Overseas migration, 1868–1945

Authored by: Martin Dusinberre

Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138815186
eBook ISBN: 9781315746678
Adobe ISBN:


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The overseas migration of several million Japanese between 1868 and 1945 is often mentioned only briefly in general textbooks on Japanese history. But this chapter argues that migration offers scholars an indispensable analytical category by which to understand Japan’s changing place in the Asia-Pacific world. Taking the apparently innocuous question, ‘Who was a migrant?’ as its point of departure, the chapter examines both the different historical waves of Japanese emigration – to northeastern Asia, Hawai‘i, North and South America, Southeast Asia, Australia and Micronesia – and their differing archival footprints. Introducing cutting-edge research in English and Japanese, it shows how ‘Japan’ and ‘Japanese’ were categories constructed through global engagement, both in the diaspora communities and in the migrants’ hometowns. It thus concludes that overseas migration, including to the colonies of the Japanese empire, must be considered a key chapter of Japan’s modern history.

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