had worked at an inn, who now could not stand, due to being crushed under a house collapsed by the Tsunami was also lying there.

    Shigeko spoke to her niece and nephew, looking grim, “We don’t know whether your mother and father are alive in Tokyo. So just remember, in the worst possible case, you have me as your mother.”

    Then the husband of the pregnant woman, who was missing in Tokyo suddenly showed up alive. He explained that he was at the Marunouchi Building when the Quake struck, and he came home on foot by way of Shigeko’s relatives in Tokyo to check on Shigeko’s sister and her husband there. Thankfully they were both safe, as that area of Tokyo miraculously escaped major damage.

    As soon as she heard this, Shigeko broke down in a loud wail, as an incredible burden lifted from her shoulders.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 11-13-2017 at 11:44 AM.

  2. #62

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    Reuniting the Family

    Etsuzo, in Kumamoto only learned about the huge Quake in the evening of 1st September 1923, as he left his room in the boarding house for a “cooling down” stroll in the city. As he came to the Kumamoto Daily Newspaper building, he saw a big crowd assembled in front. They were reading the evening’s Extra Edition, featuring the monster earthquake that hit Tokyo that day. There wasn’t much detail, but it was clear that it was a disaster of a massive scale. Etsuzo immediately packed for travel and departed Kumamoto next morning on the 2nd.

    He made a stopover in Kyoto, as Shigeko’s aunt was the wife of the Mayor of Kyoto and he thought he could find out more about what was going on in Kamakura through them. However, there, too, news was sparse. He learned, however, that the train would go no further than Numazu, about 150 km short of reaching Kamakura. This meant that trekking through the mountains of Hakone on foot was the only way to reach the Kanto Basin. The damage to Tokyo was devastating, and that everything was in chaos was all he could learn.

    He continued on the 3rd by going as far as the train could take him, then to trek through Hakone.

    He made his way over the mountain pass and got to the Tohnosawa Hotsprings town in the evening. Travelers were resting in a small shack there, so he stayed there overnight.

    The next day, the 4th of September, he passed through Odawara, Ohiso and Fujisawa, reaching Kamakura at last that evening.

    Etsuzo saw the devastation the quake had wrecked, but luckily the house was a single story structure and the roof was in wooden slats, not of heavy tiles, so these features had spared the house from collapse. But the whole house had shifted more than 30 cm on the foundation rocks. Both neighbors had new, but 2 story homes, which had all collapsed and a neighbor died as a result.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 11-13-2017 at 01:26 PM.

  3. #63

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    The Aftermath and Rebuilding

    That was the Great Kanto Earthquake, which killed 105,385 people, who mostly burned to death. The 2011 Tohoku Quake killed 18,446 people, who mostly drowned, so though we have all seen in shock, the great Tsunami sweeping across the landscape on TV, the 1923 event was much more devastating in comparison, as it hit Tokyo, the capital.

    A central organization to lead and coordinate massive rebuilding projects already became a heated topic of discussion the day after the quake, and the Home Minister at that time even suggested newly forming a Reconstruction Ministry by bringing together necessary staff from the various ministries. But the other ministries strongly opposed this, so an Imperial Capital Reconstruction Institute 帝都復興院 was organized instead, with the Home Minister also serving as its chief.

    The 4 basic guidelines for reconstruction initially laid down were

    1. Moving the capital elsewhere would not be considered

    2. The total cost allocated would be 3 billion Yen.

    3. Borrow from the most advanced city designs of the world to build a new capital befitting Japan.

    4. To carry out effective scrap-and-building, there could be no giving in to land owner interests.


    For instance, tram and train systems were paralyzed by the disaster, which made people realize the importance of motor transport. Thus wider multilane roads became necessary, launching an age of motorization for Japan. 800 Model T Fords were imported to launch a bus service which did not exist before this time.

    Modern utility trenches that consolidated, power, water supply, sewage and phone lines into one network were also on the drawingboard.

    For such a radically modern revamping to be carried out, the plan also anticipated the government buying up all the land from the disaster hit area.

    If all went as planned, Tokyo would have been ahead of the times even by modern standards, but political infighting and strong opposition from land owners in certain pockets of Tokyo spoiled the grand scheme and the final budget submitted to parliament was only 500 Million Yen, one sixth of what was initially planned.

    Tokyo would pay dearly for this compromise when lack of firebreaks etc caused most of Tokyo to burn down to the ground again in the WW2 air raids.

    Hirohito who was still Crown Prince at that time was planning to get married in November of 1923, but the Quake also wrecked his wedding. Even the commemorative stamps printed and in storage to celebrate his wedding were lost in a fire along with the printing plates. Later some of that was recovered from pre-shipped supplies made to the South Pacific Mandate Islands and given to the royal family as souvenirs.

    Even worse, was that he was almost assassinated by an anarchist, who shot at him with a shotgun built into a walking cane. He luckily survived this unscathed, and married in January 1924, but the cabinet could not survive the assassination attempt and had to resign, taking political responsibility.

    This also led to the dissolution of the Imperial Capital Reconstruction Institute 帝都復興院 on 25th February 1924, and a Reconstruction Bureau 復興局 was set up instead as an external bureau of the Home Ministry to take over the rebuilding projects for Tokyo and Yokohama.

    A legacy of this massive rebuilding work was standardization of components and measures which now strictly got aligned to the metric system. So military specs also all adopted metric measurements from this time. So the Imperial Capital Reconstruction Medal was the first medal, for which the diameter in the edict was expressed in centimeters.

    Another very positive legacy was that school toilets were changed to flushing toilets to get children used to new levels of hygiene, though private homes did not get them still for some time. Straw mat rooms at schools traditionally used to teach kids Japanese manners were also abolished and more priority given to chemistry labs, etc for science classes. This actually met huge resistance from teachers, because the straw mat rooms also had served in the past as recreation rooms for teachers to have drinking parties.

    Rebuilding continued and despite falling short of the initial concept, things were pretty much back to normal by end of 1929.

    Many military officers, who saw their homes burn down in Tokyo, also lost their medals and orders in the fire. So such people, who needed replacements to wear on dress occasions first needed to get replacement citations issued, which allowed them to purchase replacement medals and orders from the mint. The following photos show a series of such replacement citations reissued in 1925.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan   Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan  

    Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan   Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan  

    Last edited by nick komiya; 11-13-2017 at 11:11 AM.

  4. #64

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    The Reconstruction Bureau proposes a Medal

    For once, the Imperial Capital Reconstruction Commemorative Medal was not something proposed by the Decorations Bureau, but was based on campaigning by the Home Minister on behalf of the Reconstruction Bureau.

    It was first proposed on 22nd April 1929, in a letter from Home Minister Keisuke Mochizuki addressed to Prime Minister Tanaka, requesting the establishment of a medal to commemorate the approaching completion of projects to rebuild Tokyo.

    It said, the rebuilding work of previously unimaginable scale and complexity had been undertaken successfully and Tokyo was expecting completion within the year. So in order to commemorate this monumental feat in similar manner to the First National Census Medal, they wanted to introduce a commemorative medal.

    The proposal further defined the recipients as follows, which used the same wording as that of the national census medal.

    1. Those directly involved in the reconstruction work

    2. Those involved in supporting activities for reconstruction work


    It also came with cost estimates for budget setting, which at that time assumed production quantity to be 30,000 medals.


    This proposal was reinforced soon after, with more specific definitions for the range of people anticipated as recipients by the Reconstruction Bureau, which pinned things down in great detail as follows.



    Definition of Imperial Capital Reconstruction Projects Eligible for the Medal

    1. Excluded were rescue operations after the disaster and the various rebuilding projects undertaken by individual Ministries. (These people instead became subject to citations and merit medals for life-saving, etc)

    2. Only those projects covered by the budget account for Imperial Capital Reconstruction Project Expenses 帝都復興事業費

    3. Administrative work related to subsidies for building projects within Fire Prevention Zones, which were part of the subsidies from Reconstruction Project Expenses.

    4. Projects receiving loans from the Reconstruction Project Expenses or Subsidies from the Reconstruction Project Expenses or Reconstruction Project Bond interests.

    5. Projects for which Reconstruction Project Bond Principles were guaranteed by the government.



    Definitions of those directly involved in the reconstruction


    1. Members of the Imperial Capital Reconstruction Institute 帝都復興院 and the Reconstruction Bureau 復興局. All staff, who had served a minimum of a year in that position.

    2. In addition to the above, those from the Imperial Capital Reconstruction Institute, who were councilors, secretaries.

    3. Members of the Imperial Capital Reconstruction Council and secretaries

    4. Members of the Special City Planning Commission and secretaries

    5. Chairman and members of the Arbitration Association for Compensations

    6. Real estate Zoning Commission members

    7. Those from the municipal governments of Tokyo, Yokohama and Kanagawa Prefectures and from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police involved directly in the reconstruction were to qualify on the same terms as for those in the Institute and Bureau.

    8. All Cabinet Ministers during the reconstruction

    9. Cabinet: Chief Secretary, Secretaries and Assistants as well as staff of the Legislation Bureau

    10. Home Ministry: Vice-Minister, Councilor, Secretary and staff of Secretary Section, Archives Section, Accounting Section, City Planning Bureau, Earthworks Bureau, Regional Administration Bureau.



    Definitions of those involved in supporting activities for reconstruction work

    1. Decorations Bureau staff

    2. Members, Chief Secretary and Secretaries of the Privy Council, who were involved in discussions concerning organization of Reconstruction Institute/ Bureau.

    3. Imperial Household Ministry: Minister, Vice Minister, General Affairs Section, Forestry Bureau and other staff.

    4. Home Ministry: Staff in Public Sanitation Bureau, Finance Bureau and Security Bureau

    5. Finance Ministry: Vice-Minister, Secretaries, Accounts Bureau, Financial Bureau, Deposits Department, Maintenance Bureau, Tokyo Taxation Supervisory Bureau, staff of Tax Offices in Tokyo and Yokohama.

    6. Army Ministry: Land Survey Dept. and others

    7. Justice Ministry: Civil Affairs Bureau, Registry, Tokyo and Yokohama District Courts, Tokyo and Yokohama Court staff, Arbitration Commissioners for Land and House Rentals, Rented Land Associations within Fire Prevention Zones.

    8. Ministry of Commerce and Industry: Commercial Affairs Bureau

    9. Ministry of Education: Bureau of Common Education Affairs, Earth Quake Disaster Prevention Commissioners

    10. Ministry of Communication: Secretary, Planning, Maintenance and Archives Sections, Engineering Bureau, Tokyo Communications Bureau, Electrical Power Bureau, Accounting Bureau

    11. Ministry of Railways: Engineering Bureau, Tokyo and Kouzu Improvement Offices

    12. Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yokohama and Tokyo Metropolitan Police staff other than those directly involved.

    13. Mayors and other Officials of Towns and Villages adjacent to the City of Tokyo

    14. Members of both Houses of Parliament

    15. Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefectural Parliament Members

    16. Tokyo and Yokohama City Council Members

    17. Contributors from Private Sector (Tokyo Electric, Tokyo Gas, Tokyo and Yokohama Chambers of Commerce, Yokohama Reconstruction Association, Rebuilt Structure Aiding Corp., Newspaper Companies, Building Contractors and others )

    As can be seen from the very detailed list above, the medal was primarily an intra-government gesture of gratitude from the Reconstruction Bureau to other government bodies and officials they felt indebted to in carrying out the reconstruction.

    The proposal from the Reconstruction Bureau was passed onto the Decorations Bureau on the 6th of May 1929, but not long after that, the Tanaka Cabinet collapsed in July and the Corruption Scandal hit the fan to give medals and orders a bad name for a while. So the Reconstruction Bureau waited a while for the new Hamaguchi Cabinet to settle in and finish washing the dirty linen in public before they reestablished negotiations for the medal again.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan  

  5. #65

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    Resuming Discussions after the Medals and Orders Scandal

    On 28th November 1929 Home Minister, Kenzo Adachi wrote to Prime Minister Hamaguchi basically repeating the same message delivered to Prime Minister Tanaka seven months ago.

    This request was passed onto the Decorations Bureau on 12th December 1929, and the new chief, Yasumaro Shimijoh, who replaced his to-be-jailed predecessor, Amaoka, responded to the Chief Secretary of the Cabinet on 18th January 1930 that they were generally in support of the “Commemorative Medal for the Completion of Imperial Capital Reconstruction Projects 帝都復興事業完成記念章” and attached an application for a budget with cost breakdowns, detailed down to even ink and stationary costs for the medal project.

    This budget estimate assumed issue numbers of the medal now to be 35,000 pieces and of particular interest to me was that they said they needed to hire 4 calligraphers, of which 2 were to be dedicated to filling out the citations. It further explained that the number of citations these two could finish in a day was 116 sheets. So for 35,000 sheets, it would take 300 days to finish issuing them.

    It was on 1st August 1930 that the Edict draft and design for the new medal as submitted by the Decorations Bureau on 24th July got approval by the Cabinet and Legislation Bureau, which further got the Emperor’s endorsement as Edict 148 on 12th August 1930.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan  

  6. #66

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    Where have all the Bridges gone?

    Though the design and edict draft done by the Decorations Bureau got approved smoothly without undue holdups, there’s a subtle difference in the description of the medal’s design between what was presented on 24th July 1930 and what was finally released as an edict.


    Article 2 of the Edict Draft of 24th July 1930 said

    Silver disc: 3 centimeters in diameter. Obverse side to feature a chrysanthemum crest at the top, at the center, representations of buildings, city street, bridges and a rising sun 建築物街路橋梁及旭日, with cherry blossoms below at the bottom.

    In the rear, vertically in the middle, the words 帝都復興記念章 Imperial Capital Reconstruction Commemorative Medal with the words 昭和五年三月 5th Year of Showa (1930) March on the bottom.


    The Edict Draft that got the Cabinet approval on 1st August said instead

    Silver disc: 3 centimeters in diameter. Obverse side to feature a chrysanthemum crest at the top, at the center, representations of a cityscape and rays of a rising sun 市街ト旭光ノ図 , with cherry blossoms below at the bottom.

    The description of the rear remained identical to the above.

    The mention of bridges in the first description was quite apt, as the Reconstruction Bureau alone rebuilt more than 100 bridges.

    Wanting to make bridge designs an important accent for the new Tokyo cityscape, they rejected the idea of employing a standard design for all bridges, and instead build each bridge after a unique theme, consulting various artists and architects and also borrowing designs from abroad. Thus the Eitai Bridge serving as the first gateway into Tokyo across the Sumida River was designed as an arched bridge, while the number two bridge, the Kiyosu Bridge, borrowed the elegant suspension bridge design from the Cologne Bridge across the River Rhine. So the reconstruction of Tokyo did have an aspect that made it like a Bridge Expo, which was obviously something they also wanted to capture in the medal design.

    However, I don’t know how much that difference in description made to the actual design, as the design drawings attached to the two different draft editions do not look significantly different from each other. Unfortunately the drawing from July is a bit too faint, but there must have been a bridge in there somewhere, but perhaps obscured in the distance by the sharp perspective view down the new 100 meter wide road in the center of Tokyo. They must have thought they were trying to cram too many features into the medal. They probably deleted the bridge in the far distance and instead added an arcade of trees to emphasize the perspective of the new wide streets.

    The master mold for the medal was done by Shokichi Hata again, and because of the medal scandal over the Showa Grand Ceremony Commemorative Medal of the previous year, they were naturally all made by the Osaka Mint.

    The Edict said nothing about a female version with bow ribbon, but examples do seem to exist. However, I am not aware of any special cases existing for the female version, so most existing versions may well be aftermarket conversions.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan   Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan  

    Last edited by nick komiya; 11-13-2017 at 11:29 AM.

  7. #67

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    At the Pace of 116 Citations/Day


    Requests for the recipientís names went out from the Reconstruction Bureau to the various ministries in November of 1930, and the Cabinet-related recipient list was supplied promptly in early December. However, back and forth correspondences continued well into late 1931 for members of both Houses of Parliament, and communications from July 1931 suggested that the nominal award date would be 1st May 1931.

    The actual medals started to be issued from 19th December 1930, as that was the date on which the medal for the Emperor was supplied from the Decorations Bureau, followed by those for the Empress and Empress Dowager on the 23rd and a further 18 pieces for the various Princes on 27th December 1930.

    We have already seen in the budgeting phase that getting 35,000 citations done would take 300 work days altogether, so taking that into consideration as well as recipient lists still coming out in September 1931, some people probably received their medals only in 1932.

    The citation I have is dated 1st May 1931 as per the nominal award date communicated in July 1931, but, as the medals were already being issued prior to May 1931, there must have been other dates also shown on those earlier citations.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan  

  8. #68

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    Neighbors Separated by Mutually Exclusive Medals



    Counting the Elusive Koreans

    Japan had been assiduously conducting its national census surveys every 5 years since its first round in 1920, but it wasn’t that they were doing the full survey each time, as those held in the years ending with 5 were simplified surveys, only focusing on key indicators. Thus 1925 was a simplified survey and the next full survey was in 1930.

    As mentioned earlier, Korea had to be excluded from the 1920 survey, so getting them fully on line from the 1930 National Census was the plan.

    What made it necessary to exclude them from the 1920 survey was the anti-Japanese sentiment rising within Korea at that time. So let’s take a look at how the friction between Japan and Korea developed and how both sides missed opportunities to create a better relationship between neighbors.

    Japan and Korea had not been at odds with each other all the time, as it had been through Korea that Buddhism entered Japan and the royal families of Japan and the Baekje Kingdom of Korea had been close in friendship once. The Empress Saimei even sent Japanese troops to fight the Chinese Tang Dynasty that attacked its Korean ally, Baekje but lost in the Sea Battle of Hakusonko in 663. And when Baekje was eventually destroyed by China, those Koreans were given welcome asylum in Japan.

    It was never really Korea that was the threat, but rather third party armies that overpowered the Koreans and used the peninsula as a land bridge for military access to Japan.

    By winning the Russo-Japanese War, Japan prevented Korea from becoming a Russian peninsula in the Pacific. And by gaining a say in Korean international affairs, Ito hoped that Korea could be kept free from meddling by other imperialist nations until Korea could mature the way Japan had, building up its wealth and learning to fend for themselves.

    But Korea had a fundamental handicap of being a largely illiterate country at that time, which prevented disciplined learning and propagation of knowledge, a serious handicap for modernization. So though Japan would have given them its manuals on how to modernize one’s country, no one could have read them.

    Ito therefore had to start by promoting literacy among Korean children in the hope that those kids could become independent thinkers and produce Korean versions of leaders like Toshimichi Okubo, who led the Japanese industrialization.

    Even today, when third world countries like those in Africa come to seek development aid from Japan, the Japanese will first tell them about Okubo and ask them whether they have such leaders passionate for development. Without such thinkers there can be no modernization and there can be no such thinkers without literacy to make it possible to absorb new ideas.

    But such long term vision was not shared by the Koreans, who were impatient and more hand to mouth in their approach, and thought they had better things to do than go to school. So they came to resent Ito’s good intentions.

    They wanted total independence now, but for Japan to let them go prematurely, before they could stand their own ground was merely to put Korea back into a tug of war between Japan and another country. So Ito relented to the more aggressive elements that sought annexation of Korea.

    Ito’s words, as he lay dying after being shot by a Korean nationalist was, “I took three hits, who was it?” Learning that it was a Korean nationalist, he said “Why did the fool shoot me? Doesn’t he know what he did?”

    Ito must have foreseen in those last 30 minutes of his life that the coming regime in annexed Korea was going to be an oppressive one. The position of Japanese Governor-General of Korea became a military post, taken by ex Army and Navy full Generals, no longer civil servants like Ito.


    The Banzai Demonstrations


    Into this mix were planted the seeds of Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points of National Self-determination at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, and the death of the 66-year old former Korean Emperor also in the same month of January, which got pinned on the Japanese. These factors triggered a nationalist movement, which portrayed the old emperor as a tragic victim of a Japanese conspiracy.

    In advance of the state funeral planned for the Korean Emperor on 3rd March 1919, a Korean Declaration of Independence was announced by religious leaders on 1st March, which was followed by 3 calls of Banzai (pronounced Man-se in Korean). Thus this nationalist movement is called the “March 1st Movement” or the “Man-se (Banzai) Demonstrations (万歳運動)”.

    The Declaration itself was not a call for violent rebellion, but a mob was quick to form and there were as many as 1,500 riots between March and May 1919. Students and teachers were active participants in this movement, an indication that the kind of intellectual opinion leaders that Ito wanted to engender in Korea were finally emerging, but Korea had already lost such sympathetic ears as those of Ito’s.

    Japan fearing an adverse effect on the Paris Peace conference, resorted to brutal force to suppress this as quickly as possible.

    This was why Korea was not ready for any Census in 1920.

    However, Japan also did learn its lessons from the Banzai Demonstrations and backed down from its militaristic and repressive polices until quite returned.

    So on 1st October 1930 the Full scale national census conducted included Korea for the first time as well.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 11-14-2017 at 09:47 PM.

  9. #69

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    The Colonial Affairs Ministry proposes the Medal


    It was on 17th December 1931 that Toyosuke Hata, who had just become Minister of Colonial Affairs (拓務大臣) on 13th December, wrote to the Prime Minister requesting that the first national census in Korea also be commemorated with a medal of its own.

    Preceding this request, on 6th December, the Ministry of Colonial Affairs had queried the Korean National Census Section Chief under the General Governor of Korea on the number of medals that needed to be issued. The reply was that 64,101 medals were needed. Those were the number of people directly involved in executing the census, which broke down as follows

    1. National Census Surveyors------------------------53,820
    2. Special area agent assignments--------------------1,271
    3. National Census Administration Staff------------- 5,990
    4. Administration support -----------------------------2,750
    5. Korean census section staff----------------------------55
    6. General-Governor of Korea Office staff--------------105
    7. Staff from misc. ministries----------------------------100
    8. Lecturers, etc--------------------------------------------10


    TOTAL--------------------------------------------------64,101


    The Prime Minister’s office forwarded the letter from Colonial Affairs to the Decorations Bureau on 21st December and the Decorations Bureau responded immediately on the 22nd that they had no objections.

    Thus already on 23rd December, the Cabinet approved the idea to issue a medal and the Decorations Bureau was asked to submit a draft of the edict and medal design.



    The Decoration Bureau’s Proposal for the Medal

    The Decoration Bureau’s proposal was presented to the Prime Minister on 21st June 1932.

    Article 3 said recipients were to be either

    1. Those directly involved in the 1930 Korean National Census
    2. Those involved in supporting activities related to the above

    3. However, those who had already been awarded the 1920 National Census Medal were to be excluded


    The medal was to be identical to the 1920 Census Medal with only the wording on the rear side being different, which said 朝鮮国勢調査記念章 Korean National Census Commemorative Medal 昭和五年十月一日 1st of October 5th Year of Showa (1930).

    The master mold was attributed to Kyushichi Miyajima 宮島久七 of the Osaka mint who was a prolific artist, also active postwar.

    This got cabinet approval on 4th July, and was signed by Hirohito as Edict 145 on 16th July 1932.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan   Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan  

    Last edited by nick komiya; 11-14-2017 at 10:08 PM.

  10. #70

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    Applying the WW1 Dual Medal Trick


    What they did here was exactly what they had done earlier with the 1914-15 and 1914-20 War Medals for WWI, which also had identical designs, only with different dates. Many of those involved in the Japanese census of 1920 would have been involved in the Korean census as well, but they no longer received the Korean version, so just like the WWI war medals, you could not be wearing both.

    They had also provided a cost projection for the medal project, which planned the production run to be 64,150 pieces and interestingly they allowed a 20% margin of error and quoted for 76,980 sheets of citations to be printed. Was that because they feared more mistakes in writing unfamiliar Korean names? I don’t know.

    The citations would have 1st October 1930 dates on them and the cases were now in pasteboard instead of the paulownia sandalwood, which had become the new standard case material since the Showa Grand Ceremony Commemorative Medal.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan   Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan  

    Commemorative Medals of the Empire of Japan  

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