By Charlie Jones
The Japanese Black Dragon Society (Kokuryūkai) was a secret paramilitary organization which, for 35 years, operated a vast spy network all over Asia and with the use of blackmail, espionage and assassinations and shaped the geopolitical situation of most of the Eastern hemisphere. And if you’re waiting for me to add “until James Bond blew up their skull-shaped volcano lair” you can just stop, because the Black Dragons were both a) very real, and b) crazier than anything fiction could ever imagine.
For one, they didn’t openly display their “secret” organization’s logo like a bunch of stupid idiots.
The Black Dragons were named after the Black Dragon River (Amur/Heilongjiang) and are today considered the most powerful ultranationalist organization in history (plus a fantastic name for your garage punk band). The BDS was started in 1901 by Uchida Ryohei, a polyglot and an avid student of Kyudo, Kendo, Judo and Sumo, who is believed to have taken part in the brutal assassination of Empress Myeongseong, the Korean queen aiming to free her country from Japanese influences.
Making Uchida a less useless Blofeld. So the opposite of Blofeld, basically.
As leader of the Black Dragons, Uchida recruited into his organization a group of powerful people from within the Japanese government, from high-ranking Cabinet officials to military personnel and trained field-operatives. And even though they made sure to put as much distance between each other as possible, the organization also made frequent use of powerful Yakuza groups whenever they needed someone to accidentally walk into a couple dozen bullets in some dirty back alley.
The main goal of the Black Dragon Society can be condensed into two points: to drive out the Western occupants from Asia and FUCK RUSSIA. Words fail to describe just how much did the BDS guys hate the Russians, but perhaps these ones will suffice: It is believed that the Black Dragons might have used their influence and threats of violence against certain government officials to “persuade” the Emperor into going to WAR with Russia, thus starting the Russo-Japanese war. More than 100,000 people died in that war.
But a lot of them were Russians, right? Totally worth it!
Furthermore, the organization also supported various revolutions all throughout Asia, giving aid to people like Sun Yat-sen or Emilio Aguinaldo, who went on to become the leaders of the Republic of China and independent Philippines, respectively.
Internally, The Black Dragons Society limited itself to only a few dozen key members though they employed hundreds, perhaps thousands of freelance agents. And all of them had to go through rigorous martial arts and spy training at the organization’s secret school of espionage, which HOLY FUCK was a thing that actually existed.
Actual photograph… I think.
Even though the Black Dragons were mainly interested in espionage, sabotage, propaganda and assassinations, all that martial arts training must have come in handy when Uchida Ryohei opened a phony judo dojo in Vladivostok in hopes of being invited onto Russian army bases and spying the shit out of them.
Before the organization was disbandment in 1946 by American Occupation forces, the Black Dragons had already built a massive network of agents and connections from China and Korea to the Muslim world, Africa, South American and Europe. They even had a presence in the United States where they allegedly supported black liberation movements and the Nation of Islam, probably hoping to fan the flames of racial tension and eventually bring the US down from the inside, which, BTW, worked out how?