Rashbehari Bose: The revolutionary and the statesman

DailyBiteMay 02, 2016 | 11:21

Rashbehari Bose: The revolutionary and the statesman


We have spoken of Rashbehari Bose, the fierce, the unyielding revolutionary in our previous articles [4], [13]. Here, we describe the statesman in him. After his revolutionary attempts from India and East Asia failed, he bid his time for the earliest opportunity. In this piece we describe how he used his sojourn in Japan to spread the message of civilisational India, communicate the pain of her slavery, her exploitation by a foreign nation and raise awareness of the ongoing freedom struggle. In the sequel, we describe how he tirelessly built up contacts among the highest echelon in Japan, kept himself abreast of the developments in India, continuously organised and assisted the Indians living in Japan, particularly the students and freedom fighters who took refuge there, and sought to inform India about Japan so as to initiate an alliance when the time is ripe. He also championed the cause of Asian solidarity, partly out of conviction, partly because of its potential to bind the two ancient civilisations with a common sense of belonging. He prepared as best as he could for the coming events, including attempting to anticipate the events to occur in India and elsewhere, so that the country would be best poised to strike to win freedom from the British. He therefore acted as India’s unofficial ambassador in every capacity. It is these non-military activities, engaged in in a period spanning over two decades in Japan that provided the foundations for his last onslaught – the Indian National Army.



Rashbehari Bose with his wife in Japan. 

Section A: Organising the Indians in Japan

Rashbehari had founded the Japan branch of the Hindu Mahasabha and served as its president p. 158, [6].  Veer Savarkar’s secretary Bal Savarkar had written on June 2, 1954: “Sri Rashbehari Bose was the president of the Hindu Mahasabha, Japan. While during the years 1938 to 1940 Savarkarji had been presiding over the All India Hindu Mahasabha Sri Rash Behari Bose too continued to preside over the Japan branch of the Hindu Mahasabha. After the release of Veer Savarkarji from his internment at Ratnagiri in 1937 Sri Bose wrote to him occasionally on the advisability of the Hindu Mahasabha movement and as the result of the correspondence between them Sri Bose started a branch of the Hindu Mahasabha in Japan under his own presidentship. The correspondence between them continued right up to the declaration of war by Japan and the formation by Sri Bose of the INA (Indian National Army) in Japan even before Netaji Subhas Babu could reach Singapore” p. 94, [8].

With the objective of calling for an armed revolution in India, Rashbehari had formed the Indian Independence League (IIL) in Japan in 1924, and became its founder president. Two other members of IIL were DS Despande and Debnath Das p. 561, [10]. Debnath Das also served as the secretary of the Indian National Congress Committee of Japan, of which Anandamohan Sahay, another Indian popular in Japan, was the president. The two organisations had obvious ideological differences, but they still maintained a mutual cordial relation. In 1936, the Bombay session of the Indian National Congress, passed a resolution banning the existence of such Committees as were functioning abroad in the name of the Congress, owing to the then volatile international relations. The National Congress Committee of Japan then renamed itself as the Indian National Committee of Japan p. 561 [10]. Ever since the Indian National Congress promulgated the declaration of independent India on January 26, 1930 in Lahore, Rashbehari organised a celebration of the independence day of India on January 26 of each year. Every time he sent a telegram to India transmitting the entire resolution of the meeting p. 28, [8]. 


Section B: Informing Indians about a potential ally, Japan

Just as an official ambassador does, Rashbehari regularly communicated news from Japan to India. He started writing his memoirs from 1924 May in a monthly magazine called Prabartak, published in Chandarnagore by his revolutionary comrade Motilal Roy; the sequence ended the same year. He completed only the first part of his memoir. During 1923-25 Motilal Roy had conducted a fiery propaganda against the British through Prabartak eulogising many political assassins and leading revolutionaries. Based on repeated complaints of the British Government of Bengal, the French authorities warned Motilal who paid no heed. In January, 1925, right after the sequence of Rashbehari’s memoirs ended, the Governor of French possessions of India ordered the suspension for three months of the Prabartak magazine p. 28, [11]; the British administration stopped the entry of issues of the magazine to British India. The magazine resumed publication in 1925 spring from Calcutta, without writings of Rashbehari. In the last issue in which Rashbehari’s memoirs appeared, an article on Mitsuru Toyama appeared, authored by an anonymous expat living in Japan. The expat happens to be Rashbehari, and the article appeared in English in The Standard Bearer in June 1927. The Standard Bearer was published as a weekly magazine, starting from August 15, 1920, it was possibly discontinued between 1924 and 1926, and resumed publication as a monthly magazine in 1927. The periodical owed its existence to Motilal Roy and Nalinchandra Dutta, the identities of its editor, many of its authors, and its publication place were all closely guarded secrets. This periodical ran articles by Rashbehari Bose as “Notes from Japan” (Introduction, [5]).


Rashbehari’s articles in The Standard Bearer provide interesting insights into the functioning of the Japanese society. From “Notes from Japan”, sent on October 22, 1922, published in the Standard Bearer on December 5, 1922, we learn of Japan’s festivals pp. 355-356 [10] and her pariah problem pp. 354-355 [10]: “It is not India alone that is confronted with the problem of the outcast. Japan has the same problem also. The pariahs of Japan are called ‘Eta’ which means outcast in Japanese. They number approximately 80,00,000 and are settled in the Kyoto and Osaka districts. Some of them are wealthy and have considerable influence in economic circles. They have an association called ‘Nippon Suihei Kai’ which rendered into English means ‘Japan Horizontal Society’. The object of the society is to protect the interests of the ‘Eta’ class. Recently, there was a meeting under the auspices of this association and many leading Eta representatives came down from all parts of the country. Numerous speeches were delivered condemning bitterly the social discrimination practiced against the Eta. Some of the speakers indignantly demanded to know why they were barred from social intercourse when they shared equally in national conscription and taxation. Instances in which their children were unable to attend elementary schools because they were bullied by other children were cited by many. One speaker spoke of a child being struck deaf because of a minor offence. When the higher authorities were appealed to, the case was dismissed. Whenever a dispute occurs between the Eta and the rest of the villagers, the case is invariably settled partially, said another speaker. The meeting terminated with an appeal for equal social treatment of the Eta. Be it said to the credit of the Japanese Government, that it is leaving no stone unturned to ameliorate the condition of the Eta and to remove the prejudice of the people against them. Many public-spirited Japanese also have taken up the cause of Eta, and it appears to be a question of time only when the Eta will be able to secure equal social status with the Japanese” pp. 354-355 [10].    

In an article titled, Indo-Nipponese friendship, Rashbehari also wrote about the similarities between the Japanese and Indic civilisations: “(1) Simple Living and Frugal Habits: There is a very great similarity between the lives and ideals of an Indian and that of a Nippon-zin. Our ideal of life ‘Simple Living and High Thinking’ can be clearly seen in their lives also. It is much easier for an Indian to pull on while living in Japan than in any other country – barring the slight initial disadvantage about the language. Still if one wants and tries, one can pick up the language within a short period. Nippon-zin live a very simple life and yet it is not crude. It contains all the refinements of culture and polish of education. Their habits are frugal. They do not aim at living luxuriously and yet their manners, behavior and in short their whole life are good in comparison with any of those who presume that they belong to the most civilized nations of the world. (ii) Patriotism and intense love of their own country: Extreme patriotism is their national characteristic. They would do anything and sacrifice everything for the sake of their own country. Examples of their heroic deeds are well known both amongst the Nippon Army, and the civil population. This special future also tallies with our own tradition, which gives the Motherland a higher position than heaven. (iii) Great respect for the Ancestors of the Family, Elders of the Nation and Heroes of the Country: This again, is another of their national characteristics. And yet it is in conformity with our own civilisation. Indians too greatly respect all these persons. Unfortunately on account of our present enslaved condition, we have not been able to keep up the tradition of hero worship, while Japan being an independent country has been fortunate enough to continue to do this from time immemorial. (iv) Bravery: Both in the Russo-Japanese War as well as in the present war, the Japanese have shown innumerable examples of extreme bravery. They have deliberately courted death for ensuring the annihilation of the enemy or to facilitate the attack of the Army, Navy and Air Power. The example of power-driving of their airmen into the objectives has become famous now. The three men who became human bombs in Shanghai has also become a great landmark in Japanese Military campaign in China. (v) Adaptability: The Japanese nation possesses an excellent quality of imbibing everything that is good in others, and making it their own. They do things systematically and methodically. The rationalisation of their industry has helped in the immense growth of trade and commerce within a very short time. Their adoption of mechanisation according to western standards – even better in many respects has greatly helped them in their progress. Their looms are the best in the world. Their aeroplanes and steamships are second to none. They have developed water-power in a large part of the rural portion of Japan, which has helped tremendously in the development of cottage industry, and Trade and Commerce, and has prevented a great deal the movement of the peasant population from the rural area to the cities, the result being that their villages are prosperous and healthy. If we study their history of development during the last one hundred years, we see that at the restoration of their Emperor Meiji, they set to work with determination and established different Commissions to go round the world and to find out what are the best systems for adopting for their own country – Military, Navy, Education, Administration and even Religion. The Commissions made their investigation and submitted their recommendations; and the people accepted them and put them into practice. That shows their adaptability and tremendous spirit for national progress. They would not allow any thing to stand in the way of progress, no matter whether it is tradition, manners, customs, not even formal religion. (vi) The Code of Bushido: The Code of Bushido means the way of the warrior. Every Nippon-Zin is trained to be imbued with the spirit of ‘Bushido’ which consists of the following six characteristics: 1) Self-sacrifice, 2) Love of the country, 3) Honour, 4) Justice, 5) Atonement, 6) Loyalty. Every Nippon-zin is a potential warrior and as such he must follow this code to the best of his capacity. Their spirit of Bushido closely resembles that of Indian chivalry. (vii) Intense Love for Children: The Japanese have this very lovable characteristic. Whenever they see children they show their love to them and thus win the hearts of the people. From the foregoing it is evident that the important characteristics of the Nipon-zin greatly resemble those of our own ideals and there should not be any difficulty in understanding them” pp. 313-315 [10]. 

Rashbehari also reported in The Standard Bearer on January 23, 1923, on laudatory Japanese press coverage of Gandhi as indicated before pp. 374-375 [10].        

Incidentally, Rashbehari wrote very little in his mother tongue, Bengali. He wrote to life-long friends and close revolutionary friends like Sachin Sanyal and Srishchandra Ghosh in English. He wrote to his sister Sushilabala Sarkar, as also his memoirs, in Bengali though. (Introduction, [5]).

Section C: Asian solidarity – a socio-political vision for bonding India and Japan

Asian solidarity constituted an important component of Rashbehari’s political vision. On January 16, 1923, he published in the Standard Bearer the translation of an article appearing in the Tokyo Nichi Nichi, a leading Japanese daily, that admonished the Japanese for siding with the British during First World War: “Dr Sun Yat-Sen, former President of the Colonel Government in China says: Japan lost chance of uniting the Asiatics and driving out the whites by joining the Allies. ‘If Japan had sided with the Central Powers in the World War, all Asia would have risen against the whites. And today there would have been an Asia controlled by the Asiatics’, declared Sun Yat-Sen of China in an interview with a representative of the Japanese daily The Fiji at Shanghai. ‘In joining in the world war on the side of the Allied powers, Japan failed to utilise the golden opportunity of making Asia exclusive for the Asiatics,’ said Dr Sun Yat-Sen. Such an Asia would have opposed the Whites, especially the Anglo-Saxons. At the beginning of the world war, I wrote to Mr Inukai (Mr Inukai is the president of the Nationalist Party of Japan and a great friend of India, having on many occasions helped your correspondent in various ways and always taking keen interest in the Indian movement for Swarajya), urging Japan to assist the Teutonic powers, thereby impairing the relative strength of the Anglo-Saxons and balancing the power of the world. The result of such a situation would have been the promotion of the position of Japan to the real leadership of the Asiatics. But Japan did not accept my advice, thus letting slip heaven-sent opportunity of making herself the leader of the Orient. If Japan had understood what is called high politics, and if she had been bold enough to declare war against the allies, Annam and Singapore would have risen in arms against France and England. There is not the slightest doubt but that the Indians would have revolted against Great Britain and the Turks and Chinese would have recovered their national consciousness and supported Japan in her effort to unite Asia. As it is, Japan participated in the war on the side of the Allied countries with the result that realization of the Pan-Asiatic plan has been delayed indefinitely. As Japan has shown herself incapable of seizing the opportunity, it will be China that will be called upon to make Asia a place for Asiatics in the future. In the early days of the world war, I called upon various Japanese statesmen of influence and urged them to use their weight in influencing public opinion in favour of participation on the side of Germany. They, however, refused to listen to me seriously. Some of them, indeed, showed agreement with my view, but when it came to action, they hesitated, and the result is that the best opportunity of making Asia Asiatic in every sense has been lost. It is not too late for Japan to undo what she did blindly during the war. If Japan really wishes to see Asia controlled by Asiatics, she must promote friendly relations with the Russians. Russians are Asiatics. There runs in their veins Asiatic blood. Japan must make common cause with the Russians in opposing the aggression of the Anglo-Saxons. In shaking hands with Russia in the work of asserting the rights of Asiatics alone lies the hope of salvation from the catastrophe to which Japan and the other Oriental countries are being forced by the insatiable ambition of Anglo-Saxons” pp. 367-368 [10]. Indeed, Rashbehari desperately wanted the Japanese to break rank with the British, which would be his window of opportunity during the Second World War. One wonders if the correspondent of Tokyo Nichi Nichi was Rashbehari himself, this article was written before Rashbehari was naturalised in Japan, so his stay there at that point could have been illegal, he would therefore be wont not to pen named articles [7].   

Along with Dr Ohkwa and the Union of Asian People in Peking, Rashbehari Bose  organised an Asian political conference on August 1, 1926 in Nagasaki p. 463 [2] p. 27, [8]. It had 42 participants: 11 Chinese, 8 Indians, 1 national of Afghanistan, 1 Vietnamese, 1 Philippine and 20 Japanese. His speech there had the seeds of the extremely popular slogan that he had coined later – Asia for the Asians: “We know some criticise today’s meeting saying there is no need to establish another international union because we have one. But the two internationals are completely different in their nature. The one is for the benefit of five hundred millions of the whites and the other is for one hundred and a half millions of Asian peoples. For thousands of years, Easterners were a very superior people in civilisation, spiritually and materially. They were never inferior in these to the Westerners. India was one of the three big countries and especially her philosophy is the glory of all human history of culture. The Union now we are going to establish is to shape a new form of our Eastern civilisation. Its basis is on the pure faith and love for Asia. Let us unite and do our best to establish this union at all cost and let us make a big contribution to the happiness of all humanity in propagating our aims and objects all over the world!” pp. 27-28, [8].

Rashbehari Bose represented India in a conference of Asians attended by representatives from Japan, China, Korea, Iran, Thailand (Shyam), Afganistan, Turkey, India; a photograph from the conference shows Rashbehari along with Yeung Joco, lieutenant of Chiang Kai-Shek, Raja Mahendra Pratap and others (an article in The Standard Bearer, Introduction [5]).

Rashbehari also formed a Pan Asian Association in 1926 p. 590 [10] and an Indo-Japanese Friends Society in 1930s along with his Japanese friends p. 463 [2], p. 33 [8]. Rev Nikki Kamura has written: “Shortly after my return from India, I had formed India-Japan Friendship Association (Nichi-in-Tomonokai) with Mr Rashbehari Bose; and big meetings were held 4 or 5 times a year for the purpose of promoting the India-Japan friendly relations” p. 41, [10].

In 1920s, Rashbehari had established a dormitory named ‘Aija Go’ (Centre of Asia) in the neighbourhood of Okubo for looking after new visitors from India p. 46, [10]. Consistent with his notion of Asian solidarity, he formed a Vila Asians in Nakamuraya, Tokyo p. 590, [10] for Asian students in 1933, and managed it until 1941. AK Pandey, a young student who found asylum here, remained one of his most faithful assistants until the end. The master of the Indian bow, Kaniware, and the editor of the Press Advertiser, Mr Nath, were among other renowned residents. Food was prepared in Indian style in the Villa, and Rashbehari himself directed the preparation of food for all students. Every Sunday, he used to have a party with the students pp. 32-33 [8].

Section D: Friend and benefactor of Indians in Japan

Rashbehari’s friend Tatusjiro Machida has averred: “He was the best friend and leader of the Indian students in Japan and of Japanese young generations” p. 60, [10]. Rashbehari used to encourage Indian students to arrive in Japan, regularly sent them specific information about academic programs and application procedures in Japanese Universities through the Hindusthani Association of Japan. The following article that he sent to The Standard Bearer on December 26, 1922 would communicate his concern: “It is regrettable to note that the number of Indian students,  who come to Japan for prosecuting further studies is on the decline. Probably the want of accurate information as to the facilities afforded by the Japanese educational institutions, etc. may be one of the many reasons for the decline. With a view to furnish accurate information for intending students, the Hindusthani Association of Japan investigated the existing facilities for the education of the Indian students in Japan and the following is the brief summary of the facts regarding the existing conditions in Japan.

It is very desirable that a greater number of Indian students should come to Japan to study especially Sericulture and other industrial subjects, since Japan is in the forefront so far as the Sericultural and industrial education is concerned. As regards Agriculture and its allied branches such as Fishery, it is better for Indian students to go to other countries where the difficulty of learning a totally new language is less arduous. Even in the case of Sericulture and other Industrial subjects, the students should come prepared to spend at least the first year of their stay in Japan towards learning the Japanese language. The language difficulty is one of the biggest difficulties for Indian students in Japan and all the lectures are in the Japanese language.

Just at present Indian students are studying in the Agricultural College of the Tokyo Imperial University, the Tokyo Imperial Sericultural College and Tokyo Higher Technical College.

The Agricultural College has the following courses of study, each course extending over a period of three years: (1) Agriculture (a) Agriculture proper (b) Agricultural Politics and Economy (2) Agricultural Chemistry (3) Forestry (4) Veterinary Medicine (5) Fishery.

The Tokyo Sericultural College is not affiliated to any University and is of the same standard as the second grade colleges of the Indian Universities and has three courses of study: (1) Sericulture proper (2) Mulberry Cultivation (3) Filature – Theory and Practice.

Each course extends over a period of three years.

The Higher Technical College, Tokyo, affords facilities for the critical and practical training in the following subjects: 1) Dyeing and Weaving 2) Applied Chemistry 3) Mechanical Engineering 4) Electricity 5) Ceramics 6) Industrial Designs 7) Architecture.

The period of study for each branch is three years.

The Academic year commences in April of each year and students seeking admission to any of the above institutions should send in their applications as early as possible before that date.

Qualifications for Admission

Indian students are admitted as special students only, but if they are prepared to get through the entrance examination held in the Japanese language, then they may be admitted as regular students.

An applicant for admission to the Agricultural College must have a degree of proficiency equivalent to that of the Intermediate in Arts or Sciences in any Indian University, whilst students satisfactorily finishing the High School Course in India can get admission to the Sericultural and Higher Technical Colleges. The above is the minimum qualifcation necessary but it is best for the students to possess higher qualifications. Graduates in Science of an Indian University will find it easy to follow the course in the Higher Technical College.

It must be understood that no degree is conferred on students who are admitted as special students only.   

Schedule of Fees

The amount of tuition fees in the Agriculture College is 5 yen for admission and 75 yen annual fee, while in the Sericultural and the Technical Colleges the admission fee is 5 yen and the annual fee 50 yen.

It is important to note that Japan has become a very costly country to live in since the World War. Prices of things have gone up three times and the hitherto prevailing idea of living being cheap in Japan has become a myth. Many of the students who come to Japan suffer greatly on account of this high cost of living. Conservatively speaking the living expenses only come up to between   Yens 80 and 100 a month. The Hindusthani Association of Japan will furnish the necessary estimate of the minimum annual financial requirements of a student if necessary.

Another point to note is that the number of seats available for foreign students in any institution is limited and there will be unnecessary waste of time and energy if proper previous arrangements are not made for getting admission. The Hindusthani Association of Japan is prepared to give as much help as possible. Any Indian student wishing to come to Japan should write to the Secretary of the Association intimating what branch of science he wishes to study, his financial capacity, his educational qualifications and the period of his intended stay in Japan and his previous knowledge of Japanese language if any. On receipt of the above information the Hindusthani Association of Japan will make due inquiries whether there are any vacancies in the respective colleges and also make proper arrangements.

Any communication in this connection may be sent to the Secretary, Hindusthani Association of Japan, Post Box No. 1, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.

NB Ordinarily 150 Rupees = 100 Yen

Just at present about 165 Rupees = 100 Yen. pp. 368-371, [10]

Other than students, many people interested in the independence of India came from abroad to consult and get advice from Rashbehari; many of them stayed at his home p. 47, [10]. In 1940, Subhas Bose, sent one of his trusted followers Lal Shankar Lal, general secretary of Forward Bloc, to seek response from Japan pertaining to assistance in India’s freedom. Lal took a ship from Calcutta to Japan, obtaining a passport in the name of Hiralal Gupta. On reaching Japan, he met Rashbehari and Japanese officials. Later, he was caught by the British and his mission was revealed p. 416, [2].

Section E: India’s soft power: Cultivating the highest echelon in Japan

Rashbehari had become so famous by 1924 in Japan that the famous art critic of Japan Mr Nakayama Tadanao wrote about his life in the orient in 1924. This article was developed and republished as a book in 1942. No copy of the book has survived in Tokyo p. 590 [10].

One of Rashbehari’s articles in 1928 April tell us that he was the first non-official Indian to be invited to the Imperial Cherry Blossom Garden Party (Introduction, [5]), Hanami (literally flower viewing) or the cherry blossom ceremony is a Japanese tradition of welcoming the spring.  It is a custom of watching the cherry blossoms (sakura) bloom.  The cherry blossoms have a very transient flowering period, are very colourful and are awaited with great curiosity and viewed with gaiety by the Japanese public in pleasant parties. The Japanese meteorological agencies predict the cherry blossom dates, so that the public can prepare for them. The tradition of watching cherry blossoms and having parties under the flowering trees goes back to the Heian period, when it was initiated by Emperor Saga, who held parties under the trees to welcome the cherry blossom period.  Poems were sung praising the sakura and the imperial elite adopted the custom quickly.  The tradition has been continued with great pomp by the Emperor and his family till date.  The watching of cherry blossom is still a very private affair and the invitees are usually greatly valued guests of the Emperor and his Court, since the tradition also involves honouring the samurai [3]. For Rashbehari to be invited to the Imperial Cherry Blossom Festival was an unprecedented honour, given that foreigners are almost never invited to any such ceremony.

Rev Nikki Kimura had written about Rashbehari’s stature in Japan around 1924: “Once again I returned to Japan (in 1924) at the direction of Calcutta University and fulfilled my duty for establishing connections between Calcutta University and each existing University in Japan and also to contribute Calcutta University’s publications to the main University in Japan. Mr Rashbehari Bose who had been enjoying the biggest confidence at that time among the Japanese, gave me a splendid welcome party when he heard about my return to Japan from India. My relationship with him further increased since then” pp. 40-41, [10]. A prominent Malayan-Indian barrister of Penang, Nedyam Raghavan, who has closely observed Rashbehari in Japan in 1942, has narrated: “Bose, I observed, commanded great respect in Japan. To many, his name was synonymous with Indian freedom. Both in civil, and what counted most then, in military circles, he had the reputation of being an ardent Indian patriot. All knew him. The fact that he had risked his life for his country was enough for a people famous for their patriotism. Moreover they knew him more than they knew any other Indian; and they must have come to know of many of his great qualities of head and heart. In his company, we met most Japanese statesmen, military and civilian leaders, writers, journalists, academicians and even humbler folk, and were able to form some impression of Japan’s sympathetic attitude towards Indian freedom” pp. 436-437 [10].

Mr Kwabata-Ko, a famous collector of Japanese painting, once advised Sri Binode Behari Mukherjee, the renowned artist of Santiniketan who had been to Japan in 1937, to meet Mr Bose if he wanted to learn Japanese etiquette. Very few Japanese stood on a par with him in this respect, said the Japanese gentleman. …..Binode Behari Mukherjee, before he set out for Japan, was advised by Rabindranath Tagore to seek help from Rashbehari Bose in his difficulties and to show respects to him in the same way as he did to the poet” p. 146, [6]. Yamammoto, ex-chief of Hikari Kikan, the Japanese liaison office, responsible for Japanese relations with the Azad Hind Government had met Rashbehari for the first time in Singapore, April 1943. He has observed that “Mr Rashbehari could speak Japanese in its spirit. There are very few Japanese who could speak it like him” p. 64, [10]. The Japanese Military attaché in Berlin consulate, Syn Higuti, has contrasted Subhas and Rashbehari Boses as follows: Mr Subhas Chandra Bose was a gentleman very polite and kind but his fighting spirit was flaring up here and there. But he was quite a stranger in Japan knowing nothing about Japanese mentality. Rashbehari Bose was well acquainted with the Japanese people and beloved of all who knew him. How deeply he was acquainted with the Japanese! pp. 61-63, [10].

On July 9, 1922, Rashbehari had written to his revolutionary friend Sachindranath Sanyal from Tokyo as follows: “I have got many Japanese friends, from the cabinet ministers down to lawyers, MPs, journalists and students” p. 133 [9]. Mitsuru Toyoma, a right-wing political leader with substantial covert influence in Japan’s polity, was Rashbehari’s lifelong friend. Rashbehari also wrote an article on Mitsuru Toyama in The Standard Bearer: “In 1915, when I reached the Shores of Japan, the British Government at once conveyed the news to the Japanese Government, and asked for my extradition. At that critical juncture, it was this redoubtable lover of freedom, who gave me shelter in his house and saved my life. Still to this day, the great Toyama looks after the interests of Chinese and Indian revolutionaries, who flock to Japan. During the first political revolution in China, the late Dr Sun Yat-Sen, the leader of the Chinese national movement, received valuable assistance from his silent ally, Mitsuru Toyama, who largely contributed to his success. Mr Toyama has dedicated his life to the emancipation of all Asiatic peoples. One of the highest aspirations of his heart is to see India, the holy birthplace of the great Buddha, once more liberated from bondage. He still cherishes the idea of coming as a Pilgrim, to pay homage to India, when she will be free” p. 41 [5]. Mr Zen-ichi Suzuki has recalled: “I frequently met Mr Bose at the residence of Mr Mitsuru Toyama” p. 47, [10]. Revolutionary Dr Bhagawan Singh Gyani (Preetam), who had known Mitsuru Toyama, independent of Rashbehari Bose, had written that: “Prince Toyama was a great friend of India and desirous of India’s freedom, regardless of the Anglo-Japanese alliance. He also was a great and powerful nationalist who later befriended our Shri Rash Behari Basu for many years. One day in conversation he spoke as follows: ‘The spread of British imperialism in India is mainly due to India’s man-power, material resources and money. If India can be dragged into three wars with China, wars with Burma, Afghanistan and Persia, invasion of Tibet and the Boer Republic, some day we may have a quarrel with England, and it will be India’s man-power who will be used against us. It is in our own self-interest that we want India to be free.’ (A revealing statement!)” p. 520, [10].     

Suzuki has given names of some other influential friends of Rashbehari: “When at the request of the British Embassy of Japan, Mr Bose was ordered to leave this country by the Japanese authorities, it was Mitsuru Toyama, Mr R Uchida and Mr Y Kuzuu and other friends who rendered their best assistance to protect him. Mr. Masa-atsu Tasuoka, president of Zengoku Shia Kyokai and Mr. Tatsujiro Machida, president of the Kokusai Denwa Denshin Kaisha were also his good friends.’’ p. 48, [10] Dr Syumei Ohkawa,  the President of the Asiatic Society p. 11, [8] was also a close friend. Zen-ichi Suzuki has later recounted that “The friendship between Mr Bose and Dr Okawa was so warm and strong that the outsiders were envious of it” p. 47, [10]. Next, Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi and cabinet minister Tokonami Takejiro were among his intimate friends pp. 34-35 [8]. Rashbehari knew Inukai since 1915, which would be right after his arrival in Japan, as there exists a picture of a dinner party given in 1915 in his honour by his close Japanese friends, including Mitsuru Toyama and Tsuyoshi Inukai p. 6, [12]; given the intimacy evident among the men shown in the picture (Rashbehari, Toyama, Inukai), it is possible that Inukai also helped him survive the extradition order.  On January 16, 1923, Rashbehari had sent an article to The Standard Bearer with the following lines: “Mr Inukai is the President of the Nationalist Party of Japan and a great friend of India, having on many occasions helped your correspondent in many ways and always taking keen interest in the Indian movement for Swarajya” p. 367, [10] (it appears that the correspondent is Rashbehari himself).   


[1] Subhas Chandra Bose, Congress President, Speeches, Articles, and Letters January 1938-May 1939 , Collected Works of Netaji, Vol. 9, edited by Sisir Kumar Bose and Sugato Bose

[2] Leonard Gordon “Brothers against the Raj”

[3] Ann McClellan “Cherry Blossom Festival: Sakura Celebration”

[4] Saswati Sarkar, Jeck Joy, Shanmukh, Dikgaj Rashbehari Bose’s second war from East Asia – battleground Japan and Singapore http://www.dailyo.in/politics/rashbehari-bose-sachindranath-sanyal-japan-revolutionary-china-indian-freedom-struggle-second-world-war/story/1/9745.html

[5] Rash Beharir Atma-katha O dushprapya Rachana, edited by Amal Kumar Mitra

[6] Uma Mukherjee, “Two Great Indian Revolutionaries – Rash Behari Bose and Jyotindra Nath Mukherjee”

[7] Saswati Sarkar, Jeck Joy, Shanmukh, Dikgaj, Rashbehari Bose and the woman who saved him http://www.dailyo.in/politics/rashbehari-bose-indian-freedom-struggle-japan-british-raj-tosiko-soma-bose/story/1/10005.html

[8] JG Ohsawa “The Two Great Indians in Japan”

[9] Sachindranath Sanyal “Bandi Jiban”

[10] Rashbehari Basu – His Struggle for India’s Independence, Editor in chief, Radhanath Rath, Editor Sabitri Prasanna Chatterjee, Biplabi Mahanayak Rash Behari Basu Smarak Samiti

[11] Sailendra Nath Sen Chandernagore – From Bondage to Freedom, 1900-1925

[12] Jesse Russel, Ronald Cohn: Rashbehari Bose

[13] Jeck Joy, Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh, Dikgaj: “The legend of Rashbehari Bose and the forgotten Hindu-German conspiracy’’ http://www.dailyo.in/politics/rashbehari-bose-hindu-muslim-riots-partition-1947-mahatma-gandhi-independence-hindu-german-conspiracy-ina/story/1/8230.html

[14] BC Dutt: “Mutiny of the Innocents”, Sindhu Publications Pvt Ltd, Bombay-1, 1971

Last updated: September 22, 2017 | 23:21
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