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Old 10-18-2012, 08:24 AM   #3
Papa Nambu
Papa Nambu is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Tucson, AZ, USA
Posts: 1,237

To read years you should also know:
昭和 Shōwa (December 25, 1926, through January 7, 1989)

大正 Taishō (July 30, 1912 to December 25, 1926)

明治 Meiji (September 1868 through July 30, 1912)

For example, the picture below from a China Incident medal document says "Showa 15 Year (1940) 4 Month (April) 29 Day (29th)"

Sometimes the imperial year 皇紀 kōki was used rather than the emperor's reign.
This year is based on the founding of Japan by Emperor Jimmu. The 2600th anniversary medal issued in 1940 is going by this dating system.
It' was also used for a lot of military nomenclature in the 1930s-1940s, like the Type 99 rifle (Year 2599) and the "Zero" fighter (Year 2600).
The Type 30 bayonet and the Type 38 rifle on the other hand are based on the Meiji year.
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