Manchu goes modern

Here’s a photograph from the June 1 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a Chinese ruler who apparently preferred to wear a business suit.

Wikipedia refers to this gentleman as Puyi (1906-1967). The photo caption above doesn’t mention that Puyi was installed as a puppet ruler (and eventually emperor) of Manuchukuo by the Japanese, serving in this role from 1932 to 1945. He had already been emperor of China between 1908 and when he was forced to abdicate in 1912, so he was not unfamiliar with the role.

While a puppet emperor, he apparently did everything that the Japanese told him to do, including making slavery legal. He also had his servants beaten and took a number of lovers while his wife was busy battling her opium addiction. So it’s safe to say that he was not a particularly decent person.

He was tried as a war criminal after the Japanese were defeated, but was spared execution because Mao Zedong decided that a live former emperor turned commoner was more useful than a dead emperor. He served ten years in prison, and apparently his time behind bars changed him, turning him into a kinder person. He married again in 1962, and passed away five years later.

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