about Japanese medals & orders
The Baikun Jiken (Medal Selling Incident) of 1929
In order for the medals to have a value beyond the actual cost of making them, there must be some
honor to being awarded a medal. So when the Medal Selling Incident of 1928 occurred, it became a
nation-wide scandal. If medals were easily acquired, then all of the medals awarded up to then lost
much of their prestige. And of course the people who received the medals were no longer proud to
Here is a brief description of the Medal Selling Incident:
The main culprit was the General Chairman of the Awards and Medals Department, Amaoka
Naoka[?]. In 1928 he gave away multiple Showa Enthronement medals to people who were not
really eligible to receive them, mostly employees of companies whose heads were Amaoka's
Even worse (I guess) he sold different classes of orders to people. He sold a 3rd Class for 13000
yen (an enormous sum at the time). The buyer was Tsutumi Seiroku, a prominent politician. There
were a fvew other cases, and when these came to light, Amaoka was sentenced to 2 years
imprisonment and fined 17,150 yen. Other offenders and their punishments:
Kamohara [??], Amaoka's secretary: 1 yr. 6 mos. imprisonment. 5,200 yen fine
Japan Photograph Company president Yokota Einosuke: Fined 300 yen
Hokkaido Railway Office Watanabe Kouhei: 2 mos. imprisonment. 3 yrs. parole
Hokkaido Railway Inspector Hyoudo Eisaku: 2 mos. imprisonment. 3 yrs. parole
Itou Electric Railway President Kumazawa [Issei?]: 2 mos. imprisonment. 3 yrs. parole
Itou Factory Company Meeting Chairman Fujita Kenichi: 1 yr. 6 mos. imprisonment. 3 yrs. parole
One suspects that there were other culprits who escaped unscathed. Anyway, because of this
scandal, the making of medals was limited to the Japan Mint. No longer were outside companies
allowed to produce medals. And the next head of the Awards and Medals Department was Shimojo
Yasumaro, who was a highly respected politician. He ran a really tight ship for the next 11 years and
worked hard to regain the prestige for medals and orders. He served as head from 1929 to 1940.
Some information about terminology
I'd like to introduce a few specialized words about medals. Here there are
three: ju, chuu, and kan. Probably by looking at the line drawing you can figure
out what they mean, but here is a brief explanation. Ju is the ribbon (or neck
sash, depending on class).
The ribbon tradition appears to have been established in ancient China (and
Japan as well), when the in or inji was suspended from a ribbon that identified
the person's rank. (NOTE: in is a general term that refers to a personal seal
and inji is a specific kind of in. It refers to a royal or state seal.) In this manner,
the tradition was carried over into the field of orders, though one cannot always
discern a class of an order from the ribbon.
The chuu is a suspension device and specifically refers to the piece that
connects the medal to the ribbon. In the case of the illustration, the chuu is the
paulonia leaves piece. Orders without this piece are called muchuu, that is, an
order without a chuu, mu being a negative. In addition, the larger ring that is
around the ribbon (in this picture shown) is also called a chuu.
However, as you can see, the actual piece that holds the ribbon to the medal is
the small ring, and that is called a kan. Even muchuu medals will have a kan.
Here are some pre-war postcards showing the Osaka Mint.
Click HERE for more.
'Screw Presses, The Imperial Mint, Osaka.'
'Assay Furnaces, The Imperial Mint, Osaka.'
'Rolling Mills and Cutting Out Presses, The Imperial Mint, Osaka.'
'The Osaka Mint.'