The is a JapaneseOrder, established on January 4, 1888 by Emperor Meiji of Japan as the Order of Meiji. It is awarded in eight classes (from 8th to 1st, in ascending order of importance). It is generally awarded for long and/or meritorious service and considered to be the lowest of the Japanese orders of merit (hosho). A European counterpart of the order would be the Order of the British Empire.
Originally a male-only decoration, the order has been made available to women since 1919; it is awarded for both civil and military merit, though of a lesser degree than that required for the conferment of the Order of the Rising Sun. Unlike its European counterparts, the order may be conferred posthumously.
The Order can be awarded in any of these eight classes. Conventionally, a diploma is prepared to accompany the insignia of the order, and in some rare instances, the personal signature of the emperor will have been added. As an illustration of the wording of the text, a translation of a representative 1929 diploma says:
: "By the grace of Heaven, Emperor of Japan, seated on the throne occupied by the same dynasty from time immemorial,