Manchukuo Red Cross Member Medals

For the next few posts I’d like to show some Manchukuo medals, starting with the Red Cross member medals.  The design is similar to the Japan Red Cross medals, and the quality is about the same, too. I think these were all Japanese-made. Just as in Japan, there were a variety of medals designating the member status: Regular, Special, and Life member. In addition, there were merit medals. All of the Manchukuo Red Cross items are rare, but you can see the regular member medals come on the market once in a while.

First, let’s take a look at the medal itself:

The design has the Geneva Red Cross and branches (with blooms) of orchids, the imperial flower of Pu-Yi, the Manchukuo Emperor. The reverse:

It is inscribed ‘Koutoku 5 [1938] October 1st [康徳五年十月一日], which is the date of the establishment of the Manchukuo Red Cross. Every medal has the same date. The second line reads ‘Manchukuo Red Cross [満州国赤十字社].’

The full medal with ribbon:

The ribbon is red with yellow stripes. When you see a blue rosette attached, that signifies a Life member:

And the bow ribbon signifies a medal given to a female:

In my next post I’ll show a couple more Manchukuo Red Cross items.

Japanese WW2 National Foundation Event Badge

In my last post I gave a brief introduction to National Foundation Day, which is celebrated on February 11. Today the holiday still exists, but there is no overt display of nationalism or patriotism as there was in the years preceeding the end of WW2. Before 1945 the holiday was widely celebrated across the nation, with the local groups putting on grand festivals. Since these festivals were large and fairly involved, officials were appointed to oversee various events and groups. These officials were given badges to be worn while performing their duties, and for the next few posts I’d like to show you a few badges I have found.

The first badge I’ll introduce is from 1934.

japanese medals ww2 badges

It came in a small paulonia wood box, so the ribbon had to be folded. Extended, it looks like this:

japanese medals ww2 badges

Inscribed ‘National Foundation’ on the obverse and on the reverse ‘Imperial Year 2594 [1934], National Foundation Festival Official’s Badge, Showa 9 [1934].’ The inscription on the paulonia wood box: ‘Showa 9 [1934], National Foundation Festival Official’s Badge.’ The inscription on the ribbon: ‘Ceremony Division Official.’

The badge is such a high quality that we should take a closer look. First, the top suspension device.

japanese ww2 badges medals

This shows a hawk (a military symbol) with outstretched wings. In either claw he holds branches, the one on the left having cherry blossoms (a symbol of Japan) and the other being a branch of chrysanthemums (a symbol of the Emperor of Japan).

The main badge:

japanese ww2 badges medals

The badge itself is in the shape of a banner. The obverse has the three Imperial Regalia (see details in tomorrow’s post): the mirror, sword, and jewels.

I think that the high quality of this badge suggests that officials around the country were all issued the same badge. These seem to be too nice for a local festival, so perhaps they were commissioned by the national government and then paid for by each locality. However, this is merely conjecture, so if anyone knows about this, please feel free to correct me.

Greater Japan Air Defense Association Badge

In the 1930s Japan readied herself for military air raids. The largest association dedicated to the training of civilians is the Greater Japan Air Defense Association (Dainippon Boukuu Kyoukai 大日本防空協会). This was a non-profit foundation (zaidan houjin 財団法人), and this 4-kanji compound is usually prefixed to the association name.

This group held lectures and training exercises such as evacuation drills, lighting regulations, fire prevention and fire extinguishing drills, gas mask use, and other ways to cope with air raids. Despite the connotations of ‘air defense,’ I don’t think they were trained in anti-aircraft artillery. That was left to the homeland defense military. Some English sources claim that this group was related to aviation, but that is obviously incorrect.

I’m not sure what one needed to do to become a member, but it probably concerned a monetary donation. Badges were given to different levels of membership, so this usually corresponded to the amount of money given by the member. Merit badges also were given when a substantial amount was donated. Of course, the members of the group organized the non-members in the drills and exercises, and I imagine that participation in these activities was close to mandatory.

There seem to be a variety of badges from this group, but I will show just two today. All of the badges are variations on the same design theme: a cherry blossom in a red circle, with yellow and silver rays behind. Most badges are of a low quality, with a simple paint applied for the color. The metal seems to be aluminum. However, the highest merit badge may be silver and the enamel work is nice.

This is a special member badge:

japan air defense badge ww2

It has a simple pinback. Here is the merit badge:

japan air defense badge ww2

And the reverse:

japan air defense ww2 badge