This medal is for the Tonan Maru #2, a wartime oil tanker launched in 1937. It has an interesting history that you can
read HERE. It was sunk in 1944 near Truk.
The Japanese inscription on the reverse reads 'Tonan Maru #2 Launching Commemorative, Showa 12  May,
Japan Fisheries Co., Ltd., Made at the Osaka Iron Works Factory.' Note that the map shows the Japanese flag in the
Antarctic Ocean, which was the first destination of this vessel.
It appears that there were always commemorative items made for the completion of a major ship.
Most often you will find postcards. But the more permanent items, such as table medals, axes,
porcelain sake cups, and paperweights, are the most prized.
If I am not mistaken, these were all items for sale, not awarded pieces. I am not sure if they were
sold exclusively in the area where the ship was made or if they were available nationally. I suspect
the latter is true simply because these were made to make a profit. As for the official Japan Mint
items, they were probably offered for sale by mail order as is common now (but online of course)
with other major medals produced.
There are four terms concerned with ship launching, two of which you will often encounter on
medals. They are
起工 (kikou) Laid down
進水 (shinsui) Launched
竣工 (shunkou) Commissioned
除籍 (joseki) Decommissioned
The middle-two terms are the ones you will see most often; the last term will, obviously, most
assuredly not be on any commemorative medal.
This medal is for a foreign vessel made by Mitsubishi. The medal is Japanese-made.
The inscription reads 'Shamuro Empire [modern-day Thailand] Submarine Launching Commemorative, Showa 12
 May 14, Made by Mitsubishi Corporation at the Kobe Factory.'
Yohomaru ship completion commemorative medal.
Beautifully detailed; fairly large.
Dated September 15, 1953.
Inscribed on obverse: 'Yamamoto Steamship Corporation, Kozan-Maru Construction Commemorative.'
On reverse: 'Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Corporation, Made at the Kobe Shipyard, Showa 10  March.'
Charted by the Yamamoto Steamship Corporation; commandeered by the Imperial Japanese Army.
Brief wartime history: In December 1942 departed Rabaul under the protection of 2 destroyers, the Ariake and the
Kawakaze. The Kozan-Maru carried munitions at the time. During transport, evaded torpedoes fired by the
submarine USS Amberjack.
Departing Manila in September 1943, the Kozan-Maru was hit by torpedoes from the USS Sunfish, and she sunk
in the waters off Formosa.
9 crew members and 13 passengers died.
Metal paperweight from a shipbuilding company.
Founded in Taisho 8 , Kuribayashi Steamship Co. is still in existence.
Measures about 10.5 cm by 4.5 cm.
The gold piece is the warship Umikaze. You can see by the illustration on the right
that is a faithful representation of the general form. The bottom piece is the water
Inscribed on the bottom piece 'Destroyer Umikaze Launching Commemorative,
Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Showa 11  November 27.'
The Umikaze had an interesting history in WW2. You can read about it fully on
Wikipedia HERE. Sunk in Feb. 1944.
About 12.5 cm long.
Ship launching commemorative tie clip. This was made for the Mutsu,
the first and only nuclear-powered ship from Japan. It was launched in
1970 (the date of this item) and decommissioned in 1992.
You can read more about it on Wikipeida HERE.
Japanese cruiser Chokai ship launching commemorative.
Dated Showa 6 .
Japanese cruiser Haguro ship launching commemorative.
Japanese submarine No 6 launching commemorative.
Dated Showa 9 . Kawasaki ship building.
Hallmarked by the Japanese Mint.
OBVERSE: 'Muko Steamship Corporation, Number 18 Mikage-Maru Launching Commemorative, Showa 11
 November 1.'
REVERSE: 'Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Corporation, Built at Kobe Shipyard.'
On May 10, 1944 this steam-powered cargo ship was hit by a torpedo in the ocean near Saipan. She sunk and
lost 14 crewmen.
Size: about 9 cm long.
Very rare ship launching commemorative medal.
Inscribed 'Alps-Maru Launching Commemorative.
Taisho 6  October. Osaka Shosen Kaisha.'
The obverse shows the ship at sea, and the reverse
appears to show the interior.
I couldn't find much about this ship except it was a
tanker and launched on October 24, 1917. On June 12,
1926 it sunk near the port of Antwerp. I do not know
what caused the sinking.
I did find these specifications, but I do not know what
21129/NMGB 7,790G/T 12,280D/W 337NHP/5,438IHP
It measures about 7.5 cm by 5.5 cm. Weight: about 125
Rare ship launching commemorative
table medal, hallmarked by the
Japanese Mint. Inscribed
Commemorative. Showa 11  May.
Uwajima Transport Corporation.' This
corporation was established in 1874,
and the Akatsuki-Maru was a cargo
liner built by Mitsubishi Heavy
Industries, Kobe Dockyard.
Very rare wartime ship completion table medal.
Hallmarked by the Japanese Mint on the edge and on the inside lid.
'Toa Maru Ship Commission Commemorative.
Showa 9 .
Iino Marine Transport Corporation.'
The Toa Maru was a transport ship launched in April 1934 and completed 2 months later. On
November 23, 1943 she helped re-fuel the 3rd Fleet. On November 25, 1943, she was sunk by
the USS Searaven, a US submarine. 117 crewmen were saved by the destroyer Akigumo; the
rest were lost at sea.
The hull of the wreck is still intact and lying on its starboard side. In its 2010 travel guide, Diver
magazine named the wreck as one of the top 20 wreck dives in the world.
Showa 11 . The maiden voyage was to Dairen, as inscribed on
obverse and shown on the reverse,
Taian Maru. Sunk on Jan 23, 1944 near Rabaul.
Taisho 15 
Ro-gou 66th Submarine
Appears to have been sunk near Wake on Dec 17, 1941
Showa 6 
I-gou 67th Submarine
Sunk near Marcus Island on Aug 29, 1940. The sinking happened during training exercises.
Inscribed 'Tatsuwa-Maru Special Transport Ship. Launching
Commemorative. Showa 12  September 28. Mitsubishi
Heavy Industries Corporation. Kobe Shipyard.'
This ship was in operation for the majority of WW2.
Damaged by USS Tunny on Feb 4, 1943. Damaged again by
USS Spearfish on Feb 10, 1944. Neither time was it sunk. It
was sunk near Hiroshima on May 10, 1945 when it hit a mine.
It was revived in 1954, but when sailing in the South China
Sea, it was lost in a typhoon. Never recovered.
This was made for the Shinkou-Maru, which was launched in May 1937. She was a merchant steam
ship, made by the Osaka Shipbuilding Co. In 1943, while heading for the Attu Island alongside the
Usuzumo, she encountered a storm, was run aground, and was damaged so much that she sunk.
(December 1, 1943)