The Pacific Movement of the Eastern World (PMEW) was a 1930s North American based pro-Japanese movement of African Americans which promoted the idea that Japan was the champion of all non-white peoples.
The Japanese ultra-nationalist Black Dragon Society was an influence upon the PMEW. The Black Dragon Society was a paramilitary organization, with close ties to the Empire of Japan, which viewed the United States as Japan’s enemy in the Pacific.
The organization was frequently taken advantage of by one of its founders, Ashima Takis, who ultimately was arrested for embezzling funds from the group.
Ryōhei Uchida, founder of the Black Dragon Society
The Pacific Movement of the Eastern World was founded in Chicago around 1932 by Satokata Takahashiin. Takahashiin reportedly recruited Ashima Takis and his Chinese companion, Moy Liang, into the leadership of the organization. The organization preached worldwide unity of colored races under the leadership of Japan. When its president Ashima Takis moved to St. Louis in 1933, membership took off.
Takis soon associated himself with Burt Cornish and Walter Lee Peeples of the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and claimed that the New York branch of the organisation was affiliated with Japan. Cornish and Peeples soon set up a (PMEW) branch in St. Louis with the help of Moy Liang, an immaculately dressed Chinese man with a patrician demeanor.
Adopting a banner composed of Black, Yellow and Brown, the organization began to grow in the poor African American community in Missouri. FBI reports claimed that there were four Japanese men agitating in the area at that time. The frequent open air meetings were marked by anti-white sentiments, particularly regarding the historical use of African Americans in wars by the , followed by refusing to let them share in the spoils of war.
The PMEW gained membership as a result of the personality of Ashima Takis, who pretended to have a thick Japanese accent, and his false promises of a color-blind utopia in Japan.
Front organization for Ashima Takis
Ashima Takis, president of the PMEW and one of the founders of the organization, made numerous false statements during his tenure. In order to raise black membership he spoke in a thick Japanese accent. His partner Cornish said Takis was actually quite fluent but spoke with an accent because “Your people wouldn’t believe me if I spoke too well.” Takis also raised membership by downplaying racism in Japan, “promising his Negro audience that if they moved to Japan they would be treated as equals, have jobs at better pay than they could get here, and could even marry Japanese women.”Ashima Takis lied to his audience about the size of the organization, stating that the group that formed in Saint Louis was “the one thousandth organized in this country, and that outside of this city there were 165,000 members.”
Membership was not free. For those wanting to go to Japan, a membership in 1933 cost $5.50 ($74 in 2005 inflation-adjusted dollars). For those not wanting to go to Japan, membership was $1.00 ($13.00 in 2005 inflation-adjusted dollars). Cornish stated that more than 100 people joined the PMEW in hopes of moving to Japan and several thousand joined at the lower price.
Ashima Takis also posed as a physician and a faith healer. Cornish stated Takis claimed he was a doctor but he was not licensed to practice in the United States, although he apparently studied medicine at a university. Cornish also states that Ashima held himself out to be a faith healer to the Negro people and that many regarded themselves as cured of various ailments after Takis laid hands on them.
When Japan invaded Manchuria in China, Takis fell out with the PMEW and his Chinese compatriot Liang. He eventually moved to New York, where he helped form the Ethiopian Pacific Movement.
In December 1939, Takis returned to St Louis and the PMEW. He was welcomed back but insisted he be referred to by the pseudonym Mimo de Guzman. Takis joined in various attempts to prepare for a Japanese invasion by gathering a small arsenal. However, Takis fled after he was reported to the police for embezzling money from the PMEW. Ashima Takis was not taken into custody until two years later.
After this fiasco, General Lee Butler became the new president of the PMEW. But, after the Attack on Pearl Harbor, he soon faced possible treason charges.
Membership cost 20 cents , and a new member was initiated into the pseudo-masonic organization, which had a handshake and password. and some white people avoided Carr Park, a frequent St. Louis venue, on account of the atmosphere.
Meetings featured talks on such issues as The Struggle of the darker races of the World, Why the Filipinos Want Freedom and China, Old and New. At various times, they had schemes for African Americans to relocate to Japan,Brazil, and Africa. In the early days, over 100 people paid $5.50 to be put on a list of emigrants to Japan, with several thousand paying $1 for general membership. According to the investigating Federal attorney, Harry C Blanton, members were already picking out which farms they would take over following a Japanese invasion.
The organization was heavily influenced by Marcus Garvey’s UNIA, adopting the motto: “Sow no evil to reap the good-Asia for the Asiatics, Africa for the Africans”. The general stated aims were:
- 1 Universal brotherhood and peace.
- 2 Promotion of understanding and friendship of all peoples of the world.
- 3 Preservation and protection of the legal rights of the oppressed races.
- 4 Self-determination of every race.
- 5 Reforms through constitutional methods.
- 6 Preservation of the territorial integrity and political independence of every country.
- 7 Cultivation of the spirit of love for the ancestral homes of dark peoples.
- 8 Encouragement for the return of those peoples who find no opportunity for development in the United States, and the establishment of a government of their own in the land of their fathers.
The PMEW endorsed Senator Edward P. Costigan’s anti-lynching legislation, but rejected the Communist Party USA’s efforts to unionize workers in the nut-processing industry. Supporters were also advised to place a purple cloth in their windows in the event of Japanese invasion.
Takis and Cornish soon formed a breakaway organization, the Original Independent Benevolent Afro-Pacific Movement of the World (OIBAPMW) after being ousted from the PMEW leadership by Peeples and Takahashi. They set up operating in the Kansas City area, and sometimes posed as PMEW representatives. In preparation for the future war of racial salvation, they called on African Americans to train in modern warfare, and offered a subscription to a “colored aviation school”. They also offered opportunities to homestead in Japan, and remarked how a group of Black Britons had migrated from Blyth[disambiguation needed], England to Japan to join the Imperial Japanese Army.
Takis fell out with Peeples and went to organize in the Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Dayton and Pittsburgh before moving to the New York – New Jersey area. Here, he came into contact with the Black Hebrew organization, the House of Israel, co-founding the Ethiopian Pacific Movement with Robert O. Jordan, of Harlem.
Back in Missouri, sharecroppers were facing increasing numbers of evictions following the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933. With George Cruz, a Filipino, the rival organizations offered salvation arising from a successful Japanese invasion, and continued to organize in Steele, Caruthersville, Wardell, Hermondale, Bragg City, Pascola inPemiscot County; New Madrid and Portageville in New Madrid County, Sikeston (Scott County); Charleston(Mississippi County and Cape Girardeau (Cape Girardeau County). John Macwhite claimed to have addressed a meeting of 2,500 cotton pickers during this period.
Cruz and his wife were arrested in Blytheville, Arkansas, in August 1934, but were quickly released. Shortly after this, four PMEW members were arrested and put on trial in Steele, Missouri, following disquiet by African American preachers and white cotton plantation owners. While the defenders pleaded innocence, blaming the OIBAPM for any unrest, the prosecutor was openly racist, suggesting that the four had no business to be driving around in a high powered Chrysler car. The four were sentenced to one year in jail. Before sentencing, however, the judge andconstable, stepped outside to allow a mob of two hundred white spectators to invade the building and beat the defendants. Their lawyer fled to Cape Girardeau, ninety miles away. The NAACP provided lawyers in St. Louis, who filed a case of Habeas corpus. The case was heard before the Missouri Supreme Court in Jefferson City, which quashed the sentences saying that no legal trial had taken place.
Following the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in October 1935, the Ethiopian World Federation (EWF) spread from its home in New York through the St Louis region drawing away many PMEW members. However, many of these returned following dissension in the EWF ranks. David Erwin, the new president, clarified that “The colors of the Pacific Movement include the Black, Yellow, Red and Brown races, which would naturally accept Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Australians or any division of mankind less than White as members; while the Ethiopian Federation calls for Blacks only.” Japan was declared the champion of all “dark and colored races”.
World War II
The movement moved from St. Louis to East St. Louis, Illinois in 1940 and with the FBI requesting a Grand Jury investigation for espionage in 1942.
People associated with the group
- Naka Nakane
The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad
By KARL EVANZZ
On September 20, 1942, under the cover of still slumbering skies, a swarm of Chicago police officers and FBI agents surrounded the South Side home of a fugitive proclaimed by his adherents as the “Prophet.” In a moment, they hoped, their extensive counterintelligence operations against the fugitive’s group and other black “pro-Japanese” organizations would pay the ultimate dividend: the arrest and apprehension of black nationalist leaders on sedition charges.
They were especially eager, though, to capture the Prophet, an elusive religious zealot who changed names faster than a chameleon changes color. The head of a sect blacklisted by the U.S. attorney general, the Prophet jumped bail in July while awaiting trial in Washington, D.C., and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was damned angry about it.
The Prophet, known to law enforcement officials in seven states as Ghulam Bogans, Muck Muck, Mohammed Rassoull, or by one of a dozen other aliases, headed a sect called the Allah Temple of Islam. Most of his followers called him the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and referred to themselves as the Lost-Found Nation of Islam.
At seven o’clock, three FBI agents, armed with warrants and weapons, approached the front entrance to 6026 Vernon Avenue; other agents and police officers covered the side and rear. An agent banged on the door. Awakened by the loud knocking, Nathaniel Muhammad, the fugitive’s sixteen-year-old son, went to the door and peered through the pane.
“May we come in?” an agent asked the silhouetted figure on the other side of the door. “We’d like to talk to your father.”
“Just a minute,” Nathaniel replied as he hurriedly backed away.
The agents waited for several minutes and then one of them knocked again, this time nearly hard enough to break the glass. Again, he saw a male figure peering at him through the curtain. The shadow and the silence angered him.
“This is the FBI, boy! Open this damn door or we’ll break it down!”
Nathaniel quickly complied.
“Are you Ghulam Bogans’s son?” the agent in charge asked gruffly.
The reason Elijah Muhammad used so many aliases was because other Muslim ministers who challenged his heirship of the Nation of Islam had pursued him sporadically since 1934 with the intent of killing him. Another reason was that police officers in several cities had been injured during fracases with Muslims and some were engaged in a vendetta against him. Ghulam Bogans was the alias he had used most recently, and that was the name on his arrest record when he was taken into custody in Washington on May 8, 1942, on charges of draft evasion.
“No one lives here by that name,” Nathaniel answered.
“Well,” the agent asked angrily, “is Elijah Muhammad here?”
“No, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is not here right now.”
The white agents and several police officers pushed past the youth and began searching the house. As they reached the top of the stairway on the second floor, several women and children peered out of bedroom doorways. One woman walked toward the agents.
“I’m Clara Muhammad,” she said. “What right do you have to barge into my home at this hour of the morning?”
“We’re looking for Elijah, ma’am, alias Ghulam Bogans,” an agent answered contemptuously. “We’re the FBI.”
“Well, you can just look somewhere else because he’s not here.”
“Do you know where your husband is at this hour of the morning, ma’am?” the agent asked sardonically.
“No,” she answered, “I have no idea where he is right now.”
The agents ignored her, and proceeding as though the house belonged to them now, approached a woman standing at a bedroom door. It was Elijah Muhammad’s twenty-year-old daughter, Ethel.
“Is Ghulam Bogans or Elijah Muhammad here, ma’am?”
“My mother said he’s not here, so he must not be here,” she answered irately.
Lottie Muhammad, who was standing in the hallway, was the next occupant questioned. She, too, denied that her father was in the house. The younger children were quickly asked about their father’s whereabouts. First thirteen-year-old Herbert was questioned, then twelve-year-old Elijah Jr., then Wallace, who was nine. They even asked the toddler, Akbar, if he knew where his father was. The answers were all nearly the same. Their father wasn’t home, they said. He h
The agents and officers left the house after completing a cursory search but only pretended to leave the vicinity, hoping that Elijah would try to escape in the car that they recognized as his parked just in front of the Vernon Avenue address. When no one left the premises after a forty-minute stakeout, the agent in charge of the operation ordered the group to conduct another search of the house. This time, they were far more thorough. They carefully searched the first floor, and in an alcove beneath the stairwell to the second floor, they discovered sixteen cardboard boxes packed with newspaper clippings, copies of Elijah Muhammad’s sermons, personal correspondence, and organizational material. After a quick scan, the agents realized they had struck an intelligence mother lode.
The boxes were a gold mine of information about the Nation of Islam. The papers documented the history of the sect — its origins, membership, financial records, and operational techniques — dating from 1933, which was the year that Elijah Muhammad took over the sect from the mysterious founder, W. D. Fard Muhammad, also known as Master Fard. Fard, who also used more than a dozen aliases, was worshipped by Nation of Islam members as the Lord-King, or in their vernacular, as “God in human form.” For them, Fard and Allah were one and the same.
While several officers confiscated the boxes, others continued to ferret for the fugitive. Suddenly, an agent searching the upstairs hallway noticed something suspicious: an elderly woman was guarding the entrance to her bedroom. She held the doorknob tightly, and appeared anxious. The old woman was Elijah’s seventy-one-year-old mother, Marie. The agent brushed her aside and tried to open the door. Though feeble and partially blind, she struck out, hitting him repeatedly in the face and about the shoulders. Another agent subdued her.
The FBI agent in charge of the operation went into the bedroom. The first thing he noticed was that the floor had an odd look. Part of the floor near a large carpet was free of dust, as though someone had only recently moved a rug. The agent turned on his flashlight, looked under the bed, and saw a rolled-up oriental rug. He tried to pull the rug toward him but it was much too heavy. He knew immediately that the case was all wrapped up, so to speak.
“Come outta there, boy!” the agent demanded. “This is the FBI! You’re under arrest.”
As the rug rolled slowly out toward the outer edge of the bed, several of the officers drew a bead on it with the weapons they had in their hands. “Please, don’t shoot him!” Clara cried. The children rushed toward the the bedroom door, fearing calamity, but the officers blocked the way.
“Stand back so no one gets hurt,” one of the officers warned with his weapon drawn. As the rug unrolled, the agents saw a short, frail olive-skinned man. It was, indeed, the long-sought fugitive. He crawled from underneath the bed, stared nervously at his captors, and dusted himself off. Afraid that he might be shot “accidentally,” he kept his eyes on the agents’ hands and guns. After frisking him, the agents told him to get dressed. A half hour later, as the sun rose on Chicago’s South Side, Muhammad emerged from his bedroom wearing a dark blue pinstriped suit and tie.
At seven fifty-five, he was handcuffed and advised that he was under arrest as a fugitive from justice. His family wept as he was led away. After handing temporary custody of the fugitive over to the Chicago police, FBI agents in unmarked cars trailed the cruiser taking Muhammad to the Cook County Jail.
Although Muhammad’s family feared his fate, their image of him was not tarnished by his capture. To them, he remained the Prophet Muhammad, the seal of Allah’s messengers. But to the Chicago Police Department photographer who took his mug shots that morning, he was just another Negro with a number under his neck.
After being booked and fingerprinted, Muhammad was taken into a darkened interrogation room where police and FBI men bombarded him with questions about his cult and its political activities, particularly in regard to pro-Japanese espionage.
The semiliterate suspect endured an interrogation that lasted all morning and well into the afternoon. By the time it was over, he had been stripped of his mask of divinity, and had given the agents a wealth of information about himself, his family, and the Nation of Islam, information that undoubtedly brought him face to face with reality for the first time in ages. There were no tales of miracles in the oral autobiography, nothing that made the suspect’s life any different from the lives of a million other men. His testimony was condensed into a four-page confession, which he was asked to sign.
“My word is my bond,” Muhammad muttered. “It is as good as my signature.”
“Is your name Elijah Poole?” he was asked.
“My name is Elijah Muhammad. In my early life I was known as Elijah Poole. But Poole is not my real name or my father’s real name,” the suspect said slowly. “It’s the name of the slavemaster of my grandfather.”
(C) 1999 Karl Evanzz All rights reserved. ISBN: 0-679-44260-X
Here is an article by Time Magazine about the pro black / japanese movement:
U.S. At War: Takcihashi’s Blacks Monday, Oct. 05, 1942
All told FBI rounded up 84 Negroes in Chicago, four in Manhattan, with more to come in other northern and midwestern cities—cultist-puppets who, FBI believes, are jerked by the Japs to stir up racial trouble. Last week FBI began arraigning them on charges of sedition, pro-Japanese activities, draft dodging.
Startling claims poured from the jailed leaders. Mme. Mittie Maud said she had four million followers, all taught that they are citizens of Liberia, hence not subject to Selective Service. Elijah Muck-Muhd’s faithful knew themselves for Moslems, excused from the draft by direction of Allah in the person of his prophet, Muck-Muhd. Hammurabi’s disciples learned they were members of a Jap army within the U.S., that Negro hopes of betterment depended upon Jap victory. All of them, according to an FBI spokesman, had lavish and expensive costumes, plenty of money. The twoscore black Jap puppets had been set up in a dozen cities by members of Japan’s fanatical Black Dragon Society. Actually they had at most 50,000 followers at the time of Pearl Harbor, many less today. The ramified Japanese financing since 1930 had been mainly handled by a Major Satakata Takahashi of Imperial Japanese Intelligence, who began spreading cash and the two-race doctrine: one white, the other black, brown, yellow red. At first a handful of U.S. blacks may have dreamed their yellow brothers would make them masters of U.S. whites. Later, FBI believes, racketeering took control. Typical Takahashi mumbo jumbo:
“Leave the sinking ship of Western civilization. It had reached its end: the Pacific. Beyond lies your friend: Japan, the lifeboat of racial love, made radiant by the star of the East, the Rising Sun.”
While gullibles rolled their eyes, responsible Negroes hoped such claptrap would not find fertile soil. Said Mr. U. S. Falls, vice president of the National Negro Business League: “America need have no fear of the Negro turning traitor if the true principles of democracy are applied to us as to every other minority group.”