More Than Friendship
 
      Over ninety-nine percent of Chinese people do not know who Homer Lea is and what he did for China! It is no surprise that one is not able to find information about Homer Lea in any Chinese Museum. For the Chinese, Homer Lea is just a name or he is simply known in relation to his good friend, Dr. Sun Yat-Sun. That said, I feel it is my mission to promote the awareness of the significant contribution made to the Chinese revolution by a foreigner, Homer Lea. In the Nanjing Museum of Modern Chinese History, the former presidential office and residential complex where Dr. Sun was sworn in as the first president alongside Homer Lea, there are four sets of small statues exhibiting the life events of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. One of them is about Dr. Sun's friendship to Homer Lea and the Japanese Miyazaki Toten. The photo above was sent to me by my nephew, Alan Yung  (or Yung Chun Sing) from Hong Kong. After Alan learned about Homer Lea, he searched for Homer Lea during his long trip in China. He was very excited when he finally found Lea. In this blog, I would like to introduce you to Miyazaki Toten, since he is a noble man like Homer, a foreigner who devoted his entire life to the Chinese people.
 
      Miyazaki Toten was a Christian. At age 22, after he studied in Tokyo Senon Gakko, now Waseda University, he abandoned Christian teaching, planning to come to America to further his study. As soon as capitalistic powers expanded and invaded Asia, he felt he had a mission to support the freedom and human rights of the Asian people. With his brother's inspiration about the rise and fall of China, Toten set his mind on the Chinese Revolution. He and his brother went to China but soon were out of funds. After returning to Japan, he told his family he needed money to go to America to study. They sold their family's fortune in order to raise funds. Instead of coming to America, Toten parted with his wife and children to further his dream for a better future for China.
     
      Fortunately, Inukai Tuyosi of the Constitutional Party became the new prime minister. He was acquainted with Miyazaki's mission. With the help of the prime minister, Toten was given the Foreign Minister's Confidential Funds to travel China to write a report about China's present situation. In China, he came to know a freedom fighter named Sun Yat Sen, who was exiled in Japan. Toten met Sun Yat Sen for the first time in Tokyo. Sun was under the protection of the Japanese government. Sun could not speak Japanese. Since the old Japanese language was written in Chinese characters, Toten was able to communicate with Sun by writing Chinese. Today you can see their original brush handwriting papers in Toten's house which is now preserved as a museum. In contrast, Sun could speak fluent English to Homer Lea. Sun studied up to junior college in Hawaii before he went back to China.
 
      After he became acquainted with Sun's political thoughts, Toten admired him and said Sun is " The Pearl of Asia". He then devoted his life to following Sun. In 1898, he went to China for another mission commanded by the prime minister Inukai Tuyosi. He helped Kang Yu Wei escaped to Japan from Hong Kong. He supported the unification of Kang's Reform Party and Sun's Revolutionary Party. Toten assisted Sun when the Philippines' insurgents requested Sun's help in a war for independence from the United States. Toten participated in several of Sun's uprisings in Southern China, particularly through the financing and supplying of weapons from Japanese arsenal merchants assisted by the prime minister Inukai Tuyoshi. In the very last Huizhou uprising, the weapons he had arranged had not arrived on time. He was suspected of embezzlement. He was sad and disappointed and became a professional Naniwasbushi reciter, a  Japanese old folk song singer, to express his feelings of defeat. He continue to support Sun and the exiled Chinese anti-Quing students at home. He united the leader Huang Xing with Sun when there was an internal dispute within the Revolutionary Party. In 1905, Miyazaki became the founder of the Chinese Revolutionary Alliance in Tokyo. It finally led to the foment of the 1911 Chinese Revolution.
 
      It seems Toten and Sun had done tremendous work for the revolution despite not being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Nevertheless, from there, it was picked up by Homer Lea. Lea's tactics were proven to be very effective and successful. It is interesting to know that these two gentlemen would devote their lives and energy to the Chinese people. More Chinese know about Miyazaki than Lea, because he was much more involved within the revolution in China and he is an oriental. Lea was working in total secrecy with Sun in the United States. He trained Chinese soldiers and prepared the frame work for the revolution. Many Chinese even mistakenly believe that Lea was a US Army general, because he wore a general uniform unknown to them. Toten participated in the first part of the revolution with a broken heart; Lea took care of the final confrontation. Toten was a very tall gentleman; Lea was a short one. I  believe Toten and Lea first met on board the ship P&O Devanha -- see Photos page.
 
     It is understandable that we do not know much about Lea. But now we should remember Homer Lea was always by the Chinese people, for the Chinese people.
 
 
Correction: A reader named Don notified me that Ethel Lea passed away in New York City and that there is a newspaper article on that event in the New York Times. The article did not indicate how long Ethel Lea had resided in New York. It mentions that she and her two sons form her former marriage lived in New York City until the end of her life. I believed that Ethel lived in Los Angeles for quite sometime, because she was devoted to following Lea's mission and California is much closer to China than New York. Perhaps she would feel more comfortable living in New York City, close to her sons in her old age. I updated " Ethel Lea lived the rest of her life in Los Angeles" in the Contacts page. I am very grateful for Don's correction. I hope any of you would not hesitate to correct me!  As I said in the Welcome page - together we will be able to piece a more complete picture of Homer Lea.
 
For more information about Miyazaki Toten, please read his autobiography, the English edition by the Princeton University Press, " My Thirty Years’ Dream".
 
Photo: courtesy of Alan Chun-Sing Yung.
 
 
Miyazaki Toten
Friday, August 8, 2008