Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Ogura Nobu in Fuqing: the 1930 Consular Police Report

Officials who spoke to her were correct in their assessment of Ogura Nobu's determination to get to China. In a January, 1930, report on their tour through Fuqing in search of Japanese women, consular police officers attached to the consulate general in Fuzhou noted that they had discovered Ogura living in Nanshi, near Gaoshan, in the home of a certain Chen. Ogura, the officers reported, and Consul General Tamura Teijirō relayed to Tokyo, had come to Fuqing in October of the previous year (one short month after her initial effort had failed), and had chosen to move there even after having read newspaper reports about women abducted to Fuqing. Queried regarding her intentions, she stated she had no plans to return to Japan in the foreseeable future.

This consular police report provides information on 28 women encountered by the police officers, ranging in age from 21 to 61, most in their thirties; and on "twenty women whose residence here is certain but whom we were unable to find." Consul Tamura glossed this to mean that "either the women conceal themselves or they are being confined." The report also indicates that an additional eight women "are believed to be residing there." The report thus mentions a total of 56 women, not all by name.

Ogura was not the only Japanese woman in Nanshi village. 21-year-old Kobayashi Ichi, from Tokyo's Asakusa, was also in the house of a certain Chen Jianjia (perhaps a member of the same extended family as Chen Zhaopin). She asked the police officers to extricate her, which they did. Most of the women interviewed did not express any intentions of returning to Japan. To Consul Tamura, the women's reluctance was due to shame, resignation, and poverty. A closer examination of the archival records and related sources suggests a far more complex set of stories.

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