Dai Nippon Butoku-kai
The Great Japan Butoku-kai was established on April 17, 1895 and abolished on October 31, 1946. The stated purpose of this organization was to promote the martial arts and educate the populace in the fighting arts. Of course, the larger goal was to strengthen the bodies and spirits of the Japanese through the practice of the various martial skills. Bu means 'martial' and toku means 'moral.' Kai means 'association' or 'group.' There is no accepted English translation of the group as far as I know.
At the beginning this group received the express support of the Emperor of Japan and created various competitions for the Emperor's pleasure. These competitions, also held by various groups, are called Tenranjiai. For some reason, the explicit support of the Emperor
was withdrawn, so the organization committee got Imperial Army Field Marshall Komatsu Akihito to serve as the general president. It also established ties with local police departments and the Home Ministry and began to spread its activities across the country.
In 1909 in order to be recognized as a non-profit foundation, clearly stated aims of the group were released:
To maintain the Butoku-den on the ground of Heian Shrine
To hold the Butoku Festival and the Butoku Large Competition
To build educational facilities to promote and encourage the martial arts
To recognize and honor those who excel in the various martial arts
To collect and preserve old weapons
To preserve the traditional martial arts
To organize, publish, and/or display the weapons, arts and traditions
Of course, the Butoku-kai collected dues from its members so in order to get more dues, they established branch offices in most areas of Japan. The head of each prefecture branch was the governor of the respective prefectures, the heads of the district branches were the district leaders, and the city branches were headed by the mayors. So the group became intimately involved with the
In 1909 the Butoku-kai had 1,510,000 members and 1,810,000 yen in its coffers. By the end of 1942 branches had been successfully established all over Japan and the membership had increased to 2,240,000. The money? It had 5,590,000 yen to use. Since the government had also extended its influence deeply within this group, in 1942 it became a group functioning directly under government
control in both name and action.
And on March 21, 1942 the president of the Butoku-kai was none other than Hideki Tojo, and office of the vice-president was to be rotated between the ministers of the five main government agencies: the Army Ministry, the Navy Ministry, the Home Ministry, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Welfare.
The group was directly concerned with the war effort by actively educating the public and by using its funds to finance a variety of military-related activities.
The group issued a large variety of member badges and medals, merit badges and medals, competition prize badges and medals, and other commemorative items.
There is a martial arts group currently active with the name Butoku-kai. This appears to be the same organization. The later incarnation is completely separate from the government and sponsors various martial arts activities. It was established in 1957.
However, it is sufficiently prestigious that a member of the Imperial family (the uncle of the current Emperor) serves as the general president, and Miyazawa Keiichi, a former prime minister of Japan, served in the same position.