Yoshiko Yamaguchi 山口淑子, a singer and actress who starred in Japanese propaganda films during Japan’s brutal military occupation of China in the 1930s and ’40s and who, after narrowly escaping execution by the Chinese after the war, helped normalize relations between the nations.
Born to Japanese parents in in former Manchuria 旧満州, beginning in 1938, when she was 18, she was a movie star known in China as Li Xianglan
李 香蘭, the Chinese pseudonym she assumed to hide her Japanese identity in films promoting Japanese occupation.
In each film she played essentially the same role: a downtrodden but beautiful Chinese woman who initially spurns help from a handsome Japanese sailor or soldier, then falls in love with him.
Yoshiko Yamaguchi, who settled in Japan in 1946, openly apologized for what she said had been her unwitting role as a propaganda tool during the war.
And she was one of the first prominent Japanese citizens to acknowledge the history of Japanese brutality during the occupation, an episode for which many Japanese nationalists still refuse to apologize.
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