Rash Behari Bose and the Rise of the Pan-Asians



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Second of 4 parts.

Part 1 Life and Times of Bose from Nakamuraya

Indian independence leader Rash Behari Bose’s long period of exile in Japan between 1915 and 1945 brought him closer to influential Pan-Asian Japanese intellectuals, writers, historians and artists. Together, they influenced the anti-colonial movement across the continent.

Three key people were particularly influential in their own right: Mitsuru Tōyama, Tenshin Okakura and Shûmei Ôkawa.

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Mitsuru Toyama pays tribute to Rash Behari Bose (credit Anglo Japanese Alliance)

Mitsuru Toyama

Upon arriving in Japan in 1915, Bose received the protection and patronage of Mitsuru Toyama (1855-1944), an influential right-wing Japanese political figure and co-founder of the ultra-nationalist Genyosha Society. Bose’s life, survival, and business in Japan for 30 years would not have been possible without the active financial and moral support of Toyama and other prominent Pan-Asians, all of whom saw Bose’s goal as part of their agenda. broader aspiration of an ‘Asia for Asians’.

the Genyosha (literally, Dark Ocean Society) was founded in 1881 and is named after the Sea of ​​Genkai Nada (玄 界 灘), which separates Kyushu from mainland Asia.

Tōyama’s material and physical support for the cause of Asian nationalists remains well known. This language of Asian solidarity in contempt of the West has acquired a realistic and convincing side, and has been interpreted by many in terms of the Asian versus European racial struggle.

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As a result, Pan-Asian supporters in Japan welcomed anti-colonial nationalists including Phan Boi Chau, Prince Cuong De, Rash Behari Bose, Subhas Chandra Bose, Liang Chi-chao and Sun Yat-sen.

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Tenshin Okakura

Tenshin Okakura (Kakuzo Okakura) (1863-1913), renowned art historian and art critic in Japan, was one of the first key figures in the modern development of Japanese Pan-Asian thought. Okakura put forward the idea that the spiritualism and ancient wisdom of Asia could provide a remedy for the materialism of the West.

After losing a factional battle within his academy in Japan, Okakura left for India in 1901 where he spent a year traveling and living in the home of Nobel laureate and Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941 ). Tagore has opened his home in Calcutta to many Japanese and Asian poets, writers, artists and those interested in the diversity of Asian culture, including Okakura.

Okakura’s most famous work, The tea book, was published in 1902, following his visit to India. The book examined the spiritual and philosophical foundations of Japanese tea culture, providing a basis for the further development and crystallization of Pan-Asian ideas from Japan.

Tagore and Okakura saw and celebrated Asian spirituality as a distinctly Asian heritage. It was one of the fundamental historical moments in the development of a pan-Asian narrative that supported Japan’s “Asia for Asians” nationalist approach to the region.

In fact, Tagore suggested that Okakura write his book, Eastern ideals, in 1903 on the basis of numerous conversations with Tagore and his disciples. The preamble to the book sums up Okakura’s Pan-Asian vision:

Asia is one… the Himalayas divides… but even snow-capped barriers cannot interrupt the common thought heritage of each Asian race, distinguishing them from those maritime peoples of the Mediterranean and the Baltic, who love each other. dwell on the particular, and, to seek the means, not the end, of life.

Pan-Asianism had gained legitimacy as a viable political construct in Japan long before the 1930s. Strongly echoing the philosophical perspective of Tagore as well as that of Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), a Bengali spiritual leader of Okakura admired him very much and whom he traveled many kilometers to meet, Okakura’s visit to India marked the beginning of his role as the main spokesperson for Asian civilization. .

Additionally, the later phase of Okakura’s career in developing his Pan-Asian discourse flourished through his interactions with Indian intellectuals and elites. His writings and thoughts have inspired many, including Subash Chandra Bose.

Shumei Okawa

Shumei Okawa (1886-1957) was one of the “Pan-Asians”double patriots”Which influenced the young military leadership, thus playing a vital role in the expansionism of the 1930s era in Japan ー more than 2 decades after his initial commitment to the cause of Asianism.

Described as a “particularly unconventional scholar” of Asian religions and Sanskrit, with revolutionary aspirations for an Asian renaissance led by Japan, Okawa criticized the League of Nations and viewed it as an instrument of the Western colonial powers.

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Portrait of Shumei Okawa

In an editorial published just a month before the German invasion of Poland, Okawa predicted that the outbreak of war in Europe would usher in a new era in which nationalist and anti-colonial movements in Asia would find their chance for independence. .

When Japan began to use the phrase “new order in East Asia” to describe its foreign policy, Okawa became increasingly concerned about the Japanese public’s lack of knowledge about other Asian societies. He hoped that the Japanese would be better informed about the conditions and peoples of the wider Asia-Pacific region in support of a pan-Asian policy.

Each year, the school recruited 20 students aged around 17. In their first year, students were required to learn English or French as their primary foreign language, as well as an additional language chosen from Hindu, Urdu, Thai, and Malay. The school also represented a practical implementation of Okawa’s long-held Pan-Asian vision of merging colonial cultural policy with anti-colonial ideology.

Therefore, in order to educate Japanese youth about Asian culture and politics, Okawa launched the Showa Gogaku Kenkyujo (Showa Language Research Institute), a two-year vocational school widely known as Okawa Juku, in May 1938. The institute was affiliated with the East Asian Economic Research Bureau in Tokyo and received funds from the Manchurian Railway Company, the Imperial Army and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. foreigners.

Influencing a host country

Rash Behari Bose was one of the part-time language and history teachers at the Okawa Juku, where he offered students direct encounters with the anti-colonial nationalist thought of Asian exiles living in Japan.

Bose’s positions have grown in importance in Japanese political circles. This was used in the following years when he lobbied for support of the Indian national freedom movement in Japan through his writings and literary contributions.

He was a prolific writer, working as editor of journals including The new Asia and The Asian review. In the summer of 1933 he also began receiving funds to publish a tract titled the New Asia – Shin Ajia in bilingual English and Japanese format.

Quite quickly, an order was issued on July 1, 1933 under the aegis of the British government. Maritime Customs Act, prohibiting the importation and sale of the brochure in the territories controlled by the British government of India.

The new Asia stressed that what Asians wanted was national liberation. He also warned of the possibility of racial conflict, depending on the attitude the Western powers have chosen to adopt towards the on-going independence movements across Asia-Pacific, thus highlighting the clash of civilizations. and races that prevailed at that time.

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Continue in part 3.

Dr Monika Chansoria is a Principal Investigator at the Japanese Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the JIIA or any other organization with which the author is affiliated. she tweets @MonikaChansoria. Find more articles from Dr Chansoria here to JAPAN Before.


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