Circular silver-gilt medal with loop for ribbon suspension; the face with the emblem of the Society of a phoenix (ho-o) above a red enamel Geneva (Greek) cross with pauwlonia and bamboo wreath; the reverse with two rows of characters ‘Meiji 21st year’ (1888) ‘Japanese Red Cross Society’; on original ribbon.
The Japanese Red Cross Society grew from the Benevolence Society founded in 1877 to give aid to those wounded in the Satsuma Rebellion which spelled the end of Samurai power. The Society acceded to the Geneva Convention in 1886 and adopted its current name in 1887.
The medals were official awards that could be worn with uniform and were often worn with other military and civil decorations.
This example in silver-gilt probably dates from before 1941 when the material changed to light zinc alloy and subsequently aluminium with gold highlights.