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Chimera: A Portrait of Manzhouguo. Harmony and Conflict

March 1, 2007
Volume 5 | Issue 3
Article ID 2384

Chimera: A Portrait of Manzhouguo. Harmony and Conflict

Joshua A. Fogel and Yamamuro Shin'ichi

In 1993 Professor Yamamuro Shin’ichi of Kyoto University published Kimera: Manshukoku no shozo (Chimera: A Portrait of Manzhouguo). He sent me a copy at that time—we have been friends since the mid-1980s—and I glanced it over and thought how nice it would be to read, as soon as I had some of that most precious of commodities: spare time. Unlike the countless other books collecting dust, which I continue to promise myself I will someday get to, I actually had an opportunity to read this one during 1996-97 while I was a visiting professor at the Research Institute in the Humanities at Kyoto University.

Manzhouguo shown in green

I had not read it through to the end before I decided that this book had to appear in English. More and more serious work was being done in the Anglophone world on the regime sponsored by the Guandong Army in what is now China’s northeast that would likely not confront the arguments of this book—unless it could not be ignored (i.e., it appeared in English translation). So, I undertook to translate it, and it took many years to complete. The problems were at least twofold: Yamamuro’s style, which some jokingly refer to as a Todai style of long sentences full of unconnected or loosely connected clauses, did not recommend itself naturally to the translator; and, even more difficult, because the secondary literature to date was still relatively thin, we had as yet not coined Anglophone terms for the numerous institutions created on the ground in Manchuria. I think partly this was a result of sympathy for the Chinese view that virtually everything associated with Manzhouguo was wei (bogus, illegitimate) and partly is was a result of the linguistic barriers. Slowly but surely, this latter difficulty was overcome through coinages of my own in consultation with Yamamuro; whether or not I have succeeded in the former is not for me to decide. But, it has been quite a challenge. The board of the University of Pennsylvania Press did not like Yamamuro’s metaphor of the chimera, the ancient Greek mythical beast. After batting a variety of possible titles back and forth, we finally agreed on Manchuria under Japanese Dominion. One of the issues was not showing our hand too soon; that is, not taking a stand right on the front cover of the book as to what characterization of Manzhouguo was most appropriate.

Reproduced here are the book’s introduction and conclusion. In his introduction, Yamamuro lays out the conflicting images bequeathed by postwar writing in Japan as well as by Chinese and Koreans. There is no way to find a neat middle ground here. In his final chapter, he looks back over the realities of life for all ethnicities in Manchuria in the prewar decades, and it is at this point that he offers his own fullest assessment of that regime. One is struck by how present the concerns from the era of Manzhouguo remain. The war may have ended over sixty years ago, but the postwar continues.

When I was completing the translation, a new edition of the Japanese text appeared, and it included some new material. I translated it all for the English text—most important being a long disquisition in question-and-answer format that fills in much cultural material about Manzhouguo to complement the book’s primarily political, military, and social orientations. I also included a translation of an interview Yamamuro gave to the new journal Kan (in a special issue on Manchuria).

Yamamuro is in a league all his own, a truly penetrating thinker and scholar—he actually taught himself to read Chinese so he could do this study properly. He has written many other books, but I leave it to younger scholars to introduce or translate them. Might I make a parting suggestion to look at his recent book on the Russo-Japanese War, Nichi-Ro senso no seiki (The Century of the Russo-Japanese War), and his much larger work, Shiso kadai to shite no Ajia (Asia as Intellectual Task)? Joshua Fogel


The Shadow of Manzhouguu

Yamamuro Shin'ichi

There was once a country known as Manzhouguo (also rendered Manchukuo). It emerged suddenly in China’s northeast on March 1, 1932, and vanished with Emperor Puyi’s manifesto of abdication on August 18, 1945, having lasted for just over thirteen years and five months.

For the Japanese who actually lived there, however, this country’s final end was only the beginning of their real Manzhouguo “experience.” What was Manzhouguo and how did it relate to them personally? They must have asked themselves these questions repeatedly as various images of Manzhouguo later took shape; virtually all of these Japanese went through gruesome experiences in the aftermath of the state’s collapse, often lingering between life and death—the invasion of the Soviet Army, their evacuation, and perhaps their internment in Siberian camps—experiences that are exceedingly difficult to describe. Is it now possible for us to see through to the countless fragments of these images of Manzhouguo which continue to live in their memories now strewn through innumerable notes and memoirs?

Flag of Manzhouguo

For the great majority of Japanese who have since lived through more than a half-century longer than the thirteen and one-half years that Manzhouguo existed, that land has become little more than a historical term which conjures up no particular image of any sort. To be sure, the past half-century has been sufficiently long for many matters to pass from experience to memory and from memory into history, long enough perhaps for even the experience of hardship to be refined into a form of homesickness, for the crimes that transpired all around them to be forgotten as if the whole thing had been a daydream. For the Japanese in the home islands with no links to Manzhouguo, whether they have sunk into oblivion or, pent up with their memories, have taken their ignorance of Manzhouguo as commonsensical, today the scars left from Manzhouguo continue to live on in that land, be it as the issue of war orphans “left behind” in China or as that of the wives left behind. Although Manzhouguo has ceased to exist, for the people who continue to live there, and for the dwindling number of survivors of that era, the wounds of Manzhouguo continue to ache and will not heal or disappear.

Hsinking avenue in Hsinking, the capital of Manzhouguo,
subsequently renamed

In fact, the Japanese are by no means the only ones still affected. Indeed, the Chinese and Koreans who lived in Manzhouguo suffered far more and bore far heavier burdens. Certainly for descendants of those “suppressed” as “bandits” who opposed the state of Manzhouguo and Japan and for those who had their lands confiscated by such organizations as East Asian Industry (To-A kangyo) and the Manchurian Colonization Corporation (Manshu takushoku kosha), the shadow of Manzhouguo always lingers close at hand and never leaves for long. So, too, for those who may have participated in Manzhouguo affairs or been pro-Japanese and were subjected to persecution by their fellow nationals, particularly at such times as the Cultural Revolution in China. Furthermore, among those Koreans who, in conjunction with the colonial policy of Japan and Manzhouguo, were forcibly moved there, many were mobilized by the Guandong (also transcribed as Kwantung) Army and taken prisoner in Siberia, and later—after the disintegration of Manzhouguo—wanted to return to home but were detained for economic reasons and must have been burning with homesickness for Korea.

Manzhouguo, a Puppet State

The number of people who have no knowledge of Manzhouguo increases with each passing day. However, like a piercing thorn that cannot be removed, the incessant pain it caused has left a residue of bad feelings in the minds of many Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, and others. While the great majority of people now know nothing about Manzhouguo, for those who lived through it, much too short a time has passed for it to be forgotten. Any evaluation of Manzhouguo would be remiss not to stress the extraordinary artificiality of which it smacked.

In Japanese dictionaries and historical encyclopedias, its position has all but become fixed. The general narrative runs as follows: Manzhouguo—in September of 1931, the Guandong Army launched the Manchurian Incident and occupied Northeast China; the following year it installed Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing dynasty, as chief executive (he was enthroned in 1934), and a state was formed; all real power in national defense and government were held by the Guandong Army, and Manzhouguo thus became the military and economic base for the Japanese invasion of the Asian mainland; it collapsed in 1945 with Japan’s defeat in the war. Also, most designate Manzhouguo as a puppet state of Japan or of the Guandong Army.

Puyi as the Kangde Emperor of

In Chinese history texts and dictionaries, by contrast, Manzhouguo is described in the following manner: a puppet regime fabricated by Japanese imperialism after the armed invasion of the Three Eastern Provinces (also known as Manchuria or Northeast China); with the Japan-Manzhouguo Protocol, Japanese imperialism manipulated all political, economic, military, and cultural powers in China’s northeast; in 1945 it was crushed with the Chinese people’s victory in the anti-Japanese resistance. In order to highlight its puppet nature and its anti-popular qualities, the Chinese refer to it as “wei Manzhouguo” (illegitimate or puppet Manzhouguo) or “wei Man” for short. They frequently refer to its institutions, bureaucratic posts, and laws as the “illegitimate council of state,” “illegitimate legislature,” and “illegitimate laws of state organization.” This language is not unique to mainland China, but appears in works published in the Republic of China (Taiwan) as well.

In addition to writings of this sort by people involved in the events, narratives of Manzhouguo in English and other Western languages frequently offer explanations such as the following: “Manchukuo” (or Manchoukuo): a puppet state established by Japan in China’s northeast in 1931; although Puyi was made nominal ruler, all real power was dominated by Japanese military men, bureaucrats, and advisors; in so doing, Japan successfully pursued the conquest of Manchuria, which had been contested by China and Russia (later, the Soviet Union) for nearly half a century; in spite of the fact that many countries recognized it, Manzhouguo remained essentially a puppet regime; and it was destroyed with Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Putting aside for the moment the actuality of who manipulated and ruled whom and in what way, if we consider a “puppet state” one in which—despite its formal independence as a nation—its government rules not on behalf of the people of that nation but in accordance with the purposes of another country, then Manzhouguo was a puppet state. One can scarcely deny that one of the forms of colonial rule was the very form this state took. In particular, for people who were mercilessly stripped of the wealth they had painstakingly saved on the land they worked for many years and who consequently suffered greatly, no matter how often they heard the ideals of this state recounted in elegant, lofty language, they certainly would not have accepted any legitimation for a state that threatened their lives and livelihoods.

Each person is likely to see the level and character of “puppetry” in Manzhouguo somewhat differently. While the concept of an illegitimate or puppet state may be too strong for many Japanese to accept, once exposed to the Chinese museum exhibits and pictures depicting excruciating pain in such places as the Museum of the Illegitimate Manzhouguo Monarchy in Changchun, or the Northeast China Martyrs Museum and the Museum of the Evidence of the Crimes of Unit 731 of the Japanese Army of Aggression in Harbin, or the Hall of the Remains of the Martyred Comrades at Pingdingshan in Fushun, comfortable images will no longer be acceptable.

Body disposal at Unit 731

Furthermore, it is certainly necessary to investigate the realities behind the “pits of 10,000 men” scattered about at various sites where it is said were buried roughly one million victims to plans for the development of the region from 1939, or the “human furnaces” at which human bodies were roasted on plates of steel to draw off their fat. However, when we realize that in most cases forced labor in general prisons or reformatories led to death and arrest itself was completely arbitrary, it would seem only natural that the horrifying shock this entails would necessitate calling Manzhouguo an Auschwitz state or a concentration-camp state, more than just a puppet state. The claims of the last two sentences raise the ante very high: I strongly recommend that some claims follow the presentation of the author’s evidence to avoid a sense that this is empty rhetoric. Let’s talk about this and, if you and I agree, find a way to discuss it with the author. I think that the point is an important one. I’m not familiar with the claim of human furnaces to “draw off fat.” If, on the other hand, the author wishes to present this as among the charges that have been levied by the Chinese government or by others, that would be fine.

Manzhouguo, an Ideal State

In spite of all this, though, Manzhouguo was never simply a puppet state or just a colonial regime. Another view has continued unshakably to persevere even after 1945: Manzhouguo as the site of a movement to expel Western imperialist control and build an ideal state in Asia; its establishment then is seen as an effort to realize a kind of utopia.

Hayashi Fusao (1903-75) once wrote: “Behind this short-lived state lay the 200-year history of Western aggression against Asia. The Meiji Restoration was the first effective resistance against this [onslaught]; Manzhouguo was the continuation of this line of opposition…. Asian history will itself not allow us to disregard it by invoking the Western political science concept of a ‘puppet state.’ Manzhouguo still continues to live in the development of world history.” [1] It may take another one hundred years, he noted, to come to a proper evaluation of Manzhouguo.

Anniversary stamps of Manzhouguo

Kishi Nobusuke (1896-1987), who worked as deputy director of the Management and Coordination Agency of Manzhouguo and became prime minister of Japan after the war, has also noted in a memoir that, in the establishment of Manzhouguo, “the ideals of ethnic harmony and peace and prosperity [lit. the paradise of the Kingly Way] shone radiantly. A scientific, conscientious, bold experiment was carried out there. This was a truly unique modern state formation. The people directly involved devoted their energies to it motivated by their sincere aspirations, and also the peoples of Japan and Manzhouguo strongly supported it; and Mohandas Gandhi, the Indian holy man, offered encouragement from far away. At the time Manzhouguo was the hope of East Asia.” [2]

Furumi Tadayuki (1900-83), who witnessed the last moments of Manzhouguo as a deputy director of the Management and Coordination Agency, firmly believed in it: “The nurturing that went into the establishment of the state of Manzhouguo was a trial without historical precedent…. It was the pride of the Japanese people that, in an era dominated by invasion and colonization, our efforts to build an ideal state were based on ethnic harmony in the land of Manchuria. That young Japanese at that time, indifferent to fame or riches, struggled for their ideals remains the pride of Japanese youth.” [3] Without the least doubt, he believed that the ideal of ethnic harmony—the founding ideal of the state of Manzhouguo—would continue to shine brilliantly for many years.

Propaganda poster hails Japan, China, Manchu cooperation

Guandong Army Staff Officer Katakura Tadashi (1898-1991), who promoted the establishment of Manzhouguo, saw it as the manifestation of a humanism based on the lofty ideals of peace, prosperity, and ethnic harmony. “In the final analysis,” he averred, “as a cornerstone for stability in East Asia, it was an abundant efflorescence.” [4 Similarly, Hoshino Naoki (1892-1978), who worked as director of the Management and Coordination Agency, endlessly praised the formation of Manzhouguo: “Not only did the Japanese take a leading position, but all the ethnic groups of East Asia broadly worked together for development and growth. We were building a new paradise there in which the blessings were to be shared equally by all ethnicities.” [5]

In one line of his memoirs, Hoshino attached to Manzhouguo the heading “Atlantis of the twentieth century.” [6] (By “Atlantis” he was referring to the ideal society of the distant past, as described in Plato’s dialogues, Timaeus and Critias, said to have been to the West of the Straits of Gibraltar.) It is unclear in what sense Hoshino was himself dubbing Manzhouguo the “Atlantis of the twentieth century,” because he simply suggests this heading and says nothing about the content of Atlantis itself. However, the plot of a visionary state—beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, with an orderly, well-planned city and strong military organization, based on a national structure of harmony and single-mindedness, which having attempted the conquest of Asia and Europe now faced retaliation by Athenian warriors, and had sunk into the sea in a single twenty-four-hour period of great earthquakes and floods—remains eerily imaginable even now, corresponding in great detail to Manzhouguo. Like the tale of Atlantis as a dreamlike paradise, Manzhouguo would be passed down over the centuries, and perhaps a day would come many generations hence when it might occupy a kind of resuscitated historical position, such as that given Atlantis by Francis Bacon in his New Atlantis (1627).

Be that as it may, even if it cannot compare to the myth of Atlantis, which is said to have produced a wide assortment of books in excess of 20,000 volumes, Manzhouguo has continued to be portrayed in the image of such an ideal state. A good part of the reason for this is the exceedingly tragic experience that followed its dismemberment and the great suffering that ensued. One can readily imagine that an act of psychological compensation—not wanting that pain to go for naught—has been invested in this now defunct state.

All this notwithstanding, the examples given by these and other leading figures cannot sustain the view that Manzhouguo alone, in its search for coexistence and coprosperity among all ethnic groups, was qualitatively different from other colonies. This view would undoubtedly be the sentiment shared by those people who were on the spot as local officials or members of cooperatives, as well as those who were directly connected with them; so, too, among most Japanese who were linked to the formation and management of Manzhouguo in one form or another, such as the Japanese emigrants there and the Manchurian-Mongolian Pioneer Youth Corps. There were many who, supported by a sense of personal pride in the accomplishments of Manzhouguo, survived down into the postwar era. This being the case, we have to redouble our efforts to listen to the low, strained voices behind the loud, booming voices propounding the idea of an ideal state and try to ascertain the realities of this “ideal” in which not only Japanese but Chinese, too, gambled their lives.

Must we heed the view repeatedly put forward that one should rightfully look not only at the aspect of the Japanese invasion of the mainland leading to the creation of Manzhouguo but also at the aspect of its accomplishments? In other words, it has been emphasized that despite its short history a “legacy of Manzhouguo” has contributed greatly to the modernization of China’s Northeast in such areas as the development and promotion of industry, the spread of education, the advancement of communications, and administrative maintenance. These attainments, the argument continues, cannot only withstand scrutiny from our perspective today—when ethnic harmony has become an important ideal in politics—but they also warrant significance as an “experiment for the future”—namely, what may be possible in the arena of cooperation among different ethnic groups in years to come. Can this argument be justified?

Hunjiang-Tonghua Railway.Manzhouguo

How would this argument about an ideal state, stressing the positive factors and legacy of Manzhouguo, echo among people from countries other than Japan? The issue of Manzhouguo refuses to leave us—not only must we evaluate its results but the “seeds it planted” as well. In fact, one may recognize its distinctive qualities as being surpassingly pregnant with contemporary implications.

Manzhouguo, a Chimera

On reflection, there may be nothing that spurs on human dreams and emotions quite like the reverberations of such words as “state-founding” or “nation-building,” as hinted at by Goethe in Faust. Especially in the early Showa years, the Japanese empire towered overwhelmingly above the individual, and people were seized by a sense of being closed in and unsettled. When he committed suicide in 1929, Akutagawa Ryunosuke (b. 1892) left behind the expression: “bakuzentaru fuan” (a sense of being unsettled). For Japanese of that time, words such as “state-founding” or “nation-building” may have borne a distinctively seductive power offering an impression of liberation stirred up by a sense of mission hidden within. Thus, for many Japanese, the notion that “what drew them to Manchuria was neither self-interest nor fame, but a pure aspiration to participate in the opening up of a new realm and the building of a new nation” [7]cannot be completely denied as false consciousness. That they firmly believed this in their own subjective minds would scarcely be strange, but selfless, unremunerated, subjective goodwill does not necessarily guarantee good deeds as a final result, especially in the world of politics. Also, no matter how pure the emotions behind one’s actions, in politics, responsibility for ultimate results is an issue, and one cannot elude the blame that one deserves. One individual’s ideal may for one’s counterpart be intolerable hypocrisy, indeed a form of oppression.

In the final analysis, in what sense was Manzhouguo a Japanese puppet or colonial state? Should we instead recognize that this is merely a distortion, an arbitrary understanding dictated by the victor nations, the “historical view of the Potsdam Declaration” or the “Tokyo Trials view of history” which echo it; and insist that the historical reality of Manzhouguo was the creation of a morally ideal state in which many ethnic groups would coexist? As Kagawa Toyohiko (1888-1960) has noted: “In the invasion carried out by Japan, only Manzhouguo possessed a mixture of dreams and lofty ideals.” [8]

Before rushing to any conclusions, we need to begin by asking why Manzhouguo was established in the first place and then follow its traces where they lead. Why in the world did this state of Manzhouguo have to have been created under Japanese leadership in China’s Northeast? What was the process of its formation, and how were Japanese and Chinese involved in it? Furthermore, what actually were ruling structure and national ideals of the new state? Also, what were the mutual relations among Manzhouguo, China, and Japan in political institutions and legal systems, policy and political ideas? In sum, what was the distinctive nature of Manzhouguo as a state, and what place should it occupy in modern world history? Portraying this state of Manzhouguo through an analysis of these questions is the principal task of this book.

I set the task in this way because one reason the evaluation of Manzhouguo remains unsettled lies in the fact that each of the opposing views of this state that I have outlined stresses only one side of the issue. From the perspective that sees it as a puppet state, the organization and ideals of Manzhouguo are belittled as merely camouflaging its essence as one of military control by Japan; from the perspective that sees it as an ideal and moral state, its essence lies more in the lofty state principles it professed than in the background to its founding, and the actual mechanisms of rule are of scant interest.

Although Manzhouguo enjoyed a short life, still portraying the features of this state as a whole in more or less the correct proportions remains an exceedingly difficult task. Although the quantity of memoirs and reminiscences about Manzhouguo written since the end of World War II is absolutely immense, there is nonetheless a dearth of official government sources, as much of the “primary historical documentation” from the Manzhouguo era itself was destroyed by fire or disappeared during the period when the state was in the process of destruction.

In considering all this, there may simply be no way to avoid the abundance of material in one arena and the rough and uneven quality of it in another, but by focusing on Manzhouguo as a state, I hope in this book to offer a portrait of Manzhouguo as I have come to understand it. I have attempted here to portray Manzhouguo by likening it to the Chimera, a monster from Greek mythology. Thomas Hobbes used the Leviathan, a beast that appears in the Book of Job, to symbolize the state as an “artificial being.” Similarly, Franz Neumann (1900-54) used the name of the monster Behemoth to characterize the Third Reich of the Nazis. Drawing inspiration from these cases, I offer for Manzhouguo the Chimera, a beast with the head of a lion, the body of a sheep, and the tail of a dragon. The lion is comparable to the Guandong Army, the sheep is the state of the emperor system, and the dragon the Chinese emperor and modern China. What is implied here will be become clear as the argument of this book develops. [9]

Conclusion: Chimera, Reality and Illusion
The Two Sides of Manzhouguo: Ethnic Harmony and Ethnic Antagonism

From the perspective of 4,000 years of rise and fall of eras, of chaos and order, in Chinese history, the fifteen years and five months of Manzhouguo’s history were no more than a flash in the pan, a blink of the eyes. However, the import of history cannot be weighed by length of time. Manzhouguo’s significance in history can only be assessed as the sum total of loves and hatreds in the lives of the people who lived there. Whatever significance we assign to Manzhouguo as we look back on it now, we can only point to what should be carried forward and what deserves heartfelt criticism on the basis of this level of fierce loves and hatreds which suffused both its ideals and its realities. Even if it were to be described beautifully in words and praised lavishly as a concept, without examining what Manzhouguo really was, we cannot carelessly assess its historical importance.

How are we to think about the many and sundry images and theses concerning Manzhouguo raised in the introduction? I offer my views on this issue by way of a conclusion.

We young Japanese at the time were burning with passion to establish an ideal state on Manchurian terrain in which there would be ethnic harmony, and thus we hurried off to Manzhouguo. We poured our hearts and souls into building such a state…. As history moved forward, the ideal of ethnic harmony would have gradually increased in radiance. Without this, I believe that perpetual peace in the world is impossible to attain. In this sense, then, the ideals of building that state of Manzhouguo will live on forever. [10]

Japanese settlers from
Saitama Prefecture


Furumi Tadayuki thus summarized the historical significance of Manzhouguo. There were many who advocate ethnic harmony, the banner raised by Manzhouguo, as the basis for the future attainment of world peace. Throughout the world today, ethnic strife continues unabated, and with each fresh news of such bloodletting, the need for different peoples to harmonize and to cooperate can be felt all the more strongly. Why does ethnic difference give rise to such fiercely antagonistic emotions? Why can we not honor our differences? This thought has become ever more trenchant. However, is this ultimately connected to the fact that the ideal of ethnic harmony to which Manzhouguo gave birth “gradually increased in radiance as history moved forward?”

The Japanese in Manzhouguo discriminated against the Chinese in numerous areas of daily life. At parties or banquets, they would be sitting around the same tables, eating the same food, and drinking the same wine, but the Japanese would be served white rice and the Chinese would get sorghum. [11]

Although “ordinary fare” (literally, “daily tea and rice”) was a term used at the time, “ordinary” under ethnic harmony and Manzhouguo was the fact that there was patent discrimination in rice itself. [12] According to one source, “with the coming into being of Manzhouguo, there were differentiations made—Japanese ranked first, Koreans second, and Manchus and Chinese third. As for food, the Japanese were allocated white rice, the Koreans half white rice and half sorghum, and the Chinese sorghum. There were also salary differentials.” [13] One who advanced this policy of food differentiation was Furumi Tadayuki himself: “I thought this manner of distribution was perfectly appropriate, though criticism of it was raised. Although it was said that rice was allocated only to the Japanese and that we did not give rice to the Manchurians, in fact they did not customarily eat rice. In any event, I believe that this was a proper mode of allocation.” [14] Furumi was by no means alone in his insensitivity to the ethnic discrimination revealed here and the apathy not to be able to infer that there was a problem even after it was pointed out to him. However, rather than dwell on whether this was right or wrong, it would be better to read the following testimony about the state of affairs in the army cadet school of Manzhouguo. This army cadet school was established alongside the Kenkoku University as the highest military and civil institutions of higher learning, respectively, in Manzhouguo. It was seen as an elite training institute which bore responsibility for the state for ethnic harmony. What was ordinary here?

Chinese and Japanese each occupied half of the positions as pupils at the cadet school. Their curricula and teaching materials were the same, but there was a wide difference in their treatment. Take uniforms, for example—the Japanese students of all classes all wore new ones, while the Chinese students, in addition to streetwear, were largely outfitted with old ones. Bedding and other life necessities were the same; the Japanese had new things and the Chinese old.

There was even a distinction in food. Japanese pupils ate primarily white rice and other nutritional riches. Chinese pupils ate only sorghum, the red sorghum used as feed for the horses and oxen. The students who at the time contracted stomach disorders and stomach ulcers are even today, over forty years later, afflicted with chronic illnesses. Clearly, this was one manifestation of “ethnic repression.” [15]

Wage Differentials in Industries Run by Japanese



Real income (yen)

Percentage vis-à-vis Japanese of the same sex

Real income (yen)

Percentage vis-à-vis Japanese of the same sex
































Based on a August 1939 investigation by the Roko kyokai, in Manshu rodo nenkan (Manchuria labor year book) (Xinjing: Ganshodo shoten, 1940), 26, 40.

At Kenkoku University, by contrast, from the start all students were said to have eaten an equal mixture of rice and sorghum, at the insistence of the Japanese students. [16] There are numerous newspaper articles about the schools that adopted this system. Yet, the fact that such stories appeared in the form of newspaper articles, it has been argued, is counterevidence that discrimination in food was generally practiced, and that anyone other than a Japanese who ate white rice could be punished for an “economic crime.” Furthermore, the differential in salaries may be seen in Table 7. Even on trains, the Japanese rode in a special class while Chinese rode in ordinary compartments, and Chinese were not allowed to ride on the special ones. [17]

There is also historical evidence, such as the following, which gives insight into the reality of ethnic harmony. It was said that the commanding officer of the Guandong Army drew up and distributed notebooks known as Rules of Service especially for “Japanese” officials. The contents of these booklets have not yet been made known in Japan. Furumi reports that Japanese-Manchurian ratios were recorded under the designation of Kanri kokoroe (Rules for officials), [18] but it remains unclear just what these were as a whole. Wang Ziheng, who served as secretary to the prime minister until the very end, saw his office mate Matsumoto Masuo’s Fuwu xuzhi (Rules of service), and from a memo he transcribed he must have seen its content. Although this material is full of contradictions and cannot be fully trust, we nonetheless find in it such passages as: “We need to sow dissension between the Korean and the Chinese peoples and not enable them to become too friendly. When these two peoples come into conflict, if right and wrong are in equal portions on both sides, then we shall support the Koreans and suppress the Chinese. If the Koreans are in the wrong, then we must treat them the same as the Chinese.”

In addition, the text has detailed notes on the ethnic character of various groups and on policies for dealing with them. For example, we are told that it noted with respect to “Manchurian” officials: “Be they pro-Japanese or anti-Japanese, be attentive to everything in their words, deeds, and public and private lives. Do not forget the words [from the ancient Chinese text, Zuozhuan]: ‘If he is not of our race, then he will of necessity be of a different heart.’” Also: “Property belonging to all peoples other than the Japanese should be reduced. Do not allow it to increase.” [19] I do not believe that all of this is accurate, but as corroboration we might mention that one of the tasks set by the military police of the Guandong Army in its Special Policy for Dealing with Manzhouguo in Wartime (Tai-Man senji tokubetsu taisaku) concerned “the policies of dissension and antagonism among the various ethnic groups—make use of them.” [20] It is quite clear that they saw mutual antagonism and discord among the various ethnicities—and least of all ethnic harmony—as a means of rulership.

The greatest issue confronting ethnic harmony in Manzhouguo, however, was the ethnocentrism of the Japanese who were advancing this very policy:

Indeed, our Yamato race harbors superior qualities and preeminent strength within, and we shall guide the other races [ethnicities] with magnanimity without. We shall shore up where they are insufficient and encourage where they do not exert themselves. By making those who are not obedient obedient, we shall move together to perfect a moral world. This is our heaven sent mission. [21]

We have here stereotypical exaggerations reflecting the Zeitgeist of Japan in the 1930s, and reading it now we need make some allowances. However, that said, there is no denying the fact that this also contains a self-important, excessively self-conscious sense of the Japanese people. For those unable to separate themselves from such a consciousness, harmony as a relationship untouched by and not touching all matters of politics, the economy, and culture was probably unattainable. In fact, in the “ethnic melting pot” of Manzhouguo, the Japanese had almost no contact whatsoever with other ethnic groups and lived apart from them.

To be sure, the historical experience of the complex ethnic state of Manzhouguo was an attempt at the formation of a multiethnic society in which peoples of different races, languages, customs, and values coexisted and in which Japan was involved on a large scale for the first time in its history. What was in fact carried out, though, was not aimed at the coexistence of heterogeneous elements, but a society in which harmony was attained by obedience to homogeneity. Thus, a monolithic integration through guidance and servility was the goal. It emerged in the form of expelling the heterogeneous elements, “making those who are not obedient obedient.” Together with “bandit suppression” and “enforcement activities,” “extermination” efforts aimed at opponents through the military police, the Special Services Agency of the Guandong Army, and the secret spying network (Hoankyoku), thought “reform” activities were enforced involving the housing of “thought delinquents” in Thought Reform Guidance Centers and Protective Supervisory Centers.

Genuine ethnic harmony would probably have entailed different peoples and cultures intermixing and giving rise to conflict and friction, and with the sparks which this conflict would arouse, a new social integration and culture would take shape. If this is true, then there is no reason to expect that this could have been attained by Japanese who constructed a Great Wall in their minds and placed great store in giving civilization and regulations to other ethnicities, for these Japanese understood diversity as chaos.

But this would not have been limited to the Japanese. No matter how exalted and extraordinary a people may be, under conditions of invasion, ethnic harmony cannot be realized. And, if there were such a people who could do this, they would not from the start intrude upon other peoples and force their own dreams upon them. For the Japanese, “harmony” meant “assist the Japanese,” [22] and “ethnic harmony” meant “assisting the Yamato people in their invasion of China”—or so the people of northeast China were said at the time to banter.

Ethnic harmony is both a dream of humanity and an essential precondition. However, I would argue that, in whatever sense we use the expression “ethnic harmony,” in the case of Manzhouguo we cannot speak of it as any sort of “ideal that would live on forever.”

A Life of Ease and Comfort: Snow like a Knife….

As we plan to open up industry and communications, we advance the welfare of the different peoples living in China, Korea, Mongolia, and Manchuria. We are planning for a genuine realm of comfort, coexistence, and coprosperity. [23]

We honor the interests of the Chinese masses and work to realize the ideal of a life of ease and comfort. We thus shall contribute to the opening up of Manchuria and Mongolia. [24]

It was in this manner that the Guandong Army took control over Manchuria and planned for coexistence and coprosperity among the various ethnic groups living there, raising the ruling ideal that they would bring about “a realm of comfort” or “a life of ease and comfort.” Later, in addition to such expressions as “a life of ease and comfort” and “coexistence and coprosperity,” we find in the documents on the founding of the state of Manzhouguo an abundance of such terms as “following heaven and protecting the people,” “economic development,” “tranquility for the people,” “advancing the welfare [of the people],” “bringing contentment to the people’s livelihood,” and the like. We find this even in the Manifesto on the Establishment of the State, which promised for Manzhouguo: “All people living on the terrain shall ascend gloriously to great prosperity.”

There is a historical document put together by the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office of Manzhouguo entitled Manshukoku kaitakuchi hanzai gaiyo (Outline of crimes on reclaimed land in Manzhouguo, 1941). The following testimony concerning the sale of reclaimed land is recorded therein:

Korean farmers in Huadian County, Jilin Province: They told us, people who have nowhere to go, to give them our homes in November or December. We thought we were going to be killed. It was truly sad.

Chinese landlord in Emu County, Jilin Province: No matter how poor the land, since we cannot sell it at the price that the Manchurian Colonization Company bought it, we shall not sell it. [When we responded as such,] I was beaten by a staff member of the provincial government. The next day, a staffer from the provincial office came and decided that he would forcibly buy 300 shang [=2,100 mou=320 acres] for 40,000 yen. If that land were privately sold, it would go for over 100,000 yen, making this effectively a seizure by the authorities. These unfair purchases are making all families unhappy, and they contradict the essence of the true establishment of the kingly way and a paradise on earth.

Chinese farmer in Emu County, Jilin Province: Although bandits have stolen our golden objects, they have not seized our land. The Manchurian Colonization Company forcibly bought our land which is the basis for the farmers’ livelihood. As farmers, the loss of the land has caused terrible suffering. [25]

Not only was the land—the farmers’ very life—confiscated, but they were turned out of their homes in the dead of winter onto frigid terrain with nowhere to go. It is only natural then that the Chinese called the colonial office (kaituoju) the “office of murders” (kaidaoju). Tsukui Shin’ya, who participated in these forcible purchases of land for development in Baoqing County, Sanjiang Province, in 1938, was drawn to Manzhouguo by the ideals of harmony among the five ethnicities and the principle of the kingly way. He graduated from the Daido Academy and, in the spirit of contributing with “selflessness and purity,” he entered a village, seeking contact with Chinese. The following is what he recorded of his thoughts at the time of a forcible purchase of land:

We trampled underfoot the wishes of farmers who held fast to the land and, choking off their entreaties full of lamentations and kneeling, forced them to sell it. When we thrust on them a dirt-cheap selling price, even if the colonization group resettled the terrain, I was saddened that we would be leaving them to a future of calamity, and I felt that we had committed a crime by our actions. [26]

In this way, land which over the course of several decades had been opened up and farmed by Chinese and Korean farmers who were now filled with resentment for the people who were driving them off, it was becoming the “great earth of wishes” and the “new realm” offered up to the likes of Japanese farmers, people who had changed professions due to overall consolidation of small- and middle-level businesses, and youth-volunteer brigades for the colonization of Manchuria-Mongolia. These Japanese colonial immigrants were made to bear the brunt of the economic contradiction within Japan; they were also made to shoulder a link in the national defense: “In time of need, they would be instrumental in shoring up supply lines on the scene and to the rear.” [27] While there was certainly no reason to expect colonial immigration policy to resolve such contradictions, this practice merely exported the contradictions and increased the conflict between Chinese and Korean farmers, on the one hand, and between them both and Japanese colonial immigrants, on the other. Perhaps those Japanese who immigrated were themselves victims in the sense that they were saddled with a fate, due to national policy, of becoming the inflictors of pain.

This, then, is what emerged on the good earth that was supposed to produce a life of ease and comfort—the creation of bloc villages for the operation of “separating bandits from good people,” severe seizures of farm produce, delivery of labor, forced savings, the movement to contribute metallic items, and the like. Let’s listen once again to the testimony of Tsukui Shin’ya who stood at the forefront of this movement:

While exchanging gunfire with anti-Japanese volunteers at Boli and Baoqing Counties [Sanjiang Province], I witnessed the flames of private homes burned down for the purpose of building bloc villages. At the time I frequently queried young anti-Japanese fighters who had been taken prisoner, and I came to sense the great distance between the “state-building ideal” of “Manzhouguo” and the ethnic consciousness which these people possessed. As a means of short-circuiting this, I agonized with a guilty conscience over our operations and passed a sleepless night in a village on the front lines encircled by anti-Japanese troops. Within this environment, we learned of the eruption of the “Marco Polo Bridge Incident” and experienced a great sense of frustration about the future of “Manzhouguo.”

The special training course of the Guandong Army. The year that the Pacific War broke out, I was in Tongyang County [Jilin Province], and from that year the demands of the military administration increased sharply. The forwarding of agricultural produce and the commandeering of laborers shot up proportionately to the expansion of the war itself. The situation in foodstuffs ultimately brought on starvation for a group of poor farmers within the county, and inhumane labor management in military construction and coal mines frequently increased the numbers of the dead. When I went to observe Mishan County [Dongan Province], I saw several dozen corpses of laborers in the county lined up in the rain. With the sense of a crime having been committed, I foresaw punishment. [28]

Tsuchiya Yoshio, a member of the Chichihar Military Police under the Guandong Army, visited Lindian County, Heilongjiang Province in mid-winter of 1944, and observing the scene he listened to the voices of old Chinese farmers: “The regulated economy has reached an extreme, and the lives of our farmers have declined to their lowest point…. There were homes in the areas without clothing and bedding. There were even children living there naked.” [29] Tsuchiya himself wondered how they could possibly live without clothing in the dead of winter in the grain region of northern Manchuria, and he was in fact appalled when he saw two naked children. He heard that their father had gone off to perform labor service two years earlier, and no one knew if he was now alive or dead. Because he knew full well that, if Chinese workers assembled in “labor hunts” were involved in construction efforts necessary to war strategy, such as the building of military encampments, they would be mercilessly shot or buried alive, and Tsuchiya realized what the fate of their father had been. On his way back, a Japanese policeman at the Kang’an Police Station casually recounted to him: “That sort of thing is not the least bit rare around here. In nearby villages, newborn babies are placed in ‘straw baskets’ filled with grass and raised that way.” [30] Tsuchiya was again stunned upon hearing this story. But his astonishment was not over yet. “As a result of my investigation, there is still too little land here. In the area along the Great Wall in Rehe Province, half of the residents live without clothing in utter misery. Without any assistance, they will simply flicker out of existence.” [31]

On this frozen soil where the temperatures reached -30º or -40º C., in what possible sense could living without a stitch of clothing be understood as “ascending gloriously to great prosperity?” In other words, how was this, a region full of great fortune in which life was easy and comfortable under the warms rays of the spring sun? Tsuchiya, who would later be charged as a war criminal, found a line from a poem by a Chinese poet which, he claimed, moved him: “Snow like a knife….” For all except the Japanese, Manzhouguo was a state in which the snow came pelting down, piercing people like a knife. This was life in Manzhouguo, especially from 1941, where people spent their time under the withering frost and scorching sun—far from spring breezes and calm.

In China they use the expression “sanguang policy” to summarize the policies adopted in Manzhouguo. In the military field, “sanguang” (three alls) referred to “kill all, loot all, burn all.” In the economic field, “sanguang” referred to “search all, squeeze all, loot all.” There may be people who regard this as an exaggeration for the sake of simple rhymes. However, if anything at all was left without all having been stolen, then who would have ignored and not dressed their own child in a single garment when the thermometer dropped to -30º or -40º C.?

In his introduction to the novel Bayue de xiangcun (Village in August, 1935) by Xiao Jun (1907-1988), which describes the bitter struggles of the anti-Japanese forces in northeast China, Lu Xun (1881-1936) drew the reader’s attention to the fact that the essence of the author’s thinking can be summed up as follows: “People gasping before the disaster of lost sky and land, lost grass, lost sorghum, lost grasshoppers, lost mosquitoes.” [32]

Not only was their land, grass, and sorghum stolen from them, but also the sky and even the mosquitoes which usually cause harm. Lu Xun was offering sympathy to Xiao Jun’s cry here and not only here, for there is a pathos and insatiable anger which make the body of one so dispossessed tremble. This was fury in restraint.

Before such words spitting up blood, Japanese boasts about the “development” or “legacy” of the accomplishments of Manzhouguo, such as the following, resound with emptiness and cruelty: “When Japan was defeated in the Pacific War in August 1945 and it reverted to China, it [Manzhouguo] had become terrain on which what was once wilderness now encompassed numerous modern cities and which embraced modern industry prominent throughout East Asia…. Whatever the impetus to this may have been, it is a historical fact that Japanese technology and effort led the way.” [33]

Extraordinary development did not offer even a single garment of clothing to a naked child.

A State Based on the Kingly Way: A Military Garrison State Without a Citizenry

The face of a bandit, cornered and trapped, spewing blood,

His eyes reveal that he is still very young.

—Suda Kosai

Smeared with fresh, wet blood,

He cannot dig his hands into the sand,

A dead Chinese soldier.

—Horiuchi Kishun

Troops fallen in the pacification campaign,

Thirty-four skeletons are no more.

—Kato Tamaki

A letter received about how fascinating bandit subjugation is,

And my heart goes out to my friend on the battlefield.

—Akigawa Jushio

The fighting in Manchuria has abated of late,

Only five or six soldiers fighting and dying on each side.

—Tani Kanae [34]

These were all songs about “subjugating bandits” in Manzhouguo. Each from its own position expresses a look and a feeling with respect to Manzhouguo. But, the thought that runs through them all is an inexpressible inconsolability for an absurdity: in Manzhouguo which was supposed to be ethnically harmonious and a paradise of the kingly way, “why did people have to kill one another and hate one another?”

Changing perspectives, from the position of those who were anti-Manzhouguo and anti-Japanese, the burning anger at the absurdity of “why must our land be taken away from us, must we be driven from our home villages, and must we spend our days in no settled abode?” led them to pick up guns. As for what a state based on the kingly way and Manzhouguo meant for the people opposed to Manzhouguo and Japanese and how it stood in their way, we have a poster dated April 26, 1936 which was distributed in the region of Hulin County, Binjiang Province, by the People’s Revolutionary Fourth Army of the Northeast:

Announcement to the Masses to Oppose Japan and Save the Nation

Comrade workers, peasants, merchants, and students!!

Under the gruesome rule of the Japanese bandits for the past five years, we do not even know who of our mothers, fathers, and brothers have been butchered. We do not know if our wives, sisters, or sisters-in-law have been raped or forced to become prostitutes, if our homes have been burned down, or if the deeds to our land and our weapons have been seized. Our people’s merchants and workers have all been driven into bankruptcy.

Everyday at numerous sites we Chinese are being murdered and thrown into the river. We cannot even count the dangers awaiting us: burned to death, buried alive, strangled, dying in jail, and the like. We have also experienced the phenomena of death from poverty, freezing to death, and starving to death. The Japanese bandits are not just happy calling up troops, but they make them slaughter Chinese. Bloc villages are engaging in wholesale massacres. [35]

There should be no need to describe in detail once again the deeds mentioned here. How are we, though, to understand the “wholesale massacres” by concentration in the bloc villages mentioned at the end of this announcement? By forcibly moving to a single site households spread throughout regions in which public order was not secure, these “bloc villages” were established in order to cut off the residents from offering food, weaponry and ammunition, and information to “bandits” and enabled those places to be used as bases for punitive expeditionary forces. This was further advanced by restricting uninhabited areas and by the operation of bringing residences together, while in the bloc villages they built a mud wall roughly three meters in height around an outer moat, set up watchtowers and batteries at the four corners, and opened access through four gates. By using fingerprints for all residents age twelve and older, possession of residence certificates, transit permits, and licenses for the purchase and transport merchandise were enforced.

Within the village, either a police branch office or a village office was established, and a minimum of ten armed policemen was charged with supervisory duties. In addition, self-defense corps were organized by young men and women, and aside from military training they engaged in such labors as reconstruction of roads and communications facilities. Rendering to the state secret information about “bandits”—namely, those supporting in one fashion or another the activities of men and women resisting Japan and the Manzhouguo regime—was encouraged, and a system of monetary rewards put into place. This was the reality of what the government called the “lesser society of the kingly way,” and the bloc villages were its fortifications and garrisons themselves. These bloc villages were constructed in many provinces from Jiandao to Jilin, Longjiang, Andong, and Fengtian. Conditions of residence within them were altogether inferior, of a sort dubbed “human barns.” In order to construct these bloc villages, they had to forcibly remove peasants from the homes and land where they were long resident and move them there. The extent of suffering to these peasants is attested to in a text found in the Manshukoku shi, soron kakuron (History of Manzhouguo, overview and essays) which stressed the legitimacy of building these bloc villages: “When, standing before a peasant house, we ordered the operations group to burn down the house, I watched the young and old women wailing ceaselessly as their belongings were carted away, and it broke my heart.” [36]

Together with the construction of these bloc villages, the baojia system was implemented to secure public order. The baojia organization was officially defined as follows: “First they organized ten households into a pai, the smallest unit; a jia was constituted by the pai within the boundaries of a village or that which corresponded to it. The bao, the largest unit, was organized on the basis of the jia within one police jurisdiction unit.” [37] In urban areas in general ten pai made up a jia. A mutual responsibility system was applied in the pai, as the basic unit of the baojia system. In instances in which someone emerged from a pai who wrought havoc with public order, the entire pai bore communal responsibility and paid a fine known as the “joint responsibility duty” (lianzuojin). However, in cases in which crimes within a pai were prevented before their occurrence and reported to the police, the “joint responsibility duty” was mitigated or exempted. Furthermore, self-defense corps were organized by men age 18 to 40 within the baojia structure as it became necessary for them to assume policing as well as self-defense functions. The baojia system was implemented nationwide, and it was reported at the end of 1935 that there were 1,458 bao and in excess of 440,000 pai. [38] The baojia system also made residents maintain surveillance on one another and aimed at maintaining the public order and suppressing the anti-Manzhouguo, anti-Japanese movement.

Thus, with the implementation of bloc villages and the baojia system (from 1937 known as the defense-village system), Manzhouguo, the state of the kingly way, was structured as an organization right down to the foundations of its very existence to fight against anti-Manzhouguo and anti-Japanese activities on a daily basis—the state as a whole was transformed into a military garrison. It thus became a garrison state. Because it was a state based on a sense of morality—namely, a state of the kingly way—there could be no opposition, and opponents had to be liquidated. Under requirements of this sort, everyone had perforce to keep on an eye on everyone else. This is perhaps what Georg W. F. Hegel had in mind when, in his Philosophy of Right, he described a genuine “galley ship state.”

While constitutional government based in morality, benevolence, and civilization was being invoked, powers of “summary execution as in battle” were being invested in the soldiers and police officials. The power to “execute as in battle” was allegedly to suppress “banditry,” and “it could be implemented based on discretion” in response to circumstances. [39] In short, if someone were deemed an enemy of Manzhouguo, he or she could be killed immediately. This power of “summary execution as in battle” was enacted in the Temporary Laws on Punishing Bandits, which went into effect in September 1932, shortly after the creation of the state. This law was, however, abrogated in December 1941 and replaced by the newly enacted Law on the Maintenance of Public Order. From this point forward, the power to summarily execute was deemed “to be effective for the time being,” and thus it in fact remained in effect until the state of Manzhouguo collapsed. We can clearly see another face of Manzhouguo in its profuse promulgation of laws against the detested “bandits” and in its ostentation of cultured rule with all the trappings of a legitimate legal system. This is further proof that resistance to a state run on the basis of the kingly way was deeply grounded and continued to exist to the extent that there was no adherence to the forms of rule by law.

The bloc villages, baojia system, and the like were merely the choices made to defensively fortify the transition to a garrison state in the face of the anti-Manzhouguo, anti-Japanese offensive. However, in response to the increasingly protracted nature of the Sino-Japanese War and the rise of border tensions with the Soviet Union and Mongolia as a result of a number of military confrontations—such as the Zhanggufeng Incident (1938) and the Nomonhan Incident (1939)—Manzhouguo felt compelled to reorganize its internal infrastructure into a wartime configuration with more active personnel mobilization.

With the implementation of the five-year plan for industrial development in 1937, the Guandong Army decided: “We must work more assiduously than in peacetime for organizational maintenance and effect something similar to a wartime structure. We must rapidly lead so that all preparations, both material and spiritual, for war are in place.” [40] From this year they began drafting troops based on a quota system. In April 1940 a National Troop Law was promulgated which plunged ahead with a system for drafting soldiers. On this basis it was their aim “to improve on the attainments of the soldiers who comprise the core of our national army and train the core elements of our people.” [41] An important point made in speeches was that Chinese persons drafted as a result of this law would be used as a force to emphasize the ideals of the state and to preserve public order. The barracks became the site of education at which fidelity to Manzhouguo would be stenciled in.

Beside this measure, the government of Manzhouguo intoned its principle of general military service, and insofar as able-bodied males were not heeding the call to this service, a National Labor Service Law was promulgated in November 1942 which was intended to insure service to the state. This National Labor Service Law, said to be modeled on the Nazi’s Arbeitsdienst system, took as its objective: “To make the youth of the empire volunteer for national construction projects for high-level defense… to enable the concept of service to the state to flourish, and thus to push forward with the attainment of the ideals of state-building.” [42] On this basis, labor service to the state became compulsory for a total of twelve months over a three-year period from age nineteen. “If the barracks are the arena in which the people are trained, then it shall be necessary to house them in fine facilities and to train our youth who do not bear the duties of our troops.” [43] Thus, conscription and labor service were the two wheels as the “training of the populace” proceeded, and the goal was the procurement of fidelity to the state.

For Chinese conscripted by the National Troop Law, however, far from feeling Manzhouguo to be a state that genuinely deserved protection, it was the “bandits” who were to be “suppressed” to whom they felt close. Needless to say, their martial spirit was low, and many of them deserted. Also, for people who had been compelled to sell their grains at prices less than 50 percent of the cost of production, there was certainly no reason to expect a generous attitude toward the National Labor Service Law, which necessitated three months’ service each year. Many ran off or otherwise evaded service, making mobilization extremely difficult. Facing such a situation, the Manzhouguo government set its sights on total control of the “populace” and implemented a system of population registers from January 1944. This provided rolls for the entire populace sealed with the fingerprints of all ten fingers of all males age fifteen and above. They thus hoped to “gain control over human resources necessary for heightening the total might of the state, supply identification documents for the people of the empire, and thus establish a structure for the harmonious operation of the state administration, especially in labor mobilization.” [44]

In spite of the eager political guidance of the Manzhouguo government by virtue of the “overall service of the populace” with the National Troop Law and the National Labor Service Law, the identification documents for the “populace” with the “training of the populace” and the Populace Registers Law, and the national construction for high-level defense with the mobilization of the “populace” through these measures, in fact of the over 43 million residents of Manzhouguo, there was not so much as a single legal citizen of the state of Manzhouguo.

How can this have been so? For all the numerous plans and drafts that were drawn up, in the final analysis Manzhouguo never established a nationality law. We can thus examine in detail all these plans and drafts that have been left to us, but the fact that a nationality law was never enacted. The greatest impediment to promulgation of a nationality law was, I believe, the minds of the Japanese in Manzhouguo who, while dubbing it an ideal state based on ethnic harmony and the kingly way, continued to refuse to separate themselves from Japanese nationality and to take on Manzhouguo nationality. The paradise of Manzhouguo, state of the kingly way, had perforce to become a garrison state without a citizenry.

The Extinction of the Chimera

In this manner, Manzhouguo—hailed as a state of ethnic harmony, a place of ease and comfort, a paradise of the kingly way—found it hard to escape its character as one of ethnic discrimination, coercive exploitation, and a garrison state. Furthermore, the state was one of multiple ethnicities and no citizenry, a mosaic state. Perhaps it was no more than an apparatus formed solely from a control structure and a rulership organization.

In state formation as a control structure, Manzhouguo’s level of success in the formation and integration of a citizenry was low. This fact alone did not mean that Manzhouguo was indifferent to the creation of a citizenry. Indeed, insofar as it was apparent that the “Manchurians” lacked the tendency toward the formation of a nation, the Japanese military became obsessed with forcibly assimilating them, until they were effectively transformed into Japanese subjects. Emperor Puyi was never sought out as an object for national self-identification. Rather, Puyi himself had already converted to belief in the Sun Goddess and the Japanese emperor, and the state of Manzhouguo had set its foundations in the way of the Japanese deities. Thus, insofar as they offered the men and women who comprised this state an object of self-identification, it could lie here and nowhere else.

Thus, a self-identification was enforced toward a chimera which transformed its lion’s head and lamb’s body—that is, Japan itself.

In 1937 Manzhouguo announced an education system in which the basic direction of language education was: “Based upon the spirit of Japan and Manzhouguo unified in virtue and heart, Japanese will be stressed as one of the national languages.” Hence, Japanese was fixed as a national language of Manzhouguo, beside “Manchurian”—it was forbidden in Manzhouguo to use the terms “Chinese language” (Chugokugo) or “Chinese people” (Chugokujin)—and Mongolian, and as the first national language which was assigned to be learned throughout all the territory of Manzhouguo. As it was put at the time, “training in Japanese is required in all schools, and it is promised that the common language in the future Manzhouguo shall be Japanese.” [45] This in spite of the fact that Japanese numbered at most three percent of the overall population of Manzhouguo.

After language came religion. Shinto belief, which was sufficiently difficult for even Japanese to comprehend, was forced upon the other ethnic groups. By 1945, 295 Shinto shrines had been erected, and in addition to shrine visits for worship, the removal of hats and the most respectful salutations were enforced when walking in front of a shrine. Furthermore, state-founding shrines and state-founding memorials to the dead were built on the grounds of every school, and worship was carried out daily. At the same time, an ersatz Japanese emperor system emerged in which school ceremonies in imitation of the Japanese system were instituted and a picture of the Manzhouguo emperor and a copy of one of his edicts were installed in the Enshrinement Pavilion which had to be preserved, in the event of fire or other disaster, even if it meant sacrificing oneself. On December 8, 1942, the first anniversary of Japan’s commencement of hostilities against the United States and Great Britain, Decree Number Seventeen of the State Council of Manzhouguo enacted Rules for the People, which carried the following items:

· The people are the fount of the state and shall think of developing the way of Shinto. They shall revere the Sun Goddess and work hard to be loyal to the Japanese emperor.

· The people shall take as fundamental loyalty, filiality, benevolence, and righteousness. They shall endeavor to perfect ethnic harmony and a state built on morality.

· The people shall honor diligence and expand the public good, look with intimacy upon their neighbors, and in their jobs assiduously contribute to the vitality of the national destiny.

· The people shall be firm in character, reverence constancy, honor integrity, and take courtesy as a basic principle. In so doing, they shall endeavor to extol the national way.

· The people shall with all their strength realize the ideals of state-building and press on to the attainment of the Greater East Asian Coprosperity Sphere. [46]

It seems clear that this document sought, in the same way as the Rescript on the Consolidation of the Basis of the Nation of 1940, in the way of Shinto the foundations for its statehood and, while accepting Japanese mythology, enforced belief in the Sun Goddess. It was the same in nature as the Japanese Rescript on Education and the Oath of Imperial Subjects enacted in Korea in 1937. The school observances, which included recitation of these Rules for the People, took the following form. First, there was the raising of the flag (depending on the school, the Japanese flag might also be raised); then, all in attendance bowed in the direction of the State-Founding Shrine, the Japanese Imperial Palace, and the Manzhouguo Imperial Palace; a silent prayer then followed for everlasting good fortunes on the battlefield and the heroic spirits of those soldiers of the Imperial Army (namely, the Japanese army) who had perished there; then, there was a reading aloud of the “Rules for the People” and an admonitory lecture by the school principal. When in the midst of the last of these the Japanese or Manzhouguo emperor would be mentioned, all teachers and students were to come to attention. Finally, state-building physical exercises were carried out.

The same sorts of things were carried out in the Manzhouguo army, which received training and guidance from Japanese military advisors. First, all troops bowed in the distant direction of the State-Founding Shrine, the Japanese Imperial Palace, and the Manzhouguo Imperial Palace, and all stood silently in prayer for the Imperial Army. In addition, there was a compulsory recitation of the Rescript on the Military (issued by the Manzhouguo emperor, who was a generalissimo just as in Japan) and the “Rules for the People,” followed by the reading aloud of Shinto prayers. These prayers are what most riled Pujie, younger bother of Puyi, who worked to the utmost to hold back his criticisms of the Guandong Army: “Even if we accepted the Guandong Army’s guidance over the Manzhouguo army, I really wanted them to stop the long-distance prayers aimed in an easterly direction and intoning the name of the Sun Goddess…. Also, because [the troops] had a poor understanding of just what they were saying, they were beaten and kicked—it was terribly violent.” [47] Even Pujie, who had been sent to the mainland from the Japanese army cadet school, found this painful. It is difficult to imagine how mortifying this experience was for common soldiers who knew no Japanese.

Furthermore, when ordinary people were interrogated by Japanese military police and other police officials at police stations, if asked “What are you?” and they did not reply “Manchurian” (Manzhouguoren or Manren in Chinese), they could be beaten to the point of death. [48] Could the injection of such a “national” consciousness pursued in terms that can only be called coercive be effective? On August 17, 1945, Korean and Chinese students paid a visit to the office of Professor Nishimoto Sosuke (1909-1990) of Kenkoku University to pay their farewell. They spoke as follows:

A Korean student: You may not know this, Professor [Nishimoto], but aside from one or two of us who hailed from Cheju Island, most of us Korean students at Kenkoku University belong to an organization for the independence of the Korean people. However, as soon as Korea is liberated from Japanese domination and becomes independent, then for the first time genuine Korean-Japanese cooperation can take shape. I return now to Korea for the rebuilding and independence of the motherland.

A Chinese student: Every day at Kenkoku University, Professor [Nishimoto], we carried out long-distance prayers to the east. Perhaps you knew how we felt on these occasions. Every single time, we prayed that imperialist Japan would be defeated. Then came the order to engage in the silent prayer. That silent prayer! This we took to be the signal of shining swords, swords being polished to bring down Japanese imperialism. In Chinese the terms “silent prayer” (mo4dao3) and “shining sword” (mo2dao1), as well as “long-distance prayer” (yao2bai4) and “certain defeat” (yao4bai4), have practically the same pronunciations. We have felt the good intentions of you and your colleagues, and to that extent we must apologize. However, no matter what your good intentions may have been…the reality of Manzhouguo was nothing shy of a puppet regime of Japanese imperialism. Regrettably, this is an incontrovertible fact. [49]

The chimera had already been destroyed and was just awaiting the August 18 declaration of the dissolution of Manzhouguo. Furthermore, as a result of necrosis in which one part of the body loses its life functions, it had been separated from its backbone.

Nishimoto later noted: “As I was listening to these words, I had the thought that I was hearing the deafening roar as our ‘Kenkoku University’ went pitifully and without resistance to its demise.” [50] To be sure, it “prepared the raw material for the main pillars of support” to control Manzhouguo. [51] From this perspective, the fact that Kenkoku University looked on in vain as Manzhouguo collapsed and Japan was defeated, while it had trained students who were sharpening their intellectual swords, should probably be taken as a defeat for the education offered there as well. Yet, as the first principle of the law enabling Kenkoku University to come into existence stated, it was “to train human talent of pioneering leadership in the building of a moral world which, having mastered the mystery of the spirit of state creation and thoroughly investigated the abstruse doctrines of knowledge, would themselves put into practice [what they had learned].” [52] If they illuminated the spirit of Kenkoku University, then did not the Korean students in their own words master the mystery of the spirit of state creation as that of ethnic harmony and put it into practice? Paradoxically, Kenkoku University succeeded in educating these students, and by “going pitifully to its demise” one might say that it actually achieved its ends.

The valorous words of the Chinese students were words full of emotion: “No matter what your good intentions may have been…the reality of Manzhouguo was nothing shy of a puppet regime of Japanese imperialism. Regrettably, this is an incontrovertible fact.” To that extent, these seem not to be words indicating in a precise manner the actual nature of life in Manzhouguo as a chimera. These would not, then, be the kinds of words appropriate to sending the chimera off to its death.

And, yet, in spite of all this, in the postwar period—even now—many people continue to align themselves and sympathize with the views of someone such as Hayashi Fusao, who argued that “Asian history will itself not allow us to disregard it by invoking the Western political science concept of a ‘puppet state’.” [53] This view—namely, that Manzhouguo was not a puppet state of the Japanese, and we cannot explain the Japanese-Manzhouguo relationship on the basis of a Western political science concept—was not something that first cropped up in the postwar era, but was, in fact, the language used some time ago to express the legitimacy of Manzhouguo as an independent state and the distinctive nature of Japanese-Manzhouguo relations. For example, Kanesaki Ken objected to the idea of Manzhouguo as a puppet state: “In China they say that Manzhouguo is a puppet of Japan, that it has no independence with respect to Japan.” [54] He went on to describe the nature of Japanese-Manzhouguo relations:

The relationship between the two countries of Japan and Manzhouguo was originally a tie without parallel in the West. The government by the kingly way in Manzhouguo cannot be explained with Western political science. Thus, because cooperation between the state of the imperial way and the state of the kingly way cannot be gauged by Western international law, there is no need to do so. We shall help that state implement a government by the kingly way which cannot be understood with Western political science. Our relationship will also be of the kingly way, not necessarily of law. This is not a relationship which should be gauged on the basis of Western international law. [55]

To be sure, as Kanesaki argues, the claim that political science and jurisprudence which were born in Western society can explain all societies and all phenomena is intellectual arrogance, and to persistently claim that one can generalize in this way may be seen as a form of intellectual imperialism. If indeed, however, Japanese-Manzhouguo relations did produce a distinctive form of international relations under the influence of such new principles, then this would necessarily enhance the capacity of explanation to clarify with concepts and systems even Western political science and jurisprudence themselves. To take the position that “Asian history will itself not allow us to disregard [Manzhouguo] by invoking the concept of a ‘puppet state,’” which trips off the tongue in Western political science and jurisprudence, this is in itself intellectual arrogance, something manifestly different from intellectual imperialism.

What sort of history and where in the world would we find this “Asian history itself” which will not allow us to see Manzhouguo as a puppet state? From the very beginning of the state, the Republic of China and the anti-Manzhouguo, anti-Japanese fighters, who may have numbered as many as 300,000, continually rejected Manzhouguo as a puppet state. The Chinese students from Kenkoku University whom we touched upon earlier were apparently not included in this “Asian history itself.” Whenever “Asia” is offered up for discussion, we Japanese past and present always use it as a pretext for deception. If we have no intention of slighting our own lives, then I strongly feel that in the 21st century we need absolutely to avoid deceiving ourselves and others with this discourse of “Asia.”

Furthermore, the flip side of this argument is that Western political science and jurisprudence themselves, the latest in Western science and technology—“civilization”—are what comprise the grounding for Japanese encroachment upon Asia and legitimization of control over Manzhouguo. That this “civilization” itself gave birth to barbarism, plundered and was dispossessed, hated and despised, caused injury and was injured, and murdered and was itself killed all gave form to a period of relations between ethnic groups—namely the era of the chimerical Manzhouguo.

Now perhaps the true image of the chimera is becoming clearer, and perhaps there is no longer any need to revisit the question of whether it was a puppet state or not. There is, though, just one more historical document I would like to refer to in this context. Commander Honjo Shigeru of the Guandong Army, who pressed Komai Tokuzo into taking up the position of first director-general for administrative affairs in Manzhouguo, encouraged Komai in the following manner: “Would it not be the height of cowardice, having created a ‘puppet government,’ to then run away from it?” [56] For these two men centrally involved in creating Manzhouguo, it was thoroughly self-evident that this was a puppet regime. Dai Manshukoku kensetsu roku (Chronicle of the founding of the great state of Manzhouguo), which includes this sentence, was published in 1933 by the publishing house of Chuo koronsha and was accepted as self-evident by Japanese at the time.

There is one further point in this connection which I must mention, and that is the question of the “good intentions” of the Japanese in their control over Manzhouguo. As noted on several occasions in this work, whether or not one sympathized with the ideals of Manzhouguo, I do not believe that the Japanese who worked to see that Manzhouguo’s existence would continue were necessarily driven by evil intentions. This may be my bias as a Japanese, but it strikes me that all parties from their various positions and in their varied ways harbored “good intentions” for Manzhouguo. And, it was by no means the case that they were completely insensitive to the divergence between “good intentions” and “reality.” Furumi Tadayuki, for example, who was Assistant Director of the Office of Administrative Affairs, offered the following recollections as he looked back over his own ten years of experience in governance from the founding of the state:

Clearly, among the Japanese who have taken a guiding position in the state and formed the core, there is the gnawing recognition that we have here a “misgovernment of good intentions.” Namely, the results of efforts carried out in Japanese consciousness, Japanese character, and Japanese ways have failed. [57]

Thus, while aware that it was bad government and a failure, because of these “good intentions,” in the final analysis, they never corrected it in the firm belief that the Japanese administration was superior to that of Manzhouguo. By tabulating their “good intentions” in this manner, the discourse that sought to legitimate their rule in Manzhouguo continued to remain strong even after the war. For example, as Takamiya Tahei (1897-1961) recalled from his experiences at the time: “For the local residents, the governance of Manzhouguo was not something evil.” [58] Then, having recapitulated rulership over Manzhouguo, he raises the Japanization of administration as a point missing from consideration and resolves it as follows: “In particular, the reckless firing off of laws and regulations was never understood by the Manchurians who could not form a constitutional government. They excoriated the ‘Japanese’ officials [in Manzhouguo] as ‘legal bandits.’ As Japanese unfamiliar with colonial administration, this was an oversight of good intentions.” [59]

“Misgovernment of good intentions,” “oversight of good intentions”—if in fact this was a case of “good intentions,” is everything to be forgiven? There is much that might be written on this point. I shall, however, refer here solely to a citation from the ancient Chinese text, the Shujing (Classic of documents), to which Puyi referred in his autobiography: “Natural disasters can be avoided, but man-made disasters are unavoidable.” That is, disasters caused by people, no matter how much they express their good intentions, cannot be averted. [60]

Finally, then, in what historical topology may we consider the Manzhouguo which did exist and then did disappear?

Ito Takeo (1895-1985) once called Manzhouguo a “phantom country.” Perhaps, though, we should not completely rule out the possibility of seeing this artificial country as a utopia produced by Japanese modernity, a utopia moreover which gave birth to the most severe and tragic of realities. At the same time, though, we must never forget that by raising the banners of the kingly realm and paradise on earth as well as ethnic harmony, Japan wrought havoc with the ethical sensibilities of the Japanese people themselves and paralyzed their sensitivity as individuals with respect to other ethnic groups. However, while including this aspect of things, Manzhouguo in the final analysis was probably as Takebe Rokuzo, the last Director-General for Administrative Affairs, put it. As he saw it, “Manzhouguo itself existed as a secret fund of the Japanese army.” [61] Still, modern Japanese history has flowed from the first Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 to the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, the second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45), and on to the Pacific War, and with that last defeat Japan was cut off from Manchuria for a time. The armed forces, emperor system, and bureaucracy to which modern Japan gave shape appeared as a focal point in condensed form, and by the same token the way in which it related to other countries, principally China and the Soviet Union, also formed another focal point. From an altogether different line of sight, perhaps we can see this as an era in which one war was preparing for the next world war, an era in which the call for a Communist revolution resonated widely, and this gave birth to and nurtured Manzhouguo. All these themes of our century, the twentieth century—world war, revolution, ethnicity, Asia, liberation from oppression, ideal state—became mixed together into an undulating heap. In this sense, an inquiry into Manzhouguo is directly linked to an assessment of the problem of modern Japan and the problems to which the twentieth century has given birth.

Thus, the chimera made its life of just over thirteen years and five months with “imperial Japan.” Although its success or failure may not tell us anything about history, the idea that the seizure of Manchuria was, as Ishiwara Kanji conceived of it, “Japan’s sole path to survival,” remains highly suspect. Yet, there can be no doubt that the establishment of the state of Manzhouguo was the path leading to destruction for modern Japan.

Nonetheless, while the life of this chimerical Manzhouguo craved and gobbled up the unlimited riches of the terrain in China’s northeast, it soon underwent a transformation and merged in life and death with its mother body. The chimera of Greek mythology spit fire from its mouth, ravaged terrain, and pillaged homes.

The ordinary manner in which the chimera is used in Western languages is, of course, in the sense of an illusion, a bizarre illusion. But, how many disasters were wrought and how many lives undermined because of this bizarre illusion. I believe it was Hagiwara Sakutaro (1886-1942) who wrote: “With the passage of time, everyone disappears like an illusion.” Indeed, the past is like a vast dream. The great majority of the people who lived in Manzhouguo are now no longer alive, and they are thus not with us now. With the Soviet entrance into the war against Japan in 1945, the chimera of Manzhouguo was destroyed, and with the passage of time, forty-six years later the Soviet Union disappeared from the face of the earth together with the illusion known as Communism. And, the century moved toward its end.

However, even with the disappearance of states and the passage of peoples, the past lives on as solemn fact. Perhaps we believe it to be gone for good because our minds abandon lessons from the past as memories to be left behind and the tension thus completely dissipates.

Manzhouguo—which brought together people’s dreams and hopes, crimes and rage, tragedies and privations, and sucked their blood and sweat and tears—disappeared. However, while taking its condensed history as food for thought, the great land of China’s northeast is vast and limitless, sustaining people even today and spreading out to eternity.

Joshua Fogel is Canada Research Chair, York University. A specialist on China-Japan relations, his many books include The Cultural Dimension of Sino-Japanese Relations: Essays on the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries and The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography.

This is a slightly abbreviated text of the introduction and conclusion to Yamamuro Shin’ichi, Manchuria Under Japanese Dominion.

Yamamuro Shin'ichi is Professor of History and Politics at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at Kyoto University. He is the author of numerous books in Japanese, including Questioning the Meaning of Modern Japan and Representations of Mutual Understanding and Misunderstanding Among Japan, China, and Korea.

The introduction at the beginning of the article was written by Joshua Fogel for Japan Focus. Posted on March 16, 2007.


[1] In Manshukoko shi hensan kankokai, ed., Manshukoko shi soron (History of Manzhouguo, an overall view) (Tokyo: Man-Mo doho engokai, 1970), 5.

[2] In Manshu kaikoshu kankokai, ed., Aa Manshu, kunitsukuri sangyo kaihatsusha no shuki (Ah, Manchuria, notes of an industrial developer for state-formation) (Tokyo: Manshu kaikoshu kankokai, 1965), 302.

[3] Furumi Tadayuki, “Manshukoko no yume wa kienai” (My dream of Manzhouguo will never be extinguished), in Furumi and Katakura Tadashi, Zasetsu shita risokoku, Manshukoko kobo no shinso (An ideal state frustrated, the truth about the rise and fall of Manzhouguo) (Tokyo: Gendai bukkusha, 1967), 2.

[4] Katakura Tadashi, Kaiso no Manshukoko (Reminiscences of Manzhouguo) (Tokyo: Keizai oraisha, 1978), 325.

[5] Hoshino Naoki, Mihatenu yume, Manshukoko gaishi (An unfinished dream, an unofficial history of Manzhouguo) (Tokyo: Daiyamondosha, 1963), 66-67

[6] In Aa Manshu, 325.

[7] Hoshino Naoki, Mihatenu yume, 12.

[8] In Muto Tomio, Watakushi to Manshukoko (Manzhouguo and me) (Tokyo:Bungei shunju, 1987), 12.

[9] I should note in advance several points that emerge in the narrative of this volume. First, the name “Manzhouguo” was not a term initially agreed upon by the people who lived there, and to that extent it lacked popular legitimacy as a state. Second, in China the region in which Manzhouguo was founded was called at the time “Dongsansheng” (Three Eastern Provinces) or “Dongbei” (the Northeast), “Manzhou” or “Manshu” (Manchuria) in Japanese being a Japanese appellation. Similarly, there were the two names of “Manzhouguo” and “Manzhou diguo” (Empire of Manchuria) used at different times when the state system was a republican one and when it was a constitutional monarchy. These and similar issues reveal that even today there is not necessarily an established historical vocabulary.

[10] Furumi Tadayuki, “Manshukoku no yume ha kienai,” (The dream of Manzhouguo cannot be extinguished), in Zasetsu shita risokoku Manshukoku kobo no shinso (The frustrated ideal state: The truth about the rise and fall of Manzhouguo) (Tokyo: Gendai bukkusha, 1967), 302.

[11] Yamaguchi Yoshiko and Fujiwara Sakuya, Ri Koran, watakushi no hansei (Li Xianglan, half of my life) (Tokyo: Shinchōsha, 1987), 110.

[12] Translator’s note. Yamamuro is playing on the expression “nichijo sahan” (everyday occurrence, ordinary affair) which usually has nothing directly to do with the tea and rice in it; in this instance, it is precisely the foodstuffs (“ordinary?”) to which he is pointing.

[13] Testimony of Zhu Haide, as cited in Ando Hikotaro, “Enpen kiko” (Travels to Yanbian), Toyo bunka 36 (March 1964), 38-39.

[14] Furumi, “Manshukoku no yume ha kienai,” 270.

[15] Gao Shan, “Manshukoku gunkan gakko” (The cadet school of Manzhouguo), in Chugoku shonen no mita Nihon gun (The Japanese army as seen by Chinese youth), ed. Lin Huaiqiu and Ishikami Masao (Tokyo: Aoki shoten, 1985), 58-59.

[16] Sakuda Shoichi, “Manshu kenkoku no kaiko” (Memories of the founding of Manzhouguo), in Aa Manshu, kunizukuri sangyo kaihatsusha no shuki (Aa, Manchuria: notes of a industrial developer involved in nation-building), ed. Manshu kaikoshÅ« kankōkai (Tokyo: Nōrin shuppan, 1965), 65.

[17] Li Zhandong, “Kokoro ni nokoru uta” (A song left in my heart), in Chugoku shonen no mita Nihon gun, 28.

[18] “Manshukoku to Nihonjin” (Manzhouguo and the Japanese), in Manshu kenkoku no yume to genjitsu (Dream and reality in founding a state in Manchuria), ed. Kokusai zenrin kyōkai (Tokyo: Kokusai zenrin kyokai, 1975), 108.

[19] Wang Ziheng, “Wei-Man guanli de mimi shouce” (Secret pamphlet for officials in the bogus state of Manzhouguo), in Wenshi ziliao xuanji (Selection of literary and historical documents), ed. Wenshi ziliao yanjiu weiyuanhui, vol. 39 (Beijing: Zhongguo wenshi chubanshe, 1963), 57, 59, 60.

[20] Zenkoku ken’yukai rengokai, ed., Nihon kenpei gaishi (Unofficial history of the military police) (Tokyo: Kenbun shoin, 1983), 297.

[21] Kantogun shireibu, “Manshukoku no konpon rinen to Kyowakai no honshitsu” (The fundamental ideals of Manzhouguo and the essence of the Concordia Association) (dated September 18, 1936), in Gendai shi shiryo 11: Manshu jiden, 908. Empasis in original.

[22] Translator’s note. This is an untranslatable play on words. The term for harmony in Japanese is kyowa, and the author here has split it into kyo which he identifies with “assistance, help” and wa which he identifies with “Yamato.”

[23] Kantogun sanbobu (Operations Section, Guandong Army), “Man-Mo ni okeru sanryochi toji ni kansuru kenkyu” (Study of controlling occupied terrain in Manchuria and Mongolia) (dated May 1930), in Ishiwara Kanji shiryo, kokubo ronsaku, 53.

[24] Itagaki Seishiro, “Man-Mo mondai ni tsuite” (On the problem of Manchuria and Mongolia) (dated May 1931), in Taiheiyo senso e no michi (The road to the Pacific War), ed. Nihon kokusai seiji gakkai Taiheiyo senso gen’in kenkyubu (Tokyo: Asaha shinbunsha, 1963), additional volume, 104.

[25] Manshukoku saiko kensatsuchu, “Manshukoku kaitakuchi hanzai gaiyo” (1941), in Yamada Shoji, ed., Kindai minshu no kiroku 6: Manshu imin (Records of the people in the modern era, vol. 6, migrants to Manchuria) (Tokyo: Shinjinbutsu oraisha, 1978), 455.

[26] Tsukui Shin’ya, “Aa ‘muga shijun’” (Alas, “selflessness and purity”), Henkyo 9 (November 1972), 228.

[27] Nasu Shiroshi et al., “Man-Mo kaitaku seishonen giyugun hensei no kansuru kenpakusho” (Petition concerning the formation of a youth volunteer brigade for Manchurian and Mongolian colonization) (dated November 1937), 3.

[28] Tsukui Shin’ya, “Aa ‘muga shijun,’” 228.

[29] In Kikigaki, aru kenpei no kiroku (Verbatim notes, account of a military policeman), ed. Asahi shinbun Yamagata shikyoku (Yamagata branch of the Asahi newspaper) (Tokyo: Asahi bunko, 1991), 187.

[30] Ibid., 190.

[31] Ibid., 192.

[32] Bayue de xiangcun (Shanghai: Rongguang shuju, 1935), 3 (introduction).

[33] Manshikai (Society for Manchurian history), Manshu kaihatsu yonju nen shi (History of forty years of Manchurian development) (Tokyo: self-publ., 1964), vol. 1, 1 (introduction).

[34] Ota Seikyu et al., eds., Showa Manyoshu (Ten thousand leaves for the Showa period), vol. 3 (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1979), 124-26.

[35] Manshukoku gunseibu gunji chosabu (Military research bureau of the military administration of Manzhouguo), ed., Manshu kyosan hi no kenkyu (Studies of the Communist bandits in Manchuria) (n.p.: Gunseibu komonbu, 1937), vol. 1, 730.

[36] Ed. Manshukoku shi hensan kankokai (Committee for the editing and publishing of the history of Manzhouguo), Manshukoku shi, soron kakuron (Tokyo: Man-Mo doho engokai, 1971), vol. 2 (“kakuron”), 199.

[37] Minseibu keisatsushi (Office of Police Affairs, Ministry of Civil Affairs), Hoko seido ron (On the baojia system) (self-publ., 1936), 22.

[38] Nagai Sadamu, “Hoko seido no genzai to shorai” (The present and future of the baojia system), Manshu gyosei 3.11 (November 1936), 16.

[39] “Zanji choji tohiho” (Provisional law for the punishment of bandits), Manshukoku seifu koho 44 (September 10, 1932), 3.

[40] Guandong Army, Showa juni nendo yori juroku nendo ni itaru Manshukoku senso junbi shido keikaku (Guiding plan for war preparations in Manzhouguo from 1937 through 1941).

[41] Kokuheiho jimukyoku, Kokuheiho yoran (Overview of the National Troop Law) (1940), as cited in Kokuheiho wa nani ka (What is the National Troop Law?) (Shinkyo [Changchun]: Kokuheiho shikko chuo iinkai jimukyoku, 1940), 18.

[42] Item 1, National Labor Service Law (Kokumin kinro hoko ho).

[43] Takahashi Gen’ichi, Daigun jusho Manshukoku (Manzhouguo, a great army and supply factory) (Osaka: Asahi shinbunsha, 1944), 63.

[44] Item 1, Populace Registers Law (Kokumin techo ho).

[45] Manshu nichinichi shinbunsha, Showa jugonen han, Manshu nenkan (The Manchurian Yearbook for 1940) (Dairen: Manshu nichinichi shinbunsha, 1939), 365.

[46] “Kokumuin fukoku daijunango” (Proclamation No. 17 of the State Council), Manshu teikoku seifu koho (December 8, 1942), 1.

[47] Cited in Aisin Gioro Hao, “Ruten no ohi” no Showa shi (History of the Showa era, itinerant queen) (Tokyo: Shufu to seikatsusha, 1984), 69.

[48] Ando Hikotaro, “Tohoku kiko” (Trip the the Northeast), Chugoku tsushin, 1964-1966 (Dispatches from China, 1964-1966) (Tokyo: Daiyasu, 1966), 480.

[49] Yuji Manzo, ed., Kenkoku daigaku nenpyo (Chronology of Kenkoku University) (Tokyo: Kenkoku daigaku dosokai, 1981), 554-55.

[50] Ibid., 555.

[51] “Kenkoku daigaku ni tamawaritaru chokusho” (Imperial rescript on Kenkoku University, May 1938), Manshukoku seifu kohho (May 2, 1938), 1.

[52] “Kenkoku daigaku rei daiichijo” (Law on Kenkoku University, Item Number 1), Manshukoku seifu koho 1006 (August 5, 1937), 65.

[53] Manshukoku shi, soron, 5.

[54] Kanasaki Ken, “Sanritsu ittai sei ni kawaru mono” (In place of the system of three posts in one), Gaiko jiho 713 (August 15, 1934), 89.

[55] Ibid., 93.

[56] Komai Tokuzo, Dai Manshukoku kensetsu roku (Chronicle of the founding of the great state of Manzhouguo) (Tokyo: Chuo kōronsha, 1933), 124.

[57] Furumi Tadayuki, “Kenkoku junen no kaiko to shorai e no tenbo" (Recollections on the ten years since state-founding and prospects for the future), in Manshu kenkoku sokumen shi (Bypaths of the history of the founding of Manzhouguo), ed. Miyauchi Isamu (Tokyo: Shin keizaisha, 1942), 398.

[58] Takamiya, Jungyaku no Showa shi (Loyalty and treason in Showa history) (Tokyo: Hara shobo, 1971), 147.

[59] Ibid., 147.

[60] Translator’s note. Or, as we say in English, the path to hell is paved with good intentions.

[61] Muto Tomio, “Manshukoku ni kaketa yume” (Dreams pinned on Manzhouguo), Shiso no kagaku 21 (December 1963), 36.