Military Medal of Honor (Japan)

Military Medal of Honor (Japan)
1931-34 China Incident War Medal

Military Medal of Honor (従軍記章 jugun kisho?) was a military decoration for meritorious service to the Empire of Japan, formerly awarded to all military personnel who participated in battles in a war. These war medals and accompanying certificates specifically identify the conflict for which the decoration will have been awarded.

These decorations were effectively abolished during the Allied Occupation of Japan in the post-war years (1945–1951). The plausible re-institution of a modern equivalent was made unlikely by the adoption of Japan's post-war Constitution which disavows the right of the state to engage in aggressive war; but on-going political pressure for an amending Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution renders that prospect marginally possible.


Japanese War Medals

1874 Formosa Expedition War Medal

Ribbon bar of the 1874 Formosa Expedition Medal

1894-95 Sino-Japanese War Medal

Ribbon bar of the 1894-95 Sino-Japanese War Medal

1900 Boxer War Medal

Ribbon bar of the 1900 Boxer War Medal

Imperial Edict No. 142 was issued on April 21, 1901 ordering a commemorative medal for those who had participated in the relief of the Beijing legations during the Boxer Rebellion.[1]

1904-05 Russo-Japanese War Medal

Ribbon bar of the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War Medal
Jugun kisho certificate given to Lieutenant Ernesto Burzagli, Italian Naval Attaché, in recognition of his participation in fleet operations during the Russo-Japanese War. Burzagli was also decorated with a Military Medal of Honor for this service to the Imperial Japanese Navy, as is certified by the document.

A unique jugun kiso was ordered on March 31, 1906 by Imperial Edict No. 51[2] in recognition of those who served in the war which occurred during the 37th and 38th years of the Meiji period -- Meiji 37-38 (1904–1905). This is more commonly known as the Russo-Japanese War.

A rough translation of the body of the document explains:

"A medal of honor (jugun kisho) is hereby given, on March 30, 1906, to Ernesto Burzagli, Lieutenant of the Italian Navy, on application by the Naval Minister of Japan and with the Emperor's approval, pursuant to the Regulation Relating to the Medals Honoring Participation in Battles (1904-05). Dated April 1, 1906."
"After review of this certificate, [the presentation to Lt. Bruzagli of the Medal] has been recorded on the Roll of Medals of Honor."

An image of the front of the medal itself is shown at the bottom center of the certificate—crossed Army and Navy flags on either side of the Imperial Crysanthemum crest above and the Imperial Paulownia crest below.

Italian naval attaché Ernesto Burzagli aboard a Japanese naval vessel at Yokohama en route to Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War (January 1904).

Although it is not clear from the certificate whether Lt. Bruzagli did in fact participate in the battles or the award was honorary, we know from photographic sources that he was aboard one of the ships which contributing to the naval bombardment and blockade of Port Arthur in 1904.[3] He was with the Japanese naval forces which aided in the capture of that strategic objective. Photographic records also place Burzagli with the entourage of the Japanese Minister of the Navy visiting the captured city of Dalny, just north of Port Arthur in January 1905.[4] and with the occupying Japanese forces in January 1905.[5]

1914-20 First World War Medal

Ribbon bar of the 1914-20 First World War Medal

Japanese participation in World War I was commemorated by medals created on November 6, 1915 by Imperial Edict No. 203.[6]

Allied First World War Victory Medal

Allied victory medal ribbon bar.

1931-34 China Incident War Medal

Ribbon bar of the 1931-34 China Incident War Medal

1937-45 China Incident War Medal

Ribbon bar of the 1937-45 China Incident War Medal

The China Incident Medal (Sina jihen jugun kisho) medal was created by Imperial Edit No. 496 on July 27, 1939;[7] and was awarded for service in China from during the 12th through the 20th years of the Shōwa period -- Shōwa 12-20 (1937–1945).[8] An amendment was promulgated by Imperial Edict No. 418 in 1944; and the decoration was abolished in 1946 by government ordinance No. 177.[7]

Although the Japanese government still uses "China Incident" in formal documents, media in Japan often paraphrase with other expressions like Japan-China Incident (日華事変 Nikka jihen?) or (日支事変 Nisshi jihen?). These terms were used by media even in the 1930s, and the word Shina is now construed by China as a derogatory term.

1939 Border War Medal

1942 China Incident War Medal

1941-45 Great East Asia War Medal

Great East Asia War medal ribbon bar

A special jugun kiso was created on June 21, 1944 by Imperial Edict No. 417.[9]

Selected recipients



British Indian military attaché Ian Hamilton in Manchuria with Japanese forces commanded by General Kuroki Tamemoto (1904).


See also

  • Manchurian Incident (滿洲事變 Kyūjitai?) or Manshujihen (満州事変?), Shōwa 6-16 (1931–1941).
  • Greater East Asia War (大東亜戦争 Daitōa Sensō senkum?), Shōwa 16-20 (1941–1945).
  • Pacific War (太平洋戦争 Taiheiyō sensō?), Shōwa 16-20 (1941–1945).


External links

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