With Patriotism and Government Bonds

(between 1939 and 1941)

IHL Cat. #2673


A color lithograph patriotic fan sample print, likely created between 1939 and 1941 during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), picturing a mother wearing the white apron and sash of the National Defense Women's Association (see IHL Cat. #1936) waving the Japanese national flag and her young son in military attire waving the flag of the Imperial Japanese Army. Photographically reproduced war bonds dominate the scene. While difficult to decipher, the date Shōwa 14, 1939, can be seen on the lower bond.[1] The slogan, 国債でせめて銃後の御奉公 胸に愛国 手に国債 ("At least through government bonds, serve your country in its time of need, with patriotism in your heart and government bonds in your hand") is superimposed on the bonds. 

War bonds issued by the Japanese Ministry of Finance and sold at the post office, along with bonds issued by local governments and private companies, were the primary source of war funding, paying for "86.4 percent of the total cost of the Second Sino-Japanese War. and World War II."[2]

In the 1930s and 1940s, “voluntary” savings were so greatly encouraged to finance the Japanese war effort that by 1944 (Showa 19) Japanese households were saving an incredible 39.5% of disposable income.[3]

By way of comparison, war bonds raised about half of the total expenditures for US military efforts during WWII and the savings rate of disposable income peaked at just over 25%.[4]

1944-1945 U.S. War Bonds Posters

The print carries the sample catalog number そ印 參百八拾參號 (so in sanbyaku hachi jū san gō [383]). These numbered fan prints (uchiwa-e 団扇絵) were gathered into a sample book (uchiwa mihonchō 団扇見本帳, or uchiwa gachō 団扇画帖.) to show wholesale customers the range of available designs.

Note: Transcriptions and translations are my own unless otherwise noted.

[1] The Second Sino-Japanese War is referred to in China as the "War of Resistance Against Japan."

[2]  "War Finance (Japan)" by Sakamoto Yuichiro, appearing in 1914-1918-online, International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. Ute Daniel, et. al., Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, 2014-10-08. DOI: 10.15463/ie1418.10160 [accessed 9-16-23] 

[3] MeijiShowa website https://www.meijishowa.com/art-prints/5814/160310-0048-pacific-war-bond [accessed 9-16-23] David C. Earhart writes that "T]he average family, which was depositing 11.6 percent of its annual earnings into savings in 1936, was saving 21.5 percent of its earnings in 1944, while the cost of living rose more than 20 percent each year between 1939 and 1945." Source: Certain Victory, Images of World War II in the Japanese Media, David C. Earhart, M.E. Sharpe, 2008, p. 122. 

[4] WWII expenditures by the US government are generally placed at around 300 billion dollars. Figures vary on the revenue generated from sales of war bonds, with 150 million to 185 million commonly cited. 

Print Details