Marriage Alliance: The Union of Two Imperiums, Japan and Ethiopia?


J. Calvitt Clarke III

Jacksonville University


       Luke Roberts of the University of California at Santa Barbara tells a story. While in Japan, an old Japanese historian was driving him to an archive in Aki city in Kochi Prefecture. On the way, around Tei village, they saw a store advertising “Ethiopia Manjuu”—a shiny, brown, sweet, steamed dumpling stuffed with azuki bean paste. Told that Americans would consider such a name racist, the historian simply explained, “Oh, this local product was first developed in the 1930s, and the name was to show solidarity with the Ethiopian people.”[1] How do we explain this seemingly odd connection between Japan in East Asia and Ethiopia in East Africa?


       Italy, ruled by Benito Mussolini and his fascists, attacked Ethiopia on October 2, 1935, and in seven months conquered the country to create the Italian Empire. Italy’s military preparations preceding the attack had gone on in earnest for more than a year and resembled America’s military buildup before the Gulf War of 1991—especially for the sustained press coverage and intense, if not always earnest, multilateral diplomacy aimed at averting war. More earnestly the two antagonists sought to find allies and undermine hostile coalitions.[2]


       Of the many reasons that led Italy to decide for war, one stands out for its importance to contemporaries and for the oblivion to which it has been consigned by later commentators. Japan’s real and perceived economic, political, and even military intrusions into its spheres of influence, including Ethiopia, upset Italy. In early 1934, the Italie Marinara, the official publication of the Italian Navy League, put the matter plainly:[3]


        Italy is watching with great interest developments in the Far East and, due to Japan’s recent energetic invasion of Italian markets not only in Italy itself but in the Colonies and in the smaller countries bordering the Mediterranean, her attitude is not what might be called pro-Japanese.[4]


       The Japanese reacted. The Yomuiri newspaper in January 1934, for example, complained that Mussolini seemed obsessed with the old “Yellow Peril” theory because of Italy’s defeat in African markets at Japanese hands.[5]


        Romantic Japanese views concerning Ethiopia,[6] and presumed plans for cotton and opium cultivation in the Ethiopian highlands by thousands of Japanese colonists excited observers the world over. Germany’s press in December 1934 echoed that this economic threat also jeopardized white racial supremacy and symbolized the West’s progressive decline. Yellow dolls of Japanese manufacture, Germans lamented, were replacing white dolls in the hands of “Negro” children in Asia and Africa. The ultimate psychological effect would be enormous.[7]


        What we might expect from Nazi Germany, Communist Russia surprisingly underscored. Rejecting its class-based rationalism for passionate nationalism, the Moscow Daily News on January 11, 1935, described Italy’s imperialism and sympathetically editorialized that Italy had sought Ethiopia’s peaceful economic, but,


        The reversion of Italian policy in Abyssinia to the old methods of direct seizure is bound up to a considerable degree with the intensification of Japanese economic and political influence in Abyssinia.[8]


       One issue, minor in itself, for many in Italy and elsewhere came to symbolize Japanese encroachments; that is, the proposed marriage between an Ethiopian “prince” and a Japanese “princess.” The many articles in newspapers and magazines, especially those appealing to women, showed that the proposed marriage had stirred popular excitement.[9] The emotions generated were genuine and have remained etched in memories to this day. For example, my wife’s grandmother, born in western Japan, grew quite excited upon hearing about my work:


        There was a nationwide atmosphere of friendship toward Ethiopia in the 1930s, and I, then a girl’s middle school student, also have a strong impression on the matter. There was a rumor of a marriage between the Ethiopian royal family and the Japanese nobility. I imagined that Ethiopia must have been a wonderful country. The Japanese prewar-generation people still feel closeness to Ethiopia even today. In the 1970s, Japanese people expressed their support for Abeba, an Olympic marathon runner, because he was from Ethiopia.[10]


And in the Spring of 1999, a popular quiz show on Japanese television asked a questions about the marriage.[11]


       One year after signing a Treaty of Friendship and Commerce with Tokyo in 1930, Ethiopia’s foreign minister, Blaten Geta Herui, made a grand tour of Japan. The visit dramatized the potentialities of future Ethio-Japanese cooperation in the political, diplomatic, and economic arenas.[12]


       One Lij Araya Abeba had accompanied Herui’s embassy. Impressed with Japan, Araya, seemingly a prince and nephew of the Emperor Haile Selassie expressed his desire to marry: “It has been my long-cherished ambition,” he explained to a Japanese reporter in February 1934, “to marry a Japanese lady. Of all first-class nations, Japan has the strongest appeal.”[13] The initiative was his and a personal decision.[14]


        Sumioka [Kadooka] Tomoyoshi,[15] a Tokyo lawyer, philo-Ethiopian nationalist, and Pan-Asian activist stage-managed much of the marriage affair. Herui had visited him during his 1931 trip to Japan. Sumioka now wished to facilitate Japanese trade and investment in Ethiopia.


       Meanwhile, in 1932, two young men went to Addis Ababa.[16] One of them, Shoji Yunosuke, had played an important role in Herui’s reception in 1931. He preached racial unity uniting Ethiopians and Japanese, and approvingly cited a professor who had written:


        It is obvious that some superior races moved from West Asia to the Nile basin a long time ago…[I]t is uncontroversial that the Ethiopian people a very long time ago had racial connections to some extent with the Japanese people.[17]


        Upon his return to Japan he explained his relationship with Sumioka:


        "When I left Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Emperor, who greatly favored Japan, especially permitted his meeting and granted a picture, rhino’s horn, musk, etc., to me. At that time he entrusted his recent picture as a gift to Mr. Sumioka Tomoyoshi to me, and I handed it to Mr. Sumioka after my return, which was my first acquaintance with him. Since then, I have been deeply impressed with his excellent understanding and right belief concerning racial issues and world statecraft. I gained an opportunity to be consulted about the Ethiopian marriage issue, as it has progressed, because I fortunately have a close friendship with Prince Araya."[18]


       The proposed wedding was to be held according to Christian rites in April or May 1934 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. Presumably, Araya instructed Sumioka to advertise for applicants and from them select suitable candidates. The announcement that Araya was seeking a Japanese bride went out in May 1933. According to press accounts, the twenty-three-year-old Araya was reassuringly light-skinned, monogamous, and Christian. Hence, “[s]cores of adventurous girls who were willing to be a Princess of Ethiopia answered…,” apparently at least twenty in all.[19]


            From those Araya reportedly made two preliminary choices and was to make his final decision in March upon his arrival in Japan on an important economic and political mission. The second choice was Kabata Shigeko [Chiiko], the twenty-two-year-old, third daughter of Tabata Kametaro, a millionaire businessman of Moji. On the morning of January 21, Sumioka announced as Araya’s first choice, a young woman who had been among the first applicants.[20]


            Kuroda Masako, the first choice, was the twenty-three-year-old, second daughter of Viscount Kuroda Hiroyuki of the forestry bureau of the Imperial Household. Viscount Kuroda was descended from the former Lord of Kazusa, a feudal lord in Chiba. She had presented her picture and other credentials to Sumioka without her parents’ knowledge. Despite initial objections, soon her father prepared to visit Ethiopia. The Kuroda family lived in a tiny suburban house, and she was graduated from the Kanto Gakuin Higher Girl’s School in Yodobashi-ku. She spoke English fluently, having been one of the first Japanese girls to take part in an English oratorical contest and to win a prize. At five feet, three inches, she was taller than average. After her enrollment as a candidate for the “prince’s bride,” she studied the habits and customs of Ethiopia through books and conversations with those familiar with conditions there.[21]


            In school Kuroda had been a keen athlete who enjoyed swimming, basketball, volleyball, and tennis. In an interview in February 1934, she enthusiastically remarked:


        I understand that the people of Ethiopia are extremely interested in sports, and I believe that I shall be able to indulge my taste for athletics when I go there. Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity of meeting Prince Abeba when he visited Japan a few years ago, but I have firmly decided to go to his country and I am willing to put up with whatever circumstances come along.[22]


       She believed that with its ever-increasing population Japan would have to found colonies abroad. She desired to increase the ties of friendship uniting Japan and Ethiopia, and she saw herself as the first of many who would emigrate to Ethiopia. Such statements sparked alarm among those, especially in Italy, who feared Japanese competition in the East African country.[23]


            In truth, many in Japan saw in the proposed marriage the opportunity to cut into interests of the colonial powers in Ethiopia. Japanese newspapers and nationalists further argued the necessity of uniting the colored races against whites. The marriage would personify this solidarity.[24] On the other side of the coin, a faction of Ethiopia’s intelligentsia known as the Japanizers were advocating intermarriage between upper class Ethiopians and Japanese.[25] These intellectuals for several decades. had been imploring Ethiopia to model its modernization along Japanese lines


            Commercial and economic negotiations were the tangible consequences of such talk. One Japanese business enterprise became particularly entwined in international diplomacy to the detriment of both Japan and Ethiopia. Popularly known as Nikkei-Sha, the Nagasaki Echiopia Keizai Chosa-kai Nikkei-Sha [Nagasaki Association for Economic Investigation of Ethiopia] had been founded in 1932 in Nagasaki to conduct import/export operations with Ethiopia. Its director, Kitagawa Takashi, went to Ethiopia that same year. In September 1933, he received permission to negotiate a deal with Ethiopia. A glib-talking and unscrupulous fixer, he negotiated with Herui for authorization concerning: the rights to use 500,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia; a permit to grow cotton, tobacco, tea, green tea, rice, wheat, fruit trees, and vegetables; a permit to grow medicinal plants; a grant of fifteen hectares of land for each immigrant Japanese family; and 1,000 hectares of land next to Addis Ababa for a Japanese investigation mission to examine what plants could be grown in Ethiopia. Kitagawa managed little but to earn Ethiopia and Japan international suspicion. His activities certainly provoked Great Britain, France, the USSR, and, especially, Italy.[26]


            On January 18, 1934, Juo Hyoron [Free Critics] published an article tying the marriage to the international discord. Entitled, “Warning to Ambitions in Ethiopia: 500,000 Yen Spent for the Engagement!”, in part it read:


                       Although we do not have any ambitions in Ethiopia, the countries such as Italy, France, and England which possess close and unalienable interests in Ethiopia, will most certainly understand the royal engagement as a part of Japan’s African ambitions, including colonization. Though England and France are unworthy of any trust in a crisis, Italy as well as Germany are still somewhat the allies of an isolated Japan. It would be capricious of Japan to undertake an adventure that could damage Italy’s feelings.


                       We should firmly eliminate any ambitions toward Ethiopia and warn against rumors for the sake of the integrity of the Japanese lady who is to be sacrificed for concessions worth only 500,000 yen….[27]


       The Japanese government agreed. Tokyo could not allow a free hand to ambitious pan-Asiatic adventurers such as Kitagawa who were going to Ethiopia. Matters reached the point when Japan’s Gaimusho [foreign ministry] in February 1934 decided to send a high ranking officer to investigate conditions in Ethiopia. The Second Division of the Trade Section explained why:


        It was reported that the Ethiopian government intends to approve a wide land lease to Japanese people, and that Ethiopian royal family wishes to arrange a marriage with a Japanese noble family. Ethiopia recently has shown a pro-Japanese attitude….When the Japanese people extend their business to Ethiopia, we need to understand the domestic conditions of this country and carefully consider its very delicate international position. Otherwise, our plans will fail, or we will unnecessarily invite the envy and misunderstanding of other major countries. Such a result will negatively influence future relations between our two countries….[28]


            Tsuchida Yutaka[29] arrived in Ethiopia just in time. The Ethiopians no longer trusted the Japanese as they had before. They complained that Japan’s press had written too much on the Nikkei-Sha affair and on the marriage between Araya and Kuroda. An irresponsible press and the Anti-Opium Bureau of the League of Nations had treated the first as if Ethiopia had signed a concession of land for cultivating opium. The second had been presented as if it were the heir to the throne who wanted to marry. The latter had even led to a complaint from Mussolini to Haile Selassie.[30]


       Difficulties rose to the point where Kuroda at the end of February 1934 defensively asserted:


        I will go to Ethiopia even in the capacity of a private citizen, if the Imperial Household authorities should disapprove of my trip.[31]


At that time, her mother acknowledged that the Imperial Household Department had not yet sanctioned her daughter’s betrothal or proposed trip to Ethiopia. She added that Araya,


        was scheduled to visit Japan in May of this year, but his trip has been indefinitely postponed. No direct word has been received from the Royal Family of Ethiopia, but Mr. Sumioka, a lawyer, is negotiating the matter.[32]


       The American embassy in Tokyo agreed, reporting in February 1934 that the Japanese government had provided little information regarding the marriage and disparaged its political significance.[33] The next month, the embassy reported that the marriage was about to fall through because of official Japanese opposition.[34]


            Haniyu Chotaro, a businessman from Kamakura, had spent five months in Ethiopia at the Gaimusho’s request. Upon his return in April 1934, he publicly discussed the commercial opportunities available in that country. He then declared that the marriage was receiving little attention in Ethiopia while in Japan it had created a sensation. His comments were hardly encouraging:


             This matter is very delicate from a viewpoint of the international situation, and I do not like to make any comment on it until I have submitted a report to the Foreign Office.


              Prince Ababa [Araya] is called a Prince only in Japan. In Ethiopia, he is called Lij Ababa, and the word Lij means “lord” in English. There are only three Princes of the Blood in Ethiopia. The Japanese Foreign Office has nothing to do with this marriage. Some time ago, an Italia

n newspaper sarcastically remarked that Japan intends to invade Africa with “kisses between the dark and the black by having a daughter of a Japanese peer married to an Ethiopian.” The Ethiopian press from the outset has been taciturn on the matter. If Miss Kuroda really wants to marry Ababa, she had better, I think, personally inspect the actual conditions of Ethiopia.[35]


        Sound comments and sound advice.


       The Italian embassy at Tokyo on October 6, 1934 denied the rumor that Italy had in any way ever been interested in the question of the proposed marriage. Yet the projected marriage between the “wealthy” Japanese girl and the Ethiopian “prince” was quashed, many thought by Italy’s diplomatic pressure[36] So charged Kato Kanju, president of the National Council of Trade Unions of Japan, the largest group of workers in the country. While visiting the United States in July 1935, he claimed that Mussolini had blocked the marriage.[37] While official quarters did not confirm that Italy had anything to do with the ultimate cancellation of the “picture bride,” the New York Times did not regard the idea as illogical.[38] Some believed that Emperor Hirohito was bitter with Italians because their protests had broken off the proposed marriage between Araya and Kuroda.[39]


       Demonstrating the resonance of Japanese competition in East Africa, Japan’s enemies continued to raise the issue of the marriage proposal long after it was dead. In December 1934, meeting with the new Japanese ambassador, Sugimura Yotaro, Mussolini linked the marriage to a number of contentious issues: “Japan is actively supplying weapons and ammunition to Ethiopia, sending a princess, and a newspaper in Tokyo is vigorously maneuvering Japanese-Ethiopian friendship.”[40]


       Sugimura, who had represented his government at Geneva at the time of Japan’s withdrawal from the League of Nations, soon thereafter spoke with La Tribuna of Rome. The ambassador endeavored to dispel suspicions of conflicting Italo-Japanese interests in Asia and Africa. Sugimura emphatically denied that the Japanese Army had sent instructors to Ethiopia as had been charged. Regarding economic penetration of Ethiopia by Japan, Sugimura explained that “certain middlemen—mostly Jewish” had purchased goods at Kobe which were finding their way into Ethiopia “by means of these same middlemen and not by direct importation.” Sugimura also denied that there was any foundation for the rumor of a projected marriage between a Japanese princess and an Ethiopian prince. Concerning the Far East, Sugimura said that he was convinced that Italy could pursue its interests in that field without fear of Japanese opposition. There was an immense Chinese market to exploit, the Japanese ambassador pointed out. He opined that Japan and Italy might well come to a reciprocal agreement for the exchange of goods which would be advantageous to both. For instance, he suggested, why should not Japan import Italian wine? Finally, after expressing admiration for the Duce and Italian institutions, Sugimura said that he favored an exchange of students and teachers between his country and Italy.[41]


       In truth, beyond Japanese exports to Ethiopia, there was little by way of direct contact between the two nations. In 1932 fifteen Japanese had settled in Ethiopia, and in 1933 seven more arrived. In 1934, four more. Most, however, did not stay long, leaving after their enterprises had failed. Tsuchida Yutaka noted that not many Japanese visited Ethiopia and that in the summer of 1934 there were only four including himself. In 1935 there were only three Japanese in Ethiopia. Ultimately, although Nikkei-Sha did manage to obtain agricultural concessions from the Ethiopian government, failing to find the necessary capital, it could not exploit them and went out of business after six months. In August 1935, no Japanese shipping company included Jibuti in its list of ports.[42]


       The New York Times on July 11, 1935, summed up the situation nicely: Japan’s economic interests in Ethiopia were new and still small; Japan still had no legation in Addis Ababa and Ethiopia was not represented in Tokyo; the number of Japanese residents in Ethiopia was small; reports of Japanese capitalists having obtained concessions for cotton growing in Ethiopia were unfounded; and stories that an Ethiopian prince had been seeking to marry a Japanese princess were groundless.[43]


       The principals, Kuroda, Araya, Shoji, and Sumioka moved off center stage. Mistaken for a communist, Kuroda was taken to the Ueno police station in Tokyo on the night of July 24, 1935. The problem began when a policeman, Tajima Yukio, noted a suspicious-looking woman in black afternoon dress walking up and down the street near Ueno Park for two hours until about 8:00 p.m. The policeman disguised himself as a worker and arrested her. As it turned out, she had earlier reported to him that she had lost her purse containing about ¥5. She had borrowed 20 sen from him but had given a false name—therefore the trouble. Even after she had given her real name and had explained that she had been waiting for a friend, the policeman was still suspicious and took her in. She was, however, shortly released.[44]


       In August, the Osaka Mainichi and Shoji sponsored a round table discussion in Addis Ababa, and invited prominent Ethiopians including Herui.[45] The next month as war was ready to break out, Araya suggested that Japan obtain concessions in Ethiopia, according to the Nichi Nichi correspondent at Addis Ababa. He said that Ethiopia would gladly grant concessions to Japan for industrial development. The Emperor was ready to approve such grants and Araya offered his services as an intermediary.[46] Later, in 1943, Araya attended a New York city meeting of the Ethiopian World Federation, and thereafter became involved in its internal politics.[47]


       The Japan Advertiser of March 28, 1936, reported that Sumioka had been awarded the Commander Class of the Order of Menelik II by Emperor Haile Selassie. In his letter of thanks, Sumioka praised the good will of the Japanese people toward Ethiopia and his own conviction that Ethiopia’s brave army would defeat Italy.[48] A month later, Haile Selassie fled his country.


       In the meanwhile, only two months after the marriage affair had been put to bed, a military mission headed by Marshal Pietro Badoglio, chief of Italy’s General Staff, visited Eritrea to begin planning for Italy’s conquest of Ethiopia.[49]


       The summer of 1935 had plumbed the depths of Italo-Japanese relations, especially during the so-called Sugimura Affair of July. The contretemps was born of the Gaimusho’s inept attempts to “clarify” Ambassador Sugimura’s assiduous efforts to reassure Mussolini regarding Japan’s interests in Ethiopia. In smoothing over the ruffled feathers, Rome and Tokyo began building in August the foundation for their alliance that ultimately went to war in 1941.[50] As part of that process and to recognize Italy’s control over Ethiopia, Japan’s government transformed its newly created Legation in Addis Ababa into a Consulate General. In return, Italy’s foreign minister, Galeazzo Ciano, promised to protect Japanese interests there. As if to emphasize that suspicions lingered, he simultaneously referred to the proposed marriage and the Negus’ desire to draw closer to Japan. In the end, Rome broke its promises but no matter. Japan had accepted its exclusion from Ethiopia. Japan had left Ethiopia at the marriage altar.[51]




[1]E-mail: From Luke Shepherd Roberts, Mar. 20, 96, 02:17:27 p.m. 0800.


[2]J. Calvitt Clarke III, “Periphery and Crossroads: Ethiopia and World Diplomacy, 1934–36,” in Ethiopia in Broader Perspective: Papers of the XIIIth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, 3 vols., K. E. Fukui and M. Shigeta, eds. (Kyoto: Shokado Book Sellers, 1997), 1: 699–712.


[3]Mario dei Gaslini, “Il Giappone nel’economia Etiopica” [Japan in the Ethiopian Economy], in Federazione Provinciale Fascista Milanese, Corso di Preparazione politica per i giovani [Course of Political Preparation for Youths] Riassunti dello lezioni tenute nel scondo trimestre (Milan: Tipografia del “Popolo d’Italia,” 1935), 99–107.


[4]Italy (Naval Attaché), 2/20/34: National Archives (College Park , MD), Decimal File [hereafter cited as NA] 765.94/4.


    Expanding on Italy’s fears of commercial rivalries and explaining why Italy had militarily reinforced its colonies of Eritrea and Somaliland, Alessandro Lessona, Under-Secretary of Colonies, proclaimed Italy’s position in a speech at Naples:


    In the Far East, the political situation tends to get worse. In the face of the complexity and importance of European interests in this region of the world, Japan, for the first time in history, offers the example of a people of 80,000,000 inhabitants extraordinarily developed economically, industrially and in a military way.

    The birth rate, energy and spirit of sacrifice of the Japanese, the imperious necessity for always seeking new markets—all these combine to make Japan a very great danger for Europe. Her pretensions and her force are the axle around which turns all Oriental policy.

    The more one restrains the Japanese expansion in the East, the more she will try to expand in other sectors and in other continents, as is proved already by Japan’s activity in Ethiopia.


Lessona ominously added that Africa could very well represent the final objective of Japanese expansion:

    To draw the Dark Continent into her own orbit would signify for Japan not so much in acquisition of power, as a means of depriving Europe of the possibility of using Africa for the defense of her civilization. New York Times, Dec. 2, 1934.


[5]“Japanese Press Opinions,” Japan Times, Jan. 30, 1934, 8.


[6]See, e.g., Oyama Ujiro, Echiopia Tanpo Hokoku [Report on a Visit to Ethiopia] (Tokyo: Shunnan-sha, 1934); Oyama Ujiro, Abyssinia Jijo, Madagascaru Jijo, Porutoraru ryo Higashi Africa Jijo [The Situation of Abyssinia, of Madagascar, and of Portuguese East Africa] (Tokyo: Foreign Ministry, 1928); Aminako Yasuhiro, Fugen Echiopia Teikoku no Zenbo [The Whole Story of the Ethiopian Empire: Source of Wealth] (Tokyo: Osaka-sho, 1934); Shoji Yunosuke, Echiopia Kekkon Mondai wa Donaru, Kaisho ka? Ina!!!: Kekkon Mondai o Shudai to shite Echiopia no Shinso o Katari Kokumin no Saikakunin [What Will Happen to the Ethiopian Marriage Issue, Cancellation? or Not!!!: I Request the Re-recognition of the (Japanese) Nation by Narrating the Truth of Ethiopia with the Marriage Issue as the Central Theme] (Tokyo: Seikyo Sha, 1934); Tsuchida Yutaka, “Echiopia o Miru” [Viewing Ethiopia] Chuo Koron [Center for Opinion Leaders] 50 (Nov. 1935): 308–15; and Tsurumi Yusuke and Komai Shigetsugu, Fuun no Rutsubo Echiopia [A Whirlwind in Ethiopia] (Tokyo: Yashima Shobo, 1935). My thanks to Mariko A. Clarke who has translated these Japanese materials and guided me through the Gaimusho’s [foreign ministry’s] archives in Tokyo.


[7]“White Race Menaced,” Osaka Mainichi & Tokyo Nichi Nichi, Dec. 22, 1934, 4g. This daily cynically suggested that the German newspaper was reacting because Germany’s toy trade was the hardest hit among all the German industries by Japanese competition.


[8]F. Korradov, “Italian Expansion In Abyssinia,” Moscow Daily News, Jan. 11, 1935, 2f–3b. The editorial added that Japan’s strengthening influence in Ethiopia was fraught with dangers not only for Italy’s interests there but also for British interests in Egypt and the Sudan—thereby implying its hope that Britain would go along with Italy and France on Ethiopia. For more on this interpretation, see J. Calvitt Clarke III, “Japan and Italy Squabble Over Ethiopia: The Sugimura Affair of July 1935,” paper presented to the Florida Conference of Historians, Daytona Beach, FL, March 12–14, 1998; and Clarke, “Periphery and Crossroads,” 1: 699–712.


[9]For instance, Fujin Kurabu [Women’s Club] in March 1934 carried a round table discussion entitled “Fairyland Ethiopia that Will Receive a Bride for the Royal Nephew from Japan” and detailed the process of Sumioka’s selection of the bride in its March issue. The magazine continued its interest through the following year and reported on Ethiopia’s condition in its October and November issue of 1935. Shufu no Tomo [Friend of Housewives], also discussed the Ethiopian conflict in its September/October issues of 1935. See Okakura Takashi and Kitagawa Katsuhiko, Nihon-Afurika Koryu-shi: Meiji-ki kara Dainiji Sekai Taisen-ki made [History of Japanese-African Relations: From the Meiji Period to the Second World War Period] (Tokyo: Dobun-kan, 1993), 37–39. See also Unno Yoshiro, “Dainiji Itaria-Echiopia Sensou to Nihon,” [The Second Italo-Ethiopian War and Japan] Housei Riron 16 (Jan. 1984): 190. For the Girls’ Festival celebrated on March 3, a set of dolls bearing the crests of the Kuroda family (Kuroda Masako was Araya’s apparent choice for his bride) and the prince of Ethiopia was made specially for her to take to Africa where she was to marry Araya. The Girl’s Festival is a beloved, traditional holiday, and in their homes girls formally set up dolls surrounded by special sweets. These dolls often are passed from mother to daughter. “Utopia In Ethiopia,” Japan Times, Feb. 23, 1934, 8de.


[10]Makiuchi Yoshiko, Spr. 1998.


[11]Personal communication from Mark Caprio, April 09, 1999.


[12]Furukawa Tetsushi, “Japan’s Political Relations with Ethiopia, 1920s–1960s: A Historical Overview,” unpublished paper presented to the 35th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, Seattle, WA, Nov. 20–23, 1992. Araya’s father was Ato Abbaba Ayalawarq, the cousin of Haile Selassie, and he was the brother of Wayzaro Mazelaqiyawarqa-Awarq, the mother of Ras Emeru. His grandmother was Wayzaro Eheta-Maryam-Walda-Mikael, the sister of Ras Makonnen. See Aoki Sumio and Kurimoto Eisei, “Japanese Interest in Ethiopia (1868–1940): Chronology and Bibliography,” Ethiopia in Broader Perspective, 1: 714, 723. Also see Yamada Kazuhiro, Masukaru no Hanayome: Masukaru no Hanayome: Maboroshi no Echiopia Ojihi [Bride of Mascar: Phantom of an Ethiopian Consort] (Tokyo: Asahi Shinbun-Sha, 1998), 59–64, 92–96, 105.


[13]Ishihara Hideko, “First Contacts Between Ethiopia and Japan,” unpublished paper presented to the XIIIth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Kyoto, Japan, Dec. 1997.


[14] Yamada, Masukaru no Hanayome, 113, 123, 230–33.


[15]The Chinese characters representing his name may be transliterated into English as either “Kadooka” or “Sumioka.”


[16]See Aoki and Kurimoto, “Japanese Interest in Ethiopia,” 1: 714; Herui Walde Sellassie, Dai Nippon [Great Japan], trans. Oreste Vaccari and Enko Vaccari (Tokyo: Eibunpo Tsuron, 1934), 3. This is the Japanese translation of Mahdere Berhan Ha-Ager Japon [The Source of Light, the Country of Japan] (Addis Ababa, 1932), 91–99. See also Okakura and Kitagawa, Nihon-Afurika Koryu-shi, 33, 36–37.


[17]Shoji, Echiopia Kekkon Mondai, 5. See Aoki and Kurimoto, “Japanese Interest in Ethiopia,” 1: 724.


[18]Shoji, Echiopia Kekkon Mondai, from the Introduction.


[19]“Masako Kuroda Chosen to Wed Ethiopian Prince,” Japan Times, Jan. 21, 1934, 1; “Prince Advertises for Bride in Japan,” New York Times, Feb. 18, 1934, IV, 8:6; Japan (Grew), 7/6/33: NA 894.00 P.R./67.


[20]“Masako Kuroda Chosen to Wed Ethiopian Prince,” Japan Times, Jan. 21, 1934. 1; “Prince Advertises for Bride in Japan,” New York Times, Feb. 18, 1934, IV, 8:6.


[21]“Masako Kuroda Chosen to Wed Ethiopian Prince,” Japan Times, Jan. 21, 1934, 1; “Utopia In Ethiopia,” ibid., Feb. 23, 1934, 8de; “Prince Advertises for Bride in Japan,” New York Times, Feb. 18, 1934, IV, 8:6; Japan (Grew), 2/6/34: NA 894.00 P.R./74; Yamada, Masukaru no Hanayome, 15–19.


[22]“Miss Kuroda Will Visit Ethiopia Even Though Trip Is Disapproved in Japan,” Japan Times, Feb 25 1934.


[23]Ibid.; “Utopia In Ethiopia,” ibid., Feb. 23, 1934, 8de.


[24]Kurosawa to Hirota, 1/24/36: Gaimusho Gaiko Shiryo Kan [Record Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hereafter cited as Gaimusho Gaiko Shiryo Kan (Tokyo)] A461 ET/I1, vol. 6. Some African Americans also saw the marriage as heralding the day of Asian-African global unity. The Chicago Defender argued, not entirely correctly, that intermarriage was common and acceptable to both races, and that Japanese internationalists had set their hearts on uniting these two ancient houses to forge a strong union between Japan and Ethiopia. “Ethiopian, Italian Armies Face Each Other In Africa,” Chicago Defender, July 13, 1935.


[25]Ernest Allen, “When Japan Was ‘Champion of the Darker Races’: Satokata Takahashi and the Flowering of Black Messianic Nationalism,” The Black Scholar 24 (Win. 1994): 30. An Eritrean intellectual and Ethiopian patriot, Blatta Gabra Egziabher, is an early example of a Japanizer. He wrote verses extolling modernization:


             Let us learn from the Europeans; let us become strong

             So that the enemy may not vanquish us, on the first encounter.

             Let us examine our history; let us read the newspaper.

             Let us learn languages; let us look at maps.

             This is what opens people’s eyes.

             Darkness has gone; dawn has come.

             It is a disgrace to sleep by day.


Modernization, for the sake of national strength, found expression in another of his poems,


             He who accepts it, fears no one.

             He will become like Japan, strong in everything


Richard Pankhurst, “History of Education, Printing and Literacy in Ethiopia. 9: Educational Advances in Menilek’s Day,” Addis Tribune, Oct. 2, 1998.


[26]Tokyo to Blatin Geta Helouí, 9/4/33; Note to Kitagawa, 9/28/33: Gaimusho Gaiko Shiryo Kan (Tokyo) E424 1–3–1.


[27]Shoji, Echiopia Kekkon Mondai, 14–15.


[28]Taura Masanori, “Nihon-Echiopia kankei ni miru 1930 nen tsusho gaiko no iso” [A Phase of the 1930 Commercial Diplomacy in the Japanese-Ethiopian Relations], Seifu to Minkan [Government and Civilians], Nenpo, Kindai Nihon Kenkyu [Annual Report, Study of Modern Japan], 17 (1995): 141–170, quote, 154.


[29]Tsuchida Yutaka, a Gaimusho secretary, described the Ethiopians as half-black Semites, one-third of whom formed the traditional ruling class and believed in Christianity. The other two-thirds were either Muslim or non-religious. Although often barbaric, Ethiopians were lazy, uncultured, and “benign.” Tsuchida visited Ethiopia in 1935. Okakura and Kitagawa, Nihon-Afurika Koryu-shi, 21.


[30]Ishihara, “First Contacts.”


[31]“Miss Kuroda Will Visit Ethiopia Even Though Trip Is Disapproved in Japan,” ibid., Feb. 25, 1934, 1de.




[33]Japan (Grew), 2/6/34: NA 894.00 P.R./74.


[34]Japan (Grew), 3/8/34: NA 894.00 P.R./75. The embassy also reported that the Tokyo Hochi had written that Ethiopia’s imperial family had become so interested in Japan that it would request a bride for the crown prince. The newspaper gave as its source a letter written by a Japanese cook employed by Ethiopia’s Emperor.


[35]“Ethiopia Promising Market for Japanese Goods,” Japan Times, Apr. 22, 1934, fg. Presumably inspired by Haniyu’s visit, in what appears to be a semi-official letter, in early March 1934 Jacob Adol Mar, self-proclaimed retired counselor of state and friend of Ethiopia’s foreign minister, wrote to “C. Hanew” [Haniyu Chotaro] that all “logical thinking” Ethiopians wanted to see the Japanese come to Ethiopia for industrial and commercial purposes. Mar proposed an extensive set of concessions for Japanese commercial and business enterprises. Mar to Hanew, 3/4/34: Gaimusho Gaiko Shiryo Kan (Tokyo) M130 1-1-2.


[36]Japan (Grew), 11/12/34: NA 894.00 P.R./83; “Mussolini Mobilizes Credit to Stabilize Lira,” Osaka Mainichi & Tokyo Nichi Nichi, Dec. 18, 1934, 7d–e. “Wealthy” was used by the communist press; see “Imperialism in Abyssinia,” International Press Correspondence (Dec. 22, 1934): 1722–23.


[37]“Labor Leader of Japan Here to View Problems,” Chicago Defender, July 13, 1935.


[38]“Abyssinian Attack Is Feared by Italy,” New York Times, Sept. 9, 1934, 6:2; Furukawa, “Japan’s Political Relations;” Furukawa Tetsushi, “JapaneseEthiopian Relations in the 1920–30s: The Rise and Fall of ‘Sentimental’ Relations,” paper presented at the 34th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, St. Louis, MO, Nov. 1991.


[39]“Ethiopian, Italian Armies Face Each Other In Africa,” Chicago Defender, July 13, 1935.


[40]Okakura and Kitagawa, Nihon-Afurika Koryu-shi, 39. The Cape Times in January 1935 concluded that there were no cotton concessions, that Ethiopia’s laws and religion prevented any marriage between a Japanese princess and an Ethiopian prince, and that no such marriage had been requested in any case. The newspaper insisted that nearly all rumors of Japanese intentions had been started in Rome. “Japanese and Abyssinia,” Cape Times, Jan. 4, 1935, in Gaimusho Gaiko Shiryo Kan (Tokyo) E424 1–3–1.


[41]Italy (Kirk), 1/25/35: NA 765.94/9. La Revue du Pacific of February 15, 1935, printed another of Sugimura’s denials of reports regarding a prospective marriage of a Japanese “princess” with an Ethiopian “prince.” France (Naval Attache), 3/13/35: NA 765.94/10.


[42]Tsuchida, “Echiopia o Miru,” 312; Shoji Yunosuke, “Abyssinia Attempting to Modernize,” Osaka Mainichi & Tokyo Nichi Nichi, Aug. 18, 1935, 4bd; Ishihara, “First Contacts;” Adrien Zervos, L’Empire d’Ethiopie: Le Miroir de L’Ethiopie Moderne 1906–1935 (Alexandria, Egypt: Impr. de l’Ecole professionnelle des freres, 1936), 483–84.


[43]Hugh Byas, “Japan Is Shunning Dispute in Africa,” New York Times, July 11, 1935, 12:3. Iranian papers at the end of summer added their voices to this song. Okamoto (Iran) to Hirota, Report No. 123, 8/26/35: Gaimusho Gaiko Shiryo Kan (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1, vol. 2.


[44]“Miss Kuroda Arrested,” Osaka Mainichi & Tokyo Nichi Nichi, July 26, 1935, 3c.


[45]Furukawa, “Japan’s Political Relations.”


[46]“Wants Grant to Japan,” New York Times, Sept. 2, 1935, 5:3.


[47]Roi Ottley, ‘New World A-Coming’: Inside Black America (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1943), 42.


[48]Japan (Grew), 4/16/36: NA 894.00 P.R./100.


[49]A. J. Barker, The Civilizing Mission: The Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935–6 (London: Cassell, 1968), 11.


[50]Clarke, “Japan and Italy Squabble.”


[51]“Il Giappone riconosce l’Impero,” Giornale d’Italia, Dec. 3, 1936: Gaimusho Gaiko Shiryo Kan (Tokyo) M130 1–1–2. Richard Bradshaw touches on many of the issues discussed in this paper. See his “Japan and European Colonialism in Africa 1800–1937” (PhD dissertation, Ohio University, 1992).