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The Black Dragon Society. Some Of The Last Free Imperial Fighting Braves Of The 20th Century.

Peace Muurs,

Make sure you read up on the Black Dragon Society, because they were truly some of the last free fighting Confederate, Imperial Braves of the 20th century. Noble Drew Ali and Elijah Muhammad were actually affiliated with the Black Dragon Society as part of the greater Asiatic brotherhood worldwide. A great case study for your War Room especially relating to clandestine, wartime psychological operations. We will strive to resurrect the cause as "Hy-Imperium." Peace.

How the Black Dragon Society of right-wing nationalists and pan-Asianists pushed Japan ever further rightward prior to World War II.

Secret societies are often relegated to the world of conspiracy theories and comic books. But they do exist, albeit not as secretly as you’d think. And Japan’s Black Dragon Society is an excellent example of this phenomenon.By the end of the 19th century, a surge of right-wing nationalist secret societies began to appear in Japan. The country had emerged as a dominant modern power. As a result, many of these societies wanted the government to go a step further and expand territorial assets overseas, notably China and Korea. The Kokuryukai (黒龍会; Amur River Society, also sometimes translated as Black Dragon Society) remains one of the most well-known of these groups. Black Dragon Society members were fervent employers of Pan-Asianist rhetoric. They professed a belief in “the unity of all Asian peoples”. But this was more of a cover for Japanese imperialist leanings. Initially formed in response to Russia’s overtures into Manchuria, the Kokuryukai inserted themselves into military and political situations both overseas and at home.

Black Dragon Society: Ideological Roots in the GenyoshaUchida suspected Japan and Russia would soon be at war, and with the Genyosha's support, he formed the Kokuryukai to combat the Russian threat. Before exploring the Kokuryukai, it’s pertinent to briefly look into the Genyosha (玄洋社; Dark Ocean Society). Formed in 1881 by Fukuoka-born “Emperor of the Slums” Toyama Mitsuru (頭山満), the Genyosha mostly attracted gangsters and former samurai. They weren’t afraid to employ various intimidation techniques — often violent — to exert influence. Their clientele included manufacturing and mining companies, government officials, and organized crime families.The Genyosha zealously endorsed Japanese expansionism. To further their agenda, they deployed agents in Korea, China, and Manchuria to stir up pro-Japanese sentiments and survey possible enemy positions.In 1895 a group of Genyosha agents infiltrated Korea’s Imperial Palace and murdered Empress Myeongseong, long considered an impediment to Japanese expansionism. In 1898 Genyosha members attempted to assassinate foreign minister Okuma Shigenobu with a bomb; he lost a leg as a result.

The 1900 Boxer Rebellion soured straining relations between Japan and Russia, threatening Japan’s interests in Manchuria and Korea. Enter “continental adventurer” (大陸浪人; tairiku ronin) and Genyosha disciple Uchida Ryohei (内田良平). Uchida suspected Japan and Russia would soon be at war, and with the Genyosha’s support, he formed the Kokuryukai to combat the Russian threat. He identified the Amur River, Manchuria’s northern boundary, as the point of no return for Russia; any movement past that boundary would spell war.

Uchida Ryohei and the Birth of the Kokuryukai

Uchida was born in 1873, just a scant five years after the Meiji Restoration. Like Toyama, Uchida hailed from Fukuoka, the closest city to the Asian mainland, and thus a hotbed for nationalist and militaristic discourse. His father was famed jojutsu master Uchida Ryogoro (内田良五郎), and he grew up dabbling in various martial arts, including kendo, judo, and sumo. Uchida’s uncle Hiroaka Kotaro (平岡浩太郎) was a co-founder of the Genyosha and the owner of a successful coal mining business.

Uchida became involved with the Genyosha sometime in the 1890s, joining the offshoot Tenyukyo (天佑侠; “Heavenly Blessed Heroes”). He traveled to Korea in 1894 to assist the peasants in the Donghak Rebellion. After studying Russian at Toyogo University, he traveled to Siberia in 1895, opening a judo school in Vladivostok, which conveniently served as a front for more covert activities. He also paid a visit to St. Petersburg and Moscow in 1897.

Scholar Eizawa Koji called Uchida the “originator of fascism in Japan.” (Source: Wikipedia)

In 1901, Uchida formed the Kokuryukai in Tokyo along with 59 other men, including future “Taisho Democracy” figurehead Inukai Tsuyoshi (犬養毅) and prominent people’s rights activist Oi Kentarou (大井憲太郎). Toyama was involved as well, though to what extent remains under debate. Some scholars depict Toyama as either fully involved in the Kokuryukai or only vaguely cognizant of Kokuryukai activity. While Toyama did maintain ties with the Kokuryukai, Uchida was the undisputed leader and instigator behind many Kokuryukai plots.

Black Dragon Society’s Influence on Foreign Policy

The majority of the members hailed from Kyushu, but the Kokuryukai made a point of recruiting nationwide. The organization boasted close to 1000 members by the 1910s and operated a cohesive network that included politicians, diplomats, businessmen, and other secret societies both domestic and foreign. Most of their funding came from affluent businessmen and industrial companies; Hiraoka Kotaro frequently sent funds from his own company to the Kokuryukai.

Scholar Eizawa Koji called Uchida Ryohei "the originator of fascism in Japan."

Many members prided themselves on operating outside the murky world of politics. Without strong political power within, however, the Kokuryukai relied on various propaganda to influence public and political opinions. Uchida wrote various memoranda for bureaucrats and high-ranking military personnel and paid personal visits when he believed he needed to make a stronger impression to drive his point across. The group also published a variety of journals.

But dissemination wasn’t without its challenges. The government banned Kokuryukai’s first effort Kaiho (会報; Bulletin) due to its stance on expansionism (despite many politicians sharing those same Pan-Asianist sentiments). A point was made to distribute the journals in other languages, including classical Chinese and English.