Ethiopia & Japan, The Marriage Alliance!

Ethiopia & Japan, The Marriage Alliance!

Posted in the Ethiopia Forum

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Cyclad

Sweden

#1 Jan 10, 2009
Prelude:
In the first half of the 1930s, two nations that where able to recist colonisation, Japan and Ethiopia drew closer together to the acute concern of all of Africa's colonial powers, most especially Italy. Much came to trouble Rome about Japanese about their economic and political activities into Northeast Africa. Rumors exaggerated the extent of the threat. Particularly vexing were reports of increasing Japanese military relationships in Ethiopia. The thought of Japanese political, commercial, and military relationship with Ethiopia to statesmen in London, Paris Berlin and elsewhere seemed sufficient to justify Italy's military preparations against Ethiopia from 1934 on.

One issue for many came to symbolize Japan's expanding connections in Ethiopia, that is, the proposed marriage between Araya Abeba of Ethiopia and Kuroda Masako of Japan. Many mistakenly believed that this was to be a royal wedding. The genesis of the proposed marriage lay in Ethiopia's desire to model its modernization after Japan, and Japan's romantic vision of Ethiopia. While this might sufficiently explain the motives of Araya and Kuroda, other individuals were also involved. Most important were several Pan-Asian, nationalist Japanese who were promoting the marriage to leverage a prominent role for themselves in commercial exchanges between Japan and Ethiopia. Interestingly, neither government in Tokyo or Addis Ababa promoted the marriage idea; neither lamented when the proposal died sometime in 1934; and both suffered international complications because of it.
Cyclad

Sweden

#2 Jan 10, 2009
In Japan, around Tei village, there is a store advertising "Ethiopia Manjuu"—a shiny, brown, sweet, steamed dumpling stuffed with azuki bean paste. It would in America be considered a racist name, but it is a local product that was first developed in the 1930s, and the name was to show solidarity with the Ethiopian people. How can one explain this seemingly odd connection between Japan in East Asia and Ethiopia in East Africa?

Italy, ruled by Benito Mussolini and his fascists, attacked Ethiopia on October 2, 1935, and in seven months conquered part of the country to create the Italian Empire. Italy's military preparations preceding the attack had gone on in earnest for more than a year and resembled America's military buildup before the Gulf War of 1991—especially for the sustained press coverage and intense, if not always earnest, multilateral diplomacy aimed at averting war. More earnestly the two antagonists sought to find allies and undermine hostile coalitions.

Of the many reasons that led Italy to decide for war, one stands out for its importance to contemporaries and for the oblivion to which it has been consigned by later commentators. Japan's real and perceived economic, political, and even military relations into its spheres of influence, including Ethiopia, upset Italy. In early 1934, the Italie Marinara, the official publication of the Italian Navy League, put the matter plainly:
Italy is watching with great interest developments in the Far East and, due to Japan's recent energetic invasion of Italian markets not only in Italy itself but in the Colonies and in the smaller countries bordering the Mediterranean, her attitude is not what might be called pro-Japanese.
The Japanese reacted. The Yomuiri newspaper in January 1934, for example, complained that Mussolini seemed obsessed with the old "Yellow Peril" theory because of Italy's defeat in African markets at Japanese hands.

Romantic Japanese views concerning Ethiopia, and presumed plans for cotton and opium cultivation in the Ethiopian highlands by co-operation of Japanese and Ethiopian farmers excited observers the world over. Germany's press in December 1934 echoed that this economic threat also jeopardized Western Eurpean supremacy. The ultimate psychological effect would be enormous.

What we might expect from Nazi Germany, Communist Russia surprisingly underscored. Rejecting its class-based rationalism for passionate nationalism, the Moscow Daily News on January 11, 1935, described Italy's imperialism and sympathetically editorialized that Italy had sought Ethiopia's peaceful economic, but,
The reversion of Italian policy in Abyssinia to the old methods of direct seizure is bound up to a considerable degree with the intensification of Japanese economic and political connections in Abyssinia.
Cyclad

Sweden

#3 Jan 10, 2009
In Japan, around Tei village, there is a store advertising "Ethiopia Manjuu"—a shiny, brown, sweet, steamed dumpling stuffed with azuki bean paste. It would in America be considered a racist name, but it is a local product that was first developed in the 1930s, and the name was to show solidarity with the Ethiopian people. How can one explain this seemingly odd connection between Japan in East Asia and Ethiopia in East Africa?

Italy, ruled by Benito Mussolini and his fascists, attacked Ethiopia on October 2, 1935, and in seven months conquered part of the country to create the Italian Empire. Italy's military preparations preceding the attack had gone on in earnest for more than a year and resembled America's military buildup before the Gulf War of 1991—especially for the sustained press coverage and intense, if not always earnest, multilateral diplomacy aimed at averting war. More earnestly the two antagonists sought to find allies and undermine hostile coalitions.

Of the many reasons that led Italy to decide for war, one stands out for its importance to contemporaries and for the oblivion to which it has been consigned by later commentators. Japan's real and perceived economic, political, and even military relations into its spheres of influence, including Ethiopia, upset Italy. In early 1934, the Italie Marinara, the official publication of the Italian Navy League, put the matter plainly:
Cyclad

Sweden

#4 Jan 10, 2009
Italy is watching with great interest developments in the Far East and, due to Japan's recent energetic invasion of Italian markets not only in Italy itself but in the Colonies and in the smaller countries bordering the Mediterranean, her attitude is not what might be called pro-Japanese.
The Japanese reacted. The Yomuiri newspaper in January 1934, for example, complained that Mussolini seemed obsessed with the old "Yellow Peril" theory because of Italy's defeat in African markets at Japanese hands.

Romantic Japanese views concerning Ethiopia, and presumed plans for cotton and opium cultivation in the Ethiopian highlands by co-operation of Japanese and Ethiopian farmers excited observers the world over. Germany's press in December 1934 echoed that this economic threat also jeopardized Western Eurpean supremacy. The ultimate psychological effect would be enormous.

What we might expect from Nazi Germany, Communist Russia surprisingly underscored. Rejecting its class-based rationalism for passionate nationalism, the Moscow Daily News on January 11, 1935, described Italy's imperialism and sympathetically editorialized that Italy had sought Ethiopia's peaceful economic, but,
The reversion of Italian policy in Abyssinia to the old methods of direct seizure is bound up to a considerable degree with the intensification of Japanese economic and political connections in Abyssinia.
Cyclad

Sweden

#5 Jan 10, 2009
One issue, minor in itself, for many in Italy and elsewhere came to symbolize Japanese encroachments; that is, the proposed marriage between an Ethiopian "prince" and a Japanese "princess." The many articles in newspapers and magazines, especially those appealing to women, showed that the proposed marriage had stirred popular excitement. The emotions generated were genuine and have remained etched in memories to this day. There was a nationwide atmosphere of friendship toward Ethiopia in the 1930s and there was a rumor of a marriage between the Ethiopian royal family and the Japanese nobility. Ethiopia who where vieved as a wonderful country and the Japanese prewar-generation people still feel closeness to Ethiopia even today. In the 1970s, Japanese people expressed their support for Abeba, an Olympic marathon runner, because he was from Ethiopia. And in the Spring of 1999, a popular quiz show on Japanese television asked a questions about the marriage.
Cyclad

Sweden

#6 Jan 10, 2009
One year after signing a Treaty of Friendship and Commerce with Tokyo in 1930, Ethiopia's foreign minister, Blaten Geta Herui, made a grand tour of Japan. The visit dramatized the potentialities of future Ethio-Japanese cooperation in the political, diplomatic, and economic arenas.

One Lij Araya Abeba had accompanied Herui's embassy. Impressed with Japan, Araya, seemingly a prince and nephew of the Emperor Haile Selassie, expressed his desire to marry: "It has been my long-cherished ambition," he explained to a Japanese reporter in February 1934, "to marry a Japanese lady. Of all first-class nations, Japan has the strongest appeal. The initiative was his and a personal decision.

Sumioka [Kadooka] Tomoyoshi, a Tokyo lawyer, philo-Ethiopian nationalist, and Pan-Asian activist, stage-managed much of the marriage affair. Herui had visited him during his 1931 trip to Japan. Sumioka now wished to facilitate Japanese trade and investment in Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, in 1932, two young men went to Addis Ababa. One of them, Shoji Yunosuke, had played an important role in Herui's reception in 1931. He preached racial unity uniting Ethiopians and Japanese, and approvingly cited a professor who had written
It is uncontroversial that the Ethiopian people a very long time ago had racial connections to some extent with the Japanese people.
Cyclad

Sweden

#7 Jan 10, 2009
Upon his return to Japan he explained his relationship with Sumioka:
When I left Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Emperor, who greatly favored Japan, especially permitted his meeting and granted a picture, rhino's horn, musk, etc., to me. At that time he entrusted his recent picture as a gift to Mr. Sumioka Tomoyoshi to me, and I handed it to Mr. Sumioka after my return, which was my first acquaintance with him. Since then, I have been deeply impressed with his excellent understanding and right belief concerning racial issues and world statecraft. I gained an opportunity to be consulted about the Ethiopian marriage issue, as it has progressed, because I fortunately have a close friendship with Prince Araya.

The proposed wedding was to be held according to Christian rites in April or May 1934 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital. Presumably, Araya instructed Sumioka to advertise for applicants and from them select suitable candidates. The announcement that Araya was seeking a Japanese bride went out in May 1933. According to press accounts, the twenty-three-year-old Araya was reassuringly light-skinned, monogamous, and Christian. Hence, "[s]cores of adventurous girls who were willing to be a Princess of Ethiopia answered...," apparently at least twenty in all.
Cyclad

Sweden

#8 Jan 10, 2009
From those Araya reportedly made two preliminary choices and was to make his final decision in March upon his arrival in Japan on an important economic and political mission. The second choice was Kabata Shigeko [Chiiko], the twenty-two-year-old, third daughter of Tabata Kametaro, a millionaire businessman of Moji. On the morning of January 21, Sumioka announced as Araya's first choice, a young woman who had been among the first applicants.

Kuroda Masako, the first choice, was the twenty-three-year-old, second daughter of Viscount Kuroda Hiroyuki of the forestry bureau of the Imperial Household. Viscount Kuroda was descended from the former Lord of Kazusa, a feudal lord in Chiba. She had presented her picture and other credentials to Sumioka without her parents' knowledge. Despite initial objections, soon her father prepared to visit Ethiopia. The Kuroda family lived in a tiny suburban house, and she was graduated from the Kanto Gakuin Higher Girl's School in Yodobashi-ku. She spoke English fluently, having been one of the first Japanese girls to take part in an English oratorical contest and to win a prize. At five feet, three inches, she was taller than average. After her enrollment as a candidate for the "prince's bride," she studied the habits and customs of Ethiopia through books and conversations with those familiar with conditions there.
Cyclad

Sweden

#9 Jan 10, 2009
From those Araya reportedly made two preliminary choices and was to make his final decision in March upon his arrival in Japan on an important economic and political mission. The second choice was Kabata Shigeko [Chiiko], the twenty-two-year-old, third daughter of Tabata Kametaro, a millionaire businessman of Moji. On the morning of January 21, Sumioka announced as Araya's first choice, a young woman who had been among the first applicants.

Kuroda Masako, the first choice, was the twenty-three-year-old, second daughter of Viscount Kuroda Hiroyuki of the forestry bureau of the Imperial Household. Viscount Kuroda was descended from the former Lord of Kazusa, a feudal lord in Chiba. She had presented her picture and other credentials to Sumioka without her parents' knowledge. Despite initial objections, soon her father prepared to visit Ethiopia. The Kuroda family lived in a tiny suburban house, and she was graduated from the Kanto Gakuin Higher Girl's School in Yodobashi-ku. She spoke English fluently, having been one of the first Japanese girls to take part in an English oratorical contest and to win a prize. At five feet, three inches, she was taller than average. After her enrollment as a candidate for the "prince's bride," she studied the habits and customs of Ethiopia through books and conversations with those familiar with conditions there.
Cyclad

Sweden

#10 Jan 10, 2009
In school Kuroda had been a keen athlete who enjoyed swimming, basketball, volleyball, and tennis. In an interview in February 1934, she enthusiastically remarked:
I understand that the people of Ethiopia are extremely interested in sports, and I believe that I shall be able to indulge my taste for athletics when I go there. Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity of meeting Prince Abeba when he visited Japan a few years ago, but I have firmly decided to go to his country and I am willing to put up with whatever circumstances come along.

She desired to increase the ties of friendship uniting Japan and Ethiopia, and she saw herself as the first of many Japanes and Ethiopians to emigrate. Such statements sparked alarm among those, especially in Italy, who feared Ethiopian-Japanese alliance.

In truth, many in Japan saw in the proposed marriage the opportunity to cut into interests of the colonial powers in Ethiopia. Japanese newspapers and nationalists further argued the necessity of uniting against colonialism. The marriage would personify this solidarity. On the other side of the coin, a faction of Ethiopia's intelligentsia known as the Japanizers were advocating intermarriage between upper class Ethiopians and Japanese. These intellectuals for several decades had been imploring Ethiopia to model its modernization along Japanese lines.
Cyclad

Sweden

#11 Jan 10, 2009
Commercial and economic negotiations were the tangible consequences of such talk. One Japanese business enterprise became particularly entwined in international diplomacy to the detriment of both Japan and Ethiopia. Popularly known as Nikkei-Sha, the Nagasaki Echiopia Keizai Chosa-kai Nikkei-Sha [Nagasaki Association for Economic Investigation of Ethiopia] had been founded in 1932 in Nagasaki to conduct import/export operations with Ethiopia. Its director, Kitagawa Takashi, went to Ethiopia that same year. In September 1933, he received permission to negotiate a deal with Ethiopia. A glib-talking and unscrupulous fixer, he negotiated with Herui for authorization concerning: the rights to use 500,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia; a permit to grow cotton, tobacco, tea, green tea, rice, wheat, fruit trees, and vegetables; a permit to grow medicinal plants; a grant of fifteen hectares of land for each immigrant Japanese family; and 1,000 hectares of land next to Addis Ababa for a Japanese investigation mission to examine what plants could be grown in Ethiopia. Kitagawa managed little but to earn Ethiopia and Japan international suspicion. His activities certainly provoked Great Britain, France, the USSR, and, especially, Italy.
Cyclad

Sweden

#12 Jan 10, 2009
On January 18, 1934, Juo Hyoron [Free Critics] published an article tying the marriage to the international discord. Entitled, "Warning to Ambitions in Ethiopia: 500,000 Yen Spent for the Engagement!", in part it read:
Although we do not have any ambitions in Ethiopia, the countries such as Italy, France, and England which possess close and unalienable interests in Ethiopia, will most certainly understand the royal engagement as a part of Japan's African ambitions, including colonization. Though England and France are unworthy of any trust in a crisis, Italy as well as Germany are still somewhat the allies of an isolated Japan. It would be capricious of Japan to undertake an adventure that could damage Italy's feelings.
We should firmly eliminate any relationships toward Ethiopia and warn against rumors for the sake of the integrity of the Japanese lady who is to be sacrificed for concessions worth only 500,000 yen.
Cyclad

Sweden

#13 Jan 10, 2009
The Japanese government agreed. Tokyo could not allow a free hand to ambitious pan-Asiatic adventurers such as Kitagawa who were going to Ethiopia. Matters reached the point when Japan's Gaimusho [foreign ministry] in February 1934 decided to send a high ranking officer to investigate conditions in Ethiopia. The Second Division of the Trade Section explained why:
It was reported that the Ethiopian government intends to approve a wide land lease to Japanese people, and that Ethiopian royal family wishes to arrange a marriage with a Japanese noble family. Ethiopia recently has shown a pro-Japanese attitude.... When the Japanese people and Ethiopia peoples create businessess toghether, we need to understand the domestic conditions of this country and carefully consider its very delicate international position. Otherwise, our plans will fail, or we will unnecessarily invite the envy and misunderstanding of other major countries. Such a result will negatively influence future relations between our two countries.
moy

Poolesville, MD

#14 Jan 10, 2009
BORING!
moy

Poolesville, MD

#15 Jan 10, 2009
WALLS OF TEXT
abr

Ethiopia

#16 Jan 12, 2009
right, it is boring and sensless with out any substance!
TOM

Kansas City, MO

#18 Nov 28, 2010
moy wrote:
BORING!
I can't believe it. I am of Ethiopia background, Who lived in china for about five years.I always felt that asian people looked like west african's
(just the face not the color of skin or hair)But japan people when i would meet them in china. I could see ethiopia in them the face, the eyes. Something with the soul like looking at your lost brother.
james

Kansas City, MO

#19 Nov 28, 2010
maybe
samri

Mukilteo, WA

#20 Jul 18, 2011
Imagine what opportunity was lost... Ethiopia would have been a cool place to live in. Africa and Asia would have been linked. Oh well at least people dreamed...
shut it

Leesburg, VA

#21 Apr 5, 2012
Shut up, we ethiopians will not be mixed with no one so back off.

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