Manchu Princess, Japanese Spy: The Story of Kawashima Yoshiko, the Cross-Dressing Spy Who Commanded Her Own Army (Asia Perspectives: History, Society, and Culture)

Manchu Princess, Japanese Spy: The Story of Kawashima Yoshiko, the Cross-Dressing Spy Who Commanded Her Own Army (Asia Perspectives: History, Society, and Culture)

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0231152183

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Aisin Gioro Xianyu (1907–1948) was the fourteenth daughter of a Manchu prince and a legendary figure in China's bloody struggle with Japan. After the fall of the Manchu dynasty in 1912, Xianyu's father gave his daughter to a Japanese friend who was sympathetic to his efforts to reclaim power. This man raised Xianyu, now known as Kawashima Yoshiko, to restore the Manchus to their former glory. Her fearsome dedication to this cause ultimately got her killed.

Yoshiko had a fiery personality and loved the limelight. She shocked Japanese society by dressing in men's clothes and rose to prominence as Commander Jin, touted in Japan's media as a new Joan of Arc. Boasting a short, handsome haircut and a genuine military uniform, Commander Jin was credited with many daring exploits, among them riding horseback as leader of her own army during the Japanese occupation of China.

While trying to promote the Manchus, Yoshiko supported the puppet Manchu state established by the Japanese in 1932―one reason she was executed for treason after Japan's 1945 defeat. The truth of Yoshiko's life is still a source of contention between China and Japan: some believe she was exploited by powerful men, others claim she relished her role as political provocateur. China holds her responsible for unspeakable crimes, while Japan has forgiven her transgressions. This biography presents the richest and most accurate portrait to date of the controversial princess spy, recognizing her truly novel role in conflicts that transformed East Asia.

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culminating in her hair-raising flight to safety after the war. But then again, after insisting that the two princesses are quite different, we must return to their similarities. In fact Kawashima Yoshiko and Saga Hiro have both been offered up again and again, to perform the same role for the Chinese and Japanese: the two life stories have enough soap opera elements to keep the focus on their emotional highs and lows rather than on the hell of war, which sent these women off to god-knows-where

Fukunaga Kosei: only surviving daughter of Hiro and Pujie Ganjurjab: son of Mongol military leader Babujab; married Yoshiko in 1927 Harada Tomohiko: Naniwa’s relative, who knew Yoshiko in her youth Hiro: see Saga Hiro Itō Hanni: speculator, Yoshiko’s lover Iwata Ainosuke: ultranationalist activist and Yoshiko’s onetime suitor Jin Bihui: another name for Kawashima Yoshiko Jin Moyu: Yoshiko’s younger sister Kamisaka Fuyuko: author of 1984 biography of Yoshiko Kawashima Naniwa: Yoshiko’s

She’s worth less than a rag or a scrap of wastepaper. She is a piece of filth on the garbage heap. It is a woman’s responsibility to protect her virginity with chastity and consecrate her immaculate body and spirit to the man she truly loves.” With such teachings in mind, Shulian believed that, after being deflowered, she could only swallow opium and die. Biographer Terao Saho attaches much importance to these proclamations about the need to maintain female chastity, issued by the heroine of

in acquiring more. Crouching down in her seat in a movie theater, she succeeded in avoiding Kawashima, who arrived in her male attire with two soldiers. On Kawashima’s shoulder was a pet monkey. Fortunately for Yamaguchi, Kawashima did not have a lot of time to scan the audience for familiar faces since she stormed out at intermission, military escort and monkey in tow, loudly proclaiming that she was bored. Yoshiko (seated) at her Tianjin restaurant, around 1937. Chizuko is standing at the

you’ll lose your life.” At this Yoshiko—at least according to Sasakawa’s besotted biographer—was again overwhelmed by his virtue. “No one understands how I feel,” she told him. “You are the only one who truly understands me. I am so happy. Really happy. You are a true Japanese who loves justice.” Sasakawa took charge of her case, and in no time he had her out of Beijing and resettled at the Dalian home of Kawashima Naniwa. Her adoptive father’s reaction to her sudden return to his home is

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