The Man Behind Sun Yat-sen: Umeya Shokichi
Umeya Toku and Soong Ching-ling


Hidden episodes

Umeya Shokichi’s name has been found only in film history, and his friendship with Sun Yat-sen has been hidden as a secret story.
In 2011, which marked the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution, Umeya Shokichi was widely introduced as a Japanese who supported the revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen.


Shokichi, around 10 years old

左:梅屋庄吉 右:孫文

Left: Umeya Shokichi, Right: Sun Yat-sen


Shokichi with completed bronze statues

Brought up in Nagasaki

Umeya Shokichi was born in Nagasaki in 1868. Historically, Nagasaki has had close ties with China and was a window to the West throughout Japan’s period of national isolation (1639–1854), making it a place where one could learn cutting-edge knowledge and technology. These regional characteristics of Nagasaki fostered his outstanding international vision and radical perspective on things that was ahead of the times.

How they met

Sun Yat-sen and Umeya Shokichi met in Hong Kong through a mutual acquaintance, Sir James Cantlie, a British physician. At this time, Sun was 29 and Umeya was 27. The friendship they pledged in their youth lasted a lifetime.

Pledge kept

Umeya Shokichi, knowing Sun Yat-sen’s passion for the revolution, made a pledge: “You raise your army, and I will raise my money to support you.” Returning to Japan after living abroad, he made a huge amount of money in the film business, kept his youthful pledge, and provided Sun with tremendous support over his lifetime. He continued to support Sun materially and spiritually throughout his life. This enabled Sun to lead the Xinhai Revolution to success.

Creation of bronze statues, the last major project

Sun Yat-sen passed away in 1925. As if to shake off his disappointment, Umeya Shokichi set about realizing his ambition to pass on Sun’s achievements to future generations. He spent most of his fortune on creating four bronze statues of Sun, costing 150 million yen in today’s value, and donated them to China. The statues were welcomed in China and are still treasured in Guangzhou, Nanking, and Macau.


Umeya Shokichi

Born in Nagasaki in 1868.
One of the founders of Nippon Katsudo Shashin Corporation, the predecessor of the current Nikkatsu Corporation.
Passed away in 1934 at the age of 65.

Sun Yat-sen

Born in 1866 in present-day Zhongshan City, China.
Leader of the revolutionary movement in China and Provisional President of the Republic of China, which was established by the Xinhai Revolution.
Passed away in 1925 at the age of 58.


Marriage of Umeya Shokichi and Toku

In 1894, while traveling between Tokyo and Hong Kong to start a business in Thailand, Umeya Shokichi stopped in at Nagasaki for the first time in two years and met a woman there. She was Toku, whom his parents had adopted into the Umeya family. They married, but for nine years after Shokichi went overseas again, Toku remained in Nagasaki to run the family business, Umeya Shoten.

Toku serving as matchmaker

Sun Yat-sen married Soong Ching-ling in 1915 while in exile in Japan.
Sometime before their marriage, after Soong returned to China from Japan, Toku, the wife of Umeya Shokichi, saw Sun’s depressed state and realized that his love for Soong was real. So she arranged their marriage. The wedding reception was held at Umeya’s house in Tokyo, and Toku continued to support the couple’s life with meticulous care.


Sun Yat-sen and Toku

Soong Ching-ling, the wife of Sun Yat-sen

Through these circumstances, the two wives, Umeya Toku and Soong Ching-ling, formed a bond as strong as that of their husbands. After World War II, Soong became a key figure in the Chinese government and was even called the “Conscience of China” for her charitable activities and other achievements. All this time, her heartfelt gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Umeya never disappeared.


Piano used by Soong Ching-ling

The bond between the Umeya family and Soong Ching-ling

In 1975, Soong Ching-ling said, “If Mr. and Mrs. Umeya’s daughter is alive, I would like to see her while I am still healthy,” and sent an invitation to their daughter Chiseko. Three years later, Chiseko was able to visit China and they met again. Upon receiving a commemorative photo from Chiseko, Soong wrote a letter in return. It contained the powerful words, “Nothing can erase the friendship between the two couples.”


Reunion photo and thank-you letter from Soong Ching-ling

Umeya Toku

Born in 1875 as the second daughter of the Kashii family, a family with samurai ancestry, in Kasu Village on Iki Island (present-day Katsumoto-cho, Iki City, Nagasaki Prefecture).
Married Umeya Shokichi in 1894.
Passed away in 1947 at the age of 71.

Soong Ching-ling

Born in 1893 as the second daughter of the Soong family in Shanghai, China.
Studied in the United States at the age of 14. Married Sun Yat-sen in 1915.
Passed away in 1981 at the age of 88, about two weeks after receiving the title of Honorary Chairwoman of the People’s Republic of China.


Photographic materials have been provided by Ms. Kosaka Ayano.