Ah, the Dark Ocean Society…one of the main groups that was integral in developing Japan’s national conscious prevalent during WWII. What does this have to do with my book though?
Well, in my story, I’ve developed a fictional similar “society” and of course they’re looking for my MC because she’s the daughter of a very influential businessman in Japan (again, fictional :)) These secret societies–of which the Genyosha helped spawn many–would use underhanded means to coerce people into supporting their cause, which was generally a more nationalistic, “anti-foreign”, expansionist agenda. According to David Kaplan, in his book Yakuza: Japan’s Criminal Underworld, the Dark Ocean Society or the Genyosha, almost single-handedly formed a “new patriotic social order” and “through a campaign of terror, blackmail and assasination, [their] work would prove highly effective , exerting particular influence over members of the officer corps and the government bureaucracy.”
A little scary huh? Well, their leader, Mitsuru Toyama, made sure all of his “agents” were placed in all aspects of society–from simple plumbers, carpenters and other tradesmen, to body guards surrounding important political officials as well as “strong-armed persuaders” (i.e. “thugs”) to local businessmen. Many of the agents were trained in martial arts, foreign language and spying techniques so that they could infiltrate whatever level of society they needed.
The Genyosha members were also responsible for maiming foreign minister Okuma Shigenobu in 1889 by throwing a bomb into his carriage; this happens the year before my novel takes place. Over the years they also stabbed and murdered a few other important statesmen. They also had a rather extensive network of brothels set up in China to gather information from its wealthy patrons.
In the 1890s, when my novel takes place, they were really beginning to gain quite a bit of influence and national attention, even though they were technically “secret.” I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to use the actual group in my book or a fictional one based off them (thinking the fictional one may be a bit easier, not sure though). Anyway, they’re quite interesting to learn about and I only just touched on some of it. A great deal more info can be found in Kaplan’s book as well as various places online.