Japanese Army Drug Lords of Manchuria

Furumi Tadayuki (1900-83), who served as assistant director-general for administrative affairs in Manzhouguo, once said: “Manzhouguo is an immense installation created by a top secret fund of the Guandong Army.” The Japanese army was able to engage in extensive activities, such as intelligence gathering, throughout Asia, because it had sufficient funds which Manzhouguo siphoned off. This practice cast a huge shadow over postwar Japanese politics, beginning right with Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke (1896-1987). The basic source for the monetary fund was opium. This was the problem which Gotō Shinpei worked hardest on in Taiwan; by making the sale of opium a monopoly, Gotō tried gradually to reduce the quantity of it available. He took the same approach in Manzhouguo, and although it was said to have been well regulated in Manzhouguo, this was in fact not the case. Opium production provided the richest source for such a slush fund. It was not only produced in Manchuria, but steadily flowed into Manzhouguo via Turkey, India, and Shanghai. The opium produced colosgal profits which became the financial source for Japan’s military schemes. The very fact that Amakasu Masahiko (1890-1945) gained such power in Manchuria was due to this money. While Kishi was a mere bureaucrat, Amakasu had at his disposal a slush fund of some ten million yen—which would come to ninety billion yen (roughly $800 million) today—for his special operations. This is difficult to prove on the basis of documents, the only corroboration being oral testimony, but younger scholars are now examining materials in such places as the Public Record Office in Great Britain on the remittance of opium, and this issue will probably be cleared up in the not-too-distant future.

SOURCE: Manchuria under Japanese Dominion, by Yamamuro Shin’ichi, trans. by Joshua A. Fogel (U. Penn. Press, 2006), pp. 231-232

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Filed under China, Japan, opium

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