Jeremiah Richard Wasson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from J.R. Wasson)
Jump to: navigation, search

Jeremiah Richard Wasson (1855–1913)[1] was an American hired by the Meiji government of the Empire of Japan as an foreign advisor to help train and develop the fledgling Imperial Japanese Army. He is noted as the first non-Japanese to be honored with the Order of the Rising Sun.


Wasson was a native of Sedalia, Missouri, and a graduate of the West Point, with training as a military engineer. He first came to Japan as a secretary of the American legation, having previously served as a military advisor to the Khedive of Egypt was one of those selected. During his stay in Japan, he rose to the rank of major and served as paymaster for the military contingent at the embassy. However, he ran up gambling debts which he could not pay, and was subsequently court marshaled. After serving a time in prison, during which time his wife divorced him, Wasson returned to the United States and attempted various business ventures in Iowa, all of which failed.[2]

His first mission for the Japanese government was in March 1873, where he participated in a survey of Hokkaidō, during which time he introduced and taught methods of triangulation to survey large areas.

During the Taiwan Expedition of 1874, Wasson was promoted to colonel in the Imperial Japanese Army and accompanied Japanese general Saigō Tsugumichi as chief of staff during the punitive expedition. The New York Times reported that In 1875, he was recognized by Emperor Meiji with "the decoration of the Rising Sun, of the Imperial Order of Meiji, a distinction no other foreigner ever enjoyed" as a consequence of his conduct during this minor military campaign.[3]

The Order was the first national decoration awarded by the Japanese government.[4] It is the second most prestigious Japanese decoration after the Order of the Chrysanthemum.[5] A number of others have been traditionally known as the very first non-Japanese to be awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, including French-born Charles LeGendre (1830–1899), a naturalized American citizen since 1854, who was reported to have been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun in 1875.[6]

Wasson also appears to have been involved in the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion, but was pardoned by Emperor Meiji. This episode was one of the basis for the 2003 film, The Last Samurai.

During the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895, the New York Times reported a rumor that Wasson has again been called upon by the Japanese government to lead Japanese forces in combat after the Battle of Pyongyang, but the report was only a rumor.[7]


External links[edit]