Tokyo Damage Report

JAPAN BOOK REVIEW #12 : absolute erotic, absolute grotesque by Mark Driscoll


Yet another book about "erotic grotesque" where the author arbitrarily invents his own meanings for those two words. Ero refers to evil capitalists manipulating peoples’ natural urges for a better life, using biological drives to make fat profits. Guro refers to the cruelty of colonial slave labor and drug addiction.

Main points of the book:

1) Techniques that were invented in the far-flung colonies by Japanese yakuza and criminals then got copied and institutionalized by the “legitimate” Japanese colonial governments, and then finally got implemented in mainland Japan during the war years. From criminal to “legitimate businessman” to official government policy.

2) Most of the "sophisticated, modern" cultural trends of Tokyo in the `20s and `30s actually started in the very rural colonies. And from the periphery of the empire they spread to the center.



  • Gangster capitalism
  • "Sexology"
  • Industrialized prostitution (karayuki to ianfu to  jappayuki)
  • Japanese-style Feminism
  • Fascism and centrally planned war economy
  • Grotesque as entertainment (particularly war porn and drugs)

3) The whole Japanese empire would not have been possible without organized crime laying the foundation and, in some cases, providing the capital for running entire nations' puppet governments.


4) Having an empire isn't as simple as just saying, "OK, I killed your army, now all your stuff belongs to me!".  In Taiwan, Japan took over without a shot, but they had to find a way to turn an expensive military occupation and giant administrative staff into a profitable colony. And in Korea and Manchuria, Japan spent DECADES in a state of SEMI colonization. . . they could trade, they had some cops there to "protect the traders",  but they didn't own the country outright. So how to turn semi-colonization into REAL colonization?  BUSINESS AS WARFARE.  That's the middle step I never knew about.

5)  If you read the book and live in America, it's hard not to see parallels between BUSINESS AS WARFARE and what is going on right now.


Anyway, instead of a review of the book, I decided to do something different this time:

a TIMELINE, to help you when you read the book. A supplement or something.


Meiji Restoration overthrows the Shogun government. Also a major goal of the restorers: open Japan to trade with the world. Not just to compete with Whitey, but also they aim to win a trade war with China, which at that time was THE king of all Asian commerce. But how? The Chinese have literally thousands of years of experience in international trade, and Japan has like 2 weeks of experience.


 Korea signs the Treaty of Ganghwa, allowing Japan to trade at four port cities. Basically Japan pulled a Perry and Black Shipped the formerly closed country of Korea.


Chinese pimps operating out of Japanese port cities kidnap poor Japanese women and ship them to brothels in China. These women are known as karayukisan (kara being an old word for China, yuki meaning, to go to)


Japanese are allowed to settle and do trade in all of Korea. Although in practice only the tekiya (fore-runners of the Yakuza, tekiya were organized clans of traveling merchants pushing carts full of iffy merch. You can still see them at festivals) really bothered to make the trip. The tekiya would use violence and intimidation to coerce Koreans into buying shoddy goods and fake medicines. They were “soon joined by drug traffickers and sex workers.” All backed up by the official Japanese consulates, who would “protect” them from retaliation by the Korean citizens. Even though Korea was still run by the Korean government. The more money the thugs made, the more they could spend on lobbying the Japanese government for more “protection”, which would allow them to rip off even more Koreans. Another fore-runner of the yakuza, the bakuto, also showed up in Korea. Originally traveling gamblers, in Korea the bakuto did predatory lending scams, loan-sharking, and so on, which always ended in them foreclosing on Korean farmers’ land, helping Japan colonize one rice paddy at a time.

1887 – 

Muraoka Iheiji was hired by the Japanese consulate in Shanghai to travel around China and make a secret report about money-making opportunities : businesses and industries that Japanese businessmen could try to muscle in on. At this time, most trade was flowing from China to Japan and the Japanese government wanted to reverse this trend. Muraoka quickly realized that the biggest moneymaking opportunity was in prostitution and human trafficking. After he finished the report, he resigned from government service, to become a pimp and kidnapper.


Japanese pimps and human traffickers fight it out with the Chinese, for domination of the karayuki business.  Pimps like Muraoka are outraged that Chinese are kidnapping “their women” and vow to “save them” from these gaijin – by re-kidnapping them and selling them at a profit to other Japanese pimps. Muraoka relates several stories in his autobiography about going to Hong Kong and snitching on a Chinese brothel to British police. The Brits shut down the brothel and hand over all the workers . . . to Muraoka.

On more than one occasion, a whole group of kidnapped women was found dead in the locked boiler room of a ship – a scene straight out of The Wire.

One estimate is that between between 1870 and 1930, around 100,000 Japanese women are kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery.

One Japanese ship captain is quoted as saying, “Japan’s most well-known exports are coal, raw silk, and women.”

As the Japanese pimps spread their business and brothels throughout east Asia, other Japanese merchants follow – setting up small stores to sell overpriced Japanese goods to the karayuki and their customers. The pimps regard themselves as patriotic, and are proud that they are enabling Japanese to expand their trade overseas.

“The prostitutes needed JPanese food, beverages, clothes and many other Japanese products. Their demand was met by the J-variety-goods store,which peddled a wide range of products. As the store also sold to non-Japanese, Japanese commodities became wildly popular. The strength of Japan’s southeast Asian trade today is not thanks to the large merchant houses like Mitsui; the trade was first developed by the variety-goods dealers and behind these merchants is the shadow cast by the Japanese prostitutes.


Japan wins a fight with China and is given Taiwan as part of the booty. However, the question remains: how do we turn this expensive military occupation into a profit?

(also, as part of the booty: all Chinese merchants have to leave Korea, putting it more under the thumb of Japan and ruthless, yakuza-connected Japanese traders).


The civilian doctor Goto Shinpei is appointed governor of Taiwan. He likes to use the native Chinese principles to govern the natives. He uses spin rather than  brute force: he re-interprets Chinese sayings and customs to justify Japanese rule in terms the Taiwanese can accept. Also he legalizes opium, and immediately grants the Japanese government a monopoly on it. Thereby solving the “profitability” problem. Opium is pretty much the one single commodity that turned Taiwan from a huge money loser to a money earner in seven years. The USA couldn’t do that with all the oil in Iraq in 10 fucking years.


Japan wins a fight with Russia, and by way of apology, Russia gives Japan part of China. How the fuck does that even work??? Anyway Japan now has a bit of Manchuria under its direct control. But they also got the Russian-made Manchurian RAILWAY as part of the deal. So now they’re in this weird position of being SEMI colonial overlords. They only own a tiny slice of China outright, but millions of miles of railway, and the right to set up trade and businesses in all the cities the railway goes to. But in those cities, although “Chinese” in theory, are run by puppet regimes, who allow the Japanese secret police to run rampant. Thus, Japanese citizens and “businessmen” can break any laws and get away with things native Chinese can’t do. This climate attracts every Yakuza, tekiya, mercenary, pimp, and nutcase who has not been nailed down. The issue is: how to parlay this trade agreement with China into outright colonialism?

Another funny thing about Manchuria: there weren’t even many Chinese there. Most of the Chinese who WERE there were immigrants from the center of China. The fact that they were immigrants made them more easy to exploit, and added to the general feeling of Manchuria as being a free-for-all anarchy zone, not a “real” state.


First answer is: legalize prostitution and put a Japanese monopoly on it. By this time, Japanese pimps and human traffickers have pretty much beat the Chinese. The pimps had gotten their start providing prostitutes to the Japanese army during its 1905 war with Russia. The 1906 “legalization” law re-tooled the industry for civilian life, and mandated monthly health inspections.

Second thing : Japanese government creates the South Manchurian Railway corporation. This was supposed to function like the Dutch East India Company, as the main tool of colonizing. It’s technically a business but operates like an independent fiefdom or small government.

Also, Goto moves from Taiwan to Manchuria to run the SMR, bringing with him his “scientific” principles for making Chinese colonies profitable. Principle number one : bunsouteki bubi (literally, “military arms in civilian disguises”). In other words, business as warfare.


ex-prime minister and ex-governor of Taiwan Katsura Tarou, starts the Oriental Society (Touyou Kyoukai), a sort of policy group dedicated to coordinating different aspects of Japan’s imperialism (military, diplomatic, business, crime, etc.) Well he didn’t start it, but he changed the name from Taiwan Society to Oriental Society.  Katsura’s #1 priority: taking Mr. Goto’s profitable hookers-opium-Japanese-medicine-and-Chinese-philosophy program and implementing it in other colonies. He also wants to get Japanese farmers to come and settle in the territories, much as Israel is doing in Palestine, so that the Japanese can say, “We legitimately belong here, this is our ancestral land.” This program doesn’t work out because who wants to farm when you can just steal? 


Korean “armies of righteousness” attempt to fight back, but lose.


The independent, self-employed frontier women in Taiwan, and Manchuria basically invent Japanese feminism, which later spreads to the mainland. Japanese men run things behind the scenes, but the women are the “public face” of Japanese trade, since they are the ones that actually learned how to speak Chinese and they work in occupations where Chinese are the customers.  Nurses, hairdressers, schoolteachers, small businesswomen and shop owners, social workers, and police.

In other words, the colonies were not only for Yakuza and men to go to seek their fortune, and rise above their lowly social class: plenty of Japanese women made the trip too, for those same reasons.

This presents a dilemma for the Japanese men: they like that Japanese women are putting a nice, kind face on the colonialism, and they like all the money the women are making for the motherland. But they don’t like how “their” women are too friendly with the natives, and learning too many Chinese customs. Thus there are a lot of predictable scandalous articles about “hysterical” women. This buzzword ALSO eventually catches on in Tokyo womens' magazines, AFTER it is popular in the colonies.



Japan conquers Korea. I’m not sure how this went down. I think they didn't invade but just intimidated the Korean emperor into signing a treaty?

1911 :

after six years, the main infrastructure in Manchura is completed. Millions of miles of train tracks have been added, and gigantic, super-advanced ports have been constructed. Now all they need is some Japanese investors and big businesses to come in and take advantage of the infrastructure (and the almost free coolie labor) and Japan can basically double its economy. If they can find investors and companies. Help!


The Japanese government hires Mr. Aioi to do a report on Manchuia, to persuade Japanese businesses to come there and start milking this here cow. Aioi reports that there’s now over a million immigrant coolies in Manchuria, they work dirt cheap, and what little wages you pay them, you can get back by selling them Japanese stuff. In fact most coolies are so poor, they cannot afford even dormitory housing and they sleep outside in the bitter cold. Migrants from central china traveling to Manchuria by boat not only sleep in the hold, but are classified on shipping documents as a type of cargo.


Journalist Ishimori Seiichi writes a bunch of really unique articles for the KOREA REVIEW tabloid. He goes undercover as : a North Chinese coolie, an elderly Korean male drifter in Seoul, a Japanese hooker in Seoul, a French detective tracking Russian criminals in Manchuria and Russia, an elderly Russian man in Dailan, and a poor Japanese migrant worker in Seoul. Aside from being brave, crazy, and super “Black Like Me” style, the popularity of Ishimori’s articles reveal a sort of paradox of his readers’ state of mind: colonial Japanese want to dominate the natives, but they also kind of dream of wanting to be the natives, to be “down,” to see what only the natives want to see. They want Japan to take over Asia and “civilize” it, but also delight in the down-and-out perversion, violence, and ghetto craziness of the frontier.

1913 –

The magazine KOREA REVIEW has a monthly column called KIKI KAIKAI HENGEN SHUTSU BOTSUSEN (STRANGE UNCANNY ILLUSIONS THAT APPEAR AND DISAPPEAR) by Ishimoi Seiichi. This column – far from saying colonies are great – does exposes on the most gritty, ghetto, wild-west parts of colonial life. But this makes it much more popular than simple propaganda would have been.  Hysterical women, female gangsters, black markets, corrupt colonial authorities, Chinese warlords,  Russian gangsters, and all.



Nakamura Kyoko starts a sexology journal called ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY, which runs until 1926, kicking off the “sexology boom.” He says lot of things, but the main one to remember here is: modern living makes everyone hentai, and that’s ok.


Japanese human traffickers now kidnapping Chinese women. The number of pimps / traffickers in North China is estimated to be around 400. One pimp is later quoted after the war as saying that “2/3 of the big Japanese businesses in Manchuria were started by former pimps who made enough money to go legit.”

The “Oriental Development Company” (run by Katsura Taro’s Oriental Society), which is supposed to be encouraging Japanese farmers to move to Korea, is actually replacing yakuza groups as the main Japanese landlord, in taking over family-owned Korean farms. Less than 50% of Koreans own their own land at this point. This is an example of “business practices” moving from the yakuza/underworld to becoming official Japanese colonial policy.


World War One is over. Japanese Big Pharma companies,who have made a mint off of selling morphine to European armies, now dump their excess supplies in the Japanese colonies, serving the dual purpose of “pacifying and incapacitating the colonized while making huge profits for the colonizers.” In Korea, Japanese government outlaws opium, and legalizes morphine. “In a few short years, 100,000Koreans were addicted.” Flooding Manchuria with cheap dope also pays dividends when Japan finally decides to conquer Manchuria in 1931.

Koreans again attempt to overthrow the Japanese colonial government. The army suppresses them, killing around 7,000.

Kitano Hiromi starts another sexology monthly journal: SEX RESEARCH (SEI NO KENKYUU)

1920s :  

modernism hits Japan! Movies! Magazines! Western fashions! Cafes! flappers! Jazz! Many new leisure time pursuits. But all this stuff is made possible by three things: opium, karayuki, and coolie labor. In other words, semi-illegal totally exploitative industries IN THE COLONIES. The profits from which finance the modernization of Japan. So even though modernism is often seen as something that filtered out from Tokyo, actually it filtered INTO Tokyo from the colonies. After all, leisure time is something you do if you have money left over to spend on fun. And that money has to come from somewhere.

Another effect of modernism: people instantly become jaded as fuck. Urban dwellers have such hectic, fast-paced lives compared to the country villages. And they’re exposed to such nonstop stimuli all day: traffic sounds, neon lights, beeps, honks, the clank of machinery, and so on. So, the thinking goes, urbanites get super desensitized by all this and crave ever more extreme thrills in their new leisure time. Plus they are super stressed out by living cheek-to-jowl with a million strangers, in defiance of millions of years of human nature. And so they seek out sexual perversions to release some of the crazy urban tension building up inside them. Thus is born the ERO BOOM. And a whole cottage industry of “sexology” magazines – some more scientific, some more tabloid – to explain about all the new urban perversions, and how they are necessary to make urban life, with all its stress and neuroses, bearable.

Also, Japanese sexology was very pro-prostitution and pro-hentai. The “sexologists” generally thought Western morality re:maritial fidelity was naive and that seeing as how guys were going to cheat anyway, the superior Japanese way to deal with the issue was to industrialize and governmentally control prostitution the same way that Japan was industrializing all its other industries at the time.

Also, Japanese scientists in Harbin, China, start mass-producing heroin and morphine, which are cheaper than traditional opium. Addicts now have three opiates to choose from.


Akiyama Yoshio and Sawada Junjirou launch yet another sexology monthly, just called SEX. Unlike the previous sexology journals, SEX is Eurocentric. That is to say, more sex-phobic : moralizing, preaching, and openly “hey, look at all the freeeeaks!!!”


Tanaka Kougai, one of the main “sexologists” starts his climb to fame by publishing the journal MODERN SEXUALITY (HENTAI SEIYOKU). His articles are often about “frontier women” as hysterics, Chinaman-lovers and “female supremacists.” As well as s/m, vampires, and cannibalism. Also: Tanaka was a doctor who used to work with Goto (the doctor who ran Taiwan and later the South Manchuria Railway company).

Habuto Eiji starts (sigh) yet another sex journal called SEXUALITY AND HUMAN NATURE (SEIYOKU TO JINSEI). This one is also more Eurocentric. That is to say, more moralizing, preaching, and sensationalistic.


Tanaka publishes a book, THE SHADOWY ASPECTS OF HUMAN SEXUALITY (NINGEN NO SEITEKI ANKOKUMEN), and a scholarly sexology magazine MODERN SEXUALITY, in which he argues that, given the stress of modern industrial livin’ , it’s not only natural to legalize prostitution, but also sadism, masochism, fetishism, and necrophila. Necrophilia and fetishism are like other new modern inventions that entertain urban dwellers: movies, radio, and French cafes. And if we get all prudish and shut off the sexual “safety valve” of necrophilia, then we’re REALLY going to see some weird sex-crimes happening. Or something.

In MODERN SEXUALITY, the “modern” refers to this new, decadent, industrial-capitalism urban lifestyle. Tanaka says basically, modern city living makes everyone a perv, and that’s just fine, since sex can also be industrialized. New perversions are being rolled off the assembly line of our culture daily, let’s embrace them! (provided that cash changes hands. Doing it outside the marketplace would be simply barbaric and abnormal – now THAT’S hentai!)


Edogawa Ranpo publishes a novel called HUMAN CHAIR (NINGEN ISU), a surreal critique of capitalism in which a chair-maker at a furniture factory becomes so obsessed with the commodities he makes that he eventually turns into a chair himself.

Not to be outdone, Umehara Hokumei publishes the most fucked up, most ero-guro novel of the whole era (immediately censored by The Man, only 100 copies printed, and even those have most of the cannibalism cut out): SATSUJIN KAISHA (THE KILLING KAPITALIST KONGLOMERATE). This is about a guy who works for a company (which operates mostly in the colonies, naturally) that sells only one product: death. They kill the clients, take their stuff, and then return to Tokyo to have wild sex-and-death-and-opium orgies. There are secret initiations, rapes, murders, necrophilia, mah jongg games where the loser gets disemboweled and then people have an orgy on the corpse’s intestines, etc. In one way this seems to be kind of just shock-for-the-sake-of-shock, but in 1924, this must have been some crazy shit indeed. Like if GWAR happened at the same time as Elvis or something. Also interesting: even though Umehara was trying to write satire, actually the stuff that REAL Japanese corporations were soon to do in Manchuria would make the novel look like some Garrison Kellor shit.


Tanaka publishes a book called SEX MANIACS (AIYOKU NI KURUU CHIJIN), advocating for industrialized prostitution: how can the nation harness men’s desire for sex to grow our economy?

Kon Wajiro, a sociologist, starts a new movement: “modernology”: he and his team of assistants do “field work” in Tokyo department stores (department stores were a new thing back then) and write down every little detail of shoppers’ behavior: posture, what they buy, what they wear, the routes they take, etc. Honestly this guy is boring.

Umehara Hokumei takes over the art journal ARTS MARKET and openly says “Fuck you artists who cry ‘sellout’ – you’re just jealous because no one wants to pay cash for your stuff. In these sophisticated times, people will pay good money for subversive or even left-wing art, if you have any talent. Let the market decide what is good art! We can change the system from within and make some loot while we’re at it!”

Umehara publishes a super controversial translation of Italian author Boccaccio’s THE DECAMERON, which basically had a huge influence on all subsequent ero-guro authors, artists, critics, etc.

A drug dealer (pen-name GIONBOU) writes an autobiography, where he talks about how the Japanese consul and Japanese police keep him from getting hassled by the Chinese police when he comes into Chinese turf to buy and sell heroin. Why are there two sets of police in the same cities? Driscoll doesn’t say. Further, the drug dealer says that the Japanese-run South Manchurian Railway actually helps him smuggle his product. He goes on to say that over half, and in some places almost all, of Japanese merchants in Chinese cities are in the drug game to some extent.

1927  –

Umehara and his friend Sakai Kiyoshi spend a year in Shanghai, getting into opium and Chinese hookers, and generally trying to out-do each other in feats of degeneracy. They launch KAMASHASTRA, an ero-guro magazine specifically for Japanese living in the colonies. It’s about what you think it’s about.

KAMASHASTRA starts a new trend which catches on in all the ero-guro magazines: drug reports! “I traveled to an actual, no-foolin’ opium den with crazy Chinese junkies!!!” type of gonzo journalism. These gritty, dirty, grimey accounts of Chinese junkies were a new way to shock and titillate Japanese ero-guro audiences. And again, this new layer of grotesque came FROM the colonies INTO Tokyo “modern” society.

Edogawa Ranpo publishes THE STRANGE TALE OF PANORAMA ISLAND (PANORAMA TOUKIDAN), a horror novel about a guy who fakes his own death in order impersonate a rich kid who inherits his own island. And then he populates the island with the taxidermied bodies of his murder victims, turning it into a “sculpture garden”.


Umehara starts an ero-guro journal called PERVERSE MODERN DOCUMENTS (HENTAI SHIRYOU). To get around the censors, he makes it a special-order, subscriber-only affair. A zine, if you will.  In a harbinger of things to come, one feature of issue #1 was a reprint of some German anti-war photos (dead bodies, missing limbs, the suffering of war!) . . .but with the German captions taken out and new Japanese captions mocking the victims and making fun of everything. Decadent nihilism! Aren’t we terrible?!? This shift from grotesque to outright war porn, marks a gradual political shift from “shocking revolutionaries” to “right-wing war cheerleaders.”

Also, Umehara and Sakai collaborate on  the grand-daddy of all ero-guro magazines: GUROTESUKU (GROTESQUE). Fetishism! Sex crimes! This magazine leads the new trend: away from erotic (played out, plus highly censored), into grotesque (new, more extreme, and a much more broad category). People begin using “ero-guro” as a single phrase. Also GUROTESUKU highlighted “the way that eroticism was present in otherwise nonsexual acts, such as war and crime.” This was a good 2 years before J.G. Ballard was even fucking born.

Umehara publishes another book (do they have a fucking typewriter installed in the VIP room of the whore-house, next to the opium pipe? WTF), this time a translation of a German novel called BALKAN KRIEG (in Japanese: BARUKAN KURIIGU) . BALKAN KRIEG is straight-up war pornography. For dudes who get a boner thinking of killing. The trend is clear: as Japan marches ever closer to world conquest, ero turns into ero-guro, and then into straight-up guro, and finally to war and death.

A telegram from Japanese government puts the number of “ronin” (Japanese criminals : pimps, dealers, extortionists, swindlers, and mercenaries) in Manchuria at 10,000.


Nakayama Yuigorou publishes USER’S GUIDE TO MODERN HENTAI (HENTAI SHOSEIGEI). This is a 1,300 page encyclopedia of scams that city-folk use to rip off country people and noobs. Every possible hustle is contained.  Human traffickers, loan sharks, extortionists, scam artists, fake advertising . . .Also urban legends, and the usual perversions.

Also: huge depression and economic meltdown in Japan. Millions unemployed. Elite people start asking themselves, “How can we continue to buy coal, oil, and steel that we need to grow our economy, and get our unemployment numbers back down?” Answer : conquer people. In this scenario, militarism is just the means . . the end is a strong economy. So if you believe this particular theory of Japan’s imperialism, you’d have to conclude that Japan WON THE WAR.

1930 – 

The “Oriental Development Company” (run by Katsura Taro’s Oriental Society) now owns over half of ALL land in Korea.


Noma Jirou published RESEARCHING PERVERSE ERO (HENTAITEKI ERO NO KENKYUU), a sort of encyclopedia of ero-guro cultural trends, both real and “urban legends”, of the time. Such as human slaves being forced to be window mannequins to pay off debts (urban legend!). This is one of “the main texts of the genre.”: rape, beastiality, necrophilia, promiscuity, “Noma insists that the final outcome will be ‘a major contribution to human culture.’”

Edogawa Ranpo AND Jou Masayuki both bust out with novels called VAMPIRE, starting the “vampire eroticism” boom. Driscoll notes that Japanese vampires, (unlike Euro ones) are the same ethnic group as their victims. Everyone’s an “insider,” no one’s an “other.” Perhaps because of this, Japanese vampire stories tend to feature “victims” that cooperate with the vampires in their own demise. And how the victims, once bitten, tend to help the vampire.

For instance, in the Ranpo novel, some of the victims are nobodies who attain tabloid newspaper fame after death. Could this, asks Driscoll, be Ranpo’s critique of mass media and how capitalism gives people an incentive to die?

Buzz-killing leftist critics waste no time in drawing parallels to you-know-what-ism.

Ranpo also publishes THE CULMINATION OF EROTIC GROTESQUE (RYOUKI NO HATE), which “both critiques consumers’ demand for more sensational images and contributes to it.” It’s about a young rich kid with nothing to do so he decides to become a “student of perversion”, but nothing is ever enough for him, so he winds up joining a snuff-sex satanic ritual club. Not only that, but in order to catch the murderers, the detective himself has to join the club. The detective barely manages to regain his good judgment at the end and arrests the club members, but not until after he’s participated in a few murder orgies himself.

This theme of “complicity” is, along with “jadedness and over-stimulation”, a big part of all the critiques of modernism and capitalist entertainments.

1931 –  

The Manchurian Incident. A rogue and clandestine group of Japanese army officers (led by Ishihara Kanji and  Itagaki Seishirou) stage a fake “terrorist incident” (tnt on Japan’s railroad tracks), blame it on “Chinese terrorists” and use it to force the Emperor to declare total control of all Manchuria (rather than just control of a small fraction of it, and trading / train-operating rights in the rest), as well as a general land war with Regular China.

Fun fact: in order to get money for the explosives, they asked the mob! They got 50,000,000 yen from Fujita Osamu, a heroin ealer.

author Edogawa Ranpo publishes his masterpiece BLIND BEAST (MOUJUU), about a blind Tokyo masseuse, who lures his female clients into his apartment, murders them, taxidermies their bodies into statues, and then has a “special room” that he chases his victims through: it’s pitch black and full of giant, cabinet-sized sculptures of disembodied female body parts that he makes his victims run through, so they can feel what he, as a blind pervert, feels, before they die.

Sociologist Akagami Yoshitsuge publishes THE FACE OF EROTIC GROTESQUE SOCIETY (RYOUKI NO SHAKAISOU). He is a left-winger, who argues that this new form of industrial, urban capitalism is turning all our natural wants and needs into disposable artificial commodities. Our real desires, in contrast (for, say, love, trust, community, spirituality, meaning in life) can NOT be reduced to stuff on a shelf, so the modern “new breed” of human is cut off from them altogether. He says the unnaturalness of it all, plus the tendency to view other people as mere commodities, makes modern urban people more perverted, and thus erotic-grotesque. Capitalism is not content with owning us during our time at work – now it wants to control our leisure time, control our tastes in music, art, and fun, control our nervous systems, even! Freak shows, titty-bar peep shows, escapist Hollywood fantasies, and perms for all! The new urban dweller is jaded, over-stimulated, always searching for a more extreme thrill. Thus the slide from erotic into grotesque.

Most commies are buzz-kills who enjoy carping on anyone having fun anywhere, but Akagami manages to out-do even his fellow reds. Way to go.


Gonda Yasunosuke, the premier sociologist of Asakusa (Tokyo’s #1 most “modern” hood), publishes A THEORY OF PEOPLE’S PLEASURE (MINSHUU GORAKURON), arguing that, far from being a place where working folks can have a bit of fun and experience the latest in new forms of entertainment, Asakusa is a trap of evil capitalists to ensnare Joe Sixpack, offering a factory of fun where mass-produced shiny shit and fast food rolls off a conveyor-belt and into your lap. WWhat are we to make of human life, buried as it is underneath all these commodities?” Real thinking, feeling humans have been replaced by soul-less materialistic consumers. You are what you own! Settle down, Ian Mackaye. Gonda was like the most famous guy to be straight up, “fuck moga and mobo (modern girls and modern boys).” For a different view of Asakusa and of moga, please check my review of EROTIC GROTESQUE NONSENSE.

November – the magazines CRIMINAL SCIENCE and CRIME DIGEST feature – between grisly true-crime stories and tabloid sex headlines – accounts written by Japanese Imperial Army officers in the colonies, detailing how crazy things are out there. It’s odd because these are not political magazines. They’re pulp, trashy, true-crime, low-brow things with tits everywhere. So the articles by army officers are another example of what   Driscoll calls “war pornography.”

Sakai Kiyoshi (Umehara’s pal and co-editor of GROTESQUE) writes DEMON MAGIC (KOUREI MAJUTSU). What is that about?

Who is Amakasu Masahiko? He’s a famous secret-policeman, assassin, ex-con, and now leader of Manchukuo’s kenpentai (secret police). He hires 100 “military contractors” (i.e. crooks) and forms a mob called Uchifuji in Fentian city, a second syndicate in Harbin, and an “incipient drug and intelligence operation in Shanghai.” Through his Chinese underworld contacts, he obtains military secrets which help the Japanese army win battles. To give his gang total control of Harbin’s underworld, he has to get the Japanese army to invade Harbin (thereby driving out the Chinese cops, and rival gangs too). So, dressed as a Chinese terrorist, he drives around BY HIMSELF IN A FUCKING CAR FULL OF HAND GRENADES, going on a 3-day-long drive-by. While his friends call the Japanese army and beg for help.


 In March 1,  as a result of the Manchurian Incident, Japan formally takes over all of Manchuria. This sets in motion a whole chain of dominoes: instead of trying to battle China economically, trade wars, using businesses as soldiers, Japan is now actually fighting China with real soldiers. Chinese laborers in Manchuria are now routinely enslaved, and forced to work until death, in a totally unsustainable manner. Why? Because Japan has embarked on a course of world conquest, and needs Manchuria to make enough army equipment to do that. This is called “mobilization for total war.”

To accompany the army across the globe, they would need many prostitutes. They set up the first “comfort women” station in Shanghai. This is just another instance – one of many in the book – of the government copying what the Yakuza/underworld had been doing in the colonies all along, and turning it into official policy.

“Japan’s Guandong army desperately needed revenue to establish the new state, in addition to requiring useful intelligence from on-the-ground Japanese sources with experience in dealing with Manchuria. The only Japanese in control of these previous commodities of intelligence and drugs were the hustlers and traffickers, who were now joined by yakuza groups.”

The gangsters got cushy, legit jobs as “military advisers”, or pencil-pushers in the official government Opium Monopoly Corporation (!!!) Everyone called them “sensei.” Bureaucrats helped them set up “legitimate” businesses, and launder their drug money. Also – as “government advisers,” these hustlers were immune to customs searches.

Military leaders such as Amakasu Masahiko and Itagaki Seishirou teamed up with yakuza syndicates operating in Manchukuo such as the Kokusuikai and Seigidan.

The number of “ronin” in Manchuria is now over 30,000 (including yakuza).

The Kenpeitai were in charge of coordinating the local yakuza, making Amakasu (leader of the kenpeitai) a big guy in the opium game.

The Kempeitai were like the craziest guys in the whole thing – the main link between official government and yakuza. A sort of “official” gang: they could kill anyone, steal anything. They were in charge of disarming Chinese police, confiscating property, and taking over Chinese banks. Here, the “inside information” that the yakuza possessed came in handy. The yaks – who knew because local Chinese gangsters told them- told the kenpeitai “This family looks poor but they’re rich, and their gold is hidden here.” Or “That family is ripe for extortion,” and the kenpeitai would move in and get the loot, afterwards sharing some with the gangsters. Also, the yaks showed the more independent kenpeitai how to make “extra money” setting up their own prostitution and drug rings.

Driscoll says that without the revenue from heroin, opium, and morphine, Japan could not have waged WWII: he estimates that between 50 and 55% of all Manchuria’s GDP came from drugs.

Applying the same rules laid down by Goto in Taiwan, financial minister Hoshino Naoki starts the Opium Monopoly. Legalizing dope, but only the government is legally allowed to sell it. This is done in the guise of “regulating drugs” and “reducing crime.”  In practice, this meant that gangsters – excuse me, “advisors” would rob Chiense dope dealers at gunpoint, then turn around and sell the dope themselves. Chinese dope dealing was illegal. Meanwhile, entire neighborhoods of Japanese-owned supermarkets turn into out-and-out opium houses almost overnight.

The Manchukuo government uses this dope money (and the promise of more profits to come) as collateral for billions in loans from Japanese banks. Yes, they straight up told the banks, “This is dope money.”

Here’s how the industry works: Japanese army robs Chinese opium farmers at gunpoint, giving them pennies on the dollar, if even that. Then Japanese factories process the dope, and sell half of it to lisenced, Japanese-run opium dens. But, oops! They “lose” the other 50%! This is where the profit comes in: the “lost” 50% is sold to Yakuza at an insane markup: between 10 and 30 times the “official” price, and the yaks sell it to illegal Chinese opium dens at an even huger markup. 

Financial minister Hoshino Naoki then gets together with the kenpeitai and designates the one hundred biggest Japanese dope-dealers as “government liscenced wholesalers.”

254??? So complicated.

Bureaucrats like Furumi Tadayuki and Hoshino set up the Manchukuo Central Bank (opened with assets looted from the four main Chines banks in Manchuria), and was totally self-contained. No other banks (not even Japanese banks) could check its books. They also set up a Bureau for Special Financial Assets (dope money). This bureau was a “tunneling facility that shuttled money earned on the black market into the Central Bank.” And they use this laundered cash to form a “second budget” for the army. Not unlike the LDP’s “zaito.” They kept some for themselves, their bars, hookers, hot cars, etc. But most was needed to simply keep the government running, since all the drugs and corruption was (not surprisingly) slowing down the economy. Money was also set aside for more wars: China, Russia, America, whoever.

The bidan (glorious soldier) genre of samurai fiction, long out of fashion, is re-vamped and unleashed on the public as part of a wartime propaganda campaign. Suddenly there are “based on a true story” novels everywhere, detailing the “heroic deaths of our soldiers in Manchuria”. No one cares if the deaths mattered or if the soldiers had any tactical common sense, all that matters is they died well. For example, TRUE STORIES OF HUMAN BULLETS FROM JAPAN’S MANCHURIAN ARMY (MANSHUUGUN NIKUDAN JIKKI) was published in King magazine.

Noted asshole Shinobu Junbei writes a propaganda book, WAGA MANMON NO TOKUSHU KENEKI (OUR SPECIAL RIGHTS AND PRVILEGES AS JAPANESE IN MANCHURIA), which encourages Japanese to cheer on the colonialization, and maybe invest in it, or come to Manchukuo themselves and try their hand. The gist: the Chinese are so barbaric and anarchistic they can’t run their own country, so why not us?

1933 –

American diplomat Nicholson reports that in Andong, there are 145 legal (i.e. Japanese run) opium dens. 700 more (Chinese-run, illegal) in surrounding towns. Just two years before: there were no more than 10!

Japan invades Rehe province of China (bordering on Manchukuo) : Rehe has some of the most abundant opium fields in all north China – as well as a opium factory owned by a local warlord.. Also, Japan builds new heroin factories in Harbin and Xinjing.


Umehara Hokumei, having spent seven years fighting the censors, then two years incognito, re-emerges on the Tokyo scene, having become a right-winger and war supporter. He gets a job as a historian at Yasukuni shrine.

1935 –

“ash heaps” become commonplace in Manchurian cities: giant mass graves just outside of town, where dead junkies’ bodies are dumped by the thousands. “many Chinese addicts were required to have a rope tied to their wrists before gaining entry to the more than two hundred Japanese shooting galleries near South Gate; if they weren’t able to physically walk out, they would be dragged out by the rope and depositied on the ash heap to die.”

The Umezu-He and Doihara-Qin Accords in June 1935 facilitated a rapid expansion of the Japanese drug trade north and south of the Great Wall, and at this point Mitsui and Mitsubishi publicly diversified their product lines into opium, which they purchased from Iranian and Turkish sellers.

1936 –

dope is so common, the price of a hit is now a THIRD of what it was before the Manchurian Incident.

Nicholson, the American observer, estimates that the rate of addiction had risen to 18 percent of everyone in the whole city of Chunghe to 35 percent of everyone in Fengcheng.

Kishi Nobusuke gets the top bureaucrat job in Manchukuo. Who is Kishi Nobusuke ? Besides a money launderer and “future founder (!!!) of the LDP? Since Manchukuo doesn’t have a president or legislature, that means Kishi runs the show. He got the gig because he went go Germany, where he learned a combination of racism and “industrial rationalization” which appealed to Japanese Army guys. He immediately sets about drafting a five year plan. He’s good friends with Amakasu,  every hooker in Manchuria, an accomplished money launderer , and a big Kita Ikki fan.

1937 –

Along with Ishihara Kanji (the “total war” guy) and MIyaaki Masayoshi (“Who?”), Kishi drafts the FIVE YEAR PLAN for developing Manchukuo, and turning it into one giant factory for producing arms for the upcoming world war. Here’s where Kishi is different from a capitalist or gangster: he’s not about making maximum profit. He wants businesses to be controlled by the government and profits to have low limits. All the extra “profits” should be plowed right back into more development : more factories, more tanks, more bombs, more drugs. All for the war and the country! Capitalists were too greedy and self-centered. Regular people were too dumb and naive to be trusted with democracy. The only good, fair rulers were bureaucrats – since they sit in the center and can see how all the pieces fit together. Central planning for all!

Here is where Driscoll drops the bomb:  The economic preparation for a system of total war (economic central planning, profit ceilings, etc) . was put in place FIRST by the civilian elite in Manchukuo BEORE this colonial template was subsequently used in Tokyo.

But all this industrial rationalization depended on Japanese companies actually coming there in the first place. And, with strict profit limits, how was Kishi to induce the corporations to come? Answer: reduce the price of coolie labor from “cents a day” to “free.” With free labor, the corporations could make an easy profit.

As a result, pretty much all criminals were sent to do forced labor. Regular Manchurian men were obliged to do forced labor for six months every three years for free. And their women and children were forced to work the family farms by themselves.

Also : full-scale war with regular China. Chinese POWs forced into labor camps along with criminals and immigrants.

But also a lot of Chinese immigrants tricked into coming to the “paradise” of Manchukuo and its “abundant, well-paying jobs”. Japanese recruiting companies are all over the place in North China. Among other recruiting tools, they use movies: info-mercials produced by guess who? Amakasu Masahiko . He’s been promoted to Minister of Public Relations.

Around a million a year. A total of some 4,000,000 by the end of the war. A little less than half are supposed to have survived.

According to the confessions of Chinese collaborators later arrested by the Communist Chinese, “Forced laborers weren’t allowed to keep anything they had brought with them, including the clothes on their backs. All personal possessions were stolen from them and sold. With nothing left but explsed flesh, the y resorted to cutting holes in the bottom of paper and hemp bags used for mortar and this would be their only protection in the harsh winters. They often worked completely naked in summer, without shoes. Workers were fed sorghum and grass for food, and thirteen- and fourteen-hour workdays were standard.

17 December 1937 p. 281 Ayukawa Yoshisuke NISSAN becomes MANGYOU



a new decree says that anyone found loitering can be classified as a “delinquent” and hauled off to a labor camp.

Mangyou Industries takes over Manchurian Iron and Steel industry. The number of forced laborers in the Iron factories goes from 144 to 690 in one year. Only half survived that year.

Even “non-forced” labor (i.e. “jobs”) were not what you’d imagine: at the same iron factory, from 1938-1944, at the Fushun site, 25,000 of the 40,000 “nonforced” Chiense workers needed to be replaced annually, mainly as a result of death on the job and execution for insubordination, in addition to a smaller percentage managing to escape alive.


labor camps and “coolie work ethic” which had been perfected in Manchuria was now brought back to an increasingly desperate Japan, with some native Japanese now doing forced labor “for the war effort.”

Back in Manchuria, forced laborers (of which there were some 7 million at this point) had a yearly mortality rate of 50 percent.


the Manchurian men now required to serve 12 months of forced labor every three years.


Manchukuo institutes an “anti-drug” campaign: anyone found to be a junkie is required to report to the nearest “treatment station” – these are nothing more than bus-stops leading the junkies to slave-labor camps, where they are worked and starved to death. Also given drugs. Amphetamines.

Chinese laborers who were making military bases were routinely massacred after their work was done, to “keep military secrets.” “The Japanese military or military police would reoutinely have a celebration ceremony for the finished structure, and hand out food and alcohol. After the Chiense got drunk, the soldiers would murder them.” One such incident : 6,000 Chinese workers , forced to build fortifications in Xinganling, went ‘missing.’

“I estimate that in addition to the millions drugged and starved to death in the colony, no fewer than 2.5 million Chinese forced laborers were eorked to death in Manchukuo.”

Including heroin, opium, and morphine, roughly 20 percent of the colonized Chinese population is now addicted.

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  1. Steve September 16th, 2011 9:15 am

    Thanks for the timeline. Mark Driscoll is the guy who gave the lecture on EroGuro at my university, but his talk was mostly about Vampire and how it related to colonialism (before a Japanese film professor hijacked the conversation and made it about mirrors(?))

  2. zj January 31st, 2014 3:40 am

    is there a book you’d recommend specifically about the war/colonization history? or maybe a buzzfeed article? “10 reasons the japanese deserve their inevitable annexation” in animated gifs?

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