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Folding Fan owned by a Japanese aid coordinator for Jewish refugees in Shanghai

Object | Accession Number: 2003.464.2

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    Folding Fan owned by a Japanese aid coordinator for Jewish refugees in Shanghai


    Brief Narrative
    Wooden folding fan with Japanese characters owned by Koreshige Inuzuka, a naval Captain who served as the head of the Japanese Imperial Navy’s Advisory Bureau on Jewish Affairs in occupied Shanghai, China, from 1939 to 1943. In 1937, Japan occupied Shanghai and began to enact new policies regarding the territory’s interaction with increasing numbers of European refugees, especially Jews. As one of the Japanese military’s “Jewish experts” Koreshige was consulted to assist with refugee policies. Early in his career, he was exposed to western anti-Semitism and false claims of a Jewish plan for world domination in “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and became deeply anti-Semitic. Despite this, Koreshige recommended welcoming Jews to Shanghai in order to exploit the purported powerful international Jewish network. Following the 5 Ministers’ Conference in 1938, Koreshige’s approach became part of Japan’s official Jewish policy. Between November 1938 and August 1939, approximately 20,000 European refugees settled in the Hongkou district of Shanghai. Following Japan’s Tripartite pact with Germany and Italy in September 1940, the pro-German segment of the Japanese government and military authorities instituted restrictive Jewish polices. After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the United States declared war and withdrew support for the Shanghai Jews. In 1943, Koreshige was transferred to Manila, Philippines. Having significantly less value without American support, the Shanghai Jews were forced into ghettos. On September 2, 1945, Japan surrendered. In the years following the war, the majority of the Jewish refugees left Shanghai to immigrate to other nations.
    creation:  approximately 1900-approximately 1945
    creation: Japan
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
    front, center sticks, black ink, handwritten : a haiku in Japanese characters [My memory / of the Halcyon / in the Chinese summer / (Author’s name)]
    Subject: Koreshige Inuzuka
    Koreshige Inuzuka was born on July 11, 1890, in Tokyo, Japan, to a former samurai retainer and his wife. He completed school and entered the Naval Academy in 1909. During World War 1 (1914-1918), Koreshige served in the Mediterranean. In 1918, while enrolled at the Naval College, he was sent to the Tokyo school of Foreign Language to study French. He graduated in 1920. He joined Japan’s Siberian Expedition and was stationed near Vladivostok, Soviet Union (now Russia). Koreshige became interested in Jewish studies after being exposed to the western concept of the “Jewish problem” for the first time. After encountering anti-Semitic propaganda and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Koreshige and an army colonel named Yasue Norihiro both began to study the “Jewish problem” in depth. The Protocols falsely stated that Jews had access to a vast international power network and both men believed the claims, which drove them to research Jewish affairs. Later, Koreshige married and the couple had a daughter.

    During the late 1920s, the military took control of Japan’s foreign policy. This allowed Koreshige’s research to be supported once it came to the attention of the navy. In 1928, he was appointed to serve as naval attaché to the Japanese embassy in Paris, where he was secretly ordered to observe the “Jewish problem” and report his findings. He collected as much observed and written material as he could regarding both Jewish affairs and rising anti-Semitism. In September 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria, leading to war between Imperial Japan and the Republic of China. The international community was unsure how to respond and pushed for enforcement of the pro-peace Kellogg-Briand Pact. The United States also passed the Stimson Doctrine, a non-recognition doctrine aimed at the Japanese. In 1932, Japan attacked Shanghai, which was home to many international settlements in China and represented an attack on international concessions. In January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. The regime enacted anti-Jewish laws, which restricted the daily lives of Jews and forced many to consider emigration. While many Jews looked to the west and Palestine, others looked to China and the Soviet Union in the east, where Jewish enclaves had been tolerated to varying degrees.

    In 1934, Koreshige returned to Tokyo, where he was promoted to Captain transferred to the intelligence branch of the Naval General Staff. He managed propaganda, counterespionage, and Jewish research. Both Koreshige and his army counterpart, Yasue, were deeply anti-Semitic and produced several publications reflecting their views under their real names as well as pseudonyms. Koreshige gave speeches about how invasive the Jewish problem was and that as a group, they had to be dealt with carefully. Both men proposed establishing a larger Jewish settlement in Japanese territory to attract European Jews, and travelled to Jewish communities around the world to gain support. They hoped to exploit what they perceived as the Jewish community’s international power and garner their support in the service of Japan’s war in East Asia while alleviating international pressure against Japan’s war efforts. In 1937, Japan ousted the Chinese Nationalist government and occupied Shanghai, China, as part of the Second Sino-Japanese war. Koreshige and Yasue, considered the Japanese military’s “Jewish experts,” established many pro-Jewish policies in the city. Koreshige believed the Jews should be welcomed while still ensuring that they were carefully controlled by the Japanese government. He likened the situation to eating fugu, a blowfish that can kill a person if not prepared correctly with great care, and his approach came to be called the Fugu Plan. Yasue sought to win support and capital from foreign Jews by supporting the Jewish refugees in Shanghai. In 1938, following the 5 Ministers’ conference, their beliefs became the official Jewish policy for Japan.

    Between November 1938 and August 1939, approximately 20,000 European refugees, predominately Jews, fleeing the Anschluss in Austria and the Kristallnacht pogrom in German occupied regions, arrived in Shanghai and settled in the Hongkou district. Shanghai was considered an open city and had no passport control or required papers to gain admittance. This made it a popular option for many Jews who had citizenship from countries with low immigration quotas to western nations or could not secure visas for other reasons. In 1939, Koreshige became the head of the Japanese Imperial Navy’s Advisory Bureau on Jewish Affairs and facilitated the resettlement of thousands of Jews. Under his guidance the Jewish refugees in Shanghai were treated relatively well, though the community was carefully monitored and new immigration was strictly controlled. Eventually immigration was stopped in order to ensure that those already living in the Hongkou district were not suffering due to a strain on their resources. These refugees received support from the city’s existing Jewish community as well as from Jewish organizations in the United States.

    On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, prompting France and Great Britain to declare war. In September 1940, Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy, solidifying their military alliance. Pro-German factions in the Japanese military and government changed the policies governing Jewish refugees in Shanghai, making them far more restrictive. In 1941, the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States presented Koreshige with an inscribed, silver cigarette case to express their thanks for his help rescuing Jews and offering them refuge. On December 7, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, prompting the United States to declare war. This led to a withdrawal of US support for Jews in Shanghai, and reduced the value of the community as a resource in the eyes of many Japanese officials. In 1943, the Japanese military forced Jewish refugees into ghettos within the Hongkou district and Koreshige was transferred to Manila, Philippines. On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered. On September 2, Japan surrendered. When Koreshige was supposed to be tried as a war criminal he presented the cigarette case given to him by the American rabbis as evidence of his actions and was released. In 1952, Koreshige founded the Japan-Israel Association and served as the first president. In 1965, aged 75, Koreshige died in Japan.

    Physical Details

    Dress Accessories
    Object Type
    Folding fans (aat)
    Physical Description
    Light brown, wooden folding fan with thirty-eight identical, flat, overlapping sticks fixed between 2 thicker guards connected by a silver colored metal grommet at the narrow rounded bottom. Each stick and guard broadens toward the top end, which extends into a thin, rectangular rib at the top center. The ribs are connected to one another by a pleated, 0.875 inch high leaf; a curved band of delicate, offwhite treated cloth adhered to each rib. Columns of Japanese characters are handwritten in black ink near the top of the 6 center sticks. The adhesive is coming loose and the cloth is worn and torn in several places.
    overall: Height: 7.000 inches (17.78 cm) | Width: 1.125 inches (2.858 cm) | Depth: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm)
    overall : wood, cloth, adhesive, ink, metal

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The fan was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-09-09 13:59:51
    This page:

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