"Asako," India's Freedom Patriot

A little known story about the ill-starred life of a woman named Asha has been spotlighted lately in Japan.
AuthorRyohei Kasai
ISBN978 - 4560084953
PublicationMarch, 2016
Estimated length270P
Size188 × 138 mm
Asha (Japanese name, "Asako") was born in 1928 as the eldest daughter to father, Anand Mohan Sahay, and mother, Saty Sahay. Anand was based in Kobe, Japan from where he had begun to agitate for India's independence movement. Next in command to R.B. Bose (also known as "Bose of Nakamuraya," a famous bakery in Tokyo), he had also served as the Cabinet Minister of "Azad Hind" (Provisional Government of Free India).

"One of the things that strongly gripped me about Asha’s story was that it's a narrative about the inner strength of an Indian—in particular, of a woman—who had survived turbulent times in a foreign land. Born to and raised by parents, Anand Mohan Sahay and Saty Sahay, names people have rarely heard of in Japan, Asha was living in the space between the two countries of Japan and India. She was also vigorously pursuing her dream—at times bravely, at times with anguish—of contributing to the liberation of her motherland. And even after India achieved independence, she never lost that zeal."
(Excerpted from the afterword)

While Asha was still attending the Showa Girls' High School (the forerunner of Showa Women's University), after graduating from an elementary school in Kobe, she first met the Indian nationalist, Subhas Chandra Bose, who had arrived in Japan to drum up support for the Indian National Army (INA). At that time, inspired by Bose, a charismatic leader, she promised to dedicate herself to the cause of the Indian independence movement, resolving to join INA. In May 1945, she went on to become assigned to its women's regiment, the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, but its operation was terminated due to Japan's defeat in World War II. The following year, she joined her father in Singapore, before stepping onto the soil of India, her motherland, for the first time in her life.

This book reconstructs Japan-India relations during the prewar and postwar days, as seen through the eyes of one remarkable independence activist, digging deep into an invaluable archive of documents, such as memoirs and a heretofore undisclosed diary, in addition to interviews with the protagonist herself, Asha (Asako) Sahay, and with those related to her. Ultimately, the work is a nonfiction masterpiece bringing a fresh perspective to the history of Japan-India relations through the story of the incredible odyssey of the Sahays and their daughter, Asha (aka Asako)—a schoolgirl from Kobe who threw herself into the independence movement of her distant motherland, India.

Table of contents
Prologue Going to war
Chapter 1 The story of the father and mother: Born to Indian activists
Chapter 2 Moving to Tokyo: Admittance into Showa Girls' High School
Chapter 3 Turning point: Enter Subhas Chandra Bose
Chapter 4 Moving south: From schoolgirl "Asako" to private "Asha"
Chapter 5 Enlistment: Asha and the women's regiment of the Indian National Army
Chapter 6 Desperation and confusion: The fall of the Indian National Army
Chapter 7 In the motherland: Indian independence and a new life in Bihar
Epilogue Somewhere between "Asha" and "Asako"
Name index
Subject index

About the Author

Ryohei Kasai was born in Aichi, Japan in 1976. After acquiring a master's degree from Aoyoma Gakuin University Graduate School of International Politics, Economics and Communications, he successively served as the Political Researcher and Advisor at the Japanese embassies in China, India, and Pakistan. At present, in addition to carrying out research related to the state of affairs in Southern Asia and China as a fellow of Gifu Women's College Southern Asia Research Center, he serves as a part-time lecturer at Waseda University's graduate school (since 2015) and the Japan University of Economics (since 2014). He is also the co-author of several books, including Gunji taikokuka suru indo (India's ongoing transformation into a military superpower, [Akishobo]), Indo minshu shugi no haten to genjitsu (Development and the reality of India's democracy, [Keiso Shobo]), and Daido suru indo, chugoku (India and China, the rising powers [Chikura Publishing Company]). He is also active as a translator; among his translations is Neo-China [Hakusuisha].

* This profile is current as of the time of publication.