East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Curse of the Golden Bat II – Lawrence of Manchuria


Second post in the “Golden Bat” trilogy of posts, a spin-off of my research for Guillotine Wind.
We have seen how the Japanese created a Golen Bat Export brand of cigarettes with extra heroin, specifically for the Chinese market.
This plan to get the Chinese smokers hooked on heroin was the brainchild of a man called Kenji Doihara, aka “Lawrence of Manchuria”.
And boy was he a Grade A scumbag.

Born in 1883, Doihara got out of military academy and covered a number of small-fry positions in the Japanese Army. Because he wanted a prestige position, he used his sister, that at the time was 15, selling her as a concubine for a high-ranking member of the Imperial elite. Thanks to that, he got a post in China.
Not bad as start, what?

As a member of the Japanese force in China, he also took part in the Siberian Intervention in the early 20s.
He learned to speak fluent Chinese, and he engineered the assassination of Zhang Zuolin, the Manchurian warlord. Zoulin was the most powerful man in Manchuria, had a force of over 100.000 men, and had with his work turned Manchuria in the richest region in China.
So Doihara had him blown up while on transit on his personal train.

Kenji Doihara was 45 at the time.
The best, for him, was yet to come.
He entered into the so called “The 11 Reliables”, a clique of high staff commanders in the Japanese military. Doihara moved in intelligence circles, under Field Marshal Royal Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni.

To quote from Wikipedia, Higashikuni was

uncle and advisor of the Emperor Hirohito, and responsible for eight fake coups d’état, four assassinations, two religious hoaxes, and countless threats of murder and blackmails between 1930 and 1936 in his effort to neutralize the Japanese moderates, that opposed war, by spreading terror.

In ’31 Doihara became the head of Japanese intelligence in Tientsin, and he engineered the Manchurian Incident (aka Mukden Incident) – a bomb attack on a train (he was obviously fond of bombing trains) that gave the Japanese reason to invade Manchuria and set up the so-called Manchukuo.
He then worked to put Chinese emperor Pu Yi under Japanese control in Manchuria, and to do this he used the services of Kawashima Yoshiko (that we met on this blog and appears as the main antagonist in both Cynical Little Angels and in the forthcoming Ministry of Storms).

Around this time Doihara also acquired his nickname Three Alls, based on his standard military tactic: Kill all, Burn All, Loot All.
The more complimentary nickname of Lawrence of Manchuria was also used.

While he was serving as chief of intelligence in China, Doihara set himself up as the biggest producer of opium and heroin in Asia.
To quote again from Wikipedia

the Japanese secret service, under his supervision, soon turned Manchukuo into a vast criminal enterprise in which rape, child molestation, sexual humiliation, sadism, assault, and murder became institutionalized means of terrorizing and controlling Manchuria’s Chinese and Russian populations. Robbery by soldiers and gendarmes, arbitrary confiscation of property, and unabashed extortion became common. Underground brothels, opium dens, gambling houses, and narcotics shops run by Japanese gendarmes competed with the state monopoly syndicate of opium.

Doihara also had his own private network of 80.000 Chinese criminals, that worked for him building criminal structures in any major Chinese city.
As Doihara’s mission was, nominally, disrupting the Chinese state social structure, he dreamed up the heroin-laced Golden Bat Export cigarettes ploy. Also, his men set up hospitals to treat tuberculosis, in which patients were treated with opium- or heroin-laced drugs. If the disruption of the social structure was thus ensured by turning as many Chinese as possible into junkies, it is also true that the junk they’d be buying to feed their habit was Doihara’s.

Doihara’s heroin was also used on White Russian refugees; the general’s men were on the lookout for Russian women seeking asylum. The women would be taken, held prisoner long enough for them to get hooked on drugs, and then sent to work as prostitutes in the network of brothels that Doihara’s men had set up.

Then the war ended, and general Doihara had to face the music he had been playing for so long.
He was tried for war crimes, and he was hanged on the 23rd of December 1948.

And yes, in case you are wondering, we’ll meet him sooner or later in one of my stories – or maybe two. Just look at the dates and places.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

3 thoughts on “Curse of the Golden Bat II – Lawrence of Manchuria

  1. Proving yet again that in real life there is an endless parade of horrible villains Ian Fleming couldn’t invent.


  2. Pingback: Sensor Sweep: Yetis, Mercenaries, Crusaders, Masters of Kung Fu – Herman Watts

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