Synopsis of Japanese Peony Print
Monday, 21 May 2012 08:14

Synopsis of "Japanese Peony-The Princess and the Spy."

 “My name is Yoshiko Kawashima, some call me Aisin Gioro Xianyu in Manchuria but to many in my circle who knew what I did, I am known simply as the Japanese Peony after my favorite flower! I have lived a colorful and covert double life of intrigue and lies, I'm even supposed to have been executed in 1948! So I really can't complain that I managed to make it to “old bones” but day by day, as my body grows weak, the burden of the secrets that will die with me grows heavier. I need to tell my story and change history forever!” Born into the royal family of Prince Su and a relative of Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China, Yoshiko was a princess. How, one might ask, did a Chinese Princess from the royal house of the Qing Dynasty become a spy for the Japanese Secret Service Unit? This book sets out to put all the disjointed pieces of a huge puzzle together to answer that question!  Yoshiko Kawashima was a woman like no other in her era. From a precocious child with a bizarre curiosity beyond her years, so bizarre that she was “exiled” by her father to Japan in 1914 at the tender age of 8, to a bold, charismatic young woman who chose a daring life of adventure and ever changing unconventional experiences. Yoshiko was a beautiful woman who dazzled her way through high society circles in Tokyo, Shanhai and Peking and sailed through sexual discrimination and social disapproval to uphold the life she chose to lead including a well known penchant for the demi monde. She was self serving and took whatever she wanted from life without fear or inhibitions. This book also looks at the fascinating covert activities of Yoshiko as a spy, planning and  engineering some of the most famous Japanese incursions into China that made her a historical figure never to be forgotten.  But in the midst of so much hardness, angst and high living were two poignant moments in Yoshiko’s life when she loved and lost first Yamaga, a Japanese military officer and in the final years of her heydays, Jack Stone, an American journalist.  “ The next day I left Shanghai and my last view of Jack Stone was a solitary waving figure at the military airfield receding into the distance as my plane lifted off ground and gathered speed. I had made a decision with my head and not my heart and walked away from the only man who would ever love me, imperfections, hang ups, dents and all. Two words from Tanaka’s last letter had stared out at me, bold and daring me to challenge them, “duty” and “honor,” and I didn’t disappoint him. But my heart was heavy as I watched Shanghai slowly disappearing in the clouds below, my mother had once said, that upholding honor and duty carried a very high price and she was right. “ What would Yoshiko’s life have been like if she had said “yes” to Jack’s plea to “leave China, Yoshiko and come with me to America where you’ll be safe and find out how beautiful life can be to be loved.” But it was not to be her destiny to live a safe, beautiful but ordinary life, she had to take her place in the history of China and Japan! In 1945, when Japan lost the war, Yoshiko was betrayed by her bodyguards and captured by Chiang Kai Shek’s men and sentenced to death for treason and espionage. History has it that she was executed on 25th March, 1948 but as in life, her “death” was shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Was she executed or did she cheat death in a daring swap with a dying girl paid to take her place? This is the true story of Yoshiko Kawashima and her spectacular life as a princess and a spy. We travel with her through the breath taking maze of her early years in Manchuria evolving to her turbulent life in Japan as the adopted daughter of Naniwa Kawashima and his cold, disdainful wife, Natsuko. The trail then takes us on a whirlwind arranged marriage to a Mongolian prince which lasted just one year and on to a glittering life in Shanghai where Yoshiko was recruited by the Japanese Intelligence as a spy for Japan and finally to Peking where she ended up in Prison no. 1 with an execution order on her head.  It remains a mystery whether Yoshiko Kawashima was actually executed on 25th March, 1948, the official stand of China is that she was executed.  Two incidents may persuade us to believe otherwise. When a Japanese TV crew researching Yoshiko Kawashima, visited a temple in China on a tip off, they found a grave with the picture of a woman who looked like Yoshiko and when questioned, the temple’s chief monk replied that it was indeed her and she had died recently an old lady! But when the TV crew returned to the same temple a few months later, the grave had vanished and the same monk refused to talk, insisting there was never such a grave in the temple. The second incident was rumored to be at a summit when then Prime Minister of Japan, Kakuei Tanaka asked then Prime Minister of China, Chou En Lai, whether Yoshiko Kawashima was alive, and Mr. Chou nodded his head in the affirmative. But without real historical records, it will always remain a mystery as Yoshiko herself meant it to be, in death as in life, she intrigued and mystified!