Japan’s Global Claim to Asia and the World of Islam: Transnational Nationalism and World Power, 1900–1945

Most people at the turn of the twenty-first century have forgotten that there was a time in Japan before World War II when Japanese nationalists showed an Asianist face to the world’s Muslims, whom they wanted to befriend as allies in the construction of a new Asia under Japanese domination. The rise of Japan was a destabilizing factor that attracted Muslim activists who wanted to cooperate with the “Rising Star of the East” against the Western empires, accelerating contacts between Japan and the world of Islam from vast regions of Eurasia and North Africa. When Muslim newspapers celebrated Japan’s defeat of Russia in the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War as the victory of the downtrodden Eastern peoples over the invincible West, a Turkish nationalist feminist, Halide Edip, like many other women, named her son Togo. Egyptian, Turkish, and Persian poets wrote odes to the Japanese nation and the emperor.[1] In the Islamic movement of Aceh, the staunch Muslim area of Sumatra that was forcibly brought under control through a Dutch pacification campaign in 1903, the Japanese example of “the Awakening of the East” in 1905 engendered the topic of eager conversation to be the “speedy expulsion of the Dutch.”[2]

During the years 1900–1945, the question that motivated Muslims and some Japanese was whether Japan could be the “Savior of Islam” against Western imperialism and colonialism if this meant collaboration with Japanese imperialism. Even during the 1930s, when there was little hope left for prospects of democracy and liberalism in Japan (for that matter in Europe as well), the vision of a “Muslim Japan” was so compelling to many Muslims in Asia and beyond, even among black Muslims of Harlem, as a means for emancipation from Western hegemony/colonial reality that it justified cooperation with Japanese intelligence overseas. kawa Shmei, the major intellectual figure of Pan-Asianism, the “mastermind of Japanese fascism” in the Tokyo trials, who justified Japan’s mission to liberate Asia from Western colonialism by war if necessary, saw Islam as the means. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the relationship transformed into a major Japanese military strategy as the Japanese government began to implement its Islamic policy by mobilizing Muslim forces against the United Kingdom, Holland, China and Russia in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. [3]

In this essay, therefore, I am particularly interested in exploring the role of Islam in Japan’s global claim to Asia in order to shed light on a number of themes, personalities, and events that connect Japanese history to that of the world of Islam. Despite the major role Islam came to play in Japan’s Pan-Asianist international policy, especially during World War II, Japanese-Muslim relations have not been studied extensively because of the boundaries in the intellectual concerns of each field. Studies of Japan that remain focused on Japan’s relations with the West and China have eluded the subject.[4] Japanese scholars of the Middle East are also ambivalent.[5 ]With some exceptions, most choose to concentrate on the study of the “Orient in Western regions” and ignore Japan’s historic connections to the world of Islam. Although I must admit there is a certain “cloak and dagger” character to the narrative, the subject invites our attention, for it opens a window onto an alternative, ambivalent arena of international relations between these so-called “Non-Western regions” in modern history, parallel to the interstate relations forged by the formal treaties and diplomacy dominated by the Western Powers. Yet these connections were significant in the formulation of ideas and policies throughout the twentieth century, especially as the colonized sought to emancipate themselves from Western imperialist domination with Japan’s help as a world power. Japan’s relations with Muslims unfold as an enigmatic history of mostly informal contacts, transnational alliances between Japanese Pan-Asianist agents, intellectuals, diplomats and military officers, and their Muslim counterparts on a global platform: a transnational history of nationalisms that connected Japanese Pan-Asianism with Pan-Islamic currents and Muslim nationalisms.[6]

The central argument of this essay is that some figures in the Japanese military and civilian elite with an Asianist agenda and their Muslim friends formed an “Islam circle” in Japan in the late Meiji period and had long years of interaction through personal contacts, advocating closer relations between Japan and the peoples of the Islamic world who were suffering under the yoke of Western hegemony. In favor of an “Islam policy,” or kaikyo seisaku, they argued for the need to gain a better understanding of Islam as a civilization belittled by Western opinion, which view had also been adopted by the new, Western-oriented Japanese government. This article argues that this long-term interaction bore fruit in the end as the Japanese government, using the informal contacts and know-how of previous years, adopted Islam-oriented policies on the eve of World War II.

Japan’s pattern of involvement with the political activities of Muslim groups in Asia reflects twentieth-century world power behavior that ultimately may have been party to the emergence of political Islam, possibly even in its militant forms in some areas. It has global implications that are relevant for us today. In the postwar era, the United States as a new world power had also formed close relations with Islamic currents through a global strategy of “Islam as a green belt against communism,” which is seen today as having led to a “blowback” in Chalmers Johnson’s terms: the ominous consequences of the September 11, 2001, attack by Al Qaeda, which led to the battle between United States-led coalition forces and the global terrorism of radical Islamic organizations.[7] Yet the phenomenon of radical Islam is frequently reduced to an issue simply of cultural incompatibility with the West, as in Samuel Huntington’s reductionist notion of the “clash of civilizations.” A recent addition is the Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit accusation of “Occidentalism” on the part of political Islamists, which unites the case of prewar Japanese nationalism with that of today’s radical Islam, both interpreted as being similarly against modernity.[8] By focusing on the actual historical relationship between Japanese nationalism and political Islam, through the eyes of some Pan-Islamists between 1900 and 1945 and their Japanese Pan-Asianist friends, I hope to show that simple applications of ideological explanations such as Occidentalism or Orientalism do not sufficiently explain the emergence of conflictual movements against the West and that we need to recognize how the transnational character of Pan-Islamism tied in with the behavior of world powers during the twentieth century in this matter.

I would like to discuss first what I mean by transnationality, which I interpret as an intellectual agenda in a geopolitical context, the “history of the international relations of nationalism,” that we frequently omit from analysis.[9] Turn-of-the-century nationalist movements actually began in many cases as a transnational history of diaspora actors forced to live in many countries and cities away from the homeland of the perceived territory of the nation. Indian nationalists agitated against Britain in San Francisco and Berlin. Young Turks plotted against the despot Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II in Paris. Forced into exile and hounded by the Western colonial governments or the authoritarian regimes of Romanov Russia and Ottoman Turkey, Pan-Islamic actors stand out as transnational diaspora actors who hoped for a global Muslim awakening against Western domination that would consequently aid their own cause of national liberation. The Egyptian Pan-Islamists who opposed British rule and the Pan-Turkists and Pan-Islamists of Russia who defied the autocrat tsar met in Istanbul, Kabul, and even in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Muslim circles in the cities of the Ottoman and Romanov empires, or British Egypt and India, or Afghanistan provided niches for the global network of Muslim transnational activists in anticolonial activities.[10] During the early twentieth century, Muslim activists also found Tokyo to be a conducive site for their activities. The discussion of Japanese Pan-Asianist encounters with Muslim activists shows us how the transnational history of many a twentieth-century nationalism is “interlaced” with intelligence strategies and the clandestine politics of world powers: both interact on a global scale. The history of nationalism in this scenario serves as a “watering hole” where intellectual history meets with intelligence. Diaspora nationalists who share the same intellectual discourse or ideological motives with the representatives of world powers could also rationalize collaboration against common enemies.

Prasenjit Duara has extensively discussed the transnational intellectual concerns of early nationalisms in a way that helps to explain how Japanese Pan-Asianists and Muslim activists could initially engage in dialogue, for they shared an intellectual debate about modernity. This is so especially for those Muslim intellectuals whose nationalist objectives were integrated into a Pan-Islamist agenda for the global emancipation and awakening of Muslims, therefore enabling them to sympathize with the global Asianist message of Japanese Pan-Asianism. [11] Both intellectual movements emerged with a vision to construct an alternative transnational spiritual world that would counter the existing one dominated by the Western powers. kakura Tenshin, the intellectual founder of Pan-Asianism in Japan, constructed the ideal of “Asia as One,” a common spiritual civilization that paralleled the West. While sharing the general consensus about Meiji Japan’s imperial destiny, Japanese Asianists saw the 1868 Meiji Restoration as a great Asian awakening against backward regimes and colonialism. Similarly, Pan-Islamist intellectuals in Romanov Russia, Ottoman Turkey, Egypt, India, and Iran hoped to revive the universality of Islamic civilization and construct a modernity that was suitable for Islam, an “awakening” of Muslims. [12] Like many other anti-imperialists and anticolonialists of the age, Japanese Asianists and Muslim political actors saw the West in its imperialist hegemonic form as their opponent “other.” [13] Hence, it was not the founders of the new Japanese government after the 1868 Meiji Restoration but the Japanese Pan-Asianists, a rival circle also rooted in the Meiji Restoration but skeptical of the early Meiji enamor with the West for bunmei kaika (civilization and enlightenment), who “discovered” Islam. It was, as Sun Ge aptly comments, Japanese Asianism’s paradox, containing both a sense of solidarity and a desire to expand, harboring a genuine sense of crisis and an antagonism against the presence of the European and American powers, that made Japanese Asianist arguments appealing to Muslim nationalists. [14] This intellectual common ground also explains why right-wing organizations such as the Kokury kai, the Amur River society popularly known as the Black Dragons, and the Genysha (Great Ocean Society), who were vanguards of Asianism in Meiji Japan and militant advocates of Japan’s rights in Asia, pioneered contacts with Muslims. Another important institution for collaboration between Japan and the Muslim world was the Ta Dbunkai, the newly established school for cultural understanding and friendship between China and Japan founded by Prince Konoe Atsumar that also functioned as a training center for Japanese intelligence agents against Russia. [15]

Both Japanese Pan-Asianists and Muslim intellectuals were concerned with the existential issue of how to be part of the modern world and benefit from its assets while preserving native cultures. Like Japanese Asianists who were profoundly critical of the imitation of European culture for its own sake, many nineteenth-century Muslim intellectuals, especially Pan-Islamists, were critical of the extreme Europeanization of Muslim societies, and Japan’s reforms looked like a suitable model of modernity for the Islamic world because the Japanese seemed able to manage Westernization without giving up their traditions or converting wholesale to Christianity. Pan-Islamist arguments of the Ottoman intellectual Mehmed Akif as well as the Young Turk Abdullah Cevdet stressed Japan’s preservation of a spiritual culture in harmony with modern reforms that did not bow to Western imperialism. The Pan-Islamist and Pan-Turkist Tatar intelligentsia of Romanov Russia shared these ideas. The devout even wanted to convert the Japanese to strengthen the world of Islam.[16] The Arab world joined this sympathy toward Japan. Mustafa Kamil, Ahmad Fadzli, and many other Pan-Islamist intellectuals in Egypt published popular books on Japan as the rising star of the East that became integral to their anti-British nationalist discourse.[17]

However, compared to our image of Japanese Pan-Asianism as anti-Western propaganda during World War II, or today’s anti-Western militant Muslim rhetoric, prewar Japanese Pan-Asianism and the Muslim enthusiasm for Japan combined ideas of nationalism and liberalism that were not exclusive. Muslim admiration for Japan, whether couched in strongly nationalist or in Pan-Islamist terms, praised Japan’s nationalist goal of using Western civilization to counter European imperialism, and its steps toward becoming the first constitutional monarchy of Asia. For many Muslim intellectuals, Japan’s victory over Russia was “the triumph of constitutionalism over Tsarist despotism,” and the Meiji Constitution of 1889 was the reason for Japan’s swift progress against Western imperialism. [18] The ardent Egyptian nationalist Pan-Islamist and admirer of the Meiji Constitution, Mustafa Kamil, proclaimed “we are amazed by Japan because it is the first Eastern government to utilize Western civilization to resist the shield of European imperialism in Asia.” [19] For both intellectual worlds, constitutionalism was still the litmus test of modernity, linking nationalism to universal ideals of human liberty and emancipation. [20] Like Mustafa Kamil, Tokutomi Sho, a leading liberal in the Meiji era with Asianist views who was to befriend Muslim activists visiting Japan, supported a Western-style parliamentary government, although later he became an ultranationalist serving military governments. [21]

Ottoman records note that the Japanese authorities “responded” to this Muslim intellectual admiration for Japan, and especially the Muslim jubilation over Japan’s victory in 1905, in order to make use of it for Japanese imperial interests.[22] Japan was on its way to becoming a significant power after its military victories in the 1895 Sino-Japanese War and the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War. Diplomatic recognition of Japan as a world power with European status came with the 1902 Anglo-Japanese Alliance.[23] But Japan as a global newcomer could not establish direct diplomatic relations with the multiethnic population of about 100 million Muslims in vast regions of Eurasia and Africa, most of whom were colonized or under the hegemony of Russia, Great Britain, France, or Holland. Even Qing China, though a weak power, traditionally dominated the Chinese Muslim Huei and Turkic Uighur minorities.[24] Only Ottoman Turkey, the seat of the Sunna Caliphate, remained as the sole Muslim world power that, although weak, had some influence in global politics. But with porous borders vulnerable to crossings and intelligence activities, the Ottoman, Iranian, and Afghan Muslim polities were politically compromised states, surviving between the interests of the Russian and British empires. Stifled under the constraints of the “unequal treaty” regimes dictated by Western international law, this was a world of twilight diplomacy where relations were conducted informally in order to avoid signing new treaties entailing further compromises to foreign interests.[25] Despite Ottoman public empathy after the Japanese victory in 1905, Sultan Abdülhamid II and the Ottoman ministers treated the Japanese who visited Istanbul generously in the name of “Asian solidarity” but practiced twilight diplomacy to the hilt by firmly refusing the persistent requests of the Meiji government to sign a treaty of unequal privilege.[26] Thus Japan’s relations with the world of Islam began as transnational contacts and clandestine activities through the informal meetings of individual diplomats, visitors, intellectuals, military men, and agents, frequently with Pan-Asianist agendas, and Muslim sympathizers.

The life of Abdürreid Ibrahim (1853–1944), a Russian Tatar journalist and opposition political activist who became a well-known and respected Ottoman Pan-Islamist intellectual, represents the multifaceted, transnational nature of this Muslim-Japanese rapprochement. [27] Ibrahim’s life-long collaboration with Japanese Pan-Asianists also had a direct bearing on the global Muslim political agenda of alliance with Japan against the hegemony of the West and possibly encouraged the Japanese along this line. A religious cleric (imam) and judge (kadi), Abdürreid Ibrahim became a major figure in the political and intellectual activities of the Kazan region, the center for nationalist and reformist currents among Muslim Turkic subjects of the late Romanov empire. Pursuing nationalist aims at home, Ibrahim advocated Pan-Islamism abroad and the formation of a global network of Islamic peoples to oppose the Western empires. This “fiery religious preacher,” in the words of later OSS reports, became a close friend of the Japanese military attaché Colonel Akashi Motojir, mastermind of Japanese intelligence in Europe during the Russo-Japanese War. Ibrahim’s “fated marriage” with Japan began with a visit to Tokyo in late 1908. He stayed for about five months and formed a close alliance with the Kokurykai, which was already involved in Sun Yat-sen’s revolution and other Asian nationalist movements. [28]

Ibrahim’s publications reveal Tokyo in 1908 to have been a haven for Muslim activists seeking collaboration with Japan against Western powers. Besides Ibrahim, there was the Egyptian nationalist army officer Ahmad Fadzli Beg (1874-?), who was exiled in Tokyo after leaving Egypt because of his anti-British activities. Among the Indian émigrés, Mouvli Barakatullah (1856–1927), the well-known Pan-Islamist anti-imperialist, was teaching Urdu at Tokyo University. The three men collaborated in an English-language paper, Islamic Fraternity, which espoused Pan-Islamist and Asianist ideas and was later stopped by the Japanese authorities under British pressure.

Ibrahim and Barakatullah’s activities show us that there were Japanese Asianists interested in spreading the message of Japan in Muslim Asia. Ibrahim translated Asia in Danger, a pamphlet by Hasan Hatano Uho (1882–1936), one of the pioneer Japanese Pan-Asianists who adopted a Muslim name. Widely distributed in the Islamic world, it had disturbingly vivid photos of beheadings, tortures, and massacres conducted by Western imperialist forces in Asia. A graduate of Ta Dobnkai, Hatano argued that Japan and the Ottomans, the two sentinels of the Asian continent, could prevent European imperialist activities in Asia. Ahmed Ariga Bunyar(1868–1946) made an interesting synthesis between pure Shinto and Islam, seeing a similarity in the Shinto belief in the originator god and the Islamic concept of Allah. [29] In 1909, Ibrahim returned to Istanbul with Kokurykai support, visiting Muslim communities in China and British and Dutch colonies to spread the message that Japan would be the future savior of Islam. In his Istanbul-based editorials, the Java Letters, Ibrahim assured an Indonesian friend, a notable ulema of Borneo, that in ten years Japan would come to liberate Muslims from the Dutch yoke. His friend replied that he had helped Ibrahim’s Japanese friends purchase 26,000 hectares of land in the areas under Dutch rule. [30]

Ibrahim’s activities were the seeds of training Japanese agents to be sent to the Muslim countries under Muslim identity, a tactic that the military authorities were to use during World War II. On his way back to Istanbul in 1909, Ibrahim met Yamaoka Ktar (1880–1959), a member of the Kokurykai in Bombay, whom he claims to have converted en route to Istanbul. The two comrades visited Mecca and Medina, where “Omar” Yamaoka became the first Japanese pilgrim to visit the holy lands and formed contacts with Arab leaders on behalf of the Japanese Empire. With Ibrahim’s help, Omar gave conferences in Istanbul, especially to Pan-Islamist Tatar students on Japan’s pro-Islam message and the Ajia Gikai (Asian Rewakening Society), Japan’s new pro-Islam organization. Yamaoka continued networking among Chinese Muslims and trained future Muslim Japanese agents such as Hadji Nur Tanaka Ippei. Yamaoka’s account of his experiences, Arabia jdanki, is the first Japanese account of the Arabian Islamic world detailing the Japanese Pan-Asianist rationalization for an Islamic orientation combining Asianism, patriotism, and anti-imperialism. As the first Japanese Muslim pilgrim, he advocated that the government adopt kaiky seisaku. Yamaoka justified his conversion to Islam, as would Japanese Pan-Asianist agents of the future, as a patriotic duty to the emperor. He recommended that “young Japanese… go out in the world and exert the pioneer spirit of the Japanese warrior ethos to help the pitiful people of the Orient and the Occident and to turn their gaze toward the region of western Asia.” Yamaoka lamented the frivolous demoralizing and superficial Westernism of the Meiji era, by now a scapegoat. His daring journey in the Arabian desert was part of his duty to perfect the mission of the Empire of the Rising Sun. [31]

Ibrahim’s early argument for an alliance between Japan and the Muslim world negotiated with this Asianist agenda. In an interview he gave to the Foreign Affairs Editorial Committee in the Japanese Foreign Ministry on March 21, 1909, Ibrahim argued for the need to liberate “Tataristan” from Russia. Japan, he said, was a model of modernity from which to learn. Stressing that nearly 100 million Muslims living in Russia, China, India, and Turkey offered Japan a potent social base, he introduced the demographic argument for Japan’s Islam policy that was later used by Japanese Pan-Asianists. Even though he used the term wakonyosai (Japanese spirit Western technology) to describe the Japanese model, like Mustafa Kamil, Ibrahim praised Japan for its constitution and liberty that, unlike the despotism of Russia, made Japan a progressive and modern country. Among the works that Ibrahim published in Istanbul in 1910–1911, the book Alem-i Islam ve Japonya’da Intisari Islamiyet (The World of Islam and the Spreading of Islam in Japan) details the Muslim argument for Pan-Islamism’s rapprochement with Pan-Asianism.[32] Ibrahim advocated a concerted missionary effort to convert the Japanese to Islam, which would guarantee Japan’s new role as the savior of Islam. In contrast with Yamaoka’s justification of conversion for empire, Ibrahim’s desire to convert the Japanese was theologically in keeping with Islamic tradition, especially the Sunna orthodox sect’s claim that the leader of the Islamic world would protect against “the land of war,” meaning the lands of infidel Christians. His argument was that if the Japanese converted in large enough numbers, they would help liberate Muslims from Western oppression. Equally striking, however, is his pragmatic argument that a rapprochement between Japanese and Chinese Muslims would enable Japan to penetrate the Chinese market, bringing solid economic gains. According to Ibrahim,

China is Japan’s natural market, but there is undeniably great hatred between the Chinese and the Japanese. The only way for Japan to successfully penetrate the Chinese market is for her to establish close connections with the Chinese Muslims. Their economic constraint will cause the Japanese to incline towards Islam. If the Japanese converted to Islam, they will conquer a third of Asia … If our ulema can guide the Japanese down this path, there is no doubt that there is great talent among them for potentially accepting Islam. But if we simply invite them to salvation we may be sure that no one will be convinced.[33]

As a Pan-Islamist, Ibrahim was concerned with the reform of contemporary Muslim culture to recapture the ideal Islam in a modernity compatible with Islamic values. Here, Ibrahim presented an ideal image of Japan as a model for Muslim reform that was even more “modern” than the Christian Romanovs and the Muslim Ottomans. With great enthusiasm he introduced Japan’s modern institutions to the readers: the Historical Society of Tokyo University (engaging in scientific history), women’s schools (educating modern wives devoted to family and country), the Japanese postal service (much better than the Russian one), Kabuki (the epitome of a national tradition in theater), even Cintan pills (very good for digestion). Ibrahim did not see the Japanese as “pagan-infidels”; rather Japanese men and women were clean, studious, moral, and upright folk who would be perfect Muslims if they converted to Islam. The emphasis was not on preserving the old but rather on renovating custom to construct a nation. [34] However, Ibrahim’s text on modernity, Japan, and Islam also reveals the overlooked connection between the realm of ideas and military intelligence that we encounter frequently in the twentieth century: here transnationalism meets with intelligence. He describes a seven-hour meeting about prospects for the unification of the East, held on a night in 1909 with Japanese military officers who spoke excellent Russian. Ibrahim claims that he proposed a forty-one-article program of collaboration with Muslims around the world, including those in China, Java, and India. [35] What was significant for the future was Ibrahim’s claim that his exchange of ideas with Japanese Asianists resulted in a blueprint for Islam policy, kaikyron or kaiky seisaku, a term already used by Yamaoka in his book. There is a photograph in Ibrahim’s book taken in a girl’s school where the slogan kaikyorn is already visible on posters hung behind the podium from which he speaks. So far, neither in Ibrahim’s text nor that of Yamaoka, does kaiky seisaku refer to a formal foreign policy of the Gaimush (Japanese Foreign Ministry), but to the hope for a future policy. The term is used to express the need for a desirable Japanese sympathy toward the plight of Muslims suffering under Western imperialism and colonialism and the consequent need to contact Muslims with this agenda. [36]

The Japanese figures surrounding Ibrahim in 1909 were to form an “Islam circle” in the 1930s, a lobby of those in favor of encouraging close relations between Japan and the Muslim peoples. This lobby included the Pan-Asianist intellectual Tokutomi Sho (1863–1957), Uchida Ryhei (1874–1937), and Tyama Mitsuru (1855–1944), founders of the nationalist organization Kokurykai, Ibrahim’s host in Japan, and other military and intelligence figures associated with the Ta Dbunkai. Count Okuma Shigenobu (1838–1922) and Inukai Tsuyoshi (1855–1932), two liberal parliamentarians who were vehement opponents of Meiji oligarchs, were surprising members. Although they are better known as advocates of parliamentary democracy, both politicians upheld an Asianist perspective in foreign relations and, as we can glean from Ibrahim’s memoir, were part of the Kokurykai network within the political and military elite. Both continued to support the cause of Muslim émigrés and helped Ibrahim and other political activists throughout their lives. [37]

The climax of Ibrahim’s memoir is his account of a ceremony marking the founding in 1909 of the Ajia Gikai (Asian Reawakening Society), which was to be the propaganda arm of Japan in the Islamic world. The society accepted the deed to a mosque in Tokyo in the office of Toa Dbunkai, whereupon the Japanese and Muslim participants signed the scroll of an oath pledging commitment to the Pan-Asianist Islamic cause. [38] During World War II, the OSS was to term this oath the “Muslim Oath” that proved Japan’s long-term conspiracy of infiltration among world Muslims to incite a revolt against the West. In hindsight, the claim that the oath represented a Japanese “conspiracy” reflects the war psychology of the OSS; nevertheless, the oath enables us to trace the links between the rise of Asianism in the late Meiji era and its subsequent revival in the late 1930s, in the militarist context of the period. Japanese collaboration with the Muslims of Asia was hardly a “secret conspiracy”—at least not to the turn-of-the-century educated public in the Ottoman and Romanov worlds who had access to Ibrahim’s popular book. [39]

The participants who signed the 1909 scroll were members or close associates of the Kokurykai, who were active in Japanese nationalism and imperialism. hara Bkeiji (1865–1933) was a lieutenant colonel in the army who had been active in China during the Sino-Japanese War of 1895, in the 1911 Chinese revolution, and in Manchuria; he died in 1933, organizing a Chinese rebellion. Tyama Mitsuru (1855–1944), the spiritual head of the Kokurykai, was the éminence grise of the Japanese ultranationalist movement and continued to be a major covert figure in the nationalist and militarist politics of prewar Japan. Nakano Tsunetar and Nakayama Yasuz were Kokurykai activists. Among three Chinese Muslims who signed the oath, Wang Hao-jan was the founder of the Chinese Muslim Mutual Progress Association in 1912 and later continued supporting Japanese interests. The 1909 oath appeared in Japanese for the first time in 1938 when Wakabayashi Nakaba, an Islam expert who served the military policies of the late 1930s, published it in his book Kaiky sekai to nihon (Japan and the World of Islam). Wakabayashi presented the story of the oath as part of a propaganda narrative claiming that Japan’s ties to Islam went back to the Meiji period. The photograph of the oath scroll published in his book shows the additional signatures of the liberal politician Inukai Tsuyoshi, Captain Aoyanagi Katsutoshi, Yamada Kinosuke, and Kno Hironaka, of the Kokurykai. [40]

The Kokurykai publication Ta senkaku shishi kiden (Biographies of Pioneer Patriots of East Asia), which was published in 1936 to record the careers of hundreds of Kokurykai “patriots” who worked for the Asianist cause of the Japanese Empire following the Restoration, adds drama to the story. It cites an article in Tokyo Asahi newspaper that reported that members of the Kokurykai had helped build a temple on Zhon Jiang mountain in Antung prefecture in Manchuria, in which they deposited the 1909 oath. The version cited here begins with Ibrahim’s calligraphy of the Koranic saying, “O humankind unite.” Nakano Tsunetar wrote: “If we have a speck of treachery in our hearts, may all the gods of heaven and earth punish us with their sacred wrath.” Ibrahim added another line from the Koran: “We pledge not to waver from our promise in the eyes of God.” The text is the perfect aesthetic amalgam of Islam and Japan, combining Arabic and Japanese calligraphy. [41] The different versions of the oath, which were presumably signed in 1909 during Ibrahim’s visit, represent the Pan-Asianist vision of Japan’s global claim to Asia through Islamic activism that was already widespread in the Muslim world. The texts enable us to trace the links between individual actors and ideas in the world of Islam and the Japanese Asianist world.

The second phase of Japan’s relations with the world of Islam can be recognized in the period after World War I and the 1917 (October) Revolution, when the Japanese authorities made use of previous contacts between Japanese Pan-Asianist figures and Muslims, in addition to new ones, to practice its Islam policy politically and militarily in a more systematic manner. Crowley notes that the October 1917 Revolution elicited a virulent anticommunist reaction among Japanese military authorities. [42] The Pan-Asianist and Muslim platform acquired a military-oriented anticommunist right-wing character unlike the Meiji dialogue between Pan-Asianism and Pan-Islam, which had argued for a liberal and nationalist Asian awakening. Practiced as a parallel, somewhat clandestine strategy, Islam policy developed as part of the Asianist foreign policy orientation within the political and military elite that was rival and coeval to the Gaimush’s “internationist” foreign policy adhering to Japan’s rights within the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and various treaty agreements with the Anglo-American powers. [43] Those with vested interests in Manchuria, particularly the South Manchurian Railway, and elements of the Kwantung Army were the first to start thinking of Islam as a “citadel” in Central and Northeast Asia against Soviet communism—a prewar Japanese version of the later Cold War strategy of the CIA in which Islam constituted a “green belt” against communism. The “citadel policy” is first ascribed to Matsuoka Ysuke (1880–1946), the foreign minister who was responsible for Japan’s Axis alliance during World War II. Matsuoka is thought to have developed this policy as a result of his early contacts with Russian Tatar Muslim émigrés who settled in Manchuria during the 1920s, when he was president of Mantetsu, the South Manchurian Railway. [44]

One component of this citadel idea was the “our Altaic brothers” argument, recognizing a special historic link between the Japanese and North Asian peoples speaking Altaic languages, which formed the ideological frame that brought together Japanese military elements and Muslim collaborators, the image of the “Rising Sun and the Turkish Crescent” as future partners. Imaoka Jutar, a specialist on Central Asia and Islam in the Gaimush, reported the discussion of this strategy in the Foreign Ministry in 1937 and spelled out the argument, which became one of the major geopolitical strategies against Soviet power. Imaoka argued that the Soviet Union was doomed in the face of the “nationality problem” of the Turkic populations of the TKazak, Ozbek, Turkmeni, and the Uigur. These people constituted a geographical crescent of Altaic Muslims, organized to resist the communist threat from Manchuria to the hinterland of Central Asia via Northwest China and Inner Asia. [45] The intellectual roots of this policy perspective are traceable to the Asianist and historiographic discourses of Shiratori Kurakichi, who argued in the late Meiji period that there was a historic connection between the Japanese people and the Altaic culture of North Asian nomads. [46] The Altaic argument had surfaced during Ibrahim’s visit when Tokutomi Sho, the liberal Asianist journalist and editor of the paper Kokumin, introduced him to Japanese readers as “our Tatar elder brother from Russia,” and the politician Hayashita, who had just returned from Mongolia, introduced him in the Japanese Diet as “our Tatar brother of Genghis Khan descent.” [47]

A full-fledged version of the “citadel” perspective surfaced much later, in 1939, when the bond between Asianism and Islam against communism and the Soviet Union was discussed during the debate in the Diet over a proposed new Religion Law (shky h). All parties agreed that Islam should be incorporated in the spirit of the law; the question was whether it should be listed as one of the official religions of Japan, along with Buddhism, Shinto, and Christianity. General Araki Sadao, the Minister of State and Education—the major figure in the military upheaval of the early 1930s—was responsible for defending the government’s position, which acknowledged Islam but did not favor citing it in the law. Araki and others in the cabinet were apparently concerned that listing Islam as a religion of Japan would alarm the Soviets even more than they already were over Japanese outreach among Central Asian Muslims. The right-wing Baron Hiranuma cabinet pushed for an active pro-Islamic government policy that would officially recognize Islam-oriented agencies but wanted only a general reference to “religions other than Shinto, Buddhism, and Christianity” in the new law. Some opposed the suitability of Islam as a religion. Even those arguing in favor of an Islamic factor in government policy used a political argument, avoiding the religious issue. The popular defense was the demographic argument that the 300 million Muslims of the world were potential allies in achieving Japan’s destiny, the familiar refrain of Ibrahim. For the debaters, Muslims constituted “an anti-Communist block the same as us,” and the Muslims along China’s border with the Soviet Union constituted “the first line of our common defence against Russia.” Araki acknowledged that “Islam is a religion which is very necessary for our national policy in today’s mainland.” He noted that “with respect to the use of religion as an international policy against the Soviet Union, Islam in the mainland constitutes the base from which to form an international movement.” Rather than theology or civilizational issues, the crucial concept was that of Islam as an international movement that could contain communism. [48]

Japanese Pan-Asianist interaction with the world of Islam illustrates the way exiles can provide the fertile transnational environment for integrating diaspora political and intellectual concerns with world power interests. Alexandre A. Benningson and S. Enders Wimbush note that while the revolution destroyed any hopes for a liberal or even leftist Pan-Islamic agenda in Russia, some of the survivors of Leninist and Stalinist oppression became right-wing anticommunists in diaspora.[49] Japanese empire-building in Manchuria provided a haven for many émigrés from the former Romanov and Ottoman empires. Rejected by the Soviet Union and the Republic of Turkey, Muslim Tatars, former Young Turk officers and intelligence men, even Ottoman loyalists joined the diaspora of Pan-Islamists and Pan-Turkists under Japanese protection. Some had been involved in the Basmaci uprising of the Turkic populations in Central Asia in 1922, led by the exiled Young Turk leader Enver Pasha. Most were from the Kazan and Bashkir regions near the Volga river, where Tatars such as Ibrahim had lived. Together with the 100,000 White Russian émigrés, around 10,000 Tatars settled in the Far East. During the 1920s and 1930s, close to 1,000 relocated to Japan. Joining Muslims from British India and the Dutch Indies, the Tatar émigrés formed the bulk of the Muslim community of Japan.[50]

For the Japanese military in Manchuria, this émigré population was the “fertile ground” from which to launch army strategies with respect to Islam policy in Northwest China and Inner Asia, thus actualizing some of the discussions held during Ibrahim’s visit. Nishihara Masao, an intelligence officer during the 1930s, explained the military view of the matter in his 1980 account of intelligence operations out of Harbin. He stated that “from 1931 and 1932 on, the army developed a deep interest in the Islam question and thought that if we could ride the religious communal solidarity of these people, it would promise a very beneficial agitation and operational strength. Thinking this way, since there was a very large population of Russian Muslim émigrés in Manchuria, they could be used in anti-Soviet intelligence.”[51]

The career of M. G. Kurban Galiev (1892–1972) (Muhammed Abdülhay Kurban Ali, in Turkish), a Turkic-speaking Bashkir militia leader and imam of Tatar émigrés in Manchuria, succinctly represents the role of the Muslim diaspora as “our Altaic brothers” in the implementation of Japanese military and intelligence strategy in North Asia against the Soviet Union and China. Komura notes that Kurban was quite successful in using this argument to start a dialogue about Japanese origins in North Asia with the Imperial Way officers, the kd faction, young officers grouped around Generals Araki Sadao and Mazaki Jinzabur who regarded Russia as Japan’s main enemy. [52] Shimano Sabur, a Russia expert and an agent of Mantetsu, provides us with an account of Kurban Ali’s introduction to Kita Ikki, the Japanese nationalist intellectual who was central to the radical nationalist revolution views of the Imperial Way. Shimano claims that Kita was enthusiastic about the prospects of an independent state in North Asia that would liberate the Muslims of the Soviet Union and encouraged Kurban to take the lead. Kurban continued his activities in Japan with the support of the Imperial Way circle, which was subsequently responsible for the coup attempt of 1935 and the February 26, 1936, uprising. The Kokurykai again protected the Tatar Muslim émigrés, for whom it was the protection of a “cornered bird that flies into one’s bosom.” [53] During the Manchurian invasion of 1931, Kurban Ali networked among Muslim minorities, mostly Chinese Muslims in Manchuria and China whom the Japanese targeted as a potential pro-Japanese group to counter anti-Japanese Chinese nationalism. Hadji Nur Tanaka Ippei (1882–1934), who had been trained by Omar Yamaoka as an Islam expert agent, was his close partner. Another was Chang Te-ch’un, a mainland Muslim from Manchuria who collaborated with the Japanese and became imam of the modern mosque in Mukden that was constructed with Japanese support. Kurban Ali also worked for the Japanese authorities in anti-Soviet intelligence, primarily as a propaganda and language expert in Russian and Turkish. He launched the Tokyo Mohammedan Printing House in 1927 and pioneered the Tokyo Mosque project, which was completed in 1938 with Japanese support. [54]

The aftermath of the 1931 Manchurian invasion , engineered by the members of the Kwantung Army, was a turning point in Islam policy strategies, which became visible as Japan’s Asianist foreign policy accelerated with the crumbling of relations with the Anglo-American powers. Muslims from many parts of the world flocked to Japan in 1933. Ibrahim, claiming to have been invited by his Japanese friends, returned to Japan from Turkey. Another arrival was Ayaz Ishaki, a well-known Pan-Turkist literary figure and political activist with secular, nationalist views. Ayaz Ishaki immediately organized a new Tatar émigré organization named the Idil Ural Society of Japan. The connection to Ottoman loyalists and Pan-Turkists was represented by Muhsin Çapanolu, an anti-Kemalist figure who was part of the Turkish diaspora after the founding of the republic, a friend of Kurban Ali’s from Paris, who taught Turkish first in Manchuria and then in a Tokyo military school. Mehmed Rauf K1rkanahtar of the Turkish Secret Service also arrived in 1933 and began teaching Arabic and Turkish in Tokyo. Musa Carullah Bigiyef of Kazan, probably the best scholar of Islamic jurisprudence in his generation, ended up in Japan in 1938, invited by Ibrahim to help educate the Japanese and participate in missionary activities on their behalf in China and South East Asia. [55]

The collaboration between Japanese Asianists and Turkists in the world of Islam manifested itself for the first time in a concrete attempt to implement the “citadel against communism” in North Asia and drive a wedge between Manchuria and China by supporting the Uighur Muslim nationalist ferment for an independent Turkestan as a buffer zone against the Soviet Union and China. There was a plot to enthrone an exiled Ottoman prince, Abdül Kerim Efendi (1904–1935), as the head of an independent Muslim state in Inner Asia. Japanese newspapers reported that on May 20, 1933, the prince arrived in Japan from Singapore at the invitation of Lieutenant General Kikuchi Takeo and Prince Ichij, both members of the House of Peers famous for their Asianist and ultranationalist views and their links with the Kwantung Army. [56] The Turkish and Soviet embassies immediately protested Kerim’s arrival in Tokyo as a plot to establish a “Muslim Manchukuo”—another Japanese puppet regime in Inner Asia. [57] A Japanese Foreign Ministry account of the incident written in 1934 blamed the Kwantung Army gunbu, military elements, Kurban Ali supporters, the Kokurykai, and the Sanbhombu (the General Staff), disassociating the Foreign Ministry from responsibility for the invitation. However, Foreign Minister Hirota Kki gave verbal assurances to the Turkish embassy about the matter. [58]

The controversial scheme had hoped to incorporate the Turkic regions of East Turkestan (Xinjiang province of China) and the Chinese Muslim regions of the northwestern provinces of Gansu and Ningsha under a pro-Japanese regime. After the Manchurian invasion of 1931, Japan’s defiant march out of the League of Nations in 1933 went hand in hand with the Kwantung Army’s invasion of Jehol and North China in order to construct a buffer zone between Manchuria and the Soviet Union and China. [59] The same year, the rebellion of the Turkic Uighur population in Xinjiang, which had begun in 1931, culminated in the declaration of the Turkish Islamic State of East Turkestan (arki Türk Islam Cumhuriyeti). The Turkestan rebellion briefly united former Young Turks and Pan-Islamist figures from many countries who slipped into Xinjiang from Afghanistan to join the fight. [60] In the end, the project dissolved because of differences of opinion among the Japanese authorities, who gave up plans for a direct invasion of Inner Asia. But the Japanese did provide some arms and intelligence support during the rebellion. [61] During the summer of 1934, the Muslim rebellions were crushed under Soviet intervention. In September, Prince Abdül Kerim arrived quietly in New York, where a year later he apparently committed suicide, an event still clouded in mystery. [62]

What is significant about this failed transnational plot is its “mutuality” and “interactive” nature; it was not just a case of Japanese machination, as Owen Lattimore thought at the time. Turkic rebels in Xinjiang and members of the Turkish and Tatar diaspora desperately tried to activate Japanese support for their cause when it seemed that Japanese military interests might lend a receptive ear. Muslims sought the help of Japan for the Xinjiang rebels and contacted Japanese military attachés in Ankara, Istanbul, Kabul, and Cairo. Like Ibrahim and Kurban Ali, visitors brought plans to topple the Soviet Union or Britain or both. In 1936 Tewfik Pasha of Saudi Arabia, who had fought in the Turkestan rebellion since 1931, gave two extensive interviews to the Foreign Ministry regarding a Pan-Islamist plan to overthrow British rule in Asia. The Japanese authorities may not have directly used the plans of such political figures, but an ample number of diaspora “advisors” helped flesh out Japanese military strategies of the future.[63]

The Pan-Asianist kawa Shmei (1886–1957), the most important intellectual advocate of prewar Japanese nationalism, emerges as the major figure in the “interactive” intellectual and political process that brought Islam to the attention of Japanese nationalism and militarism during the 1930s. [64] The “father” of Japanese Pan-Asianism, rival to Kita Ikki, kawa Shmei was an expert on Islam and translated the Koran during his postwar internment in Sugamo Prison and later in a mental ward, having studied classical Arabic under Ibrahim. The clinical description of his hallucinations while under psychiatric treatment attests to Okawa’s unification of Islam and Pan-Asianism: kawa saw “Mohammed dressed in a green mantle and white turban … he states there is only one God: and Mohammed, Christ, and Buddha are all prophets of the same God.” [65] kawa saw Islam as a critical factor in the realization of Pan-Asianism under Japanese aegis. The political challenge of Pan-Islamism and Muslim nationalisms to Western domination was a turning point in modern history because it destabilized the Western world order. For kawa, modern history in Asia was that of European colonialism and Asiatic efforts to revive Asia. Seike Motoyoshi argues that Islam appealed to kawa because it was a universal religion: it could become the basis for a global movement that did not depend on the nation-state in order to challenge the West in this conflict. Pan-Islamism constituted a supranational dynamic, an Islamic “international” that would shake the hegemony of the West. [66] kawa’s studies stand out because he perceived the dynamics of modernity in contemporary currents of the Islamic world, a view antithetical to the European Orientalist perspective, critically discussed by Edward Said, which characterized the Islamic world as a classical, premodern civilization that profoundly differed from the modern West. [67] In Kaiky gairon, a collection of lectures published in 1943 to help the war effort, kawa notes that Islamic civilization was part of the history of the Western world that had fallen into a state of stagnation and decline with the rise of the modern West, stressing, however, that the Muslim nationalisms and Pan-Islamism represented the new awakening of the Islamic world. kawa argued that Japan should harness this force to challenge the West and construct modern Asia. [68] However, he also criticized the mistakes of the Young Turks and Kemalists and the Indian nationalists, who had allowed too much Europeanization which Japan should avoid. [69]

kawa’s intellectual discourse is significant because it influenced Japanese government praxis concerning Islam policy in the late 1930s. He pioneered the establishment of Islamic area studies supported by the Army, Navy, and the Gaimush in line with their Asianist interest in the Islamic world. [70] In 1938 he founded a special training school, the Zuikry, for young Japanese Asia experts, with the support of the Foreign Ministry’s intelligence division. What kawa put into practice were two divergent ideas for the education of Japanese youth that combined a policy of “pure Japaneseness” at home and Asianist education abroad. The school recruited about twenty young men “of intelligence from a provincial background” uncorrupted by the Westernized culture of Japan’s cities. Inculcated in patriotism through devotion to the emperor and Japanese culture, those he recruited were to lead the country out of decadence. Discarding European cosmopolitanism, they were, however, to be Asian “internationalists” with a political agenda to work toward Asian liberation by fostering friendship for the sake of the Japanese Empire. During the war, kawa lectured daily on colonial history and Islam at the Zuikry, which became known as kawa’s “spy school.” [71]

The school’s curriculum represented the perfect amalgam for inculcating Japanese youth in “pure Japaneseness” together with Islam policy as an Asianist strategy. Students received intensive training in European languages and in Turkish, Persian, and Arabic in addition to colonial history and modern Asian and Islamic studies. Experts such as Nait Chish, the first Ottomanist of Japan, kubo Kji, an expert on Central Asia and Turkic affairs, Kobayashi Hajime, the first Japanese student to study in Al Azhar of Egypt, and Izutsu Toshihiko, an eminent scholar of Islamic philosophy, provided the language training. The educational vision even extended to ethics and manners to counter corruptive cosmopolitanism. The aristocrat Tokugawa Yoshichika (1886–1976), who was a close associate of kawa, an expert in Malay culture, and a friend of the anti-British sultans of that colony (and who later became governor of Singapore during the Japanese occupation), taught ethics and manners to the young provincial agents, grooming the new Japanese youth for their cause. [72]

During 1938, the Japanese government started to implement its Islam policy by creating the Dai Nippon Kaiky Kykai (The Greater Japan Islamic League, hereafter DNKK) with the support of the Gaimush, the Army, and the Navy. The DNKK was the official Islamic organization of Japan until the end of World War II. Its main purposes were the promotion of Islamic studies, the introduction of Japanese culture to the Muslim world, the development of mutual trade ties, cultural exchange, and policy research. The DNKK undertook propaganda work, organized an exhibition of Muslim culture in Matsuzakaya department store, and worked hard for the Diet’s recognition of Islam. General Hayashi Senjur, who had supported the Manchurian invasion, became president. The “everlasting” Ibrahim, whose photographs were used widely in Islam-oriented propaganda publications, became the Muslim leader. [73]

The Japanese government’s adoption of an Islam policy as part of its Asianist foreign policy of Japan was symbolized by the Tokyo Mosque, a beautiful building in classical Central Asian architectural style that was opened in 1938 in Yoyogi-Uehara. A description of the opening ceremony, which was attended by the Japanese military-civilian elite and international guests, exposes Japan’s Islam policy on the eve of World War II:
On 12 May 1938, the attention of the Muslim world was fixed on the capital of Japan. The occasion was the dedication of the mosque, the first of its kind to be opened in Tokyo. It was a notable occasion in more ways than one. A skilful build-up had commenced months in advance. Delegates had been invited from the various Islamic countries, with all expenses covered. Representative Japanese were in attendance to extend to the guests the official welcome of the Government. The date was bound to impress itself on the memory of many millions of Muslims all over the world, for it coincided with the birthday of Muhammad. Thus the birth of the Prophet and dawn of a new era for Islam under Japan had been brought into suggestive association.[74]

Those present at the ceremony were evidence of the coalition between the Japanese Asianists and Muslims that had begun with the 1905 Russo-Japanese War and had now become part of the Japanese claim to Asia. Abdürreid Ibrahim conducted the prayers. Tyama Mitsuru, the dark figure of Japanese nationalism from the Meiji era, cut the ribbon. In the ceremonial photograph taken, Admiral Ogasawara Chsei, a familiar figure at such Asianist-Islam events, sat in the center with Ibrahim and Tyama, the “elders,” on either side. The crown prince of Yemen, Husain, was present, having recently arrived to appeal to the Japanese Diet for the recognition of Islam. Other envoys came from the holy city of Mecca. There were Chinese Muslims, Muslim émigrés from the Soviet Union, and the Italian ambassador. Beneath the ceremonial surface, the Japanese government’s Islam policy reflected the interconnection between domestic political conflict and international affairs. Noteworthy was the absence of the Turkish envoy, a result of the quiet conflict over the Abdül Kerim incident that had threatened Ankara’s republican secularism. In place of Kurban Ali, the pioneer of the mosque project, who was purged with the Imperial Way faction, Ibrahim, “kawa’s teacher,” became the official imam of the Tokyo Mosque. He was the source of much Japanese propaganda toward Asian Muslims throughout the war years. Symbolically, the opening of the mosque represented the beginning of the final stage of Japan’s global claim to Asia through Islam as a policy of war. [75]

In hindsight, Japanese involvement among Muslims from the Meiji period through the Showa era reveals an alternative pattern of “international relations” not registered in treaties. Diplomacy was conducted through informal go-betweens. Japanese Asianist agents entered into the informal transnational network of Muslims across many different countries. Agents such as Yamaoka, Shimano, and Komura chose to live in the mosque compounds in the Muslim quarters of cities and villages in Russia, China, and Inner Mongolia, frequently in disguise. Japanese religious pilgrimages to Mecca served as a means of contact between the Japanese authorities and Muslims. Omar Yamaoka, Ibrahim’s associate and the first Japanese convert to Islam, had begun this form of networking in 1910. Hadji Nur Tanaka Ippei, the expert on Chinese Islam and friend of Kurban Ali, had followed this pattern with a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1924. During the pilgrimages to Mecca in 1934 and 1936, a new crop of Muslim Japanese agents had been initiated into the strategy of Islam policy. Many of this younger generation of agents who served in the Pacific War had been trained in Islam by that older generation. Others had received training in kawa’s “spy school.” They wore Muslim attire and took appropriate Muslim names such as Muhammad Saleh Suzuki Tsuyomi, sometimes referred to as “Hadji Saleh.” Others were Hadji Yamauchi, Muhammad Abdul Muniam Hosokawa Susumu, Muhammad Abduralis Kori Shozo, and Muhammad Nimet Enomoto Momotaro. All declared their entry into the faith in order to serve their country. Gaimush telegrams show that Japanese agents in Muslim guise recruited Muslims in Mecca and Medina willing to work for Japan in future operations and arranged for their entry into Japan through the diplomatic legation in Cairo or Istanbul. [76]

The story of Japan and the world of Islam concludes with the Japanese military’s use of Islam policy, derived from kawa’s vision, in the 1942 South Seas invasion of the Dutch Indies. Studies of the invasion and occupation of the Dutch Indies have discussed the use of Islam for the social and cultural mobilization of Indonesia as a wartime phenomenon. But this article shows that the long years of Japanese Pan-Asianist intellectual and military involvement with Islamic affairs bore fruit in the engagement against Western colonialism. In the field, Japanese Muslim agents organized the local Muslim leaders and communities to aid the initial entry of Japanese military forces. During the Japanese occupation, military authorities made extensive use of the local ulema, who had felt suppressed under the Dutch, in a drive to give an Islamic character to occupation policies. Even the “venerable fiery preacher,” the ninety-year-old Ibrahim, broadcast war propaganda on behalf of Japan to the Indonesians, as he had in 1909. The June 14, 1942 Shanghai Times headline read “Japan Muslims Confident of Nippon Victory.” Once the admirer of Japan’s constitution and superiority to Romanov despotism, Ibrahim’s rhetoric now was fully in keeping with a warlike interpretation of Jihad: “Japan’s cause in the Greater East Asia War is a sacred one and in its austerity is comparable to the war carried out against the infidels by the Prophet Muhammad in the past.” The Crescent and the Rising Sun, in Harry J. Benda’s terms, became the core of Japan’s occupation, which momentarily made it “acceptable” to Indonesians hoping for emancipation from Dutch colonialism. Many Japanese Islam organizations have survived in the postwar era as part of Indonesian Islam.[77]

The question remains as to the effect of Islam policy in this quagmire. While Indonesian nationalist leaders were disillusioned with the Japanese colonial exploitation, nonetheless, Japan’s dive into the militarist power politics of empire- building as a “rough player,” in the words of John Dower, accelerated the destruction of the Western empires in Asia.[78] This effect can be traced directly in the case of Indonesia, where Hadji Saleh Suzuki and other Muslim Japanese agents acted as the vanguard of the invasion. Significantly, their point of entry was the staunch Muslim Aceh region of north Sumatra, occupied by the Dutch in 1903, admirer of Japan in 1905, and the center for radical Muslim agitation ever since. In 1945, Suzuki trained local Indonesian youths as a militia on the eve of surrender to ensure their capacity to fight against the imminent return of the colonial Dutch authorities. The name of Suzuki’s guerrilla organization was Hezbollah, the faction of God—a name that stops us in our tracks.[79] The Hezbollah participated in the guerrilla fight during the Indonesian war for independence against the Dutch until 1949. This Japanese Asianist baptism of the politically engaged name Hezbollah reinforces the message that the militancy of twentieth-century Islam in Asia is not simply indigenous to the Islamic world. It had an interactive transnational history with Japanese Asianism.

Although Japanese Pan-Asianism and political Islam shared a critique of the West that helped create dialogue between them, in the end, Japan’s use of Islam represents the same process as that of contemporary Western powers: linking intelligence strategies and cultural studies so that knowledge serves the interests of world power.[80] A major concern of this article has been the relevance of this historical experience for today. I suggest that Japanese involvement with political Islam helped implant world power intelligence networks within the transnational Muslim diaspora in Asia that influenced their politicization. Japanese Pan-Asianism collaborated with Muslim actors on the basis of an anticolonial stance against the Western empires. It helped to evict the Dutch at the end of the war and bring Indonesian nationalists to power. Kurasawa argues the Japanese occupation accelerated the modern organizational potency of Islam in that country. Paramilitary training, or collaboration with the staunch Muslim Aceh rebels who are still the bastion of radicalism, perhaps incited awareness of their global significance. The Japanese Army’s use of Islam in North Asia against Chinese nationalism ceased with the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. But the Japanese Army’s strategic policy to use Islam as a “citadel against communism” against the Soviet Union was a different matter. This prewar Japanese Army intelligence strategy of anticommunism heralded the postwar United States global strategy.[81]

The Japanese Empire’s use of Islam for “Asian Awakening” or as a “citadel against communism” blurs the simplistic arguments of Huntington or Buruma for the clash of civilizations or antimodernism as the basis of both prewar Japanese nationalism and today’s radical Islamic movements. Neither the Japanese Asianists nor the Pan-Islamists in this partnership were antimodern or crudely anti-Western. Not desiring a return to the past, they were part of new, dynamic transnational currents at the turn of the twentieth century that revolted against Western hegemony.

Later, when they lost their reformist and liberal vision, their object was to construct modern Asia anew, after destroying the colonial West. kawa Shmei’s argument about the transnational political potential of the Islamic world for destabilizing Western interests was distinctly modern, though dangerous. Unlike Lawrence of Arabia, who served the British Empire by inciting the Arab revolt, and Snouck Hurgronje, the Dutch expert on Islam for whom conversion represented an undesirable melting into the Orient, Japanese Pan-Asianist Muslim agents tactically justified religious conversion, some even claiming sincerity. [82] In the case of kawa, Islam became integral to the Asianist invention of the modern self that rejected the Orientalist paradigm.

A final note. Edward Said, in an optimistic strain, once wrote about the émigré “whose consciousness is that of the intellectual and artist in exile, the political figure between domains, between forms, between homes, and between languages as the source of exilic energies which can articulate the predicaments that disfigure modernity.” The Japanese experience with Islam, however, is an early twentieth-century example of how transnational diasporas, “wounded birds that fly into bosoms,” can be inherently vulnerable to global power interests and as such is worthy of reflecting upon in this day and age.[83] Political actors such as Ibrahim, Kurban Ali, and Tewfik Pasha had voluntarily come to the doorstep of Japan when it was the rising star against the imperialist West. World power politics mutated their former intellectual vision of a reform and modernism suitable for Islam inspired by the Japanese experience. By 1941, the diaspora in search of a liberator had become an instrument of Japan’s propaganda and intelligence in Asia. Away from his family, which was dispersed between Russia and Turkey, Ibrahim died in Tokyo in 1944 at the age of ninety-two, and was buried with an official ceremony attended by Japanese dignitaries and local Muslims. Kurban Ali, arrested by the Soviets in 1945, died in a Siberian prison camp in 1972. Some Tatars immigrated to Turkey, becoming Turkish citizens. Others went to the United States. Few chose to remain in Japan. But their identity as Tatars, Muslims, or Turks no longer fit the American orientation of postwar Japanese society, which developed amnesia about its prewar Asianist past. Japan and the world of Islam became a forgotten political legacy.[84]

I would like to express my thanks to the anonymous reviewers of this article whose careful commentary and detailed contributions have helped me greatly. The article is a product of research on different facets of the history of Japan and the world of Islam that I began about a decade ago in Turkey and have continued in Japan and the United States. I decided to write it after the terrible shock of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, which increased awareness of how timely the topic is. Portions of the article were presented at the 1998 meeting of the Association for Asian Studies and in a series of talks at New York University, Columbia University, and Harvard University during 2000.

Many thanks are due to friends and colleagues who have shared their comments and advice over the years. I would like to thank Tamamoto Masaru, who drew my attention to the OSS reports. I benefited greatly from my Fulbright residency in New York during the year 2000, which enabled me to enhance the conceptual frame and research of the topic. Discussions over the years with colleagues in the United States, especially Harry Harootunian, Rebecca Karl, Louise Young, Stephan Tanaka, Ariel Salzmann, Carol Gluck, Bob Immerman, Madeleine Zelin, Dru Gladney, and Sharon Miniciello, have been crucial in sharpening my focus. The European Association of Japanese Studies milieu of Ian Nish, Bert Edstom, and Paul Norbury has helped the transmission of some of my research on this topic to publishable form. In Turkey, special thanks are due to Faruk Birtek, Bilge Criss, Selim Deringil, Alan Duben, Edhem Eldem, Tony Greenwood, Ekmelettin Ihsanoglu, Huri Cihan Islamoglu, erif Mardin, Binnaz Toprak, and Zafer Toprak. Mary Berkmen has greatly helped me improve the various drafts and clarify my points. Erzen Onur has helped refine the concepts. All have been my intellectual partners. In Japan, I owe special thanks to the Japan Foundation and Nichibunken and colleagues Ikei Masaru, Sakamoto Tsutomu, Suzuki Tadashi, Inaba Chiharu, and Okamura Tatsuo. Shiraiwa Kazuhiko of the Diet Library, Shiraishi Masaaki of the Diplomatic Record Office of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the research staff at the Boeitosho, military history archives of the Self Defence Agency, have been personally helpful in this research.

Selçuk Esenbel is professor of history in the Department of History, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey. She is also in charge of East Asian Studies there, including the Japanese and Chinese language programs. Her publications include Even the Gods Rebel: Peasants of Takaino and the 1871 Nakano Uprising (1998); “The People of Tokugawa Japan: The State of the Field in Early Modern Social/Economic History,” Early Modern Japan (Spring 2002); and The Rising Sun and the Turkish Crescent: New Perspectives on Japanese Turkish Relations (2003), with Inaba Chiharu. She is currently at work on a book about Japan and the Islamic world.

1 Muslim celebration of Japan’s victory was part of global enthusiasm for Japan by all those oppressed under Romanov Russia or any kind of authoritarian power. See Marius Jansen, The Japanese and Sun Yat-sen (Stanford, Calif., 1954), for Chinese nationalists and Japan; Ben-Ami Shillony, The Jews and the Japanese: The Successful Outsiders (Rutland, Vt., 1991), 143–50, for Jewish support; Ewa Palasz Rutkowska, “Major Fukushima and His Influence on the Japanese Perception of Poland at the Turn of the Century,” in Bert Edström, ed. The Japanese and Europe: Images and Perceptions (Richmond Surrey, 2000), 125–34, for Polish patriots collaborating with Japan; Olave K. Falt and Antti Kujula, eds. Akashi Motojiro Rakka Ryusui: Colonel Akashi’s Report on His Secret Cooperation with the Russian Revolutionary Parties during the Russo-Japanese War, translated by Inaba Chiharu (Helsinki, 1988), 177–97, for the Finnish underground; Renee Worringer, “Comparing Perceptions: Japan as Archetype for Ottoman Modernity, 1876–1918,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 2001, 31, for the Muslim enthusiasms.

2 Worringer, “Comparing Perceptions,” 356. For seminal work on this subject, see Harry J. Benda, The Crescent and the Rising Sun (The Hague, 1958), 4–21, on Dutch obsession with Islamic awakening and the effect of the Middle East, Japanese impact among rebel Aceh groups, and Japan as an inspiration; Deliar Noer, The Modernist Muslim Movement in Indonesia 1900–1942 (Kuala Lumpur, 1978), 28–29, for Aceh quotation.

3 See George Lipsitz, “‘Frantic to Join … the Japanese Army’: Black Soldiers and Civilians Confront the Asia Pacific War,” in T. Fujitani, Geoffrey M. White, and Lisa Yoneyama, eds., Perilous Memories: The Asia-Pacific War(s) (Durham, N.C., 2001), 347–77, for the Japan connection to African-American antiracist and antiwar movements in the United States. Harald Fuess, ed., The Japanese Empire in East Asia and Its Postwar Legacy (Munich, 1998), 10, for “if necessary by war”; Hiroshi Shimizu, “The Japanese Trade Contact with the Middle East: Lessons from the Pre-oil Period,” in Kaoru Sugihara and J. A. Allan, eds., Japan in the Contemporary Middle East (London, 1993), 27–54, on prewar Japanese relations with the Middle East.

4 See Harry Harootunian, History’s Disquiet: Modernity, Cultural Practice, and the Question of Everyday Life (New York, 2000), 25–59, for area studies as dinosaur. Hence the subject of Japan and Islam is corrective of the distortion in the field of Japanese studies that posits itself within the binary opposites of Japan and the West.

5 Kawamura Mitsuo, “Sen zen nihon no isuramu cht kenky shoshi: Shwa san jnendai o chushin ni” (The Short History of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies in Japan as Case of the 1930s), Annals of Japan Association for Middle East Studies 2 [hereafter AJMES] (1987): 409–39, for criticism. Postwar secondary sources on the subject remain few. For basic treatment of the history of Japan and Islam by an insider who served in Inner Mongolia, see Komura Fuji, Nihon isuramu shi (Tokyo, 1988); for the prewar account, Wakabayashi Nakaba (Han), Kaiky sekai to nihon (The World of Islam and Japan) (Tokyo, 1938); for recent work on cultural perspectives, Sugita Hideaki, Nihon jin no cht hakken gyaku enkinhno naka no kikaku bunkashi (Japanese Discovery of the Middle East Reciprocal Comparative Cultural History) (Tokyo, 1995); for an engaging popular account, Tazawa Takuya, Musurimu Nippon (Tokyo, 1998); Nakamura Kjir , “Early Japanese Pilgrims to Mecca,” Orient 22 (1986): 47–57; Selçuk Esenbel, “Japanese Interest in the Ottoman Empire,” in Edström, The Japanese and Europe, 95–124, especially 96–101; and Selçuk Esenbel and Inaba Chiharu, eds., The Rising Sun and the Turkish Crescent: New Perspectives on the History of Japanese-Turkish Relations (Istanbul, 2003); Hee-Soo Lee, Ìslam ve Türk Kültürünün Uzak Dogu’ya YayIlmasI (The Spreading of Islam and Turkish Culture to the Far East) (Ankara, 1988). Also noteworthy are Worringer, “Comparing Perceptions”; Cemil Ayd1n, “The Politics of Civilizational Identitites: Asia, West and Islam in the Pan-Asianist Thought of kawa Shmei,” Ph.D. disseration, Harvard University, 2002; Nadir Özbek, “Abdürreid Ibrahim (1857–1944): The Life and Thought of a Muslim Activist,” M.A. thesis, Bogazici University, 1994; and Hüseyin Özkaya, “The Use of a Novel as a Source for the Study of Turkish-Japanese Relations: Shiba Shir’s Kajin no Kigu (Chance Meeting with Beautiful Women),” M. A. thesis, Bogazici University, 2004.

6 Japanese sources for this essay are primarily from the Diplomatic Record Office (Gaikshirykan) of the Japanese Foreign Ministry (Gaimush) dealing with religious and missionary activities in the home country and abroad: Gaikshirykan, Tokyo, Honna ni okeru shky oyobi fuky zakken (Miscellaneous documents on religious and missionary activities in the home country), 1–2 (hereafter Honna), and Kakkoku ni okeru shky oyobi fuky kankei zakken (Miscellaneous documents on religious and missionary activities abroad in other countries) 2–5 (hereafter Kaku). Primary sources in English are mainly from the National Archives, Washington, D.C., microfilm version in the Library of Congress. Office of Strategic Services, R&A; reports no. 890, Japanese Infiltration among Muslims Throughout the World (May 1943); no. 890.1, Japanese Infiltration among Muslims in China (May 1944); no. 890.2, Japanese Attempts at Infiltration among Muslims in Russia and Her Borderlands (August 1944) (hereafter OSS with number).

7 The postwar involvement of the United States in using the forces of political Islam and its Pan-Islamist themes against the Soviet Union as a “green belt” against communism has been shown to have been a dangerous liason. In particular, the use of radical Muslims as an armed force to resist the Soviet invasion of Afganistan in 1979 triggered the militarization of transnational Islamism. See Ahmed Rashid, Taliban, Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven, Conn., 2000), and Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (New York, 2000).

8 Samuel P. Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs 72 (Summer 1993): 22–49; Avishai Margalit and Ian Buruma, “Occidentalism,” New York Review of Books, January 17, 2002.

9 For transnational and global Islamism as history of international relations that fits my understanding, see Anthony Best, Jussi M. Hanhimaki, Joseph A. Maiolo, and Kirsten E. Schulze, International History of the Twentieth Century (London, 2003), 438–39; for transnational nationalism, Prasenjit Duara, Rescuing History from the Nation: Questioning Narratives of Modern China (Chicago, 1996), 3; for conflict with the nationalism of nation-states, Duara, “Transnationalism and the Predicament of Sovereignty: China, 1900–1945,”AHR 102 (October, 1997): 1030–51, esp. 1030. Jacob M. Landau, Pan-Turkism: A Study of Irredentism (Hamden, 1981), 1–7, 176–90, discusses the failure of Pan-Turkism in the nation-state. My article sees the significance of the movement as part of global history or international history outside of the nation-state but within world power strategies. Pan-Turkism grew from the intellectual movements of Turkic Russia Muslims in Central Asia at the turn of the century that challenged Pan-Slavism. Émigré Pan-Turkist intellectuals had been the source for the emergence of Turkish nationalism in the late Ottoman period, but after the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923, the regime of Kemal Atatürk discouraged Pan-Turkist activities as being incompatible not only with the good relations Ankara had formed with the Soviet Union but also with the Anatolian-based concept of Turkish citizenship. For a discussion of transnationality in its greater social and economic contexts see Linda Basch, N. G. Schiller, and C. S. Blanc, Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments, and Deterritorialized Nation-States (Luxembourg, 1994), and Duara, “Transnationalism,” 1031.

10 Selim Deringil, “Legitimacy Structures in the Ottoman State: The Reign of Abdulhamid II (1876–1909),” International Journal of Middle East Studies 23 (1991): 343–59. Indonesian students from Ottoman schools claimed they were “white Europeans” back in the Dutch Indies because they had Ottoman passports. The Ottoman Empire had been recognized as essentially a “European power” with the Treaty of Paris after the Crimean War. Indian nationalists lived in Istanbul while on the run from British intelligence and contacted German intelligence to move on to Berlin.

11 For transnational nationalism as intellectual discourse and transcendental vision, see Duara, Rescuing History, 1–3.

12 For Pan-Asianism in Japan, see Christopher W. A. Szpilman, “The Dream of One Asia: Okawa Shumei and Japanese Asianism,” in Harald Fuess, ed., The Japanese Empire in East Asia, 49–64. Pan-Islamism in the form of reformist and modernist movements debated utopian and nationalist objectives in the nineteenth century and took the form of transnational movements against Western imperialism and colonialism at the turn of the twentieth century. The late nineteenth-century pioneers were Jamal al-Din al-Afgani (1839–1897) of Iran and Muhammed Rashid Rida (1865–1935) and Muhammad Abdu (1849–1905) of Egypt. See Anthony Black The History of Islamic Political Thought: From the Prophet to the Present (Edinburgh, 2001); J. M. Landau, The Politics of Pan-Islamism: Ideology and Organisation (Oxford, 1990); Azmi Özcan, Pan-Islamism: Indian Muslims, the Ottomans and Britain (1877–1924) (Leiden, 1997), 23–40; and erif Mardin, The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought (Princeton, N.J., 1964).

13 See Tetsuo Najita and Harry Harootunian, “Japanese Revolt against the West: Political and Cultural Criticism in the Twentieth Century,” in Peter Duus, ed., The Cambridge History of Japan, vol. 6: The Twentieth Century (Cambridge, 1995), 714; Su Ge, “How Does Asia Mean? (Part I),” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 1 (2000): 13–47, especially 15–17, 20–21, 27.

14 Su Ge, “How Does Asia Mean,” 14.

15 The Kokurykai was founded in 1901 by Uchida Ryhei and was connected with the Genysha. Tyama Mitsuru was its spiritual leader. The Kokurykai subscribed to ideas of harmony between East and West, revival of the martial spirit, educational reform, and overseas expansion. Its members had relations with the military and some civilian businessmen and worked in close contact with the army as intelligence agents and interpreters. They were involved in the Chinese Nationalist Revolution. Some had considerable influence over Japan’s China policy. After World War I, the society became involved in the suppression of labor and socialist movements. It was accused of militarism and fascism by the U.S. occupation government and purged in 1946. For the Kokurykai and Genysha, see E. H. Norman “The Genyosha: A Study in the Origins of Japanese Imperialism,” Pacific Affairs 17 (September 1944): 261–84.

16 After the Russo-Japanese war, the Japanese military authorities perceived the Muslim world’s enthusiasm for Japan’s victory against Russia as potentially helpful in advancing Japan’s interests. See Deringil, “Ottoman Japanese Relations in the Late Nineteenth Century,” in Esenbel, Rising Sun, 42–48. The Ottoman governor and the Sixth Army in Baghdad reported to the Istanbul authorities that Japanese officers and some intellectual figures were sounding out pro-Japanese local opinion in Iraq for the commercial and political interests of Japan; for conversion propaganda, see Worringer, “Comparing Perceptions,” 99. The Japanese may have encouraged the propagation of the image of the “Rising Sun,” or the “Rising Star of the East,” in the publications of the Islamic world, even spreading the popular rumor that the Japanese emperor might convert to Islam. For Young Turks Abdullah Cevdet, Ahmet Riza, and Japan, see Worringer, “Comparing Perceptions,” 203–17.

17 See Sugita, Nihon jin, 220–24; Worringer, “Comparing Perceptions,” 34–38 especially.

18 See Worringer, “Comparing Perceptions,” 36–37, for constitution.

19 See Worringer, “Comparing Perceptions,” 34, for Western civilization as a method against Western imperialism.

20 For an Arab critical view of how Japan misused this liberal Pan-Asianism for its own expansionist designs, see Bassam Sibi, Arab Nationalism: A Critical Enquiry (New York, 1971), 261, cited in Worringer, “Comparing Perceptions,” 38.

21 John D. Pierson, Tokutomi Sho 1863–1957: A Journalist for Modern Japan (Princeton, N.J., 1980), 11, 76, 106–14.

22 Deringil, “Ottoman,” 47.

23 W. G. Beasley, Japanese Imperialism 1894–1945 (Oxford, 1987), 69–85.

24 Shimizu in Sugihara, Japan, 32–33. Japan’s diplomatic relations with Turkey began in 1924, resulting in the only Japanese embassy in the Middle East during the interwar period. Afghanistan, Iran, and Egypt had to wait as late as the mid-1930s. In the case of Western mandates such as Egypt and Lebanon, the Japanese legations had to work within their administration. Japan’s relations with Pakistan and Indonesian Islam had to wait for the end of the British and Dutch colonial empires in the postwar period.

25 See Best, International History, 80–106 for an overview of Western imperialism and colonialism. I prefer the term “politically compromised,” for I do not think the popular term “semi-colony,” referring to the hegemony of the Western powers over Iranian, Ottoman, or Chinese empires that reduced them to a vulnerable and weak state, sufficiently explains the autonomy of inner circles of political power elites in these noncolonized polities. The weak governments may have bowed to Western pressure and intervention on numerous occasions but while they lasted, their political elite acted as the decisionmakers of their modern experience, unlike the Western colonial governments that dictated the framework of the colonial modern experience.

26 The Ottoman government treated Japanese diplomatic overtures politely, greeting Meiji aristocrats with profuse expressions of Asian solidarity and generous doses of royal medals. The late nineteenth-century Sultan Abdülhamid II even sent an imperial frigate to exchange good will messages with the Meiji emperor. See Worringer, “Comparing Perceptions,” 47–114; Selçuk Esenbel, “A Fin de Siècle Japanese Romantic in Istanbul: The Life of Yamada Torajjr and His Toruko Gakan,” Bulletin of SOAS 59 (1996): 237–52.

27 Ibrahim’s career is typical of this generation of “revolutionary globe trotters,” roaming from city to city in search of collaboration and networking. Although he published mostly in Ottoman Turkish or Tatar and Russian, Ibrahim argued that publishing in classical Arabic made it possible for Muslims as far away as China, Indonesia, Russia, and the Middle East, who did not share a common ethnic language, to participate in the debate on the contemporary issues and problems of Islam. This is an important idea that the Japanese authorities also adopted during the 1930s when they started an active pro-Japanese propaganda effort toward the Muslim world. See Mahmud Tahir, “Abdurrasid Ibrahim 1857–1944,” Central Asian Survey 7 (1988): 135–40. For biography, recent groundbreaking research on Ibrahim has been done by Esenbel, Nadir Özbek, Ismail Türkoglu, Hayrettin Kaya, Ahmet Uçar, and François Georgeon. See also special file Özel Dosya Abdürreid Ibrahim (1), Toplumsal Tarih 4 (July 1995): 6–29; and (2) Toplumsal Tarih 5 (August 1995): 6–23; Özbek, “Abdurresid Ibrahim.” For Ibrahim and Pan-Turkist Zeki Velidi as Volga Tatar identity in transformation through an Islamic political formula, see erif Mardin, “An Islamic Political Formula in Transformation: Islam, Identity, and Nationalism in the History of the Volga Tatars,” in Charles E. Butterworth and I. William Zartman, eds., Between the State and Islam (Cambridge, 2001), 59–58; OSS, R&A; 890.2, 15–16, 25–26, appendix 63, 80.

28 See Kokurykai, Kokurykai sanjnen jireki (The Thirty-Year Record of the Kokurykai) (Tokyo, 1930), 17, 21 for references to Ibrahim and his son Munir; Jansen, Japanese, for the close connections between Sun and Kokurykai.

29 See El Mostafa Rezrazi, “Dai Ajiashugi to nihon isuramuky: Hatano Uho no chhkara isuramu e no tabi” (“Pan-Asianism and the Japanese Islam: The Journey of Hatano Uho from Intelligence to Islam”), AJMES, 12 (March 1997): 89–112, for Barakatullah, Hatan, and Ariga; Worringer “Comparative Perceptions,” 144–45, for translation of Asia in Danger into Ottoman Turkish (Asya Tehlikede). Bogazici University (former Robert College) Library collection has a copy. For Ta Dbunkai see Peter Duus, Ramon H. Myers, and Mark R. Peattie, The Japanese Informal Empire in China, 1895–1937 (Princeton, N.J., 1989), 210–71, for details. There is a reference to a Hatan Ysaku, based in Urumchi (Tihua) between 1905 and 1907.

30 For Java letters, see Ahmet Uçar, Toplumsal Tarih 20 (August 1995): 15–17.

31 Yamaoka Ktar, Sekai no shimpiky Arabia jdanki (Mystery of the World: The Record of the Pilgrimage to Arabia) (Tokyo, 1912), 1–2; for Yamaoka Kotar, see Nakamura Kjir, “Early Japanese,” 47–57; Sakatomo Tsutomu, “The First Japanese Hadji Yamaoka Ktar and Abdürreid Ibrahim” in Esenbel, Rising Sun, 105–21.

32 Gaimush, Gaikjih 137, 1909, Tatarujin dokuritsu no kib, 26–33, for interview; Abdürreid Ibrahim, Alem-i Islam ve Japonya’da IntisarI Islamiyet (The World of Islam and the Spreading of Islam in Japan) 2 vols. (Istanbul, 1910–1911); Japanese translation by Komatsu Kaori and Komatsu Hisao, Caponya (Tokyo, 1991; modern Turkish version, Mehmet Paksu, ed., Yirminci Asrin Baslarinda Islam Dünyasive Japonya’da Islamiyet (The World of Islam at the Turn of the Twentieth Century and Islam in Japan) (Istanbul, 1987).

33 Ibrahim, Alem, 319–21, for conversion.

34 Ibrahim, Alem, 248, 358, 370, for Ibrahim’s enthusiastic endorsement of the Japanese as an ideal people for conversion and the adaptation of the Japanese mode for modernity, the wakonyosai (Japanese spirit Western technology) for Islamic modernity in the case of women’s education, electric lights, postal service, historical society, and medicine.

35 Ibrahim, Alem, 354–64, 359, 366–67, 392–94, 401, 413, and 427 for meeting.

36 Ibrahim, Alem, for photograph with Kaiky seisaku slogan.

37 Ibrahim, Alem, 201–204, 265, and 327 for kuma and Inukai.

38 Ibrahim, Alem, 200, for oath and signers. Indian Muslims were present but did not sign. Forthcoming Modern Middle East Sourcebook Project (MMESP) has a section on Pan-Asianism, and Renee Worringer has translated Ajia Gikai’s statement of purpose as it appeared in an Ottoman journal; see Worringer, “Comparative Perceptions,” 143–44. The society would strive to arm and protect Asians whose morality was sound, whose customs were admirable, whose nature was peaceful, and whose thinking was correct. Ajia Gikai claims to have funded the education of Ibrahim’s son Münir and two other Ottoman youths in Tokyo, but the Kokurykai claims it funded Münir’s education in Waseda University.

39 See the following sources for versions: Ibrahim, Alem, photograph; Kokurykai, Ta senkaku shishi kiden (Biographies of Pioneer Patriots of East Asia) (Tokyo, 1936), 351–52; Wakabayashi, Kaiky sekai, photograph; OSS, R&A;, 890.2, 3.

40 The identification of names from the 1909 oath in Ibrahim’s Alem and later Japanese versions in Wakabayashi, Kaiky sekai, and Kokurykai, Ta senkaku, is gleaned from the biographies in OSS, R&A; 890.2, appendix.

41 Ta senkaku shishi kiden, 351–52.

42 See James Crowley, Japan’s Quest for Autonomy: National Security and Foreign Policy 1930–1938 (Princeton, N.J., 1966), 111. Crowley explains that the operations division of the general staff, especially Generals Araki Sadao and Hata Shunroku, loathed communism. By 1931, the operations division was convinced that Japanese-Soviet conflict was inevitable.

43 See Akira Iriye, Power and Culture: The Japanese-American War 1941–45 (Cambridge, 1981), 2, for internationalism of Gaimush; Frederick R. Dickinson, War and National Reinvention: Japan in the Great War, 1914–1919 (Cambridge, 1999), 44–49 for the Asian orientation of the military-civilian elite.

44 Shimano Sabur denki kankkai, Shimano Sabur: Mantetsu sren jh katsud ka no shgai (The Lives of Soviet Intelligence Experts of Mantetsu) (Tokyo, 1984), 463–64; Matsuoka Ysuke denki kankkai, Matsuoka Ysuke sono hito to shgai (Matsuoka Ysuke, the Person and his Life) (Tokyo, 1974), 719–20 for a discussion of Matsuoka’s Islam policy and relations with Tatar émigrés.

45 Honna, 1937, 12 month, 6–13 day, Kaiky kinkykai, Imaoka Jichir, 472–99, report on Soviet and Shinese Xinjiang Muslims as pro-Japanese.

46 I have drawn on Stephan Tanaka, Japan’s Orient: Rendering Pasts into History (Berkeley, Calif., 1993), 88. Tanaka shows that Japanese historiography at the turn of the twentieth century debated the special bonds between the Japanese and the Altaic peoples. Shiratori Kurakichi, the founder of the field of ty-shi, Oriental history, advocated the view that Japanese history was distinct and separate from both Western history (seiy shi) and Oriental history, which encompassed the Sinocentric world. Shiratori also argued that Japan’s historical roots were North Asian and therefore distinct from the southern cultural zone of China; Japan had a special link with the Altaic nomadic cultures of Inner and Central Asia.

47 Ibrahim, Alem, 216, 317. Ibrahim’s 1911 memoir itself presents the Altaic argument for his Turkish-reading audience as he narrates how the Tatars are similar to the Japanese, who also sit on the floor and eat around a hearth fire and who hold festivals similar to the traditional Central Asian Sabantoy spring celebration, and so on.

48 Shakai mondai shirykenkykai, Teikoku gikaishi (Records of the Imperial Diet) Dai ikki Dai 34 maki (Tokyo, 1978). 74th session of the Diet, 1939 Kizokuin (House of Peers) and Shgiin (House of Representatives) meetings summary, 216–17; Kamp, Dai ikki Dai 37 maki, Showa 14 (1939) February nineteenth day Kizokuin debate, 381; Kamp, Dai ikki Dai 37 maki, Showa 14 (1939) February 24 day Shgiin debate, 64–68.

49 See Alexandre A. Benningson and S. Enders Wimbush, Muslim National Communism in the Soviet Union: A Revolutionary Strategy for the Colonial World (Chicago, 1979), 20–30, for leftist and liberal Pan-Islam in Russia and the shift to right after 1918. Sultan Galiev was from the same Kazan region as Ibrahim and was a major leftist revolutionary who strove to found a Marxist Islamic Soviet in Tataristan. Japan was his inspiration, reflecting the legacy of the Ibrahim generation of Tatar intellectuals. The project was crushed by V. I. Lenin. Later Galiev was exterminated by Joseph Stalin during the purges of Central Asian party leadership in 1934.

50 Kamozawa Iwao, “Zai nichi tataru jin ni tsuite” (On Tatars in Japan), 1, Bulletin of Faculty of Letters Hsei University no. 28 (1982): 27–56; Bulletin of Faculty of Letters Hsei University, 2:29 (1986): 223–302, 228–29.

51 Nishihara Masao, Zenkiroku Harubin tokumukan: Kanto gun jhbu no kiseki (The Complete Record of the Harbin Special Agency: The Footsteps of the Kwantung Army Intelligence Division) (Tokyo, 1980), 23.

52 Kurban Ali was a commander of the Bashkir militia that fought near Yekaterinburg, where the Romanov royal family was murdered after the October Revolution. After leading his community across the Central Asian highlands via the Trans-Siberian railway, Kurban Ali collaborated briefly with White Russian forces in the Far East. An advocate of the “Altaic brothers” argument justifying cooperation between Japan and the Turks of Central Asia, he represented a collage of Bashkir, Muslim, Turkoman, and Turkish identities, interchangeable and complementary at the same time. Shimano notes he reported the details of the murder to Matsuoka. A letter written, in Russian, by Kurban Ali in September 1922 to unidentified Japanese authorities churns out the “Altaic brothers” argument; see M.T. numbers 03676–03694, September 1922. Miscellaneous documents relating to the foreign policy of various countries: Persia, China, Afghanistan, Turkey. Reel 35. Library of Congress Microfilms on Japanese Government Documents; Komura, Nihon 71. That Colonel Hashimoto Kingor, the famous coup plotter of the 1930s and founder of the Sakurakai group of Imperial Way young officers to debate the Showa Restoration, had become an admirer of Kemal Atatürk as a revolutionary military leader while he was a military attaché in Ankara might have reinforced this “Turkish factor.”

53 Shimano, Shimano Sabur, 439–45, 460–67, for Kurban, Matsuoka, and Imperial Way officers; Matsunaga Akira, “Ayaz Ishaki and the Turko-Tatars in the East,” in Esenbel, Rising Sun, 197–215, for Kurban’s close relations with General Shitenn Nobutaka, the pro-German head of Harbin intelligence, and Vice-Admiral Ogasawara Chse, who was part of the right-wing circle in the Navy. Komura, Nihon, 59–60, for Muslims with kuma and Inukai and comment “kych futokoro ni haireba” (cornered bird that enters bosom). For general treatment of military factions in Japan, see Richard Storry, The Double Patriots: A Study of Japanese Nationalism (Boston, 1957); George M. Wilson, Radical Nationalist in Japan: Kita Ikki 1883–1937 (Cambridge, 1969); Ben-Ami Shillony, Revolt in Japan: The Young Officers and the February 26, 1936 Incident (Princeton, N.J., 1973).

54 Backed by Asianist politicians and military supporters, in 1927 Kurban Ali founded the Tokyo Mohammedan School (Tokyo kaiky gakk) in Sendagaya Yoyogi-Uehara, next to the Tokyo Mosque, serving Tatar émigré children. In 1928, he became president of an official Federation of Muslims of Japan (Nihon Kaiky zoku renmei), and in 1929 he set up the Tokyo Mohammedan Press (Tokyo kaiky insatsusho), which continued to publish Japan-oriented Islamic texts until the end of World War II. Its most interesting publication in Turkish was the journal News on New Japan (Yani Yapon Muhbiri), which in 1933 began to provide news on Japanese society and culture for the Tatar émigré community in the Far East. The press published in Arabic as well, notably a beautifully printed and bound Koran that was disseminated to the Arabic reading public of the Islamic world as proof of Japan’s support for Islam. Like Ibrahim, Kurban Ali argued that publishing in classical Arabic—the literary language of religious education in China, South East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East—allowed for the global circulation of Pan-Asianist arguments in favor of Japanese cooperation with Islam in these regions. For information on Kurban Ali’s career in Japan, see, OSS, R&A; 890.1, 97; Komura, Nihon, 78; Shimano, Shimano Sabur, 63; Honna file, 1. S9210–3, bei kyoku dai ikka tokugai-dai 6366, Showa 7 (1932), 12 month, 20 day, 20.

55 Ibrahim became a member of the Young Turk Special Agency (Tekilat-1 Mahsusa) during World War I. In line with his Pan-Asianist view, he organized the Asya Taburu (Asian Battallion) from the Romanov Army Tatar ex-prisoners of war, which fought on behalf of the Ottomans against the British. During the war, Ibrahim tried to forment rebellion against the British in Afghanistan. He also aided Tatar civilians, stuck between the Red Army and White forces in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, emigrate to Turkey. For Ibrahim’s later career, see special file, Abdürreid Ibrahim (1), Toplumsal Tarih 4 (July 1995), 6–29; also same in (2) Toplumsal Tarih 4 (August 1995), 6–23; for Ayaz Ishaki, see Komura, Nihon, 96; Honna, French paper Tribune Libre article on Çapanoglu misspelled as Çobanoglu, April 17, 1935, 284; Komura, Nihon, 90, for K1kanahtar; Musa Carullah Bigiyef in Komura, Nihon, 96; Mehmet Görmez, Musa Carullah Bigiyef (Ankara, 1994), 47, for biography.

56 Tokyo Nichi Nichi English version May 21, 1933; Tokyo Nichi Nichi Japanese version May 22, 1933.

57 OSS, R&A; 890.1, May 15, 1944, 114–19. The international press covered the prospects for the plan to enthrone the Turkish prince if the Muslim rebellions in Inner Asia were successful. While the Soviet papers Pravda and Izvestia attacked the Japanese conspiracy for a second “Muslim” Manchukuo in Inner Asia, Filastin, the Palestinian nationalist paper in British Palestine, claimed great interest in the eventuality. The journals Oriento Moderno in Italy, Trans Pacific in Tokyo, and al-Mokattam of Cairo offered mixed reports both confirming and denying the prince’s prospects.

58 Honna, Showa 9 (1934) chosa, Zai honna kaikyt toruko tatarujin funs mondai (Research Concerning the Kurban Ali and Ayaz Ishaki Fight and the Problem of Prince Abdul Kerim’s Visit to our Country), 59–67.

59 See James William Morley, The China Quagmire: Japan’s Expansion on the Asian Continent 1933–1941: Selected translations from the Taiheiy sens e no michi: kaisen gaik shi (New York, 1983), 3–202, for a survey of the Jehol invasion, and the designs on North China.

60 For the East Turkestan rebellion between 1931–1933, and later again in 1936, see Owen Lattimore, Pivot of Asia (New York, 1975); Lars-Erik Nyman, Great Britain and Chinese, Russian and Japanese Interests in Sinkiang, 1918–1934 (Malmo, 1977); Allen S. Whiting and General Sheng Shin-ts’ai, Sinkiang: Pawn or Pivot? (East Lansing, Mich., 1958); Andrew D. W. Forbes, Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: Political History of Republican Sinkiang 1911–1949 (Cambridge and New York, 1986); and Komura, Nihon 80.

61 Shimano, Shimano Sabur, 468.

62 New York Times, August 4, 1935, 21.

63 Honna, Vol. 1, Kuwajima kyokush ni tai suru Tewfikku no danwa yshi, Showa 11, 4 month, 16 day, 324; Honna, Vol. 1, Tewfikku el Sherifu no ken, Showa 11, 5 month, 21 day, 329.

64 See Okawa Shmei, Kaiky gairon (Tokyo, 1943), for his perspective on Islam; Ayd1n, “Politics,” for a study of the thought of kawa on Asia and Islam.

65 Awaya Kentar, Yoshida Yutake, eds., Kokusai kensatsu kyoku jimmon shirabe sh (International Prosecution Section Interrogation Records) (Tokyo, 1993), Vol. 23, 373–74. Hereafter IPS.

66 See IPS, Vol. 23, 304, 318, 409, 429 for interrogation; Seike Motoyoshi, Senzen shwa nashonarizumu no shmondai (Problematics of Prewar Japanese Nationalism) (Tokyo, 1995), 239–43, for Islam as a transnational ideology. For a succinct treatment of kawa and Pan Asianism, see Christopher W. A. Szpilman, “The Dream of One Asia: kawa Shmei and Japanese Asianism” in Harald Fuess, ed., The Japanese Empire in East Asia, 49–64.

67 Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York, 1978).

68 kawa Shmei, Kaiky gairon (Tokyo, 1943), 1–13. kawa agreed with the British scholar Gibb, who also saw a historic link between the world of Islam and the West until the Renaissance.

69 IPS, Vol. 23, 429.

70 Kaiky gairon, a collection of his lectures in the late 1930s, was published in 1943 to help the war effort. kawa wrote in the introduction: “Now that the Great Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere includes a great number of Muslims, it is necessary for our nation to obtain knowledge of Islam.” See Ayd1n, “Politics,” 180–90, for Islamic studies; Kawamura, “Short History,” 409–39. The first crop of Japan’s specialists on Islam, Central Asia, and the Middle East began their careers in a feverish atmosphere of Islam policy discussions that were integrated into new Asian internationalism. Many continued to be eminent experts in Islamic studies in the postwar period. These scholars included Nait Chish (1886–1950), the foremost authority on Ottoman Turkish history in prewar Japan; kub Kji (1888–1950), a Turkish-language expert specializing in Central Asian studies; Kobayashi Hajime (1904–1963), the first Japanese specialist in Arabic studies, who studied in the famous Al-Azhar University of Egypt with the support of kawa; and Izutsu Toshihiko (1914–1993), Japan’s foremost expert on Islamic philosophy, who later continued to teach at Keio University in Japan and McGill University in Canada. These men used their knowledge during the war years as language instructors, or preparing military reports, manuals, and propaganda materials, as well as working at such scholarly institutions as Kaikyo kenkyj, established under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry.

71 kawa Shmei kenshkai, kawa Shmei nikki (The Diary of kawa Shmei) (Tokyo, 1986), 521–22 for school.

72 kawa, Nikki, 521–22.

73 Dai nippon kaiky kykai no shimei ni tsuite (Concerning the mission of the Greater Japan Islamic League) (Tokyo, 1939); see also Ayd1n, “Politics,” 192–98. Ayd1n sees the DNKK as different from kawa because it advocated a pragmatic, policy-oriented perspective to obtain Muslim aid for Japan. But kawa’s argument for Japanese collaboration with Pan-Islamism as a global force provided the theoretical frame. Both also focused on Asian Islam on the Chinese mainland and under Britain and Holland rather than on the anticommunist line of the earlier years, which had targeted the Soviet Union. OSS reports treat Ibrahim as a figure of nemesis for this anti-Western quest but also describe him in a tone of respect with adjectives such as “venerable,” “everlasting,” and “fiery preacher.”

74 OSS, R&A; 890, 1.

75 Shimano, Shimano Sabur, 470–72. Identification of participants is from a photograph of the opening in the possession of Ibrahim’s family; I am grateful to Ms. Müge Isker Özbalkan, the great-granddaughter of Ibrahim, who provided a copy for my use.

76 See Shimano, Shimano Sabur, 444–46, for himself and Yamaoka living together in Russia, mainly in Muslim quarters; Komura, Nihon, 111–16, for Inner Mongolia; Wakabayashi, Kaiky, 121, for new Japanese Muslim agents; Honna, Showa 13 (1938) 3 month, 16 day [telegram from Consul General in Cairo to foreign minister Hirota Kki on Turkestani pilgrims who joined the Suzuki’s Japanese pilgrim group in Mecca and were to go to Japan with them], 163–64; Honna, Nihon kaikyt no Arabiya ryk keiryaku ni kan suru ken (Concerning the Arabia Journey Plan of the Japanese Muslim Group), Showa 11 (1936), 6 month, 25 day, telegram 331; Kaku, telegram 18, Mansh koku jin Ch nykoku kyka no yumu narabi ni Suzuki ichi gy no Mekka jnrei shuppatsu kijitsu toriawase no ken, Showa 13 (1938), 1 month, 26 day, Ki den 23 go ni kanshi kaikyt no honna trai ni kanshi jryoku h no ken (Concerning Inquiry to Set the Date for the Departure of the Suzuki Group on a Pilgrimage to Mecca and whether Mr. Ch’ang of Manchukuo Citizenship will have Permit for Entry into the Country), 155–64. This might be the same Manchurian Muslim who was a close associate of Kurban Ali.

77 For ulema and Islam as means of mobilization, see Aiko Kurasawa, “Mobilization and Control: A Study of Social Change in Rural Java 1942–1945,” Ph.D. dissertation, 1988, Cornell University; for cultural policies, Grant K. Goodman, Japanese Cultural Policies in Southeast Asia During World War Two (New York, 1991). The seminal study of the Japanese use of Islam in Indonesia that discusses the history of Japan and Muslims in the Dutch Indies is Harry J. Benda, The Crescent and the Rising Sun (The Hague and Bandung, 1958). See Paul H. Kratoska, The Japanese Occupation of Malaya: A Social and Economic History (London, 1998), 135, for propaganda directed toward the Muslim community in Malaya by “Imam Abdarashid Ebrahim, patriarch of the Tokyo Mosque” and “the respected patriarch of the Muslim world”; Honna 1, 1100, for Shanghai Times June 14, 1942, headline.

78 John W. Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York, 1993), 178.

79 See M. A. Aziz, Japan’s Colonialism and Indonesia (The Hague, 1955), 200–208; Anthony Reid and Oki Akira, eds., The Japanese Experience in Indonesia: Selected Memoirs of 1942–1945 (Athens, Ohio, 1986), 79–110, on Hadji Saleh Suzuki’s Hezbollah, 239, 304; for Major Fujiwara Iwaichi’s intelligence operation on the field in Sumatra and Inoue Tetsuro on the Aron rebellion in East Sumatra, 9–30.

80 See Heng Teow, Japan’s Cultural Policy Toward China, 1918–1931 (Cambridge, Mass., 1999). However, as See Heng Teow’s study has shown, Japan’s cultural policy toward China was significantly more visible, and it is the better remembered part of Japanese cultural imperialism today. Another comparison would be to the religious policy practiced by the Japanese authorities in Inner Mongolia, as shown by Li Narangoa in her painstaking study of Japanese religious policy in Mongolia; see Li Narangoa, Japanische Religionspolitik in der Mongolei 1932–1945: Reformbesttrebunden und Dialog zwischen japanischem und mongolishchem Buddhismus (Wiesbaden, 1998). However, Islam did not have a religious connection to Japanese society, whereas Buddhism did. Hence the Japanese did not attempt to reform Islam as they attempted to reform Mongolian Lama Buddhism through the cooperation of Japanese Buddhist temples such as Nishi Honganji.

81 See Ahmed Rashid, Taliban, Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven, Conn., 2000), for the case in Afghanistan.

82 On agents see Said, Orientalism, 210, 224–25, 241; Elizabeth Monroe, Philby of Arabia (Ithaca, N.Y., 1998), 151–62. One exception would be Kim Philby’s father John Philby, who converted to Islam in 1931 and became Sheik Abdullah.

83 Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism (London, 1994), 403.

84 Roy James, who was a popular media figure in 1960s Japan, most likely would not have received such acclaim if it were known that his given name was Ramadan, the holiest of months in the Islamic calendar. James (who spoke stilted English but had the physical appearance of a Westerner) was the son of a religious cleric serving the Tokyo mosque who was a member of the émigré community from Russia.




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