151. The "Eastern Mata Hari" KAWASHIMA Yoshiko is also not a "hanchien"

Copyright (Aug.12,2005) by TAKESHITA Yoshirō
Reissued as an English Edition (Aug.21,2006) by IWAYA Bunta


I agree with your opinion that Aisin Gioro P'ui is not a war criminal. I am curious what you think about the case of KAWASHIMA Yoshiko. My opinion is that she did not have to be put to death as a hanchien (traitor) because she is a Manchurian not a Han.

I look forward to hearing your opinion. If possible, it is nice to see your essay about KAWASHIMA Yoshiko.

KAWASHIMA YoshikoThis is an e-mail from a reader of the essay No. 106 (The "Last Emperor" Aisin Gioro P'ui is not a "hanchien"). I wonder whether you have ever heard about Madam KAWASHIMA Yoshiko (川島芳子; 1907-47).

During the wartime years, she had served as a spy for the Japanese Military in China through the Manchurian Incident (滿洲事變; English: Mukden Incident 奉天事變; Chinese: September 18 Incident 九一八事變; 1931)[1], the Second Shanghai Incident (上海事變; English: Battle of Shanghai; Chinese: January 28 Incident 一二八事變; 1932)[2] and the China Incident (支那事變, or Japano-Chinese Incident 日華事變; English: Second Sino-Japanese War; Chinese: War of Resistance Against Japan 抗日戰爭;1937-45).[3] She is sometimes known as "Eastern Mata Hari,"[4] "Jeannne d'Arc of Manchuria" or "a Beauty in male attire" because of her activity and her beautiful appearance.

When the Greater East Asian War (大東亞戰爭; English: Pacific War 太平洋戰爭; 1937-45) ended, she was arrested by the Kuomintang Government (中國國民黨; Chinese Nationalist Party)[5] led by Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) on an accusation of betrayal of China, a hanchien (漢奸). On March 25, 1948, she was shot to death by the Kuomintang at age if 41. My previous essay was concluded that Aisin Gioro P'ui (愛新覺羅溥儀; Pinyin: Aixin Jeluo Puyi, 1906-67)[6] — the last Emperor of Manchu Ch'ing Dynasty (清; 1644-1912; Pinyin: Qing)[7] who later became the Emperor of Manchu-Kuo (滿洲國; 1932-45),[8] — cannot be called a hanchien. By the same reason, Kawashima was not a hanchien too.

"Hanchien" (漢奸; Pinyin: Hanjian) — this word is used in Chinese to mean "a traitor" or "a betrayer," it was mentioned in my previous essay.

Han (漢) [the Han Chinese, the ethnic majority of the Chinese]
Chien (奸) [Adultery]

It literary means:

A traitor to the Han Chinese

Aisin Gioro P'ui is a Manchurian so we concluded that "he cannot be regarded as a hanchien" because he does not fulfill the prerequisite, "a traitor to the Han Chinese shall be a Han Chinese." How about the case of KAWASHIMA Yoshiko? Even she has a Japanese name, was she surely a traitor to the Chinese? Of course not. She was born as a Manchurian, the same origin as P'ui.

KAWASHIMA YoshikoKAWASHIMA Yoshiko, her original name is Aisin Gioro Hsiangyu (愛新覺羅顯; Pinyin: Aixin Jeluo Xianyu), and her Chinese name is Chin Pihui (金璧輝; Pinyin: Jin Bihui). As her family name "Aisin Gioro" suggests, she is a relative of P'ui, a member of the Ch'ing Imperial House.

She was born on May 24, 1907 (April 12 on the lunar calendar) as the 14th child to Shanch'i (善耆; Pinyin: Shanqi; 1866-1922)[9] of the House of Prince Su (肅親王), one of the eight Ch'ing hereditary prince houses. (The second Emperor of the Manchu Ch'ing Dynasty, Hong Taiji's (皇太極; 1592-1643)[10] eldest son, Prince Suwu Hooge (肅武親王豪格; 1609-48)[11] was the founder of the "House of Prince Su." The eight Ch'ing hereditary prince houses are Li (禮親王), Yu (豫親王), Shunch'eng (順成親王), Chuang (庄親王; Pinyin: Zhuang), Cheng (鄭親王; Pinyin: Zheng), Su (肅親王), K'och'inchun (克勤郡王; Pinyin: Keqinjun), and Jui (睿親王; Pinyin: Rui). )

The House of Prince Su was the most distinguished family among other Ch'ing royal families during her father Shanch'i's time — he owned a domain of app. 70,000 km2 (40,000 mi2). It might sound strange why a princes of such a distinguished family has a Japanese name "KAWASHIMA Yoshiko and became a spy for Japan..

Ch'ing Dynasty was ruined in 1912 during the Hsinhai Revolution (辛亥革命; Pinyin: Xinhai).[12] Around that time was when many Japanese fortune-seekers came to China and Manchuria so-called Tairiku Rōnin [Continental carpetbaggers] (大陸浪人)[#1] after Japan's victories over the Japano-Ch'ing War (日清戰爭; English: First Sino-Japanese War; Chinese: Sino-Japanese 1894 War 中日甲午戰爭; 1894-95)[13] and the Russo-Japanese War (日露戰爭; 1904-05),[14] Among these emigrants were many supporters of Manchurian and Mongolian secessionists to explore new markets called the Manmô Kôsaku [Manchurian-Mongolian Movement] (滿蒙工作). KAWASHIMA Naniwa (川島浪速; 1865-1949) was one of such dream-seekers.

After Ch'ing Dynasty's fall, Prince Su, father of Yoshiko, took refuge in Lushun (旅順) that area was under the control of Japan at that time. He found a kindred spirit in Kawashima who might realize his dream of restoration of the Ch'ing Empire. Kawashima was enthusiastic about the Manchurian independence. In 1913, Kawashima adopted Prince Su's six-year-old daughter Hsiangyu to become step-brothers because Prince Su sympathized with Kawashima with no children. It was the rebirth of Hsiangyu as a Japanese KAWASHIMA Yoshiko. (The dream was later realized as Manchu-kuo (滿洲國; literally means Manchu Country)

KAWASHIMA and his wife gave Hsianyu a male name Yoshio (良雄; 'good boy') and educated her as a boy such as learning horse riding and Kendô [Japanese fencing] (劍道). Her masculine character which later made her called "a beauty in male attire" was probably formed by such an environment in her childhood. Her name was later changed to a female name Yoshiko (良子; 'good girl') because she is not a man and then one Chinese character was changed to another of the same pronunciation to Yoshiko (芳子; 'fragrant girl'). After graduating from the Tokyo Prefectural Toshima Shihan Women's College of Education Elementary School (豐島師範附屬小學校), she entered the Atomi Girls School (跡見女學校) and later changed to another school, the Matsumoto Girls High School (松本高等女學校) by foster father's moving.

In 1922, she received a telegram saying that Prince Su is in a critical condition so she went back to Lushun in hurry but her father already passed away before her arrival. A half year later, she came back to Tokyo but was not allowed to return to the school because of her previous behavior in the school. Since then she was educated by foster parents. Her turning point came in the fall when she was 17. She attempted suicide but failed to kill herself. After that, she made her hair short-cropped and perhaps "liquidated being a woman forever" at that point.

In 1927, when her hair grew long as before, she got married with Prince Kanjurjab (甘珠爾札布), son of Mongol General Babojab (巴布札布) but divorced only two years later. Probably married life was not her nature. She went to Shanghai and became close to a member of the Military Special Service Organization, TANAKA Ryûkichi (田中隆吉) whose official status was the military official at the Japanese Embassy in Shanghai. Yoshiko was also involved in the secret service...

When Manchu-kuo was established under the head of state P'ui, the last Emperor of Ch'ing Dynasty in 1927, Yoshiko was called to the capital of Manchu-kuo, Hsinching (新京; Pinyin: Xinjing; curt. Changchun 長春) to become the Head of Court Ladies of Manchu-kuo (滿洲國女官長; a bodyguard for imperial ladies 滿洲帝室護衞係). She devoted herself to support P'ui's Imperial Family for the Manchurian's country Manchu-kuo such as the Battle of Jeho (熱河作戰; Pinyin: Rehe) of the Kwantung Army (關東軍)[15] in 1933 as the Supreme Commander of the Manchu-kuo's Ankuo Army (滿洲國安國軍總司令). Time passed and the fateful day of August 15, 1945 came...

August 15, 1945
Japan's surrender

Manchu-kuo collapsed with Japan's defeat and the Soviet Army's attack to Manchuria. Emperor P'ui attempted to flee to Japan but was captured by Soviet. Yoshiko was also arrested in Peip'ing (北平; curt. Beijing) by the Kuomintang Army on an accusation of betrayal of China, a hanchien. She was condemned to death in 1947 but still tried to find a ray of hope:

There is still a hope to be saved if I am attested as a Japanese

But the request for a retrial was denied in 1948. Her hope was destroyed in vain. On March 25, she was shot to death in the Peip'ing First Prison (北平第一監獄) at the age of 41. A piece of paper was found in her pocket with a poem written on that she had often read since her childhood:[#2]

Though there is a home, I can't return
Though I am in tears, I don't know how to express in words
Though there is a low, it is not righteous
Though there is a false accusation, to whom I can appeal?

This is the summary of Kawashima Yoshiko's life. The question is whether she was surely a traitor to the Han Chinese, a hanchien which China accused her as. She is originally from the Imperial Family of the Manchu Ch'ing Dynasty, the same origin as the Emperor P'ui, therefore she is a Manchurian. She became a Japanese after being adopted by her foster father Kawashima Naniwa. Consequently, she cannot be regarded as "a traitor to the Han Chinese," hanchien at all.

Another question is why she became a spy for Japan. Was the only reason she was persuaded by her beloved Takaka Shokichi? It seems not to be enough to drive herself into such an activity. She was a Princess of the Manchu Ch'ing Empire that was ruined by a revolution when she was a little girl. The answer will be found in her activities before and during the Manchu-kuo time. She was just complying her real father, Prince Su's wish to realize the

Restoration of the ruined Ch'ing Empire.

She also devoted herself to Manchu-kuo — the revived Ch'ing Empire — for her homeland Manchuria and her nation the Manchurian. Is it justifiable that Han Chinese punished her as "a traitor to the Han Chinese," a hanchien?" I don't think that it is rational to accuse her by such a logic. China has no right to even say "she is a hanchien" at all as long as there is a fact that the Han Chinese seized the Manchurian's land after Manchu-kuo's ruin.


#1. Tairiku Rônin (大陸浪人) is a generic term for many different kinds of people. Tairiku means a "continent," and rônin originally means a "jobless wanderer." The meaning of tairiku rônin is "pre-World War II Japanese jobless, carpetbagger or sharecropper emigrants to the continental China." The term has been translated in various ways such as 'continental adventurers,' 'continental wanderers,' 'China carpetbaggers' or 'pre-World War II Japanese adventurers in China.'

#2. It is said that this poem was written by Yoshiko herself. Before the death penalty was executed, she was asked her dying will but did not say any words. So this poem found in her pocket has been understood as her swan's song. There is another written words Yoshiko left before her death in her letter to her secretary OGATA Hachirô (小方八郎) which she wrote in a prison,

... If I am killed, please pick up your, my dad's (Prince Su) and my bones, dig out Fuku's (福; name of her pet monkey) bones, and bury them all together. I don't want to be buried with human. It is enough to be with a monkey. Monkeys are honest and truthful. Dogs too. Where is Pochi? (a dog's name) I guess that it is chilly in this season. Don't you think that a country which confiscates even monkeys and dogs is quite rare and strange? It is quite harsh. ...

(originally written in Japanese)
"Kawashima Yoshiko". Eyes of Inoue Atsuo.

Related information (Links)

  1. Manchurian Incident (滿洲事變; or Mukden Incident 奉天事變; Chinese: September 18 Incident 九一八事變; 1931). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  2. Shanghai Incident (上海事變; English: Battle of Shanghai; Chinese: January 28 Incident 一二八事變; 1932). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  3. China Incident (支那事變,日華事變, 日中戰爭; English: Second Sino-Japanese War; Chinese: Anti-Japanese War 抗日戰爭; 1937-45). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  4. Mata Hari. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  5. Kuomintang (中國國民黨; KMT, Chinese National Party). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  6. Aisin Gioro P'ui (愛新覺羅溥儀). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  7. Ch'ing Dynasty (清, 1887-1975). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  8. Manchu-kuo (滿洲國). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  9. Shanch'i (善耆). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  10. Hong Taiji (皇太極). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  11. Prince Hooge (豪格). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  12. Hsinhai Revolution (辛亥革命). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  13. Japano-Ch'ing War (日清戰爭; English: First Sino-Japanese War; Chinese: Sino-Japanese 1894 War 中日甲午戰爭; 1894-95). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  14. Russo-Japanese War (日露戰爭). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  15. Kwantung Army (關東軍; Japanese: Kantōgun). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.