Bodies and Structures

Consular police missions in the wake of the Manchurian Incident

The Manchurian Incident, and the clash between Japanese and Chinese forces in Shanghai in early 1932, greatly complicated consular police missions, just as it provoked an exodus of Chinese peddlers and their families, including Japanese wives, from Japan.  One Japanese woman who exited Fujian with her children in late 1931 told a Taiwan Nichinichi shinpô reporter that in contrast to the port cities of Amoy and Fuzhou, the interior was a site of virulent anti-Japanese sentiment that had made her fear for her family’s safety.  Indeed, the New York Times reported in January 1932 that Fujianese bandits who had abducted an American missionary returned her “on the promise of provincial authorities to accept them into the provincial army,” because they “were prompted by a desire to fight against Japan.” 

A July 16. 1932 report by Consular Police Sergeant [Buchō] Itō Shigeru gives us a sense of the local conditions and the experiences of the Japanese policemen: [Clean up prose]

We visited the local authorities, and were assigned 1 [junkei] and 2 [goei] as escorts/guards.

Local conditions are bad.  Plans to improve roads shelved because opponents say it would only benefit bandits.  See anti-Japanese sentiment.  But troops of 林靖 Have been here, and locals are more concerned about their rapaciousness and unruly behavior.  One sees few anti-Japanese posters of recent origin; but in the interior people still think S-J are at war, so this posed difficulties for our survey.  Anti-Japanese boycotts and inspections to find Japanese goods have decreased: we saw many goods sold, and much smuggling from Taiwan (sugar, matches, cloth).  

Security conditions: Fujian Provincial Defense Army units [note specifics] have been stationed in areas where bandits under Chen I were rampant, and see order restored in areas between Fuzhou and Fuqing and Fuqing and Gaoshan.  But bandits are still strong to the west of Fuqing.  

People’s sentiments: [More discussion of problems posed by 林靖 troops being stationed in Gaoshan area — rapacious. Villages have created self-defense units.  [Command of locally stationed forces changes?  Or commander leaves and new commander, forces arrive?  A nighttime surprise attack - by villagers?] Since then, people are agitated, and see the soldiers as not to be feared.  The authority of the army/police [gunkei] has been decimated, their orders are not obeyed, and instead they are scorned and insulted (bubetsu).  On June 24, 500 remnants of 林靖’s forces snuck into Pingtan County, across from the Gaoshan peninsula, and have spread out there.  Gaoshan people recall last year’s events, and know that Pingtan is a poor region, so are anxious that 林靖’s troops may attack at any time.  As the army/police are not reliable, they have created their own defense units to police the coast.  The village defense units and village youths are all agitated; this has an impact on tax collection, and every village is full of people who aren’t paying their land taxes.  County finances are in grave trouble; police officers have not been paid.  On July 8, 1932, Fuqing County Head Lin [Kentaku] took 20 officers to Gaoshan and assembled village representatives to press them to pay their taxes; they were still in Gaoshan when we left on the 13th.  From what we hear, villagers have lots of expenses to support those injured or the families of those killed during last year’s clashes with the locally stationed army, and their harvests are not very good.  On top of that, they are assessed many additional taxes, so they can’t bear the burden.  They argue that the problems are due to the fact that in last year’s incident, the army failed to protect the people.  The County head has said that if they don’t pay their taxes he will use force.  I don’t know what has become of this.  In contrast, merchants are doing ok, looking on.

The profit orientation (eirika) of the army/police:  [Here discusses how their escorts demanded outrageous sums as compensation for their services; consular police refused, situation got scary, had to pay, but decided not have any escorts from Pref while in Gaoshan. Then wind up needing escorts for return from Fuqing if they go by boat, but boats won’t go due to flooding, so have to go overland with women and children they’ve recovered, and need escort.  This creates another tense situation when escorts demand outrageous compensation. Negotiate, wind up paying 30 yuan (instead of 1 yuan for each of the nine guards).  This is result of troops being poorly paid; head of local units is busy trying to make money promoting entertainments.

Villagers: We still see many who mistakenly believe that we are coming to take away their women, so they hide them and take a harsh attitude towards us; many also think that China and Japan are still at war.  We used local force escorts to explain the situation to villagers, to watch for threatening situations, and decided to put off visiting places where conditions appeared threatening.  In Okuguchi, where we had learned there were two Japanese women, several tens of villagers surrounded our escorts, told them there were no Japanese women, and that none of them ever goes to Japan, and asked them insultingly why they were in the company of Japanese; some also shouted “Down with the Japanese!”  As things got threatening, we began to calm the situation and leave; someone shouted “Bakayaro!” [Idiot!] in Japanese.  In Donghan village, the villagers conspired to conceal the Japanese women and plotted to attack Japanese officials should they come.  We heard that in [Hokutaku], people said one of their inhabitants had been killed while peddling in japan, and that they consulted about taking revenge on any Japanese who appeared.  It’s not likely that a Chinese was killed in Japan; we don’t know to what they’re referring and can’t research it, but it does appear that a relative of XXX in XXX village was killed in Japan — perhaps in a fight.

This time, we visited more than twenty villages and discovered eighteen new women (of whom one was deceased) and eight children; one of the women is Taiwanese.  There appear to be still many more women in the area, but they were concealed and we couldn’t investigate.

A year after Itō’s report, consular police had not been able to return to the region, impeded by both anti-Japanese sentiment and rampant banditry.  "In the past, we'd send in a spy dressed as a peddler first to identify homes with J women, and we'd then arrive with C officers a couple days later. But when we could interview the women, no matter how much they wanted to leave, they feared reprisals and said they wanted to stay, were fine. In other words, our consular police is not really able to extricate such women; many/most of those who have been rescued escaped by themselves to the consulate."  Not only had the Chinese police become “useless,” both they and the Fujian government appeared to be colluding with local inhabitants against Japanese requests – making the consulate wait months for responses to queries; backing up villagers’ claims, in the presence of Japanese consular police officers, that a certain woman was Chinese; and on one occasion producing a transparently forged “personal statement” from one woman stating that she was getting along well with her husband and did not desire to return to Japan.  ADD CITATION [Consular police report typed, attached to 1933.8.12 Moriya Fuzhou Consul to Fm Uchida]

In 1934, conditions had improved somewhat: [CLEAN UP, ADD TO QUOTE SECTION AS NEEDED]

Locals still think we are coming to remove their Japanese women, and are cautious. This makes our investigations extremely difficult. Of course, some Chinese understand the purpose of our visits, but they are afraid of incurring the villagers’ anger and so they don’t help us. Still, unlike in previous years, we are not refused entry into villages or threatened with violence. We were able to conduct good surveys in 7 or 8 villages in which there were no Japanese women living. (?) In particular, in Gaoshan shi and 東?村, etc., where Japanese women reside and their husbands own asets and/or are village leaders, the Japanese wives are able to communicate among themselves, and with their husbands provided assistance to our investigators. In 東?村, this was a complete reversal from previous times when officers were denied entry and pelted with rocks. This is due to the people’s improved understanding.

No real local police force; villagers all have arms and come together for self-protection (from army? Text blurred). Bandits roam at will. Security in the region is very bad; most villages close their gates at 5 pm and reopen them at 8 am, and one hears warning shots fired at night. Fortunately, the ken govt. provided us with an escort of 7 troops under the command of buntaichou Rin . . . , And on our return leg from Fuqing to Fuzhou, Eichou [name] personally led an escort of 10 troops in automobiles.


CLOSE WITH THESE 2 PARS. A complete study of the multiple, interrelated forms of mobility that the Fuqing-Japan relationship engendered should take into consideration the friction, tension, and uncertainty or fear faced by the consular police as they moved through inhospitable terrain. Their own experiences of movement may have shaped the ways they interacted with not only the Chinese residents of Fuqing and Gaoshan, but also with the Japanese women they were pursuing or investigating there. The documents don't reproduce the actual conversations (only one magazine article provides any indications); could someone venture an imaginative reconstruction?  Could we compare these situations to, say, those depicted by John Demos in his classic The Unredeemed Captive?

But we should also bear in mind that as agents of the Japanese imperial state, these policemen were tasked with surveying terrain, gathering information, and producing maps that could expand the military and territorial capacities of the empire. Their experiences were no doubt informed by the tension between their power and their vulnerability. 

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