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The War Medals

Article about: Hi Folks, I see a few of you are now including medals in your collections and as I wrote some info on them for another now defunct forum some years ago I thought I'd post it here for the aid

  1. #11


    Although not actually one of the War Medal series I'll include this WWI Victory Award with them anyway.

    Representatives attending the Paris Peace Conference agreed that each of the Allied nations would award a Victory Medal of similar design to their respective participants.

    Japan's version, breaking from the tradition of showing a winged figure which had no meaning to them, instead depicts the figure Take-Mikazuchi-no-Kami on the obverse. He was one of eight sons created by the primeval god Izanagi. He subsequently went on to defeat his brothers in battle and conquer all of Japan.

    Reproductions of this award do exist and can be identified by the soft details. Particularly in the area of the spear point and facial features.
    The War MedalsThe War MedalsThe War MedalsThe War MedalsThe War MedalsThe War Medals

  2. #12


    That's medal #3 on this bar belonging to RADM Arakawa Shin:


  3. #13


    I'll close off this thread with the Next-of-Kin award. I've looked at this one many times and always found it to be a sobering reminder of days gone by.

    The War MedalsThe War MedalsThe War MedalsThe War MedalsThe War MedalsThe War Medals

  4. #14


    I've now been asked about the China Incident Commemorative Medal. Although a Commemorative Award rather than a War Medal perhaps it does need to be addressed here.

    Originally thought to have been produced in 1942 for award to Chinese collaborators (according to Peterson in his book the Orders and Medals of Japan and Associated States) it's purpose has been challenged by some experts. Nick Komiya has written an article on the new findings and I'll include his thoughts here in a day or two when I get time. Till then here are photos. Regardless of the purpose it is still seldom found and quite collectible.
    The War MedalsThe War MedalsThe War MedalsThe War Medals

  5. #15


    As I mentioned above Nick Komiya has authored an opinion regarding the purpose behind the China Incident Commemorative Medal. Although there is a bit more to his article, as posted on Wehrmacht Awards Forum, I believe the following quotes fairly represent his position on the matter. The following speaks not just to the China Incident Commemorative Medal but to two others as well so a careful reading is required to get the full meaning.

    "The China Incident War Medal is the most common Japanese war medal on the market today, but its sister, the China Incident Commemorative Medal intended for acknowledging the contributions of those who did not qualify for the war medal is extremely rare and totally misunderstood, thanks to the book written by James W. Peterson.

    The medal that originally had the name “China Incident Home Front Service Commemorative Medal” has won notoriety as the medal for Chinese Collaborators! This ridiculous morphing of a medal of a most banal nature into a medal sought for its cloak and dagger image was all because of a single sentence in Petersen’s book. He said of the medal, ”As this medal is practically unknown in Japan, and almost anyone could be eligible for the war medals, it seems probably that this was intended as a reward for Chinese collaborators”. This unscholarly speculation unfortunately caught on and even Japanese collectors came to believe this fantasy. As a matter of fact, I haven’t seen a single introduction to this medal that correctly describes its purpose, so it is time to set the record straight.

    The truth is that this medal was originally to be issued in the millions to those who made contributions on the home front such as financial institutions selling war bonds, to youth organizations, religious organizations, railroad personnel, civil defense, the press, government officials, business men etc, whose collaboration was necessary to achieve total mobilization of Japanese society in the war effort. It was based on the recognition that modern wars could only be won by engaging the support of the entire socio-economic infrastructure. The original cabinet discussion papers dated July 6th, 1942 called it the “China Incident Home Front Service Commemorative Medal”, but by the time it finally got released as an edict on 26th September, the name had been shortened to “China Incident Commemorative Medal”. Despite the curtailed name, the minutes of the morning conference of September 16th resided by the Emperor himself clearly explains the purpose as a “home front medal”, though its name had already been shortened.

    The idea to create this medal simply came from the realization that there were many home front activities behind the incident that went unacknowledged by the war medal established in 1939, and as the war medal would be awarded to even trivial involvement in the military action, not acknowledging weightier home front efforts seemed increasingly inappropriate. However, expanding the award criteria of the war medal to include home front activities seemed equally insulting to those who won it on the front line. In other words, like the Germans added the war service cross to cover the contributions missed by the iron Cross, Japan belatedly decided to address those they had been neglecting for the past 3 years.

    The instigators were against simply calling it the China Incident Commemorative Medal and award it generally to those who contributed, as that would mean the redundancy of awarding soldiers twice, the war medal and the commemorative. They wanted to limit the award to noncombatants by stressing the Home Front. Neither would it work to award it automatically to all home front efforts that contributed to achieving the goals of the incident, as military personnel who also engaged in home front activities would have received both medals, while his comrades spending all that time in the front lines would only qualify for the war medal, as if they had done less.

    Petersen cites the rarity of this medal in Japan, as a reason to assume that it was mainly given to foreigners, but he was obviously looking in the wrong places, as Japan was the main subject for the medal. However, in instituting the medal there was keen awareness of contributions made by those in other territories such as Korea, Taiwan and Sakhalin, of which Korea was to receive the most number of medals outside Japan followed by Taiwan.

    Why is it so rare then? That is because by 1942 when this medal was established, turn of events such as the Battle of Midway had made the China Incident somewhat irrelevant to what Japan was facing at that time. The purpose of national mobilization had shifted from the China Incident and had escalated to a Greater East Asia War. It was not the time to sit on laurels and gloat over past glories when things were now going downhill for Japan. So in 1944, when they instituted the Greater East Asia War medal, the edict for both China Incident Medals were amended at the same time and for the China Incident Commemorative Medal this amendment excluded awards to the following two groups.

    1. Those who had been awarded the China Incident War Medal
    2. Those who made significant contributions to the China Incident since April 29th 1940 and who qualify for the Greater East Asia War Medal.

    The Greater East Asia War Medal had expanded its award threshold in a way that could award home front activities that took place from where the China Incident Commemorative Medal left off. As a result, the long list of candidates nominated for the commemorative medal at its inception was drastically reduced and the remainder who were to receive the Greater East Asia War medal were made to wait in vain, as Japan had lost the war before it could be issued.

    A small post script is perhaps in order to address the post war fate of the 3 medals featured in this thread. The 2 China Medals as well as the Greater East Asia medal were all officially rescinded by an order dated March 15th 1946. So all 3 medals were invalidated. We all probably had the impression that the Greater East Asia War medal ended its life when the Americans confiscated what had been produced and destroyed them, but that was not so. A memo from March 1946 reveals that the posthumous awarding of the Greater East Asia medal to approx. 300 thous. individuals had been sanctioned. Therefore the government owed them delivery. "However, because of the Dec 15 1945 GHQ memorandum prohibiting the use of the word "Greater East Asia War" in any public form, we would first need to redesign the medal, if we were to issue them" . Regarding the China Incident War Medal, they say that 3.4 million pieces had been issued, and as to the state of the China commemorative medal they say the official sanction for issuance by the emperor was still pending. They conclude by stating that continuation of these three medals will become a touchy issue with the Allied nations, so it was better to play it safe and retract them. The way this memo reads the commemorative medal had not been issued yet."


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