Chinese name: Aisin Gioro Xianyu, with the courtesy name Dongzhen (= Eastern Jewel). She also had another Chinese name: Jin Bihui.
She was the thirteenth child of Shanqi, the tenth Prince Su, an impoverish rake of royal descent who was briefly the Manchu ruler of Inner Mongolia as a Japanese puppet.
Su gave his daughter, at the age of eight, to Kawashima Naniwa, the Japanese military advisor, who raised her as his own daughter. She was sent to school in Tokyo for an education that included judo and fencing.
Su died in 1921. His concubine, who had no official identity, committed the traditional suicide. Yoshiko lost interest in all things Chinese. As a teenage girl, she was raped by Kawashima’s father, and had an affair with Kawashima himself. She also had many other lovers, both male and female. She did honour her father’s arrangements and marry a Mongol prince in 1921, but she fled him after four months and claimed that the marriage was unconsummated.
She alternated between a bohemian life in Tokyo or Beijing and being kept by a series of rich lovers. In 1928 she used her royal blood to get invited into the Forbidden City and became a friend of the empress, who regarded her as the liberated woman she longed to be.
Joining the Japanese colony in Shanghai, Yoshiko started to wear men’s clothing, particularly riding breeches and shiny black boots. She would bind her breasts with a silk scarf. She found a fellow boot-fetishist in Ryukichi Tanaka, head of Japanese Intelligence in Shanghai, and they acted out various sexual scenarios together.
Tanaka put her on the Intelligence payroll. She played a major role in persuading the last Chinese emperor, Pu Yi, to become the puppet ruler of Manchuria. She participated in the Japanese occupation of China, and extorted large sums of money from Chinese merchants who were accused of dealing with the Chinese forces. She continued her habit of taking many lovers, both male and female.
By the end of the war in 1945 she had contracted syphilis. She was betrayed, by a spurned lover, to the army of Chiang Kai-shek. They found her, as Jin Bihui, guilty of treason and beheaded
Chiune Sugihara. This man saved 6000 Jews. He was a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania. When the Nazis began rounding up Jews, Sugihara risked his life to start issuing unlawful travel visas to Jews. He hand-wrote them 18 hrs a day. The day his consulate closed and he had to evacuate, witnesses claim he was STILL writing visas and throwing from the train as he pulled away. He saved 6000 lives. The world didn’t know what he’d done until Israel honored him in 1985, the year before he died.
Japanese propaganda from the Siberian Intervention (1918-1922), c. 1919. English text at the bottom reads: “Our Army Attacks From Sky, Water And Shore, And Repulsed Enemy Of Siberia”
Following the overthrow of both the Russian Empire and the Provisional Government under Kerensky in 1917 and the rise of Soviet Russia, the Allied powers attempted a military intervention to support the anti-Bolshevik White Army.
During the intervention, Japan attempted not only to help put down the Communist forces but to ultimately secure Siberian territory as a buffer zone against future Russian aggression. The two powers suffered significant hostility toward one another as their respective imperialist ambitions came into conflict over Manchuria and Korea, which had manifested in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905.
While initially successful, Japan’s intervention was an expensive undertaking and Japan came under increasing pressure to withdraw after the other Allied powers departed in 1920 (especially from the United States, which feared Japan’s rival ambitions in East Asia and the Pacific). This pressure, combined with increasing war weariness at home, led to Japan withdrawing its forces from Siberia in 1922.