New se­ries on spy ac­tiv­i­ties of Ja­panese ‘school’

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE BOOKS - ByWANG KAIHAO wangkai­hao@chi­

Toa Dobun­shoin, founded by Meiji-era politi­cian Ko­noe At­sumaro in Shang­hai in 1901, was called a Ja­panese “ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion for Chi­nese stud­ies” but its real pur­pose be­came clear later.

Un­til its clo­sure at the end of World War II in 1945, it had sent 4,000 stu­dents in 700 groups to con­duct re­search around China. The stu­dents were ex­pected to hand in de­tailed re­ports as part of their grad­u­a­tion process. Th­ese re­ports were then sent to the Ja­panese mil­i­tary as ref­er­ences for the in­va­sion ofChina.

More on this es­pi­onage his­tory has re­cently be­gun to un­fold through a project launched by the Na­tional Li­brary of China.

A 200-vol­ume book se­ries, ti­tled Col­lec­tion of In­ves­ti­ga­tion Manuscripts at Toa Dobun­shoin, that presents pho­to­copies of the re­search re­port, was re­leased in Bei­jing ear­lier this month by the na­tional li­brary’s in-house pub­lish­ers.

After set­ting up a huge in­for­ma­tion net­work, Toa Dobun­shoin had done a “car­pet search” across China ahead of Sept 18, 1931, which marked the start of the Ja­panese oc­cu­pa­tion of north­east­ern China, says Fang Zi­jin, head of Na­tional Li­brary of China Pub­lish­ing House, the pub­lish­ing house.

“Ja­pan got ex­tremely de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on the Chi­nese econ­omy, pol­i­tics, so­ci­ety, cul­ture and folk­lore,” he adds.

The work com­bines the li­brary’s own his­tor­i­cal col­lec­tions and those from Aichi Uni­ver­sity in Ja­pan, the suc­ces­sor of Toa Dobun­shoin after WWII.

The na­tional li­brary’s col­lec­tions are from 1927 to 1943, and the files from from 1916 to 1935.

“Most files from Aichi were once pub­licly re­leased, in which many sen­si­tive con­tents were deleted,” he con­tin­ues. “How­ever, our col­lec­tions are mainly first­hand and com­plete manuscripts, and show that the pur­pose of such re­search at Tao Dobun­shoin was far be­yond ‘aca­demic stud­ies’.”

“There was no such largescale study of the for­mer Aichi are Ja­panese school’s his­tory be­fore al­though abun­dant files were left in China,” says Ma Zhendu, direc­tor of the Se­cond His­tor­i­cal Ar­chives of China, which is lo­cated in Nan­jing, East China’s Jiangsu province.

The new se­ries is of great sig­nif­i­cance to his­tor­i­cal stud­ies on Sino-Ja­pan re­la­tions dur­ing WWII, he says.

Nev­er­the­less, the se­ries rep­re­sents the start of a long-term project to un­der­stand Ja­panese spy­ing ac­tiv­i­ties re­lated to China from the late 19th cen­tury to the first half of the 20th.

Ac­cord­ing to Chen Li, deputy direc­tor of the na­tional li­brary, the li­brary plans to set up an on­line data­base to gather all files on rel­e­vant stud­ies of that his­tory.

The data­base will be part of on­line re­sources on the study of the War of Re­sis­tance against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion (1937-45), which is be­ing built by the think tank Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

“The re­sults of our aca­demic re­search will be open for overseas stu­dents and schol­ars as well,” Chen says.


Yuri Pines says an­cient Chi­nese philoso­phies may of­fer good so­lu­tions to to­day’s global is­sues.

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