SDHF Newsletter No.379 Japan Awakened Asia Part 4, Chapter 3: Rash Bihari Bose and Japan
Japan Awakened Asia―A Miracle of the 20th Century
The Road to the Independence of India
―A Story to Be Passed Down to the Next Generation
Part 4, Chapter 3: Rash Bihari Bose and Japan
Rash Behari Bose was a staunch independent activist, involved in the failed attempt to assassinate the Governor General of India. He managed to escape to Japan under the guise of being a relative of Tagore, using a forged passport.
In 1924, Tagore met Toyama Mitsuru, the founder of Genyosha (political organization) and great Pan-Asianist, through the mediation of Behari Bose.
British authorities asked the Japanese Government to turn in Behari Bose, who was suspected of acting as a spy for Germany. Behari Bose was summoned by the police and ordered to leave Japan within five days. It was very likely that once Bose left Japan, he would be turned over to Britain and executed. Bose told newspapers about this order and met Toyama Mitsuru and others, asking for support. The newspapers reported this as a big news and strong voices raised criticism stating that it was a national shame to turn in Indian patriots who escaped to Japan for help. Toyama Mitsuru promised to do his best to assist him.
Soma Aizo, owner of Nakamura-ya store in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and his wife Kokko were among those who expressed disappointment with the actions of the ineffectual Japanese government. Aizo said to Nakamura Kayu, a journalist from the Toyama circle, “Someone needs to come forward and hide him. My store is always crowded and looks like it is almost in disarray. So maybe it is a good place for hiding him.”
Toyama decided to adopt his idea. Mr. and Mrs. Toyama, Uchida Ryohei, Miyazaki Toten and other prominent figures gathered for the farewell party for Bose. They secretly took Behari Bose out through the back door and put him on a private automobile and hurried to Nakamura-ya in Shinjuku. Soma Kokko, who spoke English, explained to him what was going on and hid him in the atelier. The escape from the watchful eyes of the police stationed outside Toyama House was a daring feat.
Toyama Mitsuru and other supporters of Behari Bose kept negotiating with the Japanese Government and finally, in the spring of 1916, they obtained a confirmation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ishii Kikujiro that Behari Bose will be protected.
Bose moved to a new house at Azabu. At the party at his new house, he made a speech in excellent Japanese, which greatly moved the guests. Mr. and Mrs. Soma brought their daughter Toshiko to the party. Later, Toyama suggested that Toshiko marry Bose. Toshiko’s mother Kokko was deeply concerned that her daughter may face an unbearable burden as a result of the marriage, but she still informed Toshiko about the marriage proposal. Two weeks later, Tohsiko said, “Let me go to marry him. I have made up my mind.” “Did you think this through? It may put your life at risk. “I know how you and father feel.”
After the marriage, they had two children, a son Masahide, born in 1920, and a daughter Tetusuko, born in 1922. In 1923, Behari Bose became a naturalized Japanese citizen. However, around that time, Toshiko fell ill, and despite receiving medical care, she died from her illness at the age of 28 in March 1925. They were married for only seven years. Bose fondly recalled their time together, “It was a brief period, but we lived happily. I enjoyed a lifetime’s worth of happiness in those few years.” From that point on, he declined any offer to remarry.
Their son Masahide was killed in action in June 1945 during the battle of Okinawa and his soul is enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine.
MOTEKI Hiromichi, Chairman
Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact