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Years In Japan
This is the story of cherry and chrysanthemum. As early as 1907 I once visited Nippon with my wife on our first round the world trip. I landed in Yokohama and traveled to Tokyo, Nikko and Kyoto. We boarded the steamer from Kobe on their way back to India.
At Yokohama i bought Japanese prigs and tiny trees which is the special art of China and Japan. By cutting the roots they make dwarfs of the trees. For example mango tree will not grow more than a few inches high and yet it will bear annually blossom and fruits. The make practically dwarfs of all the great trees.
I bought quite a number of these trees and brought back to India. in 1907. One or those two Japanese prigs which I brought to India was the lightest dog ever imported in the country. I bought also several fine specimens of needlework of Japan. Japan was renowned then and still is renowned for fine handiwork though in recent years it has become famous for cheap industrial goods.
Japan In 1922-23.
It was a long break. I could not revisit Japan till 1922. In November of that year I
arrived in Japan under quite different conditions. In 1907 I was traveling with my wife and we had an English lady doctor to attend on us. It was our pleasure trip with lot of money in our pockets.
Now I was an exile for all practical purposes though my pockets still had some gold.
I was traveling with a passport of Afghanistan. I rented two rooms in a hotel, the same hotel of those days. Babu Rash Behari Bose, Mr. Sabarwal and Mr.Rafi were helpful in finding my way and in finding a shelter in the new environment of the Japanese Capital. Mr. Mimasaka, a young gentleman fresh from University helped me as my private secretary. Full five months I was busy propagating facts about Afghanistan and heralding the need of freedom for India. I was a non-official representative of his Majesty King Amanulla Khan and I was still believed to be the official head of the Provisional Government of India. I could Score great Success as the atmosphere that had developed suited my purpose. The great disappointment of the Japanese nation at the Washington Conference where the British Empire betrayed Japan, helped me to reach the hearts of the Japanese people. In many meetings I spoke, many dinners I ate and many newspapers carried my messages The British got quite terrified by my propaganda. The same thing, however, I won’t; say of the British ambassador, Sir Charles Eliot. He was a splendid gentleman with a certain faith in Budhism. He tried to approach me through the German ambassador, P.E. Dr. Solf. He wanted to have a talk with me on my religious views, but my friend Babu Rash Behari asked me not to see the British ambassador, as my seeing him might make the Japanese friends a bit suspicious. It happened that I followed his advice. My routine work continued. Getting up early in morning I attended to my office. Mr. Mimasaka, my secretary, would come punctually and we would . plunge into correspondence or in writing articles for the press. Now and then a phone call would disturb the flow of thought. Next some visitor would appear to have a talk. arrangement were made for this visit, lunch, dinner, tea. or that lecture. It continued for about five months. In April, when cherry blossoms were at their height, I left Tokyo, proceeded to Kyoto, another famous place and once capital. It was only a sight-seeing trip. I did not stop there. I continued my journey to Peking.
JAPAN IN 1925.
Two years or a bit more later, I once again arrived at the port of Yokohama. Landing was a problem this time as well. Present difficulty was that my Sikh volunteers had no passports. I had sent a couple of wires to my friends in
Japan and they had sent some special recommendations and friends to the port. But the police technicalities had to be crossed when foreign travelers were passed through. We were allowed to land. Japanese authorities however, found it difficult to keep my volunteers in Japan without proper papers. Dr. Sumeiohkawa of the South Manchurian Railway kindly arranged that my volunteers were taken by a friend to Manchurian border safely and comfortably. I stayed on for a month at Tokyo. Banquets, meetings, and visits followed each other. At this occasion, Count Sakai gave me a big reception. I still have a photograph taken at that time. Mr. Khasia, the president of the Japanese ‘Diet’ Parliament was present on the occasion. My friend Count Sakai who to-day is in the war criminal camp, is also in that picture. I. lectured here and there but my mind was not in them. I was dreaming of the far off Tibet and preparing for the long journey. I went to a far off town in the interior of Japan to meet a Japanese gentleman who was once in Tibet. It was a great disappointment for me to find that the gentleman was quietly busy in his trade of carpentry . “Was it the reward that a nation awards to a great son of one’s nation”, I said to myself and I whispered my feelings to my secretary. He, however. defending Japan gave me the explanation that the gentleman was not educated and hence he could not push himself forward in the society. Another gentleman, a great traveler of Tibet was not so unknown a person. Reverent Kawa Guchi, who had written a book about his journey and sojourn in Tibet was already a famous persona1ity.
He kindly gave me some important hints about Tibet and the Tibetans. He also knew
important personalities at the court of Dalai Lama. 1 must thankfully declare that some of his views proved useful in my Tibetan trip.
JAPAN IN 1926.
This is a story which ended in tragedy, not in actual death of somebody but the end was painful. Five telegrams asking me to come to Japan to attend the first Pan-Asiatic League Conference at Nagasaki, brought me to Japan. I came without passport because my passport was stolen on my way back from Tibet between Hankow and Peking. Japanese police at port of Moji did not allow me to land. Moji was the first port where our steamer anchored in the Japanese water and
it was the nearest port to take me direct to Nagasaki. At Kobe, the next port where we came to was also barred for me. Our Indian friends who came to see me, brought some Indian food and Indian sweets and pleaded at length with the obstinate Japanese police to allow me to land. But all their pleadings did not bear fruit and our steamer proceeded to the port of Osaka. Here, however, a change came over the situation as the Governor of Osaka sanctioned my landing on certain conditions. The
police chief asked me to sign those conditions. This, however, I refused to do. I said if I were to sign conditions I would have been by now in India. There was a great deal of bargaining on the point but as I refused to land on any conditions, the police authorities simply read out the conditions to me and told me that it was expected that I would observe them and that I was free to land. I told them that I did
not promise anything. Still I was allowed to go to a first class hotel and stay there. One of the conditions was that I was not to go out of the city of Osaka. Yes, I did not to go out. Another condition was that I was not to attend or speak at any meeting. True, I did not attend any public meeting. But I did not refuse delicious parties and at one or two such parties I remember, I spoke a few words. This public good will of the Japanese people annoyed the police authorities but they did not take steps to lock me up.
The last and the most important condition was that I would leave Japan after ten days. Now I was not prepared to leave the country quietly. My friends who organized and attended the Pan-Asiatic Conference at Nagasaki came back to Osaka to meet me. Photos were taken, private conferences were held, declarations were given to the press to make known my mission of unity. Mr. Rash Behari Bose also
took me to the chief of the police at Osaka. I told Mr. Rash Behari Bose that I was not to obey the order of leaving Japan, but he did not like to explain this point to the chief of the police. Next day, the tenth day ,the inevitable order came, that steamer was in the port ready to sail and I was to board it and leave for China. I said
I never promised to observe this condition and that I had done nothing against Japan and therefore I could not obey that order. I considered that order wrong and I said that our Mahatma Gandhi had taught that by obeying a wrong order one helped the wrong. I said, I would not walk on my feet to help that wrong order.
They could, however, carry me to the steamer if they liked. There was quite a fuss over this situation. Members of the Asiatic League came and gave me their different advices uncalled for. The police authorities phoned to Tokyo to get the orders from high up. At the end, as the steamer was getting very late, I was taken up and carried by two stalwart policemen. It was arranged by my friends that cinema photographers
and ordinary photographers had assembled to ‘shoot’ me. Series of the photos were
taken and published in the press in due course. My photos in the arms of the policemen were published around the globe. It was a great sensation of the day.
JAPAN IN 1927.
My Japanese friends did not betray me. They persuaded me to revisit Japan and I did come within a year and a half. This time I came to attend the second Pan Asiatic Conference at Shanghai. I came once more traveling round the world. My story in 1927 was very short but the reception given to me was. by no means poor. A very large crowd of the Ronins gathered to greet me. I may inform my readers that the Ronins in Japan are those who do not follow any profession but live mostly by donations of their friends. They are a set of people who spy on their own people in the interest of the country and gladly lay down their lives when necessary. They are as a rule opposed to a weak-kneed governmental machinery.. My deportation was taken by them as a sure sign of the weakness, of their foreign office which made me leave the country to please the British. At least that was their interpretation and this was the reason of the enthusiastic reception which I received at their hands. I still have a photo taken at that occasion.
JAPAN IN 1928.
It also was not my long visit. I just came to lecture round in Japan at the invitation of one Mr. T. Nakatani, himself a Ronin. Up to last year (1946), he was a member of the Japanese parliament. He took me round to his groups and friends where I spoke in English and he translated into Japanese my talks. Some other friends also invited me to. meet them and deliver my harangues.
JAPAN IN 1930-31.
It was also not a visit to Japan that I paid in 1930. I was just passing through the
country. In 1930. I went not on an unofficial mission, but a royal mission to the United States. I went to America on behalf of king Nadir Khan of Afghanistan to invite American Capital to the land of my adoption. I was now just returning to Kabul once again. And this was my way over Japan, China and through Soviet Russia. I could see that the Japanese did not very much like the idea that the American Capital should penetrate into central Asia, but there were some Japanese Capitalist
too who were prepared to join hands with the Americans to exploit the undeveloped countries. Such men in Japan gave me some receptions in their own ways. They were not enthusiastic welcome meetings but they were surely business conferences. I did not however, stay long in Japan. I went on to China and when I came back to Japan I came to proceed to Vladivastock, to proceed back to Afghanistan.
It happened that somehow I could not land at Vladivostock. I returned to Japan and now it was a serious problem to me where to stay and what to do? My Indian friends at Kobe collected for me some little money and I decided with their consent to proceed to Peking and establish my World Federation office at the old capital of China. And this I did.
JAPAN IN 1932.33-1934
In 1932, I just visited Japan during the summer. Summer in Japan is cooler than in north China and I also had to replenish my fast dwindling funds. My stay was very short but meetings were held and I spoke in small gatherings.
In 1933, I gave up my office at Peking or Peping as it was now called and came to Japan to find some new field of activity. I was invited by a society of unity in Monchugo to lecture in the new country.I went and lectured round. It was only a short trip across the sea surrounding Japan. I returned to Japan and started publishing my World Federation from Japan. I welcomed Afghanistan legation to Tokyo. I was glad that after all diplomatic relations could be established between the two countries. In October or round about I made a new plan of organizing an Asiatic or a People’s Army. Some important Japanese accepted my idea. I drew up the plan and started enlisting volunteers. With a Japanese secretary I toured round all Japan from Tokyo
to Hokaido. I was welcomed everywhere. I went and got a few signatures as volunteers and friends of the movement. Soon after this tour, I went alone to Manchugo and China to enlist more volunteers and friends. I returned to Japan from Canton in south China. Once again I left on another tour of Manchugo and inner Mongolia. This is the story of 1934.
JAPAN IN 1935-36.
In 1935, I went to Phillipines and came back to Japan. Again in the same year I went to California for two months and returned to Japan. I was mostly staying at a small hotel during 1933 and 1934 when I was in Japan. But in 1935 and 1936, I rented a Japanese house for myself and stayed therein alone. My activities were mostly in the line of World Federation. Asiatic Army could not develop due to official hindrances, and unseen obstacles.
The official class throughout tried to put obstacles through their agents. But my work
of World Federation was not considered dangerous. I was holding meetings. I was publishing our monthly circular. In 1936,when I received a letter from Mahatma Gandhi, it was impossible for me to stay at one place for a long time. I drew up a plan 0f founding World Federation center near Tokyo. I collected some little money, bought a piece of land and started building cottages in 1937. In September 1937, I could occupy my cottage at World Federation center. Since then I anchored at this haven. In 1936 and in 1941, I paid short visits of two month each to neighboring China, but I can say that for long ten years from 1936 to 1946 my home was in Japan.
JAPAN IN 1936 to 1946
I published my “World Federation” in Japan from 1933 to 1942 with only a couple of exceptions. I wrote quietly many books and pamphlets, stories and dramas from 1940 to 1945. I held meetings from time to time at our center, only some rare gatherings were held in the city proper. In 1939 when war broke out in Europe I became restless and I tried to proceed to Europe but I could not.
In 1940, I organized ‘Executive Board for India’ to free India. I was its president, Babu Rash Behari Bose was its Vice-president, Mr. Anand Mohan Sahai was its Chief Secretary. On the 22nd November, 1941, I started my movement of Aryan Army. But when war broke out on the 8th of December of that year, Japan started its own Indian organization. I could not agree with the Japanese plans and I was ordered to sit quiet at our center, on the 6th of March,1942. Then started my forced quiet life. In 1945 when war came to an end, I thought I would have now complete liberty to leave Japan and do as I thought fit. But it was not to be so. On 14th of September;1945, I was arrested and locked up as a war criminal under the orders of the occupying army. For full five months I was in
prison under the American guards. It is a chapter by itself. I was in Japan and yet out of Japan because, I was in American custody.
In February 1946, when I came out of the prison I tried my best to get home in India. It took five month more to get the required permission. During these days, I lived in an uncertainty, The Japanese that I had was worthless. Japanese money had lost its value. Inflation was ruling, I Was invited still by some Japanese friends to lunches and meetings but thrice I got ill due to bad food. I had to sell some of my things to buy my daily needs. It is true we got some rationed articles very cheap but
my money in hand was not sufficient for even rationed articles. Fruits of my garden were yet to come. Under these circumstances, one day in July 1946,came the news that I was allowed to return home, not as an Indian but as a states person, a man
Without a country. On the 21st July 1945, I left Kurey, the Japanese port occupied by the Indo-British army. Thus ends my story of Japan.
PREM MAHA VIDHYALAYA
This is the picture of Georgiana,my grand mother.She went back to England when my father was 6 and we still have not been able to find out about her.If any one has any information please do get in touch. To Know More.