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23 April 2008

Kawashima Yoshiko (1906 - 1948) princess, intelligence agent, traitor.

Chinese name: Aisin Gioro Xianyu, with the courtesy name Dongzhen (= Eastern Jewel).
 She also had a 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 gained much weight and 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 her.
  • Jay Robert Nash. Look For The Woman. Harrap 1981 under Eastern Jewel.
  • Edward Behr. The Last Emperor. Futura. 1987: chp 15.
  • Bernardo Bertolucci (dir & scr). The Last Emperor. Scr: Mark Peploe, with John Lone as Pu Yi and Maggie Han as Eastern Jewel (Kawashima Yoshiko). 1988.
  • Ling-Ching Fong (dir). Chuan dao fang zi (The Last Princess of Manchuria). Scr: Lilian Lee from her own novel, with Anita Mui as Yoshiko Kawashima. Hong Kong 1990.
  • Maureen Lindley. The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel: A Novel. New York: Bloomsbury, 2009. 


1 comment:

Imelda said...

Thnks for this posting. This Woman is quite intriguing, her persistance and commitment to survival and success. Im still quite confused wether she was beheaded or shot. Also, not sure if you've heard that there mightve been a possibility she escaped last minute.
I just finished reading Maureen Lindleys book on her, OMG.. highly recommended!
Too bad theres not much coverage on her... she really is a very interesting character.