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Exporting Japan

Exporting Japan: Politics of Emigration to Latin America

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Exporting Japan
    Book Description:

    Exporting Japan examines the domestic origins of the Japanese government's policies to promote the emigration of approximately three hundred thousand native Japanese citizens to Latin America between the 1890s and the 1960s. This imperialist policy, spanning two world wars and encompassing both the pre-World War II authoritarian government and the postwar conservative regime, reveals strategic efforts by the Japanese state to control its populace while building an expansive nation beyond its territorial borders. _x000B__x000B_Toake Endoh compellingly argues that Japan's emigration policy embodied the state's anxieties over domestic political stability and its intention to remove marginalized and radicalized social groups by relocating them abroad. Documenting the disproportionate focus of the southwest region of Japan as a source of emigrants, Endoh considers the state's motivations in formulating emigration policies that selected certain elements of the Japanese population for "export." She also recounts the situations migrants encountered once they reached Latin America, where they were often met with distrust and violence in the "yellow scare" of the pre-World War II period.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09110-0
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Notes on the Translation and Usage of Japanese Names and Words
    (pp. vii-x)
  2. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    On September 14, 2004, three helicopters hovered over the Colonia Guatapara in the state of São Paulo—a Plymouth Colony for Japanese immigrants to Brazil and their descendents.¹ One of the helicopters, carrying Koizumi Jun’ichirō, the prime minister of Japan, suddenly descended and landed where about a hundred Guatapara residents were standing. This stopover was unplanned: when the prime minister saw the message, “Welcome Prime Minister Koizumi,” and the Japanese flag drawn in lime on the red soil from his seat in the sky, he requested the surprise visit. On the ground, the people who had been told that the...


    • 1. The First Wave of Japanese Migration to Latin America
      (pp. 17-34)

      In the history of Japan—an island nation surrounded by oceans on all sides—overseas migration was a natural undertaking. From ancient times, Japan sent its people overseas to obtain exotic goods, or to learn of different cultures and ideas. The modern state that emerged in the late nineteenth century also used the international circulation of people to acquire foreign resources, assess potential opportunities, and enrich the nation-state. Outward-looking Japanese people of various classes and origins, freed from the feudal seclusion of the Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1867), avidly exploited new life chances abroad, mostly in the United States and Europe....

    • 2. The Second Wave: Post–World War II Period
      (pp. 35-56)

      In December 1952, only eight months after Japan regained its independence, 54 Japanese citizens got on board theSantosu-maru,destined for Brazil. They were part of the first contingent of postwar Japanese emigrants to South America and the Caribbean. They also symbolized the “new Japan,” a nation just reclaiming national sovereignty after seven years of occupation (1945–52) as well as freedom of international migration (during the occupation period, the international mobility of the Japanese had been strictly controlled).¹ From that time until 1970,79,534 Japanese, not including Okinawans whose homeland remained under U.S. occupation,² went to Latin America, predominantly to...


    • 3. Building the Emigration Machinery
      (pp. 59-79)

      The great earthquake that devastated the Tokyo metropolitan area in September 1923 was a watershed for the beginning of the government of Japan’s intervention into Japanese Latin American emigration. The Yamamoto Gonbei cabinet (September 1923–January 1924) created a relief program for some of the quake victims who had lost homes, families, and jobs, to assist them in migrating to Brazil. The program subsidized 200 yen in travel expenses for each of the 110 applicants to the program.¹ Though a relatively small-scale and temporary measure, it was the first government-appropriated budget for overseas migration in eight years.² More importantly, the...

    • 4. Post–World War II Resurgence of State-Led Migration to Latin America
      (pp. 80-98)

      With the end of World War II, global demographics were radically changed through massive cross-border migration. After years abroad, both the perpetrators and the displaced victims of imperialism began to make their ways home. These included soldiers returning from the front lines, citizens of empires who had migrated outward to their colonies, and refugees or the colonized peoples who had been uprooted from home and forced to live abroad. Japan experienced an unprecedented scale of demographic reshuffling after the surrender to the Allied Forces in August 1945. With the sudden collapse of the Japanese Empire, more than six million (some...


    • 5. Social Origins of Japanese Emigration Policy
      (pp. 101-137)

      The surge in Japanese migration to Latin America beginning in the 1920s and its reemergence in the post–World War II period were consequences of the purposeful and powerful forces applied by Japanese officialdom, which claimed that the national emigration policy was instrumental in addressing the demographic crisis and poverty that plagued the country. In the context of Japan’s changing social reality over the period, the policy raises the following questions: What exactly did migration proponents mean by “overpopulation” and in what context? What sort of people were deemed “superfluous”? Where did the emigrants originate? These intuitive questions lead us...

    • 6. Latin American Emigration as Political Decompressor
      (pp. 138-169)

      This investigation into the social origins of the Latin American emigration policy sheds light on the highly contentious political climate of the southwest in the periods of national crisis in the 1920s and in the postwar period of the 1950s. The Japanese state—prewar authoritarian and postwar conservative—resolutely cracked down on the core elements of social radicalism through arrests, imprisonment, censorship, and other harassment. At the same time, it began to co-opt the more conciliatory segments of its opposition by providing welfare, compensation, jobs, and other aid. As part of the spectrum of accommodative politics seeking to emasculate the...

    • 7. State Expansion through Emigration
      (pp. 170-196)

      The previous chapter described how Japan’s emigration policy toward Latin America served as a political decompressor, controlling the fermentation of the political situation in the southwest in the interest of stability and order. This exclusionary aspect is in fact just one side of the Janus-faced policy. The other face is inclusionary, in the way that the Japanese state treated its co-ethnic diaspora (both the emigrants and their descendents) as members of thekokka(nation or nation-family) and demanded their rigorous engagement in its efforts at nation-building and modernization. The diaspora was to support Japan’s development efforts worldwide, and the way...

  6. Conclusion
    (pp. 197-204)

    The present study on the politics of Japanese emigration to Latin America has been driven by three major conundrums: the unorthodox pattern of emigration from high to low economies, the insistence of the migrant-sender state of Japan upon emigration despite numerous setbacks, and the geographical concentration in the origins of the emigrants. In this study, theemigration-side narrative—particularly the intent and actions of the state of Japan—has come to the fore. The Japanese state—both central and local governments—was the main architect of the migration scheme in both the pre– and post–World War II periods. Domestically...