This essay discusses the experience of anarchism among young Chinese intellectuals based in Japan between 1907-1908. The rise of an anarchist ideal among Chinese intellectuals was firstly related to their acquaintance with Japanese radicals. In 1907 division among the Tongmenghui leadership and the conversion of Japanese intellectuals to anarchism made Chinese students and intellectuals based in Tokyo more susceptible to radical political doctrines. Anarchism emerged as a new trend out of this political turmoil. Liu Shipei, He Zhen and Zhang Ji were the central figures of the Tokyo Group and the main supporters of the anarchist propaganda in Japan. Through the acquaintance with the Kinyōkai 金矅会 (Friday Group), the radical socialist faction led by Kōtoku Shūsui, they were able to bring together the Chinese overseas communities in Japan, who were dissatisfied with the principle of Tongmenghui and its leadership.
The close relations with Kōtoku and Japanese socialists, the affiliation with the Tongmenghui and the quarrels within the same Alliance concerning Sun’s leadership, the establishment of societies among Chinese students in Japan and the publication of a journal, all consent to define the contours of anarchist activities in Japan between the years 1907-1908.
My goal in the following pages is to highlight the Japanese route of Chinese anarchism outlining anarchist thinking and propaganda as delineated in the pages of their official organ, the Tianyi bao (Journal of Natural Justice). Overall, I will try to answer these three questions. First, how did Chinese traditional thought become a means to sustain utopian egalitarianism? Second, how did Kōtoku Shūsui and Japanese anarchists influence the rise of an anarchist ideal among Chinese intellectuals based in Japan? And third, how did the Tianyi bao promote a racial, social and political revolution in order to create an ideal society?