This week, we take on the scintillating story of the Manchurian princess Kawashima Yoshiko, who grew up in Japan before becoming an agent for Japanese intelligence. 

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00:01:14hello and welcome to the history of Japan podcast episode 237 princess Lover Soldier Spy
00:01:24this week I want to talk about one of the most unique biographies I think we'll ever discuss on the show The Story of the woman whose life was so dramatic and action-packed that if I did not know better I'd swear she wasn't invented character for a TV show
00:01:40she was not by any traditional standard Japanese herself but her life was pretty inexplicably wound in with the course of Japan's modern Empire
00:01:51Our Story begins in the place removed from Japan itself but in a time when Japan's influence was soaring to ever Greater Heights the city of Beijing in the year of 1907 in that year a prince named Jean she had a daughter
00:02:08now shun CHI with the charm life he was not Han Chinese but Manchu part of the ruling ethnic class of China's Qin dynasty
00:02:18moreover he was part of the Great icing Giotto Clan the family which for the last 300 years had produced the Emperor of China
00:02:27specifically he was descended from a branch of the clan which Trace its lineage back to hygge the Second Son of home taiji the Manchu warlord who began the Manchu conquest of China
00:02:40and that illustrious family background gave Sean cheese some pretty solid perks he lived in the imperial capital of Beijing and enjoyed enormous wealth and Prestige though the fact that he was a member of the ruling Clan and thus to potentially challenge the city Emperor's claim meant that he was also under constant surveillance
00:03:01he also had the wealth to maintain a large group of concubines his fourth one would be the one to bury him this daughter
00:03:09the daughter who was born in 1907 very likely the records are not good enough to be certain was named Shinu and she had The Misfortune to be born during a rough time to be a man shoe
00:03:21when she was all of for the 1911 Revolution toppled the Qin Dynasty and tied Manchu violence-wracked China as Han Chinese stormed the walled Manchu compound in most major Chinese cities to take their revenge for 300 years of foreign rule
00:03:40given the atmosphere of the times Prince shun she decided to take leave of the increasingly dangerous city of Beijing and to go to the one part of China that was still pretty stable the part ruled by Japan
00:03:53specifically he made his way to Port Arthur what is now the lushenko District of Dalian City on the way out. Peninsula
00:04:01this had been handed over to Japan only six years earlier after the Russo Japanese war
00:04:08Nash and she didn't just make his way to Port Arthur for the safety it provided he also knew they were factions among the Japanese who wanted to see China broke apart and who particularly wanted the Manchu in Mongol dominated areas of northeastern China made into independent buffer states that would protect Japanese interests in southern Manchuria in Korea
00:04:32Prince Shane she was happy to work with such men with their support he wanted to rebuild a new Manchu state in Manchuria and then use it as a springboard for a second Manchu conquest of China with himself as a new Ching Emperor who would avoid the mistakes of the past
00:04:51so she and she was happy to work with the Japanese in Port Arthur as they were happy to work with him
00:04:58each imagines they were carefully using the other for their own hands shaanxi manipulating the Japanese to get support for his Grand second Ching Empire the Japanese manipulating shaanxi to lay the groundwork for a Manchurian buffer state
00:05:14as a part of this new alliance Shane she insisted that all his children learn to maneuver across there three distinct world's Manchu con Chinese and Japanese and that they received a modern westernized education to boot they would act as his agents in places he could not go himself and exposed to Japanese culture from birth they would be able to work more closely with his Japanese benefactors than he ever could
00:05:42then in 1915 she and she made a decision we still do not fully understand one of his closest Japanese allies a spine and kawashima naniwa had been recalled to the home Islands Shane she decided that his young daughter she and you would go with naniwa as his adoptive daughter
00:06:02nobody is 100% sure why she and she made this call the prince himself insisted that he simply pitied kawashima who was both childless and possessed of a chronically unhealthy wife and I slacked a strong female presence in his life
00:06:19the more likely explanation raised by Phyllis Birnbaum is that a shift in political winds in Tokyo had let doing new foreign policy supporting closer relations with the Republic of China and withdrawing support for men Giuseppe tastes like shunji that's why quashing manani what was recalled chanchi nervous about losing a close and influential Ally particularly since kawashima was good friends from his army days with Imperial Prince common cold he may have sent his daughter with kawashima as a way to keep that political Alliance intact
00:06:54whatever the reasoning nobody thought to ask young Shinu who was granted an abortive goodbye audience with her parents and then truck. To Japan
00:07:04it was the last time she would ever see them in 1922 prince shun she would die and his fourth concubine following Manchu tradition would kill herself to join him in the afterlife
00:07:17kawashima Nani why renamed his adoptive daughter giving her the Japanese name that would make her famous kawashima yoshiko
00:07:24he also educated her in his unique worldview
00:07:29kawashima naniwa was an intellectual ancestor of anti-western thinkers would dominate Japan's landscape of ideas in the 1930s he viewed Japanese foreign policy through the lens of racial war of conflict between Asians and whites
00:07:46in this conflict he believed that China especially Manchuria would be absolutely Central the resources and Manpower of the Middle Kingdom could make all the difference when the conflict itself finally came to pass
00:08:01kawashima yoshika was taught from birth that this was her role to use her Japanese connections to guide her Homeland along the path her adoptive father set out for
00:08:13to ensure that she could not even did his best to help her maintain her made you Heritage most notably he bought her a horse so that when the to wear at the kawashima homestead in rural Nagano prefecture in central Honshu kawashima yoshiko constantly scandalized your neighbors by writing and everywhere and by refusing to do so in the dimir side-saddle method borrowed from the English for proper young ladies
00:08:41wife was pretty hard on young kawashima Yoshi go90 was wife? Fugoo was mentally unstable the precise reason why in the nature of her malady are difficult to diagnose but she was at any rate poorly suited to take care of a child naniwa himself made a rather poor Father Figure his Grand Vision for East Asia had little time in it for the emotional work of raising a child as opposed to weaponizing one for a political agenda
00:09:09instead most of the work of actually raising the young girl fail to talk about him not to a a Japanese woman who got her education at Columbia and hoonani was hired as a Japanese tutor
00:09:22acabame would end up as kawashima yoshiko's mother figure and later in life you're still would say that after she was gone the only one who would truly mourn her passing was quote mother Bonnie
00:09:37Recollections from others in this time in her life almost universally bring up two things the first is that yoshka was supposedly quite beautiful remarks and her stunning looks were widespread and consistent
00:09:51the second equally widespread inconsistent report was that she was an inveterate tomboy and in particular that she avoided the formal polite and technically correct Japanese expected of young women in favor of the slurred colloquialism field language of young men
00:10:09this identification of Yoshi go as a tomboy may be influenced by later events but it's consistent enough that I have a hard time believing personally that there's not at least something to it
00:10:21it also seems pretty clear that outside of mother acaba Ne-Yo still didn't really have any strong parental figures naniwa was again too busy with his political schemes or with blowing the money said for us to go scare from Manchuria on crazy schemes like making his own cider brand to worry much about his charge
00:10:42he was also too busy to take the final step of formally adopting her writing her name and his family registered which would have made her adoption official and giving her Japanese citizenship
00:10:54some have suggested that this was because naniwa wanted her to remain in Manchu by citizenship for his political project personally I am inclined to believe that it was simple neglect on his part but that might just be me being uncharitable
00:11:11she also had difficulties in school her classmates treated her as an outsider and she actually stormed out of her High School history class because her teacher made a lot of denigrating remarks about the Chinese
00:11:24after father's death in 1922 she would return to main Sharia briefly for the funeral which kawashima naniwa wanted to attend so he can produce a document claiming that he was the executor of Prince John cheese estate naniwa in the prince's family would be embroiled in legal battles over that document for years to come
00:11:44upon her return from the funeral to Japan you wished I was actually kicked out of her high school the principal refused her request for readmission on the grounds that she been away for too long and would have to reapply which is a pretty uncharitable thing to do. Or recently bereaved young girl
00:12:02so instead kawashima naniwa decided to homeschooler in this interesting Lee would turn out to be one of the more important turning points of her life because under Nani was tutelage she acquired a sense of purpose
00:12:16kawashima Nonny what was able to convince young yoshio of the importance of Manchuria in the Manchu people and of his vision for their future
00:12:25she began to cast herself as her father's air in Manchu Joan of Arc who will lead the Manchurian people back to the glories they had once enjoyed as rulers of the Qin dynasty
00:12:37now that would remain kawashima yoshiko's ostensible goal for the rest of her life but that's not really what made her famous instead what made her a celebrity was the increasingly public nature of her own struggles in life
00:12:51as a foreigner in a fairly World part of Japan her story was already an occasional presence in the press the story about her getting kicked out of high school for example had made the local papers
00:13:03but what really made her famous was a string of romantic entanglement culminating in an unusual public pronouncement all of which was covered by the local press
00:13:13first there were series of fights in the kawashima household as a series of male suitors vied for her attentions all rebuffed by both naniwa and Yoshi go herself
00:13:24one of them and intense young man named moriyama AG was already something of a national political figure because he'd been involved in a vicious assault of the politician go to shame pay a few years earlier
00:13:37as you can imagine these disturbances made headlines but what came next was even stranger
00:13:45in 1925 kawashima Yoshi go started making public appearances with a shaved head dressed in male clothes
00:13:54kawashima naniwa attempted to explain the whole thing off as a joke it was simply a botched haircut that had led to her shaving her head at which point she decided to complete the Ensemble with a more masculine look over all
00:14:07yosko Zone answer was far more interesting and far more believable
00:14:13when a local reporter asked her about it she said that she no longer felt comfortable living as a woman and alluded to an event some years earlier that had pushed her from the path of femininity which in concert with some other stories from people close to her most notably her biological brother have led to suggestions that kawashima yoshika was sexually assaulted by her adopted father Nani what there's no proof that happened in your school never confirmed it but the rumor was out there and very public and she never denied it either
00:14:46you should go then went on to say that she was tired of dealing with male attention because she had no intention of marrying and us she decided to live as a man to avoid pressure to marry she went on to say quote I was born with what doctors call a tendency towards the third sex and so I cannot pursue an ordinary woman's goals in life people criticize me and say that I am perverted and maybe they are right I just cannot behave like an ordinary feminine woman on quote
00:15:17now trying to apply any kind of modern diagnosis to a historical figure is always a very difficult thing to do and I'm always hesitant to bring it up but that said mini Scholars most notably her biography Phyllis Birnbaum have noted this does sound a bit like gender dysphoria the discomfort with one's birth gender experienced by folks on the train spectrum and it does sound that way but this is post facto diagnosis which is pretty unreliable at best and in Japan in the 1920s such things were not openly discussed and us it's very hard to do anything more than fear eyes and guess I would say impossible
00:16:00shortly after this incident Nollywood movie the family back to China to Die the end and from there you should go and quickly decide to strike out on her own she left her adopted father and limited contact with him from the non at the tender age of 23 she was on her own
00:16:18your school resurface 2 years later and when she did she actually finally ended up getting married
00:16:25however that marriage appears to have been entirely political in particular she shacked up with a Mongolian General named you rob a general in something called the inner Mongolian Army
00:16:37and here's where I need to backup a second
00:16:41after the fall of the Qin dynasty the Mongol tribes that had one sworn loyalty to the old man to Emperors announce their intention to break off from China
00:16:50their loyalty they said was not to China but to the Manchu who just happened to rule China
00:16:57the country We Now call Mongolia with the Mongols called outer Mongolia the part most removed from China itself was successful and its independence movement mostly because it received rushing and later Soviet support it would end up becoming one of the Soviet Union's public States
00:17:15inner Mongolia was just too close to China proper even in the chaos of the Chinese Civil War inner Mongolia remained under the control of Chinese Warlords
00:17:26however they remained in China Mongolians who wanted to see an independent inner Mongolia and those Mongols Allied themselves with the wind power that wanted to see China's territorial Integrity Stripped Away
00:17:40so the inner Mongolian Army was an insurrectionary group of Mongols dedicated to precisely that cause inner Mongolian Independence ideally with Japanese assistance to guarantee protection for the nice interior Mongolian state
00:17:56amanchu princess with Japanese ties made a pretty ideal connection for such a group and so the marriage made political sense however yosko did not live with John Job full time or even much of the time and so far as I can tell the two never had any children so it doesn't seem like a particularly close relationship
00:18:16in fact the marriage ended after only 2 years likely from a lack of affection combined with the military and effectiveness of the inner Mongolia Army which would in the end become the seat of a Japanese client regime in inner Mongolia during World War II but which would accomplish during little on its own and promptly collapse the moment Japanese support was withdrawn
00:18:39so instead you're still made her way to a place where things were happening the bustling Port City of Shanghai
00:18:47Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s was one hell of a place a city nominally under the control of the Republic of China but dominated by Foreign concessions that operated as extraterritorial enclaves in which controlled most of the Seas well
00:19:03that confusion of different jurisdictions meant that for folks interested in living away from the law say the nascent government of the Korean Republic and Exile or underground communist groups or just the old-fashioned organized crime Shanghai was the place to be
00:19:21in Shanghai your school took on the appearance that would make her famous she continue to dress in men's clothes and kept her hair short but groomed both much more carefully so that she cut a stylish figure with her close-cropped swept up hair and your stylish suits and jackets
00:19:38in 1930 kawashima would meet one of the central figures of her life in Shanghai Tanaka yukichi a general in the Imperial Japanese Army and one of the radical members of the army who supported the creation of a Manchurian State under Japanese auspices
00:19:54the two hit it off by the end of the year kawashima was living with him and the two were regular lovers
00:20:02NACA in turn introduced kawashima to do I hide a Kenji another Army official stationed in Manchuria as the intelligence attache to the quantum Army the Japanese Garrison Forest charged with securing Japanese interest in the region
00:20:18together the two convinced kawashima to make the pivotal choice of her life to become an agent for Japanese Intelligence on the Chinese mainland
00:20:28kawashima undertook a series of important tasks for the pair most notably she was already acquainted personally with both the last Ching Emperor puyi and his wife from a brief stay in their Tianjin residence in 1928 and she was pivotal in convincing pooey to accept coronation as emperor of Mane shook well in 1932 and to extracting his wife secretly from Tianjin without the local Chinese authorities realizing what was happening because they still kept tabs on the former Emperor and his family
00:21:02after the formation of man shook will kawashima move to the new state it was in many ways the dream she had dedicated yourself to all those years ago made real estate for the Manchu people from which they could resume their place as the rightful masters of China itself with AIDS from heard Optive Homeland in Japan
00:21:22in Manchuria she became a pivotal advisor of Emperor puyi as well as one of his chief military aides
00:21:30with her writing skills she supposedly raised a battalion of several thousand Manchu I've seen both 4 and 5000 Horsemen thrown around and I'm not sure which is right
00:21:40together they became one of the most feared counter-insurgency forces in the region ruthlessly hunting down anti-japanese partisans across Manchuria
00:21:49the actual combat effectiveness of the unit is debated Phyllis Birnbaum for example down plays for military accomplishments and suggests that the unit was more of a propaganda piece than anything else
00:22:03whatever her precise military rule the experience naturally brought her closer to General Todd Ohio the Japanese military attache to please regime somewhere along the line she took him as another lover and incidentally I haven't mentioned this before but kawashima Yoshi goes taste for a powerful men extended the powerful women too she had a few reputed female lovers and introduced a couple of them as her wives again hard to be sure because the words never come from her directly and because this is a term that wouldn't necessarily have meant anything to her but it certainly seems like we can infer she was bisexual
00:22:44she also reentered the public Spotlight particularly for The Manchurian media you're still was a frequent participate in propaganda broadcasts early in the history of Maine to go and even released an album of patriotic Manchu quote songs that have been tragically unable to find that I guess I don't know man chew and I imagine that's the language used so maybe that's okay
00:23:06will publicly campaigning on Japan the half yosko seems to have become increasingly wary of the man shoot will Regine though she remains nominally loyal to it she seems to have been increasingly disillusion
00:23:20it was as the years went on increasingly obvious that the Japanese had no interest in lifting up Manchuria as an equal Japanese officials ruthlessly expropriated land from Natives and gave a Japanese farmers and systematically removed man Chu and Han Chinese from positions of actual Authority
00:23:39main Chupa was a Dumping Ground for excess population and a captive market for Japanese Goods it could never lead the charge to Mantua leadership over China so long as Japan's joke was on its neck
00:23:52so kawashima yoshiko faded from public view increasingly relinquishing any formal role in the Manchu government and instead retreating to her private life eventually she ended up in a relatively unglamorous position as a restaurant here in occupied Tianjin hardly A fitting end for Manchuria is Joan of Arc
00:24:15yet in many ways she was already two famous to just disappear from the public Consciousness first is a curiosity the Manchu princess turn Japanese school girl and then the scandalous buzz cut wearing crossdresser then I'm arriving in Shanghai she became the Femme Fatale the dangerously masculine but still pretty sexy spy
00:24:42admittedly this was partially on her in 1932 she happened to meet the pope writer muramatsu Shofu in Shanghai and collaborated with him on a novel based very Loosely on her life the beauty and men's clothing was the title and will it use pseudonyms yoshio became Mariko for example it was still pretty clear who is being talked about the story massively pumps up her Legend transforming her from the occasional intelligence operative to the female James Bond at many points real stories are inflated or new ones are created from Whole cloth my personal favorite has her fighting off an entire group of Bandits not soldiers under the employee of the warlord of Manchuria John's will in will dealing with a bullet wound in the shoulder it's like something out of the Mission Impossible movie
00:25:34later kawashima yours does biological family would blame stories like these for her untimely death as they inflated her Legends not only in Japan but among Chinese who saw her as a traitor
00:25:47because after the war ended the restored nationalist government of China went on a massive hunt for hunt gen traders to the Chinese people which is to say anyone who collaborated with the Japanese during the war
00:26:00the particular targets were those associated with puppet Japanese regimes and of course kawashima yoshka was deeply associated with the most hated puppet state of the mall Manchu quo
00:26:12in 1948 agents of the Nationalist government caught up with her and placed her under arrest in ultimately she was charged with treason
00:26:21her defense was that she was not a citizen of China and therefore could not be a traitor should operate under the flags of main Chupa and of Japan and was the side absolute worst a war criminal but still a legitimate combatant who could not be a traitor to a country she was not from
00:26:39the judges over singer case though stated that since makes you what was not in the eyes of a Chinese government a legitimate state it did not count and well Japan was a legitimate State nobody could produce the paperwork showing that your stove was on the kawashima Family Registry and the say formal Japanese citizen
00:27:00as a result kawashima yoshka was found guilty of treason against China and shot in the back of the head on March 25th 1948
00:27:09however her Legend did not end with her death
00:27:13more immediately her violent and resulted in the acquisition of a new nickname now she was no longer than Manchurian Joan of Arc but the Japanese matahari a reference to the shall we say exotic dancer turned spy for Germany in World War 1 who is captured and executed by the French
00:27:32in the longer-term yoshiko's name refused to die away
00:27:364-story already familiar to so many from all the Press about her not to mention the novel became the father for TV shows and movies and ever more books more dramatically rumors will continue to surface that the executed woman had been a body double for that the guards in charge of the execution had been bribed and that kawashima yoshiko it escaped and run off to continue her life of adventure
00:28:01these rumors are almost certainly not true however I personally can't help it wish they were Lord knows this was a woman who got dealt a pretty rough hand
00:28:13kawashima Yoshi go so far as I can see got a pretty rough Morgan in life in addition to having to Grapple with some difficult stuff in her own life her relationship with her biological and adoptive parents her issues surrounding her gender and having to do that all in the public eye because of her status as a public curiosity she also got wrapped up in the politics surrounding identity in East Asia who counted is Chinese who counted is Japanese and what the people caught in the middle were supposed to make of it all
00:28:44that same difficulty though is what gives her story its enduring popularity woman who lived in interesting times and her life was wrapped up in one of the most complicated and important aspects of modern East Asian history the fight for control of China's future
00:29:02that's reflected in modern porch rails of her life Chinese for Trails usually emphasize her traitorous activities often focusing on the idea that her childhood traumas, leading in the possible assault by her adopted father naniwa somehow warped her and allowed the Japanese to take advantage of her
00:29:21Japanese for Trails meanwhile are usually more character oriented focusing on her life in the tragedy of course well carefully avoiding any broader discussion of just what she was doing as a Japanese acid
00:29:34in that sense she becomes a stand-in for all of Japan simply trying to live her life swept up in events Beyond her control or understanding in a way that excuses all responsibility
00:29:46more modern for Trails have shifted that Dynamic to an extent the 1990 Hong Kong action movie kawashima yoshio for example has her experience a change of heart after seeing her lover arrested by the Japanese
00:30:01get the basic Dynamic the drama of her life combined with the drama of the time and how all of that fits in a different historical perspectives on the age that I think will endure in the end it's what makes her life interesting it's what drives all the rumors in the Press coverage the books the TV the movies all of it is grounded in the complicated life of a complicated woman living in complicated times
00:30:28that's all for this week thank you very much for listening for more on this week's episode or any other episode or just submit ideas for future episodes check out the podcast webpage www.net that is a a c m e y e r. Net or a Facebook page at facebook.com history of Japan podcast thanks again for listening and I'll see you next week when we tackle one of Japan's most infamous military units Unit 731

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