Japan Red Cross Society commemorative postcard, c. 1937.



1930sGovernmentHistoric Events
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Commemorative postcard of International Red Cross Societies membership roll, 1937. The Japan Red Cross Society joined in 1886. The founding nations, in 1864, were Switzerland, Sweden, Holland, Norway, Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, and Belgium. The United States joined in 1882.

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HIH Princess Kan’in, President of the Volunteer Nurses Association, ca. 1910

“In the month of February 1877, there suddenly broke out in Kagoshima, the capital of the Province of Satsuma, an insurrection at the head of which was Saigo Takamori. The insurgents opposed a most vigorous resistance to the Imperial troops sent against them. From the very outset, the struggle was desperate and murderous. The number of killed and wounded increased day by day in an alarming proportion. It required not less than eight months to subdue that formidable insurrection.

“Meanwhile, Mr. Sano, thinking of the Red Cross Societies that existed abroad, conceived, in concert with Mr. Ogiu, the idea of forming an association whose object should be the succoring of the wounded and of the sick; enemies though they might be. With the co-operation of Baron Von Siebold, who furnished them information about the Austrian Society of Relief, they made a draft of rules and applied for authorization of the Government which lost no time in granting it (May 1877).

Japan Red Cross Society nurse, c. 1905.

“… The insurrection having been quelled, it became necessary to think of placing the Society upon a solid basis and of assuring its permanency in the future. As a first step, prospectuses were distributed that gave more precise information touching the object of the association; then, the rules were revised in order to give it a definite organization.

“In 1884, Dr. Hashimoto, then Surgeon-general of the Army, was appointed to accompany to Europe General Oyama, at the time Minister of War. At the request of the Society, he consented to complete, in participation with Baron Von Siebold, Secretary of the Japanese Legation at Berlin, the studies relating to the work of the Red Cross.

“Dr. Hashimoto arrived in Europe at a particularly favorable moment. The third conference of the Red Cross Societies, was about to open at Geneva, and, at the special invitation of Mr. Moynier, President of the International Committee, he, with Baron Von Sieboldd attended it and thus laid the way for the official recognition which the Society was soon to obtain.

“Finally, the Japanese Government, by a decree of the 15th November 1886, published its adhesion to the Geneva Convention.

“The adhesion of Japan to the Geneva Convention, which the Society had been impatiently waiting for, having become an accomplished fact, it at once undertook the work of re-organization. Its revised rules and its new name of ‘The Red Cross Society of Japan’ have been approved by the competent authorities. Moreover, their Imperial Majesties having condescended to take the Society under their exalted patronage, have granted to it an annual subsidy of 5,000 yen.”

Rules and History of the Red Cross Society of Japan, 1893

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