|“||A true Japanese knows everything, honorable sir.||„|
|~ Mitsuhirato, to Tintin|
Mitsuhirato is the secondary antagonist in the Adventures of Tintin book, The Blue Lotus, though for much of the story he acts as the main antagonist. It is revealed at the end, however, that he is an ally or henchman of Rastapopoulos, the leader of a cult of opium smugglers.
Mitsuhirato is a Japanese national who runs a garment store in Shanghai, China in the 1930s. He is a secret agent of the Japanese government plotting the Japanese occupation of China that will eventually lead to the second Sino-Japanese war, and to World War II. Mitsuhirato moonlights in the drug trade, helping Rastapopoulos's men distribute opium in China. He operates from an opium club in Shanghai called the Blue Lotus.
In The Blue Lotus
Tintin first hears of him from a Chinese messenger who visits him in India. Before the messenger can finish, he is hit with a poisoned dart that drives him mad. Arriving in Shanghai, Mitsuhirato tells Tintin he sent the messenger to tell Tintin not to leave India. Returning to India, Tintin is captured by the messenger's real masters, the Sons of the Dragon, a secret society dedicated to fighting the drug trade. Wang Chen-Yee, their leader, tells Tintin the truth about Mitsuhirato. Mitsuhirato is responsible for the attack that drove the messenger mad, as well as the attack that drove Mr. Wang's son insane.
Tintin traces a radio message from the smugglers to the Blue Lotus. After sneaking in, he follows Mitsuhirato and two henchmen to the railroad tracks, and watches them dynamite it. Mitsuhirato calls the police blaming the explosion on Chinese bandits. On hearing the signal, the Japanese press blows the incident out of proportion, and the Japanese government uses the false attack as an excuse to send troops to occupy northern China. Tintin, meanwhile, is caught witnessing the true events.
Mitsuhirato attempts to dispose of Tintin by injecting him with Rajaijah, the poison of madness (the main weapon of the opium cult). However, one of Wang's agents manage to replace the poison with colored water. Mitsuhirato gets the Japanese army to place a price on Tintin's head. When Tintin is captured, he offers to break Tintin out of prison if he joins him in the drug trade. Tintin refuses.
Later, when Tintin is out of Japanese-occupied territory, Mitsuhirato sends Tintin's friends, interpol detectives Thompson and Thomson to arrest him, and an assassin to kill him, but both attempts fail thanks to Tintin's friend Chang.
When Tintin returns to Shanghai, he finds Mitsuhirato's men have captured Mr. Wang and all his family. He lures Tintin into a trap, and after capturing him, reveals Rastapopoulos to be the leader. He then decides to allow Mr. Wang, his wife and Tintin be killed by Wang's mad son, before shooting him. The execution is stopped by the arrival of Chang and the Sons of the Dragon. Tintin reveals that he knew he was walking into a trap.
After Mitsuhirato is arrested, the Japanese government continues to deny involvement in the explosion. It is eventually revealed that Mitsuhirato, out of shame, committed hara-kiri (ritual suicide).
- Mitsuhirato's attack on the railway is based on the real-life Mukden incident, which the Japanese used as an excuse to occupy Manchuria.
- Although the Chinese are depicted in more realistic ways, Mitsuhirato, and the other Japanese characters in the book, are drawn as more stereotypical Asians with glasses, spiky hair and buckteeth. This reflects the common portrayal of the Japanese during World War II.