Propaganda Kimono
Man’s Nagajuban  |  Wool muslin, cotton lining  |  52”x 49”

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Propaganda Kimono

The Manchurian, or Mukden Incident of September 18, 1931 led to the condemnation of Japan by the League of Nations. Refusing to acquiesce to demands that Japanese troops be removed from Manchuria, and in advance of a League sponsored report by a commission headed by V.A.G.R. Bulwer-Lytton, the Kwantung army set about transforming their holdings into the new state of Manchukuo.

The many extant Manchuria-themed propaganda kimono testify to the popularity of this colonial annexation with the Japanese people. Pu Yi, the last emperor of the Manchu dynasty, who had been deposed in 1911, was installed as the puppet "president" of the new state and diplomatic recognition was afforded it by then Japanese Prime Minister Saito Makato.

In February, 1933, with the acceptance of Lytton's findings that Manchurian independence was a Japanese power play and not an actual uprising by the local Chinese population, Matsuoka Yosuke, Japan's representative to the League, stormed out with his delegation and Japan withdrew from the League of Nations.

This historically significant textile shows Matsuoka lecturing to the assembled body. It reads, Ware ra no zenken -"Full authority is ours, (we have) sovereign rights." It also shows the flags of fellow colonizers, the USA, Italy, and Great Britain, a globe, Japanese military planes, the emblem of the Order of the Golden Kite, Japan's highest military honor, and behind the flags, the Hotel National in Geneva, home of the League until 1936 when they built the Palace of Nations, their own headquarters that remains today as an office of the United Nations.

Matsuoka later pushed for and concluded the Tripartite pact tying Japan to Germany and Italy as the Axis powers. Arrested as a class "A" war criminal, he died during the trials following WWII.