Yes, all of us are studying death, studying how to walk
into a tomb.
But who could believe the lessons of death would be
so difficult.
yang xu, manchukuo-based chInese Poet, 1943
Comrade workers, peasants, merchants and students!!
Under the gruesome rule of the Japanese bandits
for the past five years, we do not even know who of our
mothers, fathers and brothers have been butchered. We
do not even know if our wives, sisters, or sisters- in- law
have been raped or forced to become prostitutes, or if
our homes have been burned down. . . . We cannot even
count the dangers awaiting us: being burned to death,
buried alive, strangled, dying in jail, etc. Many among
us have also experienced the phenomenon by poverty,
freezing to death, and starving to death.
Poster dIstrIbuted In manchukuo by the PeoPle’s fourth
revolutIonary army of the northeast, 26 aPrIl 1936
Amakasu Masahiko, chairman of Manchukuo’s propaganda film com-
pany Manei, was considered the most powerful cultural broker in
Japanese- controlled China in the early 1940s. So it was no surprise when
he was invited to be a special judge for the Greater East Asia Writers
Congress, held in August 1943 in Tokyo. Amakasu declined the invita-
tion. Three days spent handing out prizes for Chinese and Japanese fic-
tion must have been the last thing on his mind as he was frantically
raising cash for Japan’s war effort. And it is probably a good thing he de-
clined, as the prize- winning novel, Beike (Seashells), would have made
the man, known by then as Manchukuo’s “drug kingpin” (mayaku ō),
more than a little uncomfortable.
Bare laBor and  
the emPire of  
the living dead
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