Bibliographies and reviews
 Grading  Nationality  Population registers  Race  Minorities  Suicide

Reviews of publications on minorities, Koreans, and buraku issues

First posted 22 August 2007
Last updated 20 May 2014

Works with green links are reviewed in other articles

Minorities Harding 2018 Howell 2005 Ishikida 2005 Ko 2010 Lie 2001a Oguma 1995 Oguma 1998 Thornber 2009 Weiner 2009 West 2006 Wetherall & De Vos 1975
Koreans in Japan Asakawa 2006 Bayliss 2008 Caprio 2008 Caprio 2009 Caprio & Yu 2009 Chapman 2004 2006a 2006b Chapman 2008a Chapman and Krogness 2014 Choi 2013, 2021 Chung 2010 Hicks 1997 Lee & De Vos 1981 Lie 2001b Lie 2008 Lie 2009 Morris-Suzuki 2006 Morris-Suzuki 2007 Ōnuma 1986 Ryang 1997 Ryang & Lie 2009 Shipper 2008 Weiner & Chapman 2009 Wender 2011 Wetherall 1981
Works by Tei Taikin The most prolific critic of "Zainichi" ethnonationalism and advocate of naturalization
Buraku issues Amos 2011 Barbot 1983 De Vos and Wagatsuma 1966, 1972 De Vos, Wetherall, Stearman 1971, 1975, 1983 Gordon 2008 Hatanaka 1995, 2004 Kaiho Shuppansha 2003 Kobayashi Shigeru 1979 Kobayashi Yoshinori 1995 Kobayakawa 2017, 2018 Mahara 1992 McLauchlan 2003, 2006 Miyazaki 2003 Mori 2000 Mutafchieva 2009 Nakayama 1990 Narusawa 1981 Narusawa 1989 Narusawa 1993 Neary 1989 Neary 2003 Okiura 2000 Okubo 2005 Osaka Dokiren 1998 Reber 1999 Suginohara 2002 Takagi 1986, 1987 Tamayo 1994 Tanaka 2004 Terazono et al 2002-04, 2003-03, 2003-11, 2005-11 Tsukada 2013 Uramoto 2003 van Wolferen 1993 Wetherall 1993 Yokoyama 2005


Materials about minorities generally, but especially in Japan, are grouped here. Materials about minority groups and issues not otherwise classified in this bibliography are also grouped here.

Miki Y. Ishikida

Miki Y. Ishikida
Living Together
(Minority People and Diadvantaged Groups in Japan)
New York: iUniversity, Inc., 2005
xiv, 204 pages, softcover
Center for U.S.-Japan Comparative Social Studies

Ishikida states in her "Acknowlegment" that the contents of this book can be downloaded from Center for U.S.-Japan Comparative Social Studies, which she claims to manage as a "Internet-based nonprofit organization" (see "Biographical note" at end of this review). This review is based on the paper edition.

The book's single salvation is its simple exposition. Unfortunately, too many statements in the book are misleading or false, and too many vital facts and viewpoints are omitted.

The book seems to be well-meaning in its effort to illuminate what its subtitle characterizes as "minority people" and "disadvantaged groups in Japan". But Ishikida's criteria for "minority people" and "disadvantaged groups" are not clear.

The "groups" and "people" that Ishikida has chosen to include in her book give me the impression that she has been complacent to follow the most conventional school of radical thought about who qualifies as "victims" of Japanese society, rather than question the status quo of "human rights" advocacy in Japan.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Ainu and the Okinawans
Chapter 2: Buraku People
Chapter 3: Korean Permanent Residents in Japan
Chapter 4: Foreigners as Newcomers
Chapter 5: Women and Children
Chapter 6: The Elderly and People with Disabilities

I will review only the Introduction and the first four chapters. Some citations I have keyboarded from the book, while others I have adapted from the Internet text while confirming the Internet text with the text in the book.


Four paragraphs stand out as practically definitive of the viewpoint of Ishikida's book (pages 2-3).

In Japan, the indigenous Ainu and the Okinawans have suffered from inequality and discrimination, as have Korean permanent residents and foreign "newcomers," and Buraku people, descendents of former "outcastes." The Ainu and the Okinawans once had their respective self-governing regions, while foreign nationals are ethnic minorities. The Ainu, the Okinawans, Korean permanent residents, and Buraku people are "involuntary" minorities "who were brought into their present society through slavery, conquest or colonization" (Ogbu 1991:9), while foreign nationals, newcomers, are "voluntary" minorities, who entered Japan voluntarily. Disadvantaged minority groups include women, children, the elderly and the disabled (Hōmushō 1997). The 1993 national poll shows that the most pressing human rights problems involved children (82.4%), the disabled (69.2%), foreigners living in Japan (45.4%), the Buraku problem (36.1%) and Ainu problem (18.6%) (Buraku Kaihō 1997:149).

According to the Japanese Constitution, "All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin" (Article 14, Paragraph 1). However, only after the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1979 did the government renounce the traditional assertion of Japan's ethnic homogeneity under pressure from the domestic and international human rights movements and formally guarantee the protection of the human rights of minorities and disadvantaged people.

Since postmodernism and multiculturalism have gained popularity in academia as well as in popular culture, Buraku people, resident Koreans, the Ainu, and women are more empowered than ever, and asserting their rights in a political avenue rather than quietly assimilating to the majority culture. Minority groups demand their rights in cooperation with support groups and human rights NGOs.

The Buraku Liberation League (BLL) has led the human rights movement in cooperation of the government, other minority groups, and the international human rights community. Since the 1980s, the government and the BLL came to understand the Buraku problem as a human rights problem and promoted human rights education in an effort to eliminate discrimination against Buraku people and other minorities. In 1988, the BLL supported the establishment of a non-governmental organization (NGO), the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), which joined the roster of the NGOs of the United Nations in 1993. The BLL emphasized "human rights, social welfare, and environment" in its 1997 platform, replacing the class-conflict ideology that had been the basis of its 1984 platform (Asahi Shinbun (AS) May 20, 1997).

References to other BLL related NGOs, such as the Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute, and to BLL related sources, like Buraku Kaihō and Buraku Liberation News), are conspicuous in the relatively short introduction. One could easily get the impression that BLL dominates the "human rights" industry in Japan.

On the surface, Ishikida's tone is objective, and she sites from a wide variety of English and Japanese sources. However, there is a strongly subliminal BLL viewpoint throughout the chapter on "Buraku people". Ishikida introduces a few contrary viewpoints, but there is invariably a spin in favor of BLL -- and not a word about the criticism that rival organizations and some commentators have directed against BLL.

It is not that Ishikida should have written a "critique" of "minority people" and "disadvantaged groups" in Japan today. Most books of the "critique" sort are steeped in "human rights" ideologies that define "postmodernism" and "multiculturalism".

What Ishikida's book lacks -- in addition to better editing and fact checking -- is evidence that she is either very good at hiding her own enrollment in schools of postmodernism and multiculturalism -- or she is hopelessly politically innocent. Either way, the reader is denied a more accurate and realistic appraisal of the of "minority" and "disadvantaged" issue.

Chapter 1: The Ainu and the Okinawans

As have not a few writers, Ishikida treats "Ainu" and "Okinawans" together -- and as though they are not Japanese.


Ishikida introduces the Ainu section of this chapter like this (page 7).

The Ainu are an indigenous population of 24,000 to 50,000, living mainly in Hokkaido, the northernmost main island of Japan (Tsunemoto 1999:366). According to the 1999 survey, there were 7,755 Ainu households with 23,767 residents living in Hokkaido (Hokkaido 2000), and several thousands more lived outside Hokkaido (Yamakawa 1995:245). Many Ainu are "passing," because they have been assimilated. Ainu and Japanese people have been intermarrying for the century. They are linguistically, culturally, and socially part of mainstream Japanese society.

Ishikida apparently thinks that Ainu in Japan are not Japanese. Under "Historical Development" she says this (page 7)

According to the archaeological data, the first human inhabitants of Hokkaido lived on hunting, gathering, and fishing more than 20,000 years ago. The Ainu, like the Japanese, belong to the Mongoloid group. . . . The Ainu and Okinawans are descendants of the Jōmon people (Ogasawara 1997:17).

No definition of "Ainu" and "Okinawans" except that somehow they are not "Japanese" because they are "descendants" of so-called "Jōmon people" -- though all belong to the "Mongoloid group". Ishikida does not explain why she is motivated to drawing such a biological descent line between "Ainu" and "Okinawans" and "Japanese". She fails to tell the reader that, under Japan's civil laws, all people who possess its nationality are Japanese regardless of their descent.

About the Ainu language, Ishikida writes this (page 12).

The Ainu have assimilated into the low strata of Japanese society in Hokkaido. Very few Ainu, if any, continue to have a traditional Ainu life or speak Ainu on a daily basis.

Four pages later she writes this (page 16).

Despite the New Ainu Law, the Ainu are rapidly become Japanese. . . . Most Ainu children are "passing" urbanite Ainu children from the generations of intermarriage, and do not have a chance to learn Ainu language because their parents no longer speak it.

And in the conclusion she makes this statement (pages 23-24).

The Ainu have transformed themselves from a dying ethnic group into an internationally recognized indigenous people with ethnic and cultural pride. The association of the Ainu, the Utari Council, enacted the new Ainu Law of 1997 . . . .

The New Ainu Law endorses Ainu cultural revival movements . . . . Many Ainu activists will continue to promote their culture through festivals and Ainu language schools in Japan and overseas.

However, few Ainu speak the Ainu language or follow the traditional way of life. The Ainu identity will be more like "symbolic ethnicity," with the collective memories of an Ainu heritage.

The Utari Association contributed to the political movement that resulted in the 1997 New Ainu Law. But the law was enacted by the National Diet.

It is not clear how self-styled Ainu people have transformed themselves from a "dying ethnic group" -- if in fact "Ainu culture and heritage" is little more than "symbolic ethnicity".

I would think that "many" activists should be just "a few" -- for if there were "many" then there one would think there would not be so "few" self-styled Ainu out there in the mainstream trying to symbolically assiminate into the apparently not very vital "Ainu culture and heritage".


Ishikida introduces Okinawans like this (page 18).

The Ryūkyū Islands are composed of a chain of 60 islands of the Okinawa, Miyako, Yaeyama and Senkaku groups in the south of Kyushu. As of 2004, the population of Okinawa Prefecture is 1.36 million. In 2001, 49,000 Americans, 26,000 of whom were soldiers and 23,000 of whom were family members, were living in the Ryūkyū Islands, where 75 percent of the U.S. military bases are concentrated (Okinawa-ken 2004). Approximately 300,000 Okinawans live in other parts of Japan (Taira 1997:142), and another 300,000 live overseas. Okinawa, a poor prefecture, sent 75,000 Okinawans during the prewar period and 18,000 Okinawans during the postwar period to Hawaii, the Philippines, Brazil, Argentine, Peru, Bolivia and so on (Nakachi 1997:439-440).

Who, exactly, are "Okinawans" in Ishikida estimate?

Under "Historical Development" she writes this (page 19).

The Okinwans and the Ainu are direct descendants of the Jōmon people from South East Asia, hunters, gatherers, and fishermen (ca. 8000 B.C.-ca. 400 B.C.). The ancestors of the Japanese people were agrarian Yayoi people who immigrated from North Asia through Korea (ca. 400. B.C.-ca. 300 A.D.).

Again, Ishikida appears to feel that "Okinawans" are not "Japanese".

In her conclusion on Okinwans, she writes this (page 24).

Ryūkyū became Okinawa Prefecture in 1879. Due to the economic depression, population pressure, and the lack of farmland, many Okinawans have left the islands. The Battle of Okinawa of 1945 caused 188,000 deaths, more than half of whom were civilians. After the United States occupation following the end of World War II in 1945, Okinawa was returned to Japan in 1972. Under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, 75 percent of the U.S. military bases and 26,000 out of 47,000 American soldiers in Japan stationed on Okinawa. The main economy of Okinawa consists of public works, tourism, and the military. The per capital annual income in Okinawa has been the lowest in Japan since 1972, and its unemployment rate in Okinawa is the highest.

We still don't know what Ishikida means by "Okinawans" -- except that apparently many have left the islands. And apparently several hundred thousands people living outside the islands are "Okinawans" in her estimate. What about the inhabitants of Okinawa prefecture? Are they all Okinawans?

Chapter 2: Buraku People

This chapter is full of the usual problems that flaw writing in English about so-called "buraku" -- except one. While most writers in English continue to speak of "burakumin", she uses the term only once -- Burakumin, capital B, no quotes, no italics -- in her citation of a threatening letter, recieved by a student in 1996, which said "Get out of the dormitory, Burakumin" (page 39).

"Buraku people"

Why Ishikida bucks "Burakumin" for "Buraku people" -- capital B, no quotes, no italics -- is explained in a footnote in a companion volume, Miki Y. Ishikida, Japanese Education in the 21st Century (iUniverse, Inc., 2005). This publication, also publicly downloadable from the website, introduces "Buraku Children" under "Education for Minority Children" (Chapter 9) like this (web version).

Buraku people, [Note 3] a population of one to three million, have been stigmatized as the descendants of former outcastes. According to the official definition, the Buraku are the descendants of people who had been forced to live in specific Buraku ("hamlet") districts, and were freed by the 1871 Emancipation Edict. Because of this stigma, Buraku people are still a socially discriminated-against minority group in Japan.

Note 3   I use the term "Buraku people," although the term "Burakumin" is widely used in the English-language literature. I follow the new 1997 platform of the BLL where the term "Burakumin" is replaced by "Buraku people" or "people from a Buraku district" because a term "min" has an ethnic connotation even though Buraku people are not considered an ethnic group (AS [Asahi Shinbun] May 20, 1997).

Ishikida does give Japanese equivalents for key words. Though her bibliography contains romanizations of the titles of Japanese sources, no terms are equivalents for either "buraku people" or "people from a buraku district".

I would imagine that Ishikida is translating either "buraku no hitobito" (部落の人々) -- which means literally "people of [a, some, all] buraku" -- or "buraku jōmin" (部落住民) which means "buraku resident[s]". Both terms are found in BLL literature, but the later is the all inclusive term, meaning all people who are legally registered as residents of any neighborhood that BLL defines as a "buraku".

BLL does not, in fact, wish to label any individual other than as a "resident" of what it would call an "unliberated" or "receiving-discrimination" community. BLL also considers former residents as potential victims of "discrimination".

The term "burakumin" (部落民) was long ago abandoned by the relatively few "buraku liberation" organizations that used it. It was never a standard reference in Japanese. Its legacy in English is based mainly on the need for writer of English to "label" the people as a "group" apart.

Sino-Japanese "-min" (-民) is a common marker of "affilation" as in "kokumin" (国民), "shimin" (市民), "kenmin" (県民), and "jōmin" (住民) -- meaning "national", "city affiliate", "prefecture affiliate", and "residing affiliate" or "resident". These are perfectly civil, non-ethnic terms in Japanese.

So it would appear that BLL's disuse of "burakumin" is something more than just an effort to dissociate buraku residents or former residents from an "ethnic connotation". In Japanese, the term "hitobito" (人々) -- like the term "people" in English -- is not uncommonly used with "ethnic" connotations.

Ishikida's references to "Buraku culture" and even "Buraku cultures" as opposed to "majority culture" are odd given the denial of "ethnic" differences.

The book under review introduces "Buraku people" much like the companion publication (page 26).

Buraku people, a population of one to three million, have been stigmatized as the descendants of former outcastes. According to the official definition, Buraku people are the descendants of former outcastes who had been forced to live in specific Buraku ("hamlet") districts, and were freed by the 1871 Emancipation Edict. Because of this stigma, Buraku people are still a socially discriminated-against minority group in Japan.

The "one to three million" is by now boilerplate. The most recent surveys count fewer than one million residents of so-called "dowa areas" that are considered "dowa related" -- meaning that their residence in a dowa area is based on some historical familial tie to the area.

Ishikida concludes the a section called "Buraku Identity" with this statement (pages 34-35).

When equity in socioeconomic conditions reaches the national average, and the prejudice and discrimination against Buraku people are eliminated, the Buraku identity will vanish. "Buraku heritage" remains among Buraku people as collective memories of past suffering and struggles against discrimination. It will become a historical identity of a formerly reviled social group. It takes time to purge non-Buraku people of their prejudices, but the Buraku problem will be solved, and there will be no social discrimination against the Buraku. Their label as the descendants of former outcastes will disappear.

This is possible only in Ishikida's iUniverse. In the real universe, the "Buraku people" will continue to exist so long as BLL exists -- and so long as academics and journalists write about histories of "past suffering and struggles against discrimination".

Ishikida starts her Summary of "Buraku People" in much the same way she begins the chapter, but compounds the generationals with a serious contradition (page 45, underscoring mine).

Buraku people are the descendants of former outcastes who had been forced to live in specific Buraku ("hamlet") districts, and were freed by the 1871 Emancipation Edict. Until the 1960s, Buraku people had confronted poverty and social ostracism, and had lived apart from Japanese society. That limited their educational attainment led to lower occupational status at the bottom of society.

Ostracism is not the same as social isolation. In fact, eta, hinin, and other historical "outcastes" that Ishikida says were "forced to live in specific Buraku", were part and parcel of "Japanese society". They were Japanese, and not a few worked and served in the mainstream of society.

Upon their so-called "emancipation" in the 1871, former outcastes became commoners. Their participation in the mainstream of society increased to the point that, long before the 1960s, communal and personal experiences of "ostracism" had become rare.

There were, to be sure, pockets of poverty and other social issues that needed addressing -- in some former outcaste neighborhoods. But Ishikida's generations are highly misleading.

Chapter 3: Korean Permanent Residents in Japan

In her Introduction, Ishikida endorsed the view that "Korean permanent residents" are an "involuntary" minority along with "the Ainu" and "the Okinawans" and "Buraku people" -- while "foreign nationals, newcomers" are "voluntary" minorities who "entered Japan voluntarily".

Ishikida seems to have had this in mind when, in the first paragraph of Chapter 3, she introduced "Korean residents" as "the largest ethnic minority in Japan" (page 48, underscoring mine).

Korean residents are the largest ethnic minority in Japan, although the number of Korean residents has been decreasing since 1991. The ratio of Korean residents to all foreign residents has been also dropping from 86.4 percent in 1976 to 37.7 percent in 2000, because of influx of newcomers from other Asian countries since the 1980s (Homushō 2001). "Special permanent residency" was granted in 1991 to those people and their descendants who lost their Japanese nationality after the 1952 SF Peace Treaty. By 2003, 613,791 Korean residents registered in Japan, including 471,756 "special permanent residents" and 39,807 "general permanent residents" (Homushō 2004a).

I am puzzled by Ishikida's claim that Koreans the "largest ethnic minority" in Japan -- as opposed to the largest foreign minority.

Ishikida has described Okinawans as an ethnic minority. She did not say how many Okinawans live in Okinawa, but she said that 300,000 live elsewhere in Japan (and, for that matter, that 300,000 live overseas). The population of Okinawa is about 1.3 million. How many Okinawans are Okinawans?

Special Permanent Residency was not given to "people and their descendants who lost their Japanese nationality" after the 1952 peace treaty -- but to "people who lost their Japanese nationality" because of the 1952 peace treaty "and their descendants".

Special Permanent Residents

Much to her credit, Ishikida does not herself style "Korean residents" in Japan as "zainichi" or "Zainichi" -- reflecting 在日 in Sino-Japanese script -- meaning "in Japan" with implications of "residing in Japan". The term has been been used by some writers to refer only to Koreans who are Special Permanent Residents, and by others to refer to anyone who has a drop of Korean "blood" in their veins.

Given the source and nature of Ishikida's demographic data, however, her characterization of "Korean residents" (including "Korean Permanent Residents") as "ethnic" is untenable. For "Homushō" means the Ministry of Justice, which is in the business of differentiating legal statuses, not ethnicity.

The statistics Ishikida cites are figures for Koreans as foreign nationals. Koreans are Koreans because of their civil nationality status, not because of ethnicity. There are three possible "Korean" nationality statuses, though for good legal reasons they are generally conflated in alien registration and exit-enter-country statistics. There is no ethnicity in nationality.

Ishikida makes numerous other odd statements, like this (page 48, underscoring mine).

Especially for the older generations, the unwillingness and hatred derived from the memories of colonization and the ethnic solidarity make it harder for them to be naturalized. However, both the number of naturalized Koreans and the rate of intermarriage to Japanese people have been increasing. In each year from 1995 to 2000, approximately 10,000 Koreans became naturalized (Higuchi 2002:195). In 1998, 14,800 became naturalized Japanese, of whom two thirds are Koreans and one third are Chinese.

A number of paragraphs in the book suffer from writing that is anything but concise.

"to be naturalized"

I would think Ishikida means "to naturaize" -- since naturalization is an "active" and not "passive" action.

"naturalized Koreans"

She means "Koreans who naturalize" -- which means "Koreans who become Japanese through naturalization" -- and thereby cease being Koreans.

"Koreans became naturalized"

Became naturalized what? The answer is "Japanese". And aliens who become Japanese through naturalization cease being aliens.

14,800 . . . two thirds are . . .

14,800 what? In 1998, some 14,779 aliens were granted permission to naturalize. Assuming they filed notifications of naturalization in a timely matter, they became Japanese. And, among these Japanese, some 9,561 of these new Japanese had been Koreans (conflating three statuses) and 4,637 had been Chinese (conflating two statuses). And another 581 of these Japanese had been other alien nationalities.


Ishikida makes this statement regarding suffrage for "Koreans" and Japanese" (page 52).

Koreans with one year or more of residency in Japan were allowed the right to vote in 1927, two years after the universal suffrage for all adult Japanese males.

The first elections under the 1925 Election Law were held in 1927. At the time, all but a few localities in the Interior (prefectures) were parts of election districts. Election districts were not established in Taiwan or Chosen until 1945, but the the end of the World War II precluded the holding of planned elections.

In 1927, "Korea" was "Chosen", and as such it was part of Japan. "Koreans" at the time were "Chosenese", and thus Japanese. Accordingly, they were able to vote in any locality in Japan which was part of an election district from which qualified subjects could elect local or national representatives.

The age of obligation to pay taxes and discharage other duties was set at 21 (counting from 1 at birth) in the Taiho codes of the early 8th century. Definitions of becoming an "adult" somewhat varied with class and occupation. Boys in samurai families typically came of age at 15 (counting from 1 at birth).

Meiji lawmakers set the legal age of adulthood at 20 years of age (counting from 0 at birth) -- though people customarily continued to count from 1 at birth. Nonetheless, the age of eligibility to vote was set a 25 and remained there until after World War II. In other words, only persons who had been adults for five years could vote -- and one had to be 30 to hold a Diet seat.

Contemporary election laws never disallowed anyone to vote because they happened to be, say, Taiwanese or Chosenese. Japan subjects from 1890, and all imperial subjects from 1900, could vote if qualified by age, residence, and tax status.

In fact, election laws in Japan did not make stipulations about affiliation other than nationality and residence until after World War II -- when, for the first time, eligibility of nationals was limited to "persons who are subject to the application of the Family Register Law". At the time, this in effect excluded Taiwanese and Chosenese from suffrage. In also, perhaps unwittingly, excluded members of the Imperial Family. The clause is still in effect. And Imperial Family members have no rights of suffrage.

Ishikida's summary of "Korean Permanent Residents in Japan" compounds the many misconceptions in the main body.

Chinese Permanent Residents

Between the main body of "Korean Permanent Residents in Japan" and the summary comes a one-page overview of "Chinese Permanent Residents". The overview begins like this (pages 70-71).

In the early 1900s, many Chinese started to migrate and work as merchants, laborers, and self-employed such as tailors, barbers and cooks ("three Chinese professions with knives or razors") mainly in seaport cities like Nagasaki, Yokohama, Osaka, Hakodate, and Kōbe, where they established Chinese quarters known as "Chinatowns." . . .

After the war, almost all Chinese workers from the mainland and about a half of Taiwanese chose to be repatriated. In 1948, 34,000 Chinese residents remained in Japan. After the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, Taiwanese in Japan lost their Japanese nationality, and became resident aliens . . . .

The "Chinese quarter" in Nagasaki was several hundred years old by the start of the 20th century. Chinese settlements in the other port towns began during the early years of the Meiji period.

"Taiwanese" suddenly appear alongside "Chinese" after the war. Taiwanese in Japan are said to have "lost their Japanese nationality" after the "1951" peace treaty.

Ishikida forgot to mention that Taiwan had become part of Japan in 1895, from which time Taiwanese were Japanese. Such people did not formally lose their Japanese nationality until 1952, when the treaty signed in 1951 came into effect. Ishikida's "34,000 Chinese residents" is a conflation of two statuses of people: (1) 21,676 Chinese, who were aliens, and (2) 16,126 Taiwanese, who were Japanese nationals but were treated as aliens for some Occupation purposes.

Chapter 4: Foreigners as Newcomers

This chapter is a mixed bag for foreigners Ishikida's regards as "newcomers" -- according to this definition (page 75).

Since the late 1970s, foreigners have come to work in Japan to earn valuable yen, especially during the economic prosperity of the late 1980s and early 1990s. They are called "newcomers," as opposed to "old-stayers," such as Korean and Chinese permanent residents whose parents and grandparents had come to Japan before the end of World War II in 1945.

Apart from the problems with Ishikida's definition of "newcomers", the term appears to reflect "rainichi gaikokujin" (来日外国人), an expression recently coined to differentiate aliens not classified as Special Permanent Residents. SPRs are now exceptionalized in some statistics, such as National Police Agency reports on crimes by aliens in Japan, because SPRs are considered to be the same as the mainstream Japanese population.

Ishikida's "newcomers" include the following.

      1. 4-2-1  Entertainers
      2. 4-2-2  Trainees
      3. 4-2-3  Foreign Students and Pre-College Students
3. 4-3  NIKKEI
      1. 4-3-1  Nikkei Brazilians
      2. 4-3-2  Nikkei Peruvians
      3. 4-3-3  Nikkei Children 
      1. 4-6-1  Newcomers in Marugame
      2. 4-6-2  International Marriages
      3. 4-6-3  Children Without a Nationality

I will end my review here -- with a strong warning that "Foreigners as Newcomers" is every bit as full of errors and misrepresentations as the other chapters on "Minority People" in Japan.

Biographical note

The provenance of "" is not only unclear but a bit opaque. Ishikida thanks a number of people for bills itself as an "Internet-based nonprofit organization." Still, the The Center for US-Japan Comparative Social Studies is called "Nichi-Bei shakai kikaku kenkyū sentaa" (日米社会比較研究センター) in Japanese. It's director, Miki Y. Ishikida, gives her name in Japanese as "Ishikida Miki" (石木田美貴).

I am unable to discover anything on the Internet about Miki Y. Ishikida's background or the provences of the center.

A "whois" query on the center's domain name states that the domain was created on 6 May 2001. The "Registant Name" is "System Admin" and the "Registrant Organization" is Center For US-Japan Comparative Social Studies.

The street address of the registrant is given as 3144 N G STREET, STE 125, PMB 253, Merced, CA, 95340, US, and the phone is given as +1.8582717870.

The "Admin" and "Tech" info is the same. The name servers are related to, a California web hosting company.

While billed as an "Internet-based non-profit organization", USJP International Movement Against Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) Buraku Liberation League


Ko Youngran 高榮蘭 (コウ・ヨンラン)

高榮蘭 (コウ・ヨンラン)

Ko Youngran (Kō Yonran)
"Sengo" to iu ideorogii: Rekishi, kioku, bunka
[The ideology of "postwar": History, memory, culture]
Tokyo: Fujiwara Shoten, 30 June 2010
381 pages, hardcover

Ko 2010 is reviewed on an independent page as Ko Youngran on "the ideology of 'postwar'".


John Lie

John Lie
Multiethnic Japan
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001
xiii, 248 pages, hardcover

If this book had come out in the 1970s I would probably have given it an A because I wouldn't have known any better. In the 1980s I would have given it a B. Even as late as the mid 1990s I would have given it a C. When it came out in 2001 I gave it a D. Today I give it an E for effort -- along with most of my earlier writing.

This short book, barely 190 pages of main text, is what I consider "The Rape of Nanking" of books about minorities in Japan. John Lie, like Iris Chang, took his personal background as a license to write about a subject he didn't know that much about, without doing adequate research.

"civic respect"

Lie makes the following statement regarding what brought him to write this book (Preface, xi).

Because I had spent my formative years in Tokyo, I experienced a year spent in Tokyo in 1985 as something of a homecoming. Participating in the periphery of the anti-fingerprinting movement -- the struggle waged by foreigners living in Japan for civic respect -- I came to realize, rather belatedly, some of the unsavory aspects of Japanese society. Intoxicated by high theory, however, I could not bring myself to focus on the issues that the struggle had raised. In the past decade I have sought to rectify my erstwhile intellectual hubris, and to begin, if unconsciously at first, to make sense of the worlds that have shaped me. The belated result is this book.

The reader might then expect Lie to show a little "civic respect" for those who constitute the population of the civil society called "Japan". But all he does is racialize those he needs to press into his "high theory" of "multiethnic Japan".

"Burakumin" as "ethnic minorities"

Lie immediately turns "Burakumin" into objects of his "multiethnic" obsession (Preface, x).

The significant presence of Burakumin and Koreans in Osaka, for example, renders the idea of monoethnic Japan less convincing to Osaka residents.

If Lie were to make this statement on public television in Osaka -- he would be run out of town -- by residents of former outcaste communities -- for daring to suggest that they are "ethnic" minorities. Some residents would even argue that they are not "minorities" -- that their main "struggle" has been against efforts to differentiate them from the mainstream population since outcaste statuses were abolished in 1871 -- about the time slavery was abolished in the United States. Never mind that the Buraku Liberation League is its own worst enemy when it comes to true mainstreaming.

"Ethnic groups" galore

Lie makes this statement in the Introduction (page 3).

The principal ethnic groups in contemporary Japan include Ainu, Okinawans, Burakumin, Koreans, Chinese, and, of course, Japanese (mainstream Japanese, Yamato people or Japanese Japanese).

The fact that "Ainu" and "Okinawans" are Japanese -- that "Burakumin" do not exist and that residents of former outcaste neighborhoods are not ethnic minorities -- that "Koreans" and "Chinese" are aliens and therefore "national" rather than "ethnic" minorities -- that "Yamato people" and "Japanese Japanese" do not exist -- such facts do not seem to matter to John Lie.

From the very start, Lie racializes "Japanese" (Preface, x).

. . . I spent a great deal of time observing and engaging in informal conversations with both Japanese and non-Japanese (i.e., nonethnic) Japanese in the Tokyo area.

Would Lie dare speak of "both Americans and non-American (i.e., notethnic) Americans in the San Francisco area"? I think not. Lie's labeling standards betray a double standard.

If Lie had taken his overture to "civic respect" more seriously, he would have viewed "multiethnic Japan" as a society in which "Japanese" can mean only those who possess Japan's raceless, ethnically neutral nationality. In other words, he would not have racialized Japanese -- or Koreans or Chinese, or even Ainu or Okinawans.

Language lessons

Lie imposes his American-style "multiculturalist" agenda on mostly secondary and anecdotal information and misinformation about Japan. He plays a mean "citation" game. From the very first paragraph of the Introduction, he is firing quote after quote from one source or another to establish that some people think Japan is a racially homogenous country. The first paragraph ends with this remark (page 1).

In 1986 Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro declared that "Japan has one ethnicity (minzoku), one state (kokka), and one language language (gengo)," and drew a favorable contrast to the multiethnic United States (Terazawa 1990:64-65).

Instead of telling us what Nakasone is supposed to have said, so we might judge for ourselves, Lie dubs into English whatever it was he found in what is at best a tertiary source. Then he compounds his sin by giving the first of many often odd language lessons -- "minzoku" does not mean "ethnicity".

Biased translation

Later Lie translates something he attributes directly to Nakasone (page 173).

"There are quite a few blacks, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans in America, and their [intelligence] is on average still extremely low" (Nakasone 1986:152).

This is my translation of the same line from the same transcription Lie cites from the November 1986 issue of Chūō Kōron -- as it appeared in my article on the speech, which practically filled the "Topics in Focus" page of The Japan Times on 26 November 1986. In my article, I translated subtantial parts of the speech by way of clarifying what Nakasone said about Japan as an "intelligent society".

In America there are many blacks, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans, and seen on an average, [America's per capita level of intelligence, as gained through education and the mass media] is still extremely low.

Nakasone did not say "their" anything -- much less did he say "their [intelligence]". The topic of his statement was "intelligent society", and he had remarked that Japan had become a much more intelligent society than the United States, on average, in terms of the diverse and accurate information its people absorb through education and media. And he never leaves this thread. He is attributing America's lower social intelligence to the fact that there are many blacks, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans -- which he knows, from contemporary reports in American and Japanese media, score lower on geography and other tests.

Even if one posits that "on an average is still extremely low" refers to blacks, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans -- which is not entirely impossible, given the lack of specific subject -- Nakasone is not talking about their "intelligence" but about their acquired knowledge. And he goes on to impute "their" lower level of knowledge to America's less dense, less vibrant media and schools.

Lie appears to have been influenced by what he thought Nakasone had said -- presumably after reading what many journalists claimed he had said -- before he ever saw the transcript. He wants readers to think he consulted the original speech -- and understood the line in question -- but brackets "[intelligence]" without providing a shred of context or other evidence to substantiate his allegation that this is what Nakasone either said or meant.

Lie does not understand "nationality"

It is clear from Lie's section on "Conflating Categories of Peoplehood" (pages 144-148) in the penultimate chapter on "Classify and Signify" (Chapter 6, pages 142-169), that he has not read -- much less understood -- nationality law as a subject of international law, much less the laws of nationality in the United States and Japan.

This section confirmed my impressions throughout the book -- that John Lie was steeped in the academic fashions of "multiculturalism" in the United States and did not approach the question of "multiethnicty" in Japan objectively.

Unfortunately, Lie's book -- like Iris Chang's -- got considerable attention from reviewers who raved at its apparent credibility. Many of the reviews of both books are reminiscent of those that have praised English translations of Murakami Haruki's novels, while having no clue as to whether the translations reflect what Murakami wrote.

Korean Japanese

Lie's book is particularly unreliable on the very subject one would think he would have been more careful to treat in a thoroughly objective manner -- Koreans in Japan. Lie cannot decide if they are "Koreans" or "Korean Japanese" -- but mostly he leans toward the latter, as in the following statement (page 109).

Generational shifts -- from first-generation Koreans to second- and third-generation Koreans in Japan or Korean Japanese -- underlie the politics of ethnic recognition and inclusion. By the mid-1970s over three-fourths of Korean Japanese were Japanese-born and Japanese-educated (Kang and Kim 1989: 143-154), and by 1985 an estimated 70 percent of marriages by Korean Japanese were to ethnic Japanese (Kang and Kim 1989:156). Korean Japanese names can be found in prestigious professions: to cist one example, the Bill Gates of Japan is a Korean Japanese, Son Masayoshi.

However, "Korean Japanese" and "ethnic Japanese" are impossible categories in Japan's vital statistics. The figures Lie cites are based on nationality only, without regard to race or ethnicity. They concern marriages between Japanese and aliens. In this case, they are counts of marriages between a "Nihonjin" (national of Japan) and either a "Kankokujin" (national of Republic of Korea) or a "Chōsenjin" (person whose legal status in Japan is nominally that of a subject of the defunct territory of Chosen).

Son Masayoshi is Japanese. Born and raised in Japan, and known to his classmates as Yasumoto Masayoshi, he was an ROK national until he naturalized in November 1991. Before he naturalized, his wife, who was Japanese, had obtained permission from a family court to change her family name to his principal legal family name, which was Son. So when he enrolled in her family register, after receiving permission to naturalize, his legal family name did not change.

For another example of Lie's "Korean Japanese" characterization of "Koreans in Japan" and "the Korean diaspora in Japan", see review of Lie 2001b.


Oguma Eiji   小熊英二

<The Myth of the Homogeneous Nation>
初版第1刷発行 1995年7月10日
初版第2刷発行 1995年9月20日
iv, 450ページ

Oguma Eiji
Tan'itsu minzoku shinwa no kigen
<Nihonjin> no jigazō no keifu
[ Origins of the single-ethnonation [race] myth ]
[ Lineage of self-images of "Japanese" ]
Tokyo: Shin'yōsha
1st printing published 10 July 1995
2nd printing published 20 September 1995
iv, 450 pages, hardcover, jacket

Uramoto 2003 Jacket of Uramoto Yoshifumi's Edo·Tōkyō no hisabetsu buraku no rekishi
History of discriminated buraku of Edo·Tokyo
4th printing (2005) of 1st edition (2003)
Yosha Bunko scan

Oguma 1995

Oguma is my candidate for the most cited scholar writing on Forthcoming.


Oguma Eiji   小熊英二

(沖縄・アイヌ・台湾・朝鮮 植民地支配から復帰運動まで)
<The Boundaries of the Japanese>
1998年7月10日 初版第1刷発行
2004年3月10日 初版第8刷発行

Oguma Eiji
"Nihonjin" no kyōkai
(Okinawa, Ainu, Taiwan, Chōsen / Shokuminchi shihai kara fukki undō made)
[The boundaries of "Japanese"
(Okinawa, Ainu, Taiwan, Chosen: From colonial rule to reversion movements)]
<The Boundaries of the Japanese>
Tokyo: Shin'yōsha
10 July 1998 Publication of 1st printing of first edition
10 March 2004 Publication of 8th printing of first edition
778 pages, hardcover, jacket

Uramoto 2003 Jacket of Uramoto Yoshifumi's Edo·Tōkyō no hisabetsu buraku no rekishi
History of discriminated buraku of Edo·Tokyo
4th printing (2005) of 1st edition (2003)
Yosha Bunko scan

Oguma 1998, 2004

Oguma is my candidate for the most cited scholar writing on Forthcoming.


Karen Laura Thornber

Empire of Texts in Motion
(Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese Transculturations of Japanese Literature)
Cambridge (MT): Harvard University Asia Center, 2009
[Distributed by Harvard University Press]
xii, 591, hardcover

Thornber 2009 is reviewed on an independent page as Stellar writing, nebulous theory.


Michael A. Weiner (editor)

Michael A. Weiner (editor)
Japan's Minorities: The illusion of homogeneity
Second edition
London: Routledge (Taylor and Francis), 2009
xxii, 234 pages, paperback
Sheffield Centre for Japanese Studies / Routledge series

Weiner 2009 is reviewed on an independent page as Weiner et al on "Japan's Minorities".


Mark D. West

Mark D. West
Secrets, Sex, and Spectacle
(The Rules of Scandal in Japan and the United States)
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2006
ix, 404 pages, hardcover

The titling of this book speaks for itself. West is a serious scholar of law who knows that sex and alliteration sell. The subtitle of a book he published the year before this one is "Sex, Sumo, Suicide, and Statutes". The subtitle of an edited work that came out the same year is a studiously subdued and sublimated "Cases, Codes, and Commentary".

The main problem with this book is West's attempt to apply his legal mind to topics on which I get the impression he is too thinly grounded, or on which his grounding is based more on popular myths than law.

Many parts of the section on "Minorities" (pages 155-165) in the chapter on "Groups" (Chapter 4) are especially misleading. The section begins like this (pages 155-156).


It's no secret that race lurks beneath the surface in many U.S. scandals. This particularly ugly undercurrent is rare in Japanese scandals -- but not because Japan lacks minorities or scandals involving them. Japan has minorities: ethnic Koreans, Chinese, the indigenous Ainu, people of Okinawa and the Ryukyus, and burakumin. But Japanese minority scandals are open and above board -- often more like a tsunami than an undercurrent. Two kinds of minority-related scandals are common: those based on speech or expression, and those based on discriminatory actions.

The section is divided into "Expression" and "Actions". Before getting into these sections, let me reflect on West's list of "minorities".

"Ethnic Koreans" and "Chinese"

It is not clear what he means by "ethnic Koreans" -- as opposed to just "Koreans" -- or by "Chinese" as opposed to, say, "Taiwanese".

West later refers a number of times to "Koreans" . . . but never "ethnic Koreans". He never against refers to "Chinese" . . . but mentions "Taiwanese" once, as follows, in the first pargraph of the "Expression" part (page 156).

"In 2000 Tokyo's famous right-wing foot-in-mouth governor Shintarō Ishihara [refered to foreigners as] sankokujin . . . an old word that refers specifically to people from countries that Japan colonized in World War II who lived in Japan after the war, namely, Koreans and Taiwanese.

According to West, "Koreans" and "Taiwanese" are people from "countries" that Japan colonized in World War II. Taiwan, which was never a country, and is not today a country, became part of Japan in 1895.

Korea had been a country under Japan's military protection and diplomatic proxy for several prior to 1910, when it became part of Japan and it's name to Chosen. Taiwan and Chosen were parts of Japan. Most of the people West refers to either migrated to the Interior (prefectures) of Japan from Taiwan or Chosen, and not a few were had been born in the prefectures -- before World War II.

"Sankokujin" -- meaning "third-country people" or "third nationals" -- is a postwar, Occupation-era term referring to Chosenese and Taiwanese as "liberated" people treated differently from Allied nationals (including Chinese) and enemy nationals (including of course Japanese who were not third nationals). Chosenese and Taiwanese could, however be treated as war criminals for acts they committed as Japanese nationals.

Most Taiwanese in Occupied Japan later became nationals of the Republic of China during the Occupation. Most Chosenese migrated to Republic of Korea nationality after the normalization of ROK-Japan relations in 1965.

West actually says very little about "scandals" related to "Koreans". His most "scandalous" statement is this (page 157).

Stories about minorities are strictly controlled by the elite media, whose theory is twofold. First, calling attention to minority problems just exacerbates the problem of being a minority; the theory is that being labeled as different in Japan is itself a form of discrimination. Revealing that a celebrity or other famous person is Korean -- even if the person's ethnicity is known in the Korean community, as was the case in the outing of top sumo wrestler Mienoumi or singer Akiko Wada -- is left to the taboo-breaking weeklies, because the public views such information as scandalous. But within the Korean community, the information is usually not a secret at all. [Note 103]

103. See William Weatherall [sic], Public Heroes in Popular Culture, in Koreans in Japan: Ethnic Conflict and Accommodation, 281, 290-98, 409-10 & n. 37, ed. Changsoo Lee & George DeVos [sic] (1981).

That's right. Yours truly.

My article is fairly long (pages 281-303) and has extensive notes (pages 406-413). I would certainly have written parts of it differently today, nearly three decades later. Still, nothing in it -- nothing on the pages West cites, and nothing in note 37 -- support any of the general contentions he makes in the above passage.

I develop a number of themes -- one of which is that people who are born or naturalize into Japanese nationality are "Japanese". I introduce a number of primary sources -- including, in note 37, a fairly serious (now defunct) monthly gossip magazine that raised the "taboo" specter by way of pointing out that while the Korean press played up Mienoumi's Korean ancestry, the Japanese media did not generally touch upon the fact that his parents had been Koreans and that he had naturalized. I also write this (page 410, note 37).

[If] Mienoumi naturalized, then he is as Japanese as any member of the Imperial family. And if he naturalized as Ishiyama, then his [legal name] is Ishiyama, not Yi. Thus the author of this article, like the authors of similar "rumor" expose, would seem to be under the spell of taboos that are even more indelible than those which he would eradicate.

By this I meant the difficulty that some writers have using the term "Japanese" to mean simply "Japanese" -- a raceless, non-ethnic legal status. I also make this point (page 412, note 58).

While some journalistic and publishing enterprises devote considerable attention to minority problems, others -- including some of the largest -- regard teh subject taboo. Some mainline presses are known to censor Japanese translations of the works of foreign scholars to give their majority readers the impression that Japan is being seen from abroad as they prefer that it be seen: with no ethnic minorities beneath the cherry blossoms. Suprisingly -- or perhaps not surprisingly -- some of this censorship is the result of pressure from minority group factions that cannot tolerate the views of minority problems that differ from their own ideologically dogmatic views.

Today I would be less cynical in making the following two points.

Wetherall 2009

1. The prevailing practice in mass media in Japan is not to talk about the familial descent of public figures who choose not to wear their family descent on their shoulders. This practice is based on respect for an individuals's right to privacy in such regards. This is particuarly true in the protocols that govern matters like reporting standards in mainstream news media and stage manners in the entertainment world. Celebrities who exploit their putative minority descent as part of their public persona are accommodated. Those who consider their family history a private matter, and wish to be treated as members of the mainstream (which, in most cases, they actually are), are also accommodated.

2. Most relucance in major media to venture into subjects like "race" and "ethnicity" in Japan -- without cause in current events -- stems from the reactionary nature of minority organizations with radical racioethnic agendas. Even then, references to "race" and "ethnicity" -- or to "status discrimination" -- are likely to be limited to politically correct phrasing. The standards of usage are generally dictated by style sheets reflecting the influence of minority interest organizations which have been the most successful in silencing views that don't conform to their self-images.

"the indigenous Ainu"

West, like many other writers, err in considering so-called Ainu "the" indigenous minority. It is one thing to consider people who claim to be of part "Ainu" descent as "an" indigenous minority. It is totally incorrect to imply that "the" indigeneous minority -- as though there are no others -- as though the vast majority of Japanese are not also "indigenous" by reason of their historical and prehistorical roots in what is today Japan.

"people of Okinawa and the Ryukyus

It is unclear what West means by the "people of Okinawa and the Ryukyus". Are there two localities different? Is he referring to all of their affiliated inhabitants or only to some of them?

Why, in any event, are these people "minorities"? And what sort of scandals have embroiled them as such? He doesn't tell us.


Ninety percent of West's commentary in the "Minority" section, however, is devoted to "burakumin" -- which he represents as a "group" which actually exists as such in Japan. This, however, is not true. There is no such "group" -- and, while the term "burakumin" has some history of usage in Japanese a few decades ago, it was never widely used and has, for many years, been avoided even by so-called "burual liberation" movement organizations. The term "burakumin" -- and the notion that there is a "group" of such people in Japan -- is mostly kept alive journalists and scholars writing in other languages, which are strongly influenced by biases in English journalism and scholarship.

Much of what West writers about "burakumin" is under the "Expressions" part and involves efforts by what he calls "buruakumin groups" to suppress what they consider to be discriminatory words and unfavorable descriptions in mass media and academia. Numerous things he says about what he calls "burakumin" are simply wrong, but many of his perceptual problems begin with the following statement (page 157, underscoring mine).

Burukumin were legislated as outcasts in the Tokugawa period . . . non-burakumin . . . . The Emancipation Edict of 1871 formally liberated them . . . , and the American drafters of the postwar Constitution (sec. 14) explicity prohibited discrimination based on "social status or family origin," but discrimination continues against the burakumin caste, a racially indistinct, wholly Japanese group who might number as many as 3 million but are phyicially indistinguishable.

"burakumin" / "non-burakumin"

Various sub-castes, including eta and hinin, were defined by Tokugawa laws. No caste was called "burakumin", much less were there any "non-burakumin".

The 1871 law banned eta, hinin, and other such appellations, and provided that such people be registered in the same manner as people in general population registers.

For the text of the 1871 proclamation and other details, see Social status laws in Japan: Caste, class, and titles of nobility since 1868 in the "Society" section of this website.

"American drafters"

Many Japanese proposals for constitutional reform -- drafted in late 1945 and early 1946 before the GHQ draft of 13 February 1946 -- called for prohibition of discrimination based on "birth" or "status" or "special status" and the like. The GHQ draft used the phrasing "social status, caste or national origin".

One typescript copy of this draft shows pencilled editing, apparently made by someone when discussing the draft after its presentation to the Japan government, which changed this phrasing to "social status, clan or nationality". The English version of the bill as approved the Cabinet on 6 March 1946 reads "social status, or family origin".

In other words, there was nothing "American" about the move to prohibit "status" (reflecting a term used for centuries in Japanese family law) and "family origin" (reflecting a word that is synyonymous with a number of other metaphors for "birth" or "lineage").

For more details on the phrasing of Article 14 see The genesis of Articles 10 and 14: How nationality was written into, then out of, Japan's 1947 Constitution in the "Aliens and the Constitution" section of the "Elements of citizenship" feature on this website.

"the burakumin caste, a racially indistinct, wholly Japanese group"

West has stated that "burakumin" were "emancipated" in 1871, and that discrimination based on "social status or family origin" has been "explicitly prohibitted" in the 1947 Constitution. Yet he insists that, today, there is a "group" that we should be calling the "the burakumin caste" -- which is "racially indistinct, wholly Japanese". Not only does he appear to be discriminating against some "Japanese" by alleging that they constitute a "caste" -- but he implies that there are "Japanese" who are somehow not "wholly Japanese" possibly because they are not "racially indistinct".

Mishima's "tokushu buraku" remark

West's summaries of three examples of "improper language and backlash" involving "racial and social minorities" are problematic. His characterization of a remark made by Mishima Yukio (1925-1970) is typical of how he distorts facts (page 159, [bracketed] remarks in original).

Also in 2002, publisher Chikuma Shobō republished Yukio Mishima's Confessions of a Mask without deleting or altering a reference to "special villeges" (tokushu buraku) (the more appropriate term is "dōwa chiku" [harmony districts]). Burakumin groups protested.

The book in question was a collection of essays called Watakushi no henreki jidai (私の遍歴時代) or "My wandering period", first published by Kodansha in 1964 and reprinted a few times. Chikuma brought out essentially the same collection in 1995, and the Chikuma edition was also reprinted a few times.

The collection contains an essay by the same title, which Mishima had written in 1950, a year after he published the novel Kamen no hokuhaku (仮面の告白), which has been translated into English as Confessions of a Mask. The expression "tokushu buraku" (特殊部落) was in the essay, not the novel.

The sentence containing the expression is as follows (my translation).


In time I too, escaping the stifling [suffocating] pressures of general society, settled [down] in the special hamlet of only outsiders, and breathed a sigh of relief.

"Burakumin groups" did not protest. Only the Buraku Liberation League -- famous for, and arguably pre-occupied by, word hunting -- confronted Chikuma Shobo in 2002 and attempted to pressure Chikuma to either delete the remark or provide an explanation.

BLL recognizes that "tokushu buraku" actually has a history of currency within the "liberation movement" itself. In fact, in 1922, at the height of the proletarian fervor then stirring buraku liberationists, Suiheisha, BLL's progenitor, convened in Kyoto its first annual assembly, at which it presented its "Fellow tokushu burakumin throughout the country, unite!" manifesto. Suiheisha was dissolved in 1942 because most of its key members were in prison as communists or socialists.

BLL emerged after World War II as the leader of the most radical factions of the reincarnated buraku liberation movement. BLL resumed pre-war efforts to exorcise words like eta from the living language.

"Tokushu buraku" (special buraku) also joined the list of candidates for dead word status. Writers and publishers were expected to follow BLL's preferences for expressions like "hisabetsu buraku" (discrimination-receiving buraku) and "mihaihō buraku" (unliberated buraku).

The expression "dōwa chiku" (同和地区) -- which West oddly calls "the more approprite term" -- was a much later coinage used by the national government, and in turn by many local governments, to label the vestiges of former outcaste neighborhoods that warranted funds for infrastructure improvements. The expression was intended to avoid the proletarian-flavored expressions preferred by BLL, which was radically socialist, and its less-radical communist rival.

The Special Measures Law (Tokubetsu sōchi hō 特別装置法), which provided for such improvements, came into effect in 1969 and expired in 2002. The end of these measures were celebrated by BLL's arch rival, the Japanese Communist Party affiliated Zenkairen, which had opposed the measures since their proposal in 1965 -- because JCP is against special treatment of any classes of people within impoverished neighborhoods.

Scholars who shared Zenkairen's view of the "buraku problem" argued that "buraku discrimination" had become a problem of the past and declared an "end to buraku history". The small risk of encountering discrimination that still existed could best be reduced by liberating everyone from the very notion of "buraku". And in 2004, Zenkairen eliminated "buraku kaihō" from its organizational name and became the Zenkoku Chiiki Jinken Undō Sōrengō (全国地域人権運動総連合) or "National Confederation of Local Human Rights Movements" though it gives its English name as "The National Confederation of Human Rights Movements in Communities". It's briefer name is now or Zenjinren. As a general "human rights" organization, it still views social issues from communist point of view. But what it used to call the “buraku problem” it now calls a “Kaid? problem”.Zenkairen eliminated "buraku kaihō" from its organizational name and became Zenjinren -- a purely, and generally, "human rights" organization.

JCP now calls "kyū dōwa chiku" (旧同和地区) or "former dōwa areas", and Zenjinrin maintains such areas now need only to be liberated from BLL's domination -- which, in fact, has been taking place.

Very obviously, Mishima could not possibly have used such an odd metaphor as "dōwa chiku" in 1950. Even had he written the essay after the expression became politically fashionable, he would never have used it in the above line. For he meant, very precisely, a "special settlement" where "only outsiders" like himself are welcome.

West's book is "comparative" but often his understanding of "minority" issues in the United States does not measure up to true familiarity. His comparative rhetoric, too, is odd. A follow-up remark about Mishima example is a case in point (page 162).

But it's hard to imagine a prohibition and public backlash in America on the scale of the Japanese for even the ugliest racial epithets. . . . High schools occasionally ban the classics, but the example above of Mishima's Confessions of Mask [sic] suggests that a Japanese publisher wouldn't publish an unedited version of the American classics if they contained Japanese versions of the slurs. And can you imagine an American minority-linked publication reporting as news every incident of racial graffiti, complete with photos and analysis?

Nevertheless, some slurs are just fine in Japan. in 2005 Tokyo publisher Zuiunsha reissued Little Black Sambo in Japanese, saying it had decided that the contents -- stereotypically racist pictures of a dark-skinned boy being chased by a tiger, which were enough to cease publication in Japan in 1988 -- were "not discriminatory." Well of course not, for what powerful Japanese group would protest such a thing?

West sometimes writes things about the United States that suggest he has not really looked carefully at what does, in fact, happen there. Apparently he has not subscribed to Pacific Citizen, the newspaper of the Japanese American Citizens League, which over the years has reported, shown and told, all manner of news about findings of "Jap" here and "Jap" there with a passion for word-hunting and exorcism that rivals BLL.

West is right to point that Japan has its share of "scandals" involving what people say or write that interest groups find "inappropriate". And it is true that some of the ways in which the conflicts are resolved are somewhat different. But "political correctness" in Japan is not fundamentally different from its counterpart in America.

If there is no "powerful Japanese group" that would protest a Japanese edition of Little Black Sambo -- which over the decades has has come out, and continues to appear, in numerous editions, some very nicely narrated and illustrated -- why, then, were Japanese editions of the book targeted by controversy in Japan? And why did this controversy become the topic of books and articles in Japan?

And why -- if, as West implies, a "powerful . . . group" to protest such a book exists in the America -- do so many editions of Little Black Sambo remain in print in the country?

West's commentary on many other examples of "scandals" related to "minorities" similar fall short of being credible assessments of what actually happened and why.

Biographical note

Michigan Law, the homepage of The University of Michigan Law School, describes Mark D. West as follows (retrieved 16 October 2009).

Mark D. West, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Nippon Life Professor of Law, is the director of the Japanese Legal Studies Program at the Law School. His current research focuses on love, sex, and marriage in Japanese case law, and on comparative fraud and con artistry. Professor West is the author of Law in Everyday Japan: Sex, Sumo, Suicide, and Statutes (2005), Secrets, Sex, and Spectacle: The Rules of Scandal in Japan and the United States (2006), and editor of The Japanese Legal System: Cases, Codes, and Commentary (2006). . . .


William Wetherall and George A. De Vos

Ethnic Minorities in Japan
Willem A. Veenhoven and Winifred Crum Ewing (editors)
Case Studies on Human rights and Fundamental Freedoms
(A World Survey)
Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 5 Volumes, 1975-1976
Volume 1, 1975, pages 333-375
Foundation for the Study of Plural Societies

This was written before the senior (academically junior) author had learned to take "nationality" as a civil status seriously. He was heavily influenced by academic fashions that tended to "racialize" people in ways that arguably violated their right to be free from cateogrical discrimination -- in the interest of advancing academic theories.

The most serious violation of objective fact in this article was to regard so-called "burakumin" as a quasi ethnic minority, in concert with the junior (academically senior) author's view of "them" as an "invisible race". Though this was a "metaphor" meant to underscore the observation that discrimination against residents of former outcaste communities in Japan had debilitating effects comparable to the effects of racial discrimination in, say, the United States, it created mostly misunderstanding -- and proved the old adage about being cautious with metaphors.

"Citizenship" and "nationality" were also confused in ways that do not meet the standards of careful writing based on credible facts -- among many other problems that relegate this article to the "read with great care" category.

On George De Vos

Having said this I continue to feel honored to have had the privilege of being a student of, and working closely with, George De Vos. Apart from my current objections to some of his views regarding minorities in Japan -- which were very attractively packaged in state-of-the-art psychocultural theory -- I continue to find many of his dynamic insights into the human condition not only fascinating but enlightening and inspiring.

It was from George that I first heard about killing your father and Buddha. He will understand why, with gratitude, this student has killed his mentor.



Most materials grouped here are about "Koreans in Japan" by one or another definition. Materials about people called "Koreans" in one or another Korea, or elsewhere, are also included here if they include content on "Koreans in Japan".

Some materials included here, though ostensibly about "Koreans in Japan" or "the Korean minority in Japan", are really about "Chosenese in the Interior" of the Empire of Japan at a time "Korea" was a part of Japan called "Chosen".

Materials on the nationality and naturalization of Koreans are grouped under these headings in the "Nationality" section of the Bibliographies.

Materials on the names of Koreans, whether as Koreans or as Chosenese, and on the names of Japanese who were formerly Koreans or Chosenese, are found in the "Population registration" section of the Bibliographies.

Asakawa Akihiro 浅川晃広

Tokyo: Shinkansha, 2003

Asakawa Akihiro
Zainichi gaikokujin to kika seido
[Aliens (residing) in Japan and the naturalization system]
Tokyo: Shinkansha, 2003
202 pages, softcover, jacket

Asakawa is one of hundreds of thousands of Japanese who acquired Japan's nationality through naturalization. He is also one of several former Koreans who have adopted what would be regarded as "conservative" views of the history and present condition of so-called "Zainichi" Koreans and Chosenese. He is perfectly aware of, and sympathetic, with personal "identity" issues, being one a few million Japanese who could claim to have other than so-called "pure Japanese" ancestry. But he choses not to engage in radical discourse that reduces "Zainichi" Koreans and Chosenese to the ideological status of "victims" of colonialism if not neo-colonialism.


Jeffrey P. Bayliss

Jeffrey P. Bayliss
Minority Success, Assimilation, and Identity in Prewar Japan: Pak Chungŭm and the Korean Middle Class
The Journal of Japanese Studies
Volume 34, Number 1 (Winter 2008)
Pages 33-68

"Korea" is the protagonist of a drama in which it became the Empire of Korea in 1897, a protectorate of Japan in 1905, a part of Japan called Chosen in 1910, a "liberated" territory called "Korea" under divided USSR and US occupations in 1945, two states claiming the same territory and people in 1948, and a battlefield between DPRK (and allies) and ROK (and allies) from 1950-1953.

ROK and Japan normalized their relations in 1965, and ROK and DPRK were simultaneously admitted to the United Nations in 1991. Still, the peninsula remains politically divided, and the division continues to have an enormous pathologic impact on regional affairs, to say nothing of its effects on ROK and DPRK nationals and on people of Korean descent in other countries.

Bayliss knows all this -- but his article fails to view the life of Pak Ch'un'gŭm (朴春琴 박춘금 1891-1973) -- who he calls "Pak Chungŭm" following a different rule of romanization -- in this larger, more dynamic framework. In fact, Bayliss takes the historical starch out of the drama by writing about "Korea" and "Koreans" as though they were never "Chosen" and "Chosenese" -- and about "Japan" and "Japanese" as though they never included "Chosen" and "Chosenese".

In this respect, Bayliss has merely fallen in step with the mainstream of writers in English, going back to the period when Chosen was very much a part of Japan and Chosenese were very much Japanese. In the past it was mostly a matter of ignorance and linguistic laziness -- complacency in the habit of speaking of "Korea" and "Koreans" apart from "Japan" and "Japanese". Today it is also a matter of ideological historiography -- a refusal to accept that, for a few decades, "Japan" included Taiwan and Chosen and "Japanese" included Taiwanese and Chosenese.

Nonetheless, Bayliss pulls together a lot of material -- and presents it in a fairly objective and interesting manner. And -- except for his translations of key words, which reflect his view of "Japan" and "Japanese" without "Korea" and "Koreans" -- he makes few serious errors.

Migrants, not immigrants

Bayliss, like Michael Weiner (Weiner 1994) among other writers in English, view Chosen and Chosenese as "Korea" and "Koreans" set against "Japan" and "Japanese". Both authors speak of "the Korean population in Japan" and "the Korean community" in one place or another. However, where Weiner oddly refers to "Korean immigrants" and "the immigrant community", Bayliss more objectively talks of "Korean migrants" and "Korean migrant communities".

They were were certainly not "immigrants" -- for the same reason that Puerto Ricans are not "immigrants" in the United States -- for the United States includes Puerto Rico, and Pureto Ricans are both nationals and citizens. Where they exercise their rights to vote or run for office depends entirely on where in the United States they legally reside -- but in this respect they are no different from other US citizens. The same may be said for Chosenese when Chosen was a part of Japan and they were Japanese.

Point of view

Bayliss seeks in part to explore the "minority within a minority" of "Koreans in Japan" who climbed economic and political ladders and otherwise became "successful", and also how "such Koreans came to view themselves, others of their ethnicity, and their place in the Japanese nation and empire" in terms of their increasing wealth" (page 35).

He then makes this statement (page 35).

Both of these endeavors are fraught with an unfortunate degree of uncertainty, given the fact that the police and various state and local authorities charged with compiling reports on the minority were, like the researchers who followed them, primarily concerened with Korean poverty and resistance.

If earlier reports are flawed by they narrowness of focus, what can be said about reports by scholars like Weiner and Bayliss, who compose their snapshots of contemporary Japan and Japanese in the frame of "colonial critique" ideology -- which results in the separation of Chosen from Japan and Chosenese from Japanese, before this separation began in 1945 -- and creates, also ahistorically, "the Korean community" and "the Korean minority in Japan"?

Chosen-born and Interior-born Japanese

Bayliss mixes metaphors in a manner that renders his version of "history" unreliable. In his bent to release Chosen and Chosenese from Japan and Japanese, he brackets Pak's description of himself as being a "Chōsen-umare Nihonjin" -- which he renders "Korean-born Japanese" -- as being somehow odd -- when in fact it was quite common for Chosenese to accept that they were Japanese. Everywhere he cites "Japanese born in Korea" he brackets the expression "[i.e., Koreans] -- because he cannot speak of "Chosenese" -- and he has to exclude "Koreans" from "Japanese".

He variously mistranslates "nai-sen yūwa" as "conciliation and harmony between Japanese and Koreans" (pages 41, 45), "harmonization of Japan and Korea" (page 60), and "conciliation of Japanese and Koreans" (page 61). "Yūwa" (融和) is literally "blend and harmonize" and means "integration" or "conciliation" -- while "nai-sen" (内鮮) is short for Naichi (内地) or "Interior" and Chōsen (朝鮮) or "Chosen". The expression refers to the integration of Chosen with the prefectural part of the Empire of Japan in terms of their status and treatment under imperial law and policy -- in particular the status and treatment of their affilites as imperial subjects, i.e., Japanese.

Elsewhere, too, Bayliss reveals the source of his terminological confusion. In one translation he qualifies "Japan" as reflecting "[naichi" (page 40). In another passage he glosses " naisen ittai. "In essence," he wrote, "it declared that Japan and Korea were now truly 'one body'" (page 65).

However, people who spoke of "naisen ittai" did so from the premise that Chosen was already a part of Japan. The problem was to what extent it and the Interior were "unified" or "integrated" in terms of their status and treatment under imperial law and policy.

I strongly suspect that "Japanese born in Japan" (page 59) is similarly reflection of an imaginary "Naichi umare Nihonjin" -- which would mean "Japanese born in the Interior" -- which, technically, would mean an Japanese national -- Interiorite, Chosenese, Taiwanese, or Karafutoan -- who was born in the the Intereior -- as opposed to a "Japanese born in Chosen" who, again, could be affiliated with any legal territory within Japan's sovereign dominion. Japan's Nationality Law, which applied to Interior and Taiwanese (and later Karafuto) registers, and customary population affiliation laws, which applied to Chosen registers, were essentially patrilineal right of blood laws, which meant that a person "born in the Interior" to Chosenese parents would become a Chosenese, while a person born in Chosen to Interiorite or Taiwanese parents would become an Interiorite or Taiwanese. But all would be Japanese.

Election laws

Bayliss appears to present a sound account of election laws prior to 1945 -- a topic many writers fumble. Yet while he makes a number of interesting and valid observations, his contentions about rights of suffrage turn out to be highly misleading (page 46).

The idea of Koreans running in Japanese elections might seem strange today, when most Koreans born and raised in Japan do not even have the right to vote. From 1925 until 1945, however, the rights to vote and run for office were extended to all Korean males over the age of 25 residing in Japan, by dint of their being considered Japanese citizens. [Note 30] Despite some official consternation regarding Korean admission to the electorate, the authorities saw no great need to exclude the minority. The law did contain certain stipulations that denied the ballot to those on public assistance and those who had resided in their municipality for less than a year before the day of polling, but while these disproportionately affected residents of Japan's Korean communities, the same rules applied to the majority population as well. Futhermore, the authorities took measures to ensure that the language barrier would not result in the automatic disqualification of Korean votes by making it possible for Koreans to cast their ballots in Korean script (hangul). [Note 31]

Note 30 After 1925, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese males over age 25 were granted these rights, regardless of ethnicity or place of origin, because from an administrative standpoint all were deemed equal citizens of the empire. The right to vote or run for office did not, however, extend to men living in Japan's colonies, but here too ethnicity and place of origin were not the criteria for exclusion: Japanese who settled in Korea or Taiwan were disenfranchised for doing so. See Oguma Eiji, "Nipponjin" no kyōkai: Okinawa, Ainu, Chōsen, shokuminchi shihai kara fukki undō made (Tokyo: Shin'yōsha, 1998), pp. 367-73, for a thorough discussion of the impact of the 1925 Universal Suffrage Law on Koreans and Taiwaneses residing in Japan as well as on Japanese living in the colonies and of the debates on these issues surrounding its promulgation.

Note 31 Shortly before the general election in February 1930, the government implemented measures to allow ballots cast in hangul to be translated and counted. Although there was an objection to this among Diet members who felt that Koreans, as Japanese subjects, should at least be expected to uses a Japanese syllabary (katakana) [sic] when casting their votes, the measure stood because of a similar measure allowing the blind to cast ballots in Braille served as a precedents [sic = precedent] ("Koreans Will Cast Votes for Labor," (The Japan Times and Mail, February 2, 1930).

Bayliss writes as though the 1925 law was an entirely new statute. In fact it was a rewrite of the 1900 law, which was a rewrite of the original 1890 law. The essential affiliation and residency conditions were set down in the 1890 law. They were sligntly revised in the 1900 law, and remained essentially the same in the 1925 law.

most Koreans born and raised in Japan [today] do not even have the right to vote

It is anyone's guess what Bayliss means by "Koreans" -- but if he means someone who is a national of the Republic of Korea (a recognized status) or a Chosenese (a legacy status), or a national of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (an unrecognized status) -- then not "most" Koreans" but "all" Koreans in Japan today are aliens by definition, and where they were born and raised is irrelevant.

And "no" alien in Japan as of this writing has the right to vote under any national law. Perhaps Bayliss writes "even" because he believes that birth in a country should qualify a person for its "citizenship" defined as rights of suffrage. But that is another issue.

extended to all Korean males . . . Japanese citizens

There were, of course, no "Japanese citizens" much less "citizens of the empire". The 1890 law said "Japan subjects" (reflecting the 1890 Constitution) and the 1900 and 1925 laws said "imperial subjects" (reflecting the fact that, since 1890, "subjecthood" had expanded to include affiliates of Taiwan (1895) and Chosen (1910).

Obviously, then, the election law accommodated male imperial subjects long before the Empire of Korea joined the Empire of Japan as Chosen. Rights of suffrage were never "extended" to Chosenese, and Chosenese were never "admitted" to the electorate. From 1890 suffrage, and from 1900 rights of suffrage, were something all male subjects potentially possessed -- if they met minimum conditions of age, residency, and -- until 1925 -- tax status -- and if they were not disqualified for reason of being a ward or convicted felon, or a recipient of public assistance, among other statuses.

Chosenese were not "minorities" and did not have an "ethnicity" under any contemporary law or policy. Bayliss is imposing these characterizations on the times.

What Bayliss calls "place of origin" reflects what elsewhere he calls "original place of residence (honsekichi)" (page 60) -- an equally odd reference to what is actually the address of one's principle [original] family register -- which is totally unrelated to where one might have originated or originally resided. The honsekichi of a person born in Tokyo but residing in Osaka might have been in Keijo -- and that of someone born in Keijo but residing in London might have been in Kyoto.

Pak Chungum

Pak Chungŭm is arguably the best-known and most interesting "character" to appear in the drama -- because, as a Chosenese using the clan and personal names on his Chosen register, he was twice elected to the House of Representatives of the Imperial Diet of the Empire of Japan, from the 4th district of Tokyo prefecture (東京府第四区), which included both Honjo ward (本所区) and Fukagawa ward (深川区) of Tokyo city (東京市). The district was allocated four representatives.

Bayliss does not report all these details, and some of those he does relate are less than accurate. But he does a very commendable job of raising the most important issues to the surface of the page and generally achieves the right balance of objecitive description and provative analysis.

The issues Pak and others raised in their attempts to improve the lot of Chosenese as imperial subjects, and the relationship between Chosen and the Interior as polities within the empire, had a lot to do with legal discrimination based on status differences between Chosenese and Interiorites -- since, in principle, all were Japanese, and as such all were supposed be equal or, in time, become equal. Ironically, Bayliss -- by morphing contemporary Japanese terminology into the discriminatory "Korea" versus "Japan" and "Korean" versus "Japanese" labeling favored by many scholars and journalists today -- makes them even less equal.

Pak, whether speaking Japanese or Korean, would not have spoken of "Nihon" and "Nihonjin" in reference only to the Interior and Interiorites, thereby excluding "Chosen" and "Chosenese". He would have spoken of Nihon teikoku and Naichi and Chosen referring to entities, and shinmin and Naichijin and Chosenjin when referring to people.

For Pak to have made the sort of distinctions between "Korea and Japan" and "Koreans and Japanese" -- that Bayliss and others make in their colonial critiques -- would have contradicted his embrace of Japan's imperial dream -- of Japan as a multi-territorial state and nation in which there would be no disparity between any Japanese -- i.e., any imperial subject -- because of territorial affiliation.

Bayliss writes things like this (page 59).

With "Korean-born Japanese" as his banner, Pak's proposals before the Diet called for the government to extend to Koreans everywhere the rights and responsibilities he felt should naturally apply in all Japanese territories and to all citizens. Two of his main causes were abolishing limits from Korea and extending military conscription and the vote to Koreans and Japanese residing on the peninsula.

Later, Bayliss observes that the military service issue was not limited to conscription but included enlistment. The original Military Service Law of 1927 excluded exterior subjects without qualification -- hence they were not allowed to serve even as volunteers.

The expression "all Japanese territories" would include several territories that were under Japan's jurisdiction but which, unlike Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chosen, were not part of Japan -- i.e., Japan's sovereign dominion.

The expression "all citizens" is even odder, since "citizen" has never been defined in Japanese law. Even Great Britain's laws at the time spoke only of a "British subject" in terms of possession of "British nationality" -- and "subjects" did not become "citizens" until 1948.

Again, "the vote" was never extended to the peninsula -- because it could not be extended there. The vote could not have been extended there, nor to Taiwan, because Chosen and Taiwan were not prefectural entities.

Rather these territories had to be to some extent incorporated into the Interior -- which is precisely what happened -- after they were placed under the Ministry of Interior Affairs (Naimushō) in 1942. Karafuto was fully prefecturized in 1943. On 1 April 1945, a new chapter (Chapter 14) was added to the House of Representatives Members Election Law. The new articles (Articles 151-156) established election districts in both Taiwan and Chosen. Before planned elections could take place, however, Japan surrendered, and under the terms of the Potsdam Declaration it forfeited rule over and jurisdiction of both territories.

There were also, however, a few places in the Interior where it was not then possible to vote, for the same reason that they were not represented by election areas.

This being said, Bayliss pulls together a lot of material from Japanese sources -- most also flawed by their "critical" point of view, including Oguma Eiji's work. Fortunately, however, Bayliss recognizes Oguma's effort to see Pak's life as something more than that of a "collaborator" or "traitor".

See Status and suffrage in the "Status and citizenship" feature of this website for a fuller overview of the development of election laws and rights of suffrage in Japan before and after 1945, and more about Pak Ch'un'gŭm.

Other sources

Of the following sources, Oguma's overview of Pak's life is the most important. Weiner's account of Pak's life is longer than most in English but is sketchy and unreliable in comparison with the Bayliss's article, which heavily relies on Oguma.

Oguma 1998

小熊英二 <Oguma Eiji> <日本人>の境界
(沖縄・アイヌ・台湾・朝鮮 植民地支配から復帰運動まで)
"Nihonjin" no kyōkai
(Okinawa, Ainu, Taiwan, Chōsen / Shokuminchi shihai kara fukki undō made)
[The boundaries of "Japanese"
(Okinawa, Ainu, Taiwan, Chosen: From colonial rule to reversion movement)]
<The Boundaries of the Japanese>
Tokyo: Shin'yōsha, 1998
778 pages

See Oguma 1998 on this page for a review this book.

Weiner 1994

Michael Weiner
Race and Migration in Imperial Japan
(The Limits of Assimilation)
London: Routledge, 1994
xi, 278 pages, hardcover
Note that the contents of this book have been recycled in the outrageously expensive volume called Race, ethnicity and migration in modern Japan (Japan, Race and Identity), in the Routledge Library of Modern Japan by the same publisher (2004).

I have not reviewed Weiner 1994. See Weiner and Chapman 2009 on this page for a review of their article on "Zainichi Koreans in History and Memory" in Weiner et al on "Japan's Minorities".

Biographical note

Jeffrey Paul Bayliss, at the time of this writing an Assistant Professor of History at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, is a product of the Program in History and East Asian Languages at Harvard University.

Armed with a BA in Asian Philsophy from Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minnesota (1988) and an MA in Education from Miyagi University of Education, Sendai (1994), Bayliss did his doctoral research as a Fulbright fellow in Japan from 1998-1999 on the subject of "Minority community and identity in Japan, 1920-60: a comparison of the Korean and Buraku experience". His dissertation, filed in 2003 for a PhD in Japanese History, was titled "Discrimination, Identity Politics, and Inter-Minority Relations in Japan: Burakumin and Koreans."

Bayliss is very heavily involved in "marginalization" and "citizenship" and "multiculturism" studies of "minority communities" -- as is clear from the article reviewed here, but even more so from his many presentations and articles in English and Japanese.

The following items were culled from those listed on his curriculum vitae as posted on a Trinity College website.

"Korean-Born Japanese": The Korean Middle Class, Pak Ch'ungum, and the Price of Minority Success in Imperial Japan", essay, Noma-Reischauer Prize in Japanese Studies, Graduate Category, 1997.

Grass-roots "Multiculturalism": Korean-Burakumin Interrelations in One Community, Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting, San Diego, 10 March 2000.

Grass-Roots "Multiculturalism": Korean-Burakumin Interrelations in One Community, Asian Cultural Studies, Number 27, March 2001.

Living on the Margins of Modern Japan: Korean and Buraku Identities in the Prewar Period", presented at the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Japan Forum, Harvard University, 5 December 2003.

Poster Child for Japanese Imperialism: Pak Chungŭm and the Wartime State, Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting, San Francisco, 8 April 2006.


Mark E. Caprio

Mark E. Caprio
The Forging of Alien Status of Koreans in American Occupied Japan
Japan Focus <>
Posted 2 January 2008, retrieved 22 August 2008

A revised and abbreviated version of:

Resident Aliens: Forging the Political Status of Koreans in Occupied Japan
Chapter 7 of Mark E. Caprio and Yoneyuki Sugita (editors)
Democracy in Occupied Japan: The U.S. occupation and Japanese politics and society
[Routledge Studies in Asia's Transformations]
London: Routledge, 2007, 272 pages, hardcover

Caprio's article is one of the better recent attempts to examine the developing postwar status of "Koreans" in "Japan". His understanding of the dynamics of the history of Koreans in Japan is an improvement over that of many of his secondary sources. He has clearly made an effort to illuminate the interplay of the complex elements of history that some of the writers he cites have failed to acknowledge or appreciate in their rush to sympathize with "minorities" they regard as victims of Japanese colonialism.

While Caprio's violin strikes some victimhood notes, they are notably less strident than those of a number of other articles of this type. And he speaks of "ethnic Koreans" only once -- which alone would have raised his grade to "B" -- if only there were fewer serious flaws.

From a legal viewpoint, the biggest flaw in Caprio's article is his awkward treatment of "nationality" and "citizenship" in descriptions of what he variously calls the "political consideration" of "minority peoples" and the "political category" of "Koreans and Taiwanese".

Another major flaw is his setting of the historical stage on which status changes unfold. Caprio has the right score, but his orchestra lacks a few important instruments, and he needs to improve his arrangement and conducting. There are simply too many off-key and even wrong notes.

I have organized my comments under the following headings, followed by a biographical note.

"One of the gravest misunderstandings . . ."
Prewar and wartime status
Come again?
Status of Taiwanese
Recognition politics
Reading between the lines

"One of the gravest misunderstandings . . ."

Caprio's gravest error is that he himself does not seem to understand the meaning of "nationality" and the operation of nationality law in Japan -- including Taiwan and Chosen -- under the Empire of Japan. This following statement best illustrates the problem (bold purple emphasis mine).

Documents written during the time that the United States was preparing for the occupation of Japan reveal a fairly sophisticated understanding of the diversity among the archipelago's Korean residents. Indeed, there was mention that members of this people, as liberated victims of Japanese oppression, could play a positive role in the occupation. These same documents, however, reveal the goal of return [sic / of returning / to return ] all non-Japanese to their country, even while acknowledging the difficulties. [7]

Note 7One of the gravest misunderstandings on the part of policy makers was to assume that Japan-based Koreans had been considered "Japanese nationals" up to the end of the war. For this reason many entertained the possibility that these people would eventually be able to choose acceptance of Japanese "citizenship" or maintenance of Japanese "nationality" as future options.

"the goal of return [ing] all non-Japanese to their country"

It is obvious from all major documents -- the most important being the Cairo Declaration -- that the Allied Powers saw their mission as one of restoring "stolen" territories to the Republic of China and liberating "the people of Korea" form Japanese "enslavement". It is also clear that the United States, very early in its formulation of plans to occupy Japan, regarded Taiwanese and Koreans as "non-Japanese" -- and Taiwanese and Koreans outside Taiwan and Korea would be "repatriated" to their "homeland".

This being the case, it would seem that failure to recognize Taiwanese and Koreans as "Japanese nationals" begins with the Allied Powers, not with Japan -- where, in fact, they were clearly defined, classified, and treated as Japanese until the end of the war -- and, for the most part, until 28 April 1952.

Who, though, is misunderstanding what?

Why does Caprio allege that "policy makers" had been wrong to assume that Koreans had been Japanese nationals up to the end of the war -- in a footnote to a statement in which he describes the intent of policy makers, before the end of the war, to "return all non-Japanese to their country"?

Doesn't the evidence really show that the Allied Powers disregarded (if they even understood) the significance of "Japanese nationality" long before the end of the war?

More problematic, though, is Caprio's own attitude toward nationality. He himself appears to assume that Taiwan and Chosen were never part of Japan, and that their affiliates were never really Japanese nationals. Not once does he include Taiwan and Chosen in the semantic range of "Japan" -- and not once does he refer to the affiliates of these two entities as Japanese.

In other words, Caprio describes the Empire of Japan and its nationals as though Japan's Nationality Law and customary nationality law did not operate in Taiwan and Chosen. He himself alienates Taiwanese and Chosenese from Japanese nationality by adopting the labels of the Allied Powers -- the labels also preferred by ethnonationalists and racialists -- according to which Japanese nationality means nothing.

Caprio contends -- in his introductory paragraph -- that "These peoples ["Japan's minorities"] not only were denied political consideration as 'Japanese' but also faced severe discrimination and at times non-recognition during the postwar period" -- yet he himself does not recognize their status as Japanese.

All legal evidence shows that Japanese with registers in Taiwan and Chosen were considered Japanese nationals until 1952 -- first and foremost in GHQ/SCAP policy and also by the Japanese government -- which was bound by GHQ/SCAP directives. Some GHQ/SCAP and Japanese government officials took the view that Taiwanese and Chosenese were no longer Japanese nationals. However, both authorities continued to regard them as Japanese nationals. Even laws that treated them as "aliens" for the purpose of the law recognized that they were Japanese nationals.

Taiwanese and Chosenese were never citizens. But no one was a citizen. Japanese law has never defined "citizens" or "citizenship" -- not then, not now.

Subjects of the sovereign emperor under the 1890 Constitution were Japanese by virtue of possessing the nationality of Japan -- an entirely raceless attribute of affiliation with the state. People who share the popular sovereignty provided by the 1947 Constitution are Japanese for the same reason -- they possess Japanese nationality.

There are no other legal definitions of being Japanese in Japanese law. International law also defines nationality as a legal affiliation with a state. While the locus of sovereignty changed from the emperor to the people, the essential recognition that a person who possesses Japanese nationality is a national of Japan, and therefore is Japanese, has been one of the constants of Japanese law since the Meiji period.

As for choice of nationality -- Japan did, in fact, consider the option of giving Chosenese and Taiwanese, in what remained of Japan, the choice of remaining Japanese when it came time to conclude a peace treaty. However, by the time the Allied Powers and Japan sat down to put territorial and other settlements on paper, the East Asian political map had so abruptly changed that GHQ/SCAP decided to let Japan resolve all nationality issues itself, directly with the states concerned -- presumably the Republic of China (ROC) and the Republic of Korea (ROK). And Japan did just that -- while finding reason to denationalize all affiliates of Taiwan and Chosen, which ROC and ROK claimed as UN recognized states -- and expect them to naturalize if they wanted to be Japanese again.

See Japanese nationality after World War II and Separation and choicefor overviews of how nationality was treated before, during, and after the Allied Occupation of Japan.

Prewar and wartime status

Caprio gets off to the wrong start by pitching "Korea" against "Japan" and "Koreans" against "Japanese" -- during a period when Korea was Chosen and Koreans were Japanese. Having imposed what amounts to a "nationalist" or even a "racialist" dictionary on the territories and populations he sets out to describe, he cannot help but confuse what is what and who is who in Japanese law before, during, and after the Allied Occupation of Japan.

The following paragraph -- about one-third into his article -- reflects most of the basic flaws in Caprio's description of "Koreans in American Occupied Japan" (bold purple emphasis mine).

That Japan-based Koreans and Taiwanese residents would not be considered as "Japanese" after the war was not a significant change from their prewar and wartime status as subjects of the Japanese Empire -- the Japanese government and people would have agreed with this classification as Japan's colonized minorities were never granted Japanese citizenship during their homeland's occupation. On the other hand, if not "Japanese," then what was their political category? Many adults had resided in Japan for the majority of their lives; others knew of no other "homeland." [12]

Note 12 Ibid., pp. 36-8. [Reference to Note 8: Office of Strategic Services, "Aliens in Japan," 29 June 1945. Included in "Occupation of Japan" United States Planning Documents, 1942-1945, Volume III of set located in the Japanese National [sic / National Diet] Library.]

"Japan-based Koreans and Taiwanese residents"

"Japan-based" seems to be Caprio's translationese for "zainichi" anybody and anything -- Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, leftist activities. And being a "resident" appears to mean that someone is "Japan-based".

However, both terms are wrong -- regardless of what Caprio means by "Japan" -- for the definition of Chosenese and Taiwanese as "non-Japanese" for Occupation purposes applied to all Chosenese and Taiwanese -- wherever they were based, wherever they resided -- throughout Asia and the Pacific -- throughout, indeed, the world.

Taiwan had become part of Japan in 1895, and Korea had become the Japanese territory of Chosen in 1910. Hence Taiwan and Chosen were parts of Japan. These territories ceased being parts of "Japan" as defined by GHQ/SCAP for Occupation purposes -- pursuant to the terms of the Potsdam Declaration which Japan accepted when it surrendered to the Allied Powers. However, they continued to be parts of Japan for legal purposes until the conclusion of treaties containing provisions for territorial settlements.

The GHQ/SCAP exclusion of Taiwanese and Chosenese from the definition of "Japanese" for Occupation purposes was qualified by the need to continue to legally regard them as Japanese for most purposes of domestic Japanese law until otherwise determined by agreements between Japan and the states to which Japan would cede its sovereignty over Taiwan and Chosen and their affiliated populations -- presumably ROC, which occupied Taiwan, and Korea, which was not yet a state but a territory divided into two occupation zones.

The Nansei Islands -- Okinawa prefecture and some islands affiliated with Kagoshima prefecture -- were also excluded from "Japan" and their affiliated populations were similar excluded from "Japanese" for Occupation purposes. However, Chosenese, Taiwanese, and Nanseido Islanders residing in "Japan" continued to be Japanese nationals under most domestic laws.

"not a significant change"

Caprio does not define the measures by which he considers the change of treatment of Chosenese and Taiwanese after the war to have been insignificant. But their treatment as "aliens" under some laws and "Japanese" under others -- at the convenience of GHQ/SCAP policy and GHQ/SCAP-sanctioned laws and policies of the Japanese government -- resulted in a long list of significant changes, including these.

1. Loss of freedom to travel between the Interior (prefectures) and Taiwan (Formosa) or Chosen (Korea), or to migrate and settle anywhere within these three territories

GHQ/SCAP's alienation of Taiwanese and Chosenese from its definition of "Japanese" greatly impeded the freedom of movement they had come to have over the decades that Taiwan and Chosen had been part of Japan. Those who were in GHQ/SCAP's "Japan" were encouraged to "repatriate" to their "homeland" -- as GHQ/SCAP directives put it. Those who opted to leave "Japan" were issued one-way passes with no re-entry permits. Those in one occupied territory were unable to freely visit their relatives in another territory. A number of Taiwanese and Chosenese, who had residency status in GHQ/SCAP's "Japan" but were elsewhere when the war ended, had difficulty returning to their homes.

2. Less freedom to migrate within the prefectures as Japanese nationals

Though Japanese nationals, Taiwanese and Chosenese were suddenly subjected to registration and other controls as "aliens" -- including more police attention.

3. Loss of suffrage in "Japan" from the first postwar election in April 1946

The following events in late 1945 are significant.

11 October 1945 MacArthur (SCAP) directed Prime Minister Shidehara to proceed with reforms, including extending suffrage to woman. The Japanese government appears to have already started to move in the direction of giving women rights of suffrage and lowering the age of eligibility to vote.

23 October 1945 The Cabinet draft of a new lower house election law stipulated that "Chosenese and Taiwanese of Interior residence also shall be persons who possess the right to elect and the right to be elected" (my translation of excerpt in Mizuno 1996, for which see review of Kashiwazaki 2000 in this bibliography).

1 November 1945 GHQ/SCAP issued a directive called "Repatriation of Non-Japanese from Japan" (SCAPIN-224) listing "Koreans" and "individuals formerly domiciled in Formosa" and some other Japanese among "non-Japanese". On 3 November SCAP the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed SCAP to "treat Formosan-Chinese and Koreans as liberated peoples" and stipulated that "They are not included in the term 'Japanese' as used in this directive" (JCS 1380/15). Such alienation of "Koreans" and "Formosans" from their status as Japanese had begun during the war and had become Allied policy by the time the Occupation began.

17 December 1945 A new House of Representatives Election Law (Law No. 42) is promulgated, without the provision including Chosenese and Taiwanese residents of the Interior. It has instead a supplementary provision stipulating that "The right to elect and the right to be elected, of persons not subject to application of the Family Registration Law, shall for the present be suspended (my translation of excerpt in Mizuno 1996). The Family Registration Law does not apply to Chosen or Taiwan.

4. Social stigmatization as "aliens" expected to "return" to their "homeland"

Such stigmatization made Chosenese and Taiwanese less welcome in a society that until then had been "integrating" under imperial policy -- but is suddenly being "disintegrated" by GHQ/SCAP notions of "liberation" and "repatriation". The divisive mood made many aspects of life more difficult -- not only for Chosenese and Taiwanese, but relatives and friends in prefectural registers.

5. The alienation of Taiwanese and Chosenese from their status as Japanese effected some status actions in family registers

Key provisions of the Civil Code and Family Registration Law had been incorporated into Taiwan and Chosen laws. And a Common Law had been established to facilitate status actions between any Japanese subjects in any Japanese registers. Such provisions were made to facilitate migration within the empire and accommodate marriages and adoptions between any imperial subjects or families.

The separation of Taiwan and Chosen from "Japan" and from each other -- and the partial exclusion of their affiliates from "Japanese" status -- made marriage and adoption, to say nothing of inheritance and other civil matters, more difficult for some, impossible for others.

Legal as well as geographical barriers to status actions were raised two months after Japan agreed to end the war. On 15 October, a few weeks after Chosen had been surrendered to and occupied by the US and the USSR, and about a week before Taiwan would be surrendered to and occupied by ROC, the Ministry of Justice ordered the suspension of interactions between Interior and Exterior family registers no longer under Japan's control and jurisdiction.

Within "Japan" as defined by GHQ/SCAP, however, the 1918 Common Law continued to operate. And because municipal offices had a certain amount of information about locally registered Chosenese and Taiwanese, they continued to administer civil matters under applicable Japanese laws as before.

However, until ROC and later ROK established missions in "Japan" to mediate the civil affairs of the Taiwanese and Chosenese who became their nationals, updating their registers in Taiwan and on the peninsula south of the 38th parallel was not possible -- and updating the register of anyone who is still affiliated with Chosen, south or north, remains impossible -- as the Japanese municipalities in which they are registered as aliens continue to administer their civil affairs without mediation from ROK or DPRK.

Moreover, ROC in Taiwan, and the provisional governments set up in Korea and then ROK and DPRK, engaged in their own forms of "alienation" -- to the extent of denationalizing some people in Taiwan and Korean registers who had once been Interior subjects.

Japan, however, has continued to recognize as Japanese those in prefectural registers who had once been in Taiwan or Chosen registers -- and has not recognized as Japanese those in Taiwan or Chosen registers who had once been in a prefectural register.

"status as subjects of the Japanese Empire"

The 1890 Constitution stated that the qualifications for being a subject would be according to determinations of law, and the 1899 Nationality Law defined the qualifications for being Japanese. The 1899 law was extended to Taiwan and Karafuto. Customary nationality law applied to Chosen. Taiwanese, Karafutoans, and Chosenese were subjects of Japan. As subjects they were Japanese nationals. As nationals they were Japanese.

"the Japanese government and people"

Having pressed GHQ/SCAP's definition of "Japan" and "Japanese" into the service of his own descriptive narrative, it is inevitable that Caprio himself exclude from "the Japanese people" the very people who might also have an opinion as to whether they were Japanese. This expression also smacks of the reductionist notions of "Japan" and "the Japanese" as singularities of a single mind -- whereas, in fact, both "the Japanese government" and "[the Japanese] people" embraced a variety of views about whether Chosenese and Taiwanese were or were not "Japanese".

"Japan's colonized minorities"

"Colonized minorities" appears to mean "former colonized aliens" -- though neither is defined. Caprio seems to believe that Korea was a "colony" of Japan rather than an annexed part of Japan. He also seems to share the viewpoint of US reports he cites that Koreans are "a distinct minority group" (Office of Strategic Services, "Aliens in Japan", 29 June 1945) as well as "an oppressed minority group" (Richard B. Finn, "Memorandum of Conversation: Koreans in Japan", 3 February 1949) -- if not also "a difficult minority group" (William J. Sebald, "Status of Koreans in Japan", interoffice memo dated 18 February 1949).

However, "colonized" does not well describe the annexation of Korea and its aftermath -- the recognition of Chosenese as Japanese, the accommodation of two-way migration and intermarriage, the attempt to integrate Chosen into the prefectural order. That Chosenese in the prefectures might constitute a social, legal, or political "minority" is of no consequence in and of itself.

"Japanese citizenship"

"Citizenship" has never been a category in Japanese law. Japanese law, then as now, defines only "nationality" -- and there is no doubt that all Taiwanese and Chosenese were Japanese nationals in every legal sense of the word. The 1899 Nationality Law was extended to Taiwan shortly after its promulgation. The annexation of Korea as Chosen in 1910 resulted in Koreans becoming Chosenese, who as subjects of Japan were Japanese nationals.

Precisely because Taiwanese and Chosenese were legally Japanese enabled (1) their migration to the prefectures, and (2) their accommodation by prefectural laws that applied to them as Japanese. While Taiwanese, Chosenese, and Interior (prefectural) registers were governed under separate legal systems, migration between registers through marriage and/or adoption was enabled by a commonality of nationality.

And precisely because Taiwanese and Chosenese who remained in the prefectures after the war were Japanese -- their legal status constituted a problem the GHQ/SCAP -- and, in turn, for the government of Japan, which was at the mercy of GHQ/SCAP's understanding of Japanese law and the status of subjects with registers in the exterior territories of Taiwan and Chosen.

"homeland's occupation"

This expression also steps over the line of historical objectivity by adopting the descriptive terminology, of Taiwanese and Korean nationalists, which appears to have informed the views of American policy makers. Caprio sometimes brackets "homeland" -- as though he might question its appropriateness -- but mostly he seems to adopt it as part of his own viewpoint.

In fact, not all Taiwanese and Chosenese would have regarded Taiwan or Chosen as their "homeland" -- which might have been China, or the Interior of Japan (prefectures), if not the Soviet Union, Manchoukuo, or another country, even the United States. For under Japanese law, "Chōsenjin" (Chosenese) and "Taiwanjin" (Taiwanese) were regional registration (minseki) statuses, acquired through either birth or migration into a Chosen or Taiwan register.

Whether Taiwan and Korea were "occupied" by Japan depends on how one interprets the legality of the treaties which ceded Taiwan and Korea to Japan. Despite the rhetoric of the Cairo Declaration, the Allied Powers -- including the Republic of China -- had recognized Japan's sovereignty over Taiwan and Chosen. By signing the Instruments of Surrender, Japan authorized the Allied Powers to occupy Taiwan (by the Republic of China) and Chosen (by the United States and the Soviet Union) -- as Japanese territories deprived of Japanese control and jurisdiction, but not yet of Japanese sovereignty. Japan formally retained sovereignty, although it had delegated its sovereignty to the Allied Powers while also agreeing to abandon its claims of sovereignty in a treaty of peace.

"political category"

"Political category" is a misnomer because "nationality" and "citizenship" are legal -- not political -- statuses. GHQ/SCAP's definitions of "Japan" and "Japanese" were also legal -- not political -- statuses. GHQ/SCAP dictated Occupation laws -- including its directives defining "Japan" and "Japanese" for Occupation purposes.

Inevitably there are political considerations behind all measures that determine legal status. However political thoughts were behind the alienation of Chosenese from Japanese to "Koreans" during the Occupation, alienation was affected through an essentially legal process that including the following measures.

1. Laws in effect at any time before the Occupation

2. Pre-Occupation laws that remained in effect, revised or not, during if not also after the Occupation

3. Japanese laws enacted during or after the Occupation

4. GHQ/SCAP directives and orders that directly affected the status of persons in territories under the legal jurisdiction of the Allied Powers, or which informed Japanese laws that affected their status

5. Treaties and other international agreements that have effected Japanese laws, their operation, and their interpretation in Japan -- whatever the extent of Japan's sovereign dominion and jurisdiction at any given point in time.

Come again?

This is one of the more incomprehensible graphs in Caprio's article (bold purple emphasis mine).

Late June 1945, a mere month and a half before the war's end, was still too early to anticipate the geo-political structure of postwar East Asia. In particular the situation of the peoples of Japan's Northeast Asian colonies, the Taiwanese and Koreans, would be most affected by postwar developments, namely the defeat of the Chinese Nationalists by the communists and the division of the Korean peninsula at the 38th parallel. The plight of the Korean people was particularly complex due to their large numbers in Japan and the political division of their country. To the contrary, the plight of the Taiwanese population in Japan was settled with relatively [sic / relative ] ease thanks to the Nationalist Chinese' siding with the Allied forces. Both the Korean and the Taiwanese populations were a source of concern for the Occupation and Japanese police.

The Allied Powers, particularly the United States government, began "anticipating" the postwar structure of East Asia shortly after it declared war on Japan in December 1941. By June 1945, all manner of scenarios and contingency plans were on the table in anticipation of what might happen if hostilities continued beyond the date that the USSR was expected to join the war and Japan continued to fight.

In hindsight -- the major factor not sufficiently appreciated by US leaders -- due mostly to their ignorance about and apathy toward Asia -- turned out to be the resurgence of the communist revolutionary activities that had been building for decades before either the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 or the Pacific War of 1941-1945. The revolutionary zeal of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and other communists in Asia was significantly strengthened by these wars -- and were even inspired by the efforts of the Allied Powers to "liberate" China, Taiwan, Manchoukuo, and Korea from Japanese rule. In the meantime, the political and military prowess of leaders like Chiang Kai-shek significantly weakened, while the Soviet Union was in a better position than ever to realize Russia's dream of hegemony in North and Northeast Asia.

Taiwan was not a Northeast Asian colony.

The Korean peninsula was occupied and divided before the occupation of Taiwan. The creation of ROK and DPRK on the peninsula took place before the communists forced the nationalist government to flee to Taiwan.

That was mighty nice of the Nationalist Chinese to side with the Allies. But if Caprio is talking about the Pacific War -- then the United States and Great Britain, not to mention The Netherlands and some other states, had sided with the Republic of China in its resistance against Japan -- which had driven the ROC government, under Chiang Kai-shek, into virtual exile in Chungking in 1938 -- then in 1940 recognized the Wang Ching-wei government in Nanjing. By 1941, the states siding with ROC were collaborating in economic sanctions and blockades against Japan.

Status of Taiwanese

The following paragraph, which immediate follows the above cited graph, reflects problems with narrative quality (bold purple emphasis mine).

Nationalist China's early recognition as a member of the United Nations, and as one of the five Security Council Members, greatly simplified the status of Japan's Taiwanese-Chinese population. Regardless of their opinion on the matter, they would be considered the responsibility of the Chinese government and thus entitled to all of the benefits that UN membership provided nationals of member states. As early as October 1945 the Chinese government ordered all Japan-based Chinese to register with this government to recover Chinese nationality. It also established a Mission in Japan. Recognition as Chinese not only allowed them food rations as Allied Nationals, but also exempted them from paying capital taxes to the Japanese government. [15]

Note 15 Foreign Office Japanese Government. "Japanese Nationals in Detached Territories and the Peoples of those Territories Residing in Japan," in Records of the United States Department of State relating to the internal affairs of Japan, 1945-49, Reel 6, February 1948, pp. 9-10, Japanese National Diet Library, Kensei Room.

"Nationalist China's early recognition"

The Republic of China was not a subject of "early recognition as a member of the United Nations". China was one of the founders of the United Nations -- a signatory of the Declaration of United Nations of 1 January 1942 which allied states against Tripartite Pact signatories and adherents -- and of the United Nations Charter of 24 October 1945.

"Japan's Taiwanese-Chinese population"

It is not clear what Caprio means by this "Taiwanese" and "Chinese" or "Chinese who were formerly Taiwanese". Under Japanese law, there were Chinese -- who had nothing to do with Taiwan -- and there were Taiwanese -- who had nothing to do with China. China, of course, had accepted Japan's surrender of Taiwan, but Taiwan was still formally part of Japan. At the time, Japan was not even competent to sign a treaty ceding Taiwan to ROC or otherwise giving ROC the right to extend its nationality to Taiwanese. ROC did what it pleased in Taiwan, and later in Japan, assuming that Taiwan was already part of its sovereign dominion.

Taiwanese in Japan, whether or not they had received certificates of nationality from ROC representatives, were not treated as United Nations nationals by GHQ/SCAP until sometime in 1947, after ROC (Chiang Kai-shek) pressured SCAP (MacArthur) to recognize them as such. Under Japanese law, however, they remained Taiwanese.

Even after such treatment began, Japan did not -- and could not -- recognize Taiwanese as ROC nationals for purposes of alien registration. The GHQ/SCAP-approved Alien Registration Order -- the last imperial ordinance passed by Imperial Diet -- was promulgated by Hirohito and came into effect on 2 May 1947, the day before the new constitution was enforced. Article 11 provided that "Among Taiwanese those the Minister of Interior determines and Chosenese, with respect to the application of this imperial ordinance, for the present shall be regarded as aliens" (my translation).

Japan is not able to recognize Taiwanese as ROC nationals until 28 April 1952, when the San Francisco Peace Treaty comes into effect, which causes Japan to renounce all rights over Taiwan, which causes Taiwanese to lose their Japanese nationality under Japanese law. In the peace treaty between Japan and ROC, signed the same day in Taipei, Japan recognized as Chinese nationals "[all] former [formerly affiliated] residents of Taiwan and Penghu and their descendants who moreover possess the nationality of China in accordance with the laws and regulations which the Republic of China" (my translation).

Only Taiwanese "nationalists" today dispute the authority of ROC to go beyond its General Order No. 1 mandate as a representative of the Allied Powers by not only accepting Japan's surrender of Taiwan and administering Taiwan as an occupied territory, but by jumping the peace treaty gun and immediately nationalizing the territory as an ROC province and its inhabitants and ROC nationals. By 1949, though, Taiwan was practically all that was left of China under ROC's effective control and jurisdiction.

"As early as October 1945"

Japan did not surrender Taiwan to ROC until 25 October. ROC did not issue a decree that provisionally "restored" ROC nationality to Taiwanese until 12 January 1946.

ROC did not issue a decree to "restore" ROC nationality to "overseas Taiwanese" until 22 June 1946. Overseas Taiwanese who wished to "recover" their Chinese nationality were able to do so through ROC embassies, consulates, or representatives. Those unwilling to recover their Chinese nationality had until 31 December 1946 make a notification to this effect (Chiu 1990, page 54).

ROC, as an Allied Power, had accepted Japan's surrender of Taiwan as the Allied Power that stood to regain the territory as part of China under the terms of surrender, based in part on the 1943 Cairo Declaration. ROC was officially represented in Occupied Japan, and SCAP, exercising his sovereign authority in the Occupied entity, authorized ROC to register Taiwanese in Occupied Japan who wished to be regarded as its nationals, i.e., as Chinese. Taiwanese who registered as Chinese were treated like other Chinese, i.e., as United Nations Nationals, and those who were recognized as ROC officials were excluded from treatment as "aliens" under the 1947 Alien Registration Order.

"Japan-based Chinese . . . recover Chinese nationality"

Chinese in Japan were already Chinese. They had no need to "recover" a nationality they already had. As Chinese, they were immediately treated as United Nations nationals.

Only a handful of Taiwanese, who had naturalized as Japanese from Chinese nationality, had once been nationals of China. Older Taiwanese had once been nationals of China under the Ching (Qing) dynasty. The vast majority of Taiwanese had never been nationals of the Republic of China, which did not come into existence until 1912 (1st Republic) or 1928 (2nd Republic). The majority of Taiwanese were Japanese from birth.

Taiwanese in the prefectures were never subject to "orders" from the Republic of China, which had no jurisdiction in "Japan" as defined by GHQ/SCAP. Since ROC had declared war on Japan, it effectively had no diplomatic relations with Japan. In any case, Japan, when signing the Instruments of Surrender, had consigned its right to represent itself in foreign affairs to SCAP. Hence ROC required SCAP's permission to enroll Taiwanese in Japan as ROC nationals.

Recognition politics

Caprio's remarks about the non-recognition of the so-called "Korean Provisional Government" show little understanding of the real world (bold purple emphasis mine).

The complications facing the Korean resident in Japan intensified while those of the Taiwanese resident waned. The United States never considered the overseas Korean Provisional Government as a wartime ally or as a postwar legitimate representative of the Korean people. This non-recognition prevented the Korean population from attaining a status of Allied national following the war. Moreover, the division of the peninsula into US and Soviet zones blocked Koreans from attaining United Nations status even after 1948, when legitimate governments were established in the north and the south. (Veto rights in the Security Council allowed the the [sic] US and the Soviet Union to block entry of each other's Korean client state.) It was only after this time that the Occupation forces recognized the Korean government's right to establish a representative office in Japan to care for this people's needs. This office, however, represented the interests of but a portion of the Korean population in Japan. Previously, from 1946, SCAP entrusted the Japanese with the task of registering this population under the terms of the Alien Registration Act promulgated that year.

"Korean Provisional Government"

What makes Caprio think that recognition of the so-called Korean Provisional Government (KPG) was possible at any time between its founding in 1919 and 1945? And what makes him think that its recognition by 1945 would have made life easier for Koreans in Occupied Japan, much less for Koreans in Occupied Korea?

The wording of the Cairo Declaration makes it clear that, collectively, the Allied Powers did not recognize Korea as a state -- but as a territory that had to be liberated. The United States, United Kingdom, Russia (before the founding of USSR), and China (before the founding of ROC) had recognized Japan's annexation of Korea -- hence regarded Korea as a part of the sovereign Empire of Japan.

The Korean Provisional Government became a "wartime ally" only in the minds of the Republic of China, which had recognized KPG before the start of the Pacific War in what was little more than an act of diplomatic back-scratching. ROC never seriously regarded KPG as a true state in exile -- which, in fact, it was not.

China (under the Ching dynasty) had recognized Japan's interests in Korea after the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, as did the United States and the United Kingdom. Russia also had to recognize Japan's presence in Korea after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. While Japan's annexation of Korea as Chosen in 1910 was not entirely welcome by these other states, particularly China, they recognized Japan's claims of sovereignty, and their missions in Korea continued to operate as missions in Chosen.

Korean provisional governments sprouted in several places in Chosen and in Vladivostok, but also in Shanghai, during the days and weeks following the start of the March First Movement in 1919. On this day, some Korean nationalists in Keijo (Seoul) made a declaration of independence, inspired by Woodrow Wilson's allusions to "national self-determination" at the Paris Peace Conference in January.

The Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai became the locus of regional Korean resistance to Japan's rule of Chosen. The Shanghai KPG took refuge in Chungking when Chiang Kai-shek moved the ROC government there in 1938, joined ROC in its declaration of war against Japan and Germany on 9 December 1941, and contributed to the resistance against Japan until the end of the war.

The first president of KPG in Shanghai was Syngman Rhee, who had settled in Hawaii. Rhee, expelled from KPG in 1925 for embezzlement, returned from Shanghai to the United States, living in Hawaii and Washington, D.C., where he continued to promote the independence of Korea among anyone who would listen. During the Pacific War, the Office of Strategic Services recruited Rhee to organize an espionage network in Korea, but he lacked sufficient contacts in Chosen to achieve anything.

After Japan agreed to surrender, Rhee, who had billed himself the the Chairman of the Korean Commission, asked the State Department to recognize him as the head of the Korean government. He was rebuffed. MacArthur, however, needed a Korean figurehead who could help the United States Army Military Government in Korea maintain order and establish a Korean government. He asked Chiang Kai-shek for recommendations. Chiang suggested Rhee and Kim.

By 12 October, MacArthur was inviting Rhee to Korea. He arrived in Seoul on the 28th speaking Korean with an English accent, having been away from the peninsula for over three decades. Rhee turned down offers from a couple of up-start parties to take over their leadership. He had his own ideas.

Kim Ku arrived on 23 November. His criminal record included a conviction for an assassination in 1896 of a Japanese military officer suspected of assassinating the empress, dismissed charges in an alleged attempt to assassinate the Japanese Governor-General in 1910. He had fled to Shanghai in 1919 in the wake of the March First Movement, helped organize the KPG, became its Police Minister of the KPG, then in 1927 its president. KPG was involved in a number of espionage operations against Japanese in China and Japan.

Back in Korea, Kim lived up to his reputation as a trouble maker from the viewpoint of USAMGIK, which had as little tolerance for social unrest as Japanese authorities. By 1948 he was clearly out of touch with the population that went to the polls and elected Rhee the first president of the Republic of Korea. Kim was assassinated in 1949, and his assassin was assassinated in 1996.

Japan never declared war on ROC. By 31 March 1940, Wang Ching-wei (Wang Jingwei, Wang Zhaoming) was running the Central Government of China in Nanking, and on 9 January 1943 his government declared war on the United States.

In the meantime, Syngman Rhee and other Korean nationalists in the United States lobbied for American support of their cause. However, the US had recognized Japan's Annexation of Korea and to some extent even encouraged it as a means of stabilizing continental Northeast Asia. The US recognized "Chosen" as a territory of Japan -- maintained consulates in Chosen -- issued US immigration papers to Chosen subjects of the Empire of Japan as "Japanese" -- and tallied them as "Japanese" in US immigration statistics.

Japan had annexed Korea before the founding of the Republic of China. The United States, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of China had recognized Japan's annexation of Korea as Chosen -- until Japan declared war on the United States and the British Empire on 7 December 1941 (US time). The US and Great Britain declared war on Japan the following day (their times). The belligerents broke off diplomatic relations and rescinded all standing treaties -- the normal practice when states declare war on each other. The United States did not formally declare war on Germany and Italy until 11 December.

Not only did Japan not declare war on the Republic of China, it did not even recognize ROC -- instead recognizing only the government of Wang Ching-wei. The ROC declared war on Japan, Germany, and Italy on 9 December 1941 (its time). KPG joined ROC in its declaration of war on these three states. Free France declared war on Japan on 8 December.

The Soviet Union, though allied with the US and UK in the war in Europe, honored its neutrality pact with Japan until 5 April 1945, when it denounced the pact on account of its obligations to the Allied Powers in the European theatre as the war there was nearing an end.

Only ROC, after it too had become a government in exile, had recognized PKG. Despite this diplomatic back-scratching, ROC did not seem to feel that PKG was prepared to immediately govern the territory of Chosen as a liberated Korean state -- for PKG was more an organization of overseas "Korean nationalists" than a true state in exile.

Among the Allied Powers, both the United States and the Republic of China were very much aware of PKG. The United States, however, refused to accept claims by Korean nationalists that Korea had never belonged to Japan. The so-called "Korean Provisional Government" (PKG) had been recognized by only a few other states, mostly themselves in exile -- including ROC when it was in exile.

Kim Gu -- another Korean nationalist who went into exile in 1919 -- was the president of PKG when the Pacific War ended. The United States Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK) allowed both Kim and Rhee to come to Korea and participate in the creation of a new government on the advice of Chiang Kai-shek.

It also refused to entertain demands by those returning from exile, like Kim Ku, then president of the "Korean Provisional Government" (KPG) founded in Shanghai in 1919, should be immediately recognized as the legitimate government of a "liberated" Korea.

Japan's annexation of Korea as Chosen had in fact been recognized by all of the Allied powers. Even during the war, and despite the rhetoric of the Cairo Declaration, none of the Allied powers had recognized KPG -- except ROC, but only after it had fled from Nanking (Nanjing) to Chungking (Chongqing) in virtual exile within China.

KPG too, under the leadership of Kim Ku (金九 김 구 1876-1949), had fled from Shanghai to Chungking, where it joined ROC in declaring war on Japan and Germany when Japan launched the Pacific War broke out on 8 December 1941. Kim, KPG's president since 1927, pledged its "Korean Liberation Army" to local resistance against Japan, and was about to take the war to Korea, as the USSR had taken it to Manchuria, when Japan surrendered.

On the advice of Chiang Kai-shek, MacArthur invited Kim Ku, as well as Syngman Rhee (1875-1965), KPG's first president from 1919-1925, to come to Korea and help put together a government. Kim lost to Rhee in ROK's first elections, held a month before the formal founding of the state on 15 August 1948.

ROK, though immediately recognized by the United States, the Republic of China, and a number of other members of the United Nations, was generally not regarded as qualified to join the peace treaty with Japan. Not only did ROK not exist when the Allies vowed to sign a common peace treaty with Japan in the 1942 Declaration by United Nations, but there had been no Korean state. And such as it had existed, it was part of Japan and not at war with Japan.

"legitimate governments established north and the south"

The United Nations General Assembly did not regard DPRK as a legitimate government. Shortly after the founding of ROK and DPRK, the General Assembly passed a resolution recognizing ROK as the "only lawful government" in Korea. A similar resolution was made in 1949. The manner in which the United States pushed these resolutions in the Security Council -- in a fit of McCarthyism -- while withdrawing most US forces from ROK in compliance with the resolutions, expecting the Soviet Union to withdraw its troops and persuade DPRK to disband -- triggered the Korean conflict that grew into the Korean War.

The bottom line is -- the United States had begun to abandon ROK and write off Taiwan when Kim Song Il's People's Army swept south across the 38th parallel.

"the Korean government's right"

Which Korean government? Weren't there two? And weren't both "legitimate"?

In any event, no state has a "right" to represent itself in the affairs of another state -- barring mutual recognition and agreement over the parameters of their relationship. In allowing the ROK government to represent itself in Japan, SCAP was serving America's interests in Japan and Korea as well as Japan's interests.

"Alien Registration Act promulgated in 1946"

SCAP ordered a general registration of "non-Japanese" in "Japan" in 1946 to facilitate repatriation. Some local military governments, such as SCAP's Osaka Military Government, even issued registration certificates consisting of photo-ID cards with boxes for a fingerprints.

However, the Alien Registration Order was not promulgated and enforced until 2 May 1947.


Caprio summarizes the history of alien fingerprinting in Japan like this (bold purple emphasis mine).

The plight of Japan-based Koreans began to improve from the late 1980s when the Japanese government removed one of the more controversial measures of the Alien Registration Act: fingerprinting. [43] The Japanese Diet reintroduced this practice in November 2007, but specifically excluded non-Japanese with "special permanent residency" (tokubetsu eiju ken) status (which includes the Japan-based Korean and Chinese populations) from this requirement. In recent decades there has also been a substantial rise in the number of Japan-based Koreans naturalizing and assimilating as Japanese, particularly after the Japanese government generally eased requirements for naturalization from the 1980s.

Note 43 The 1947 Alien Registration Ordinance and the 1952 Alien Registration Act were both modeled on the US Smith Act of 1940 introduced to register and fingerprint foreign residents. In Japan, fingerprinting was introduced in the latter 1952 Act, which went into effect in April 28, 1952, the day the occupation ended. Takemae Eiji, Inside GHQ, pp. 450, 499.

"from the late 1980s"

There were several changes in alien fingerprinting rules after implementation in 1955. The refusal movement of the 1980s began in 1980 but gathered momentum in 1982 when some rules were relaxed while enforcement was tightened. Flat fingerprints replaced rolled prints in 1985. One-time only fingerprinting (using "invisible ink") was introduced in 1988.

Permanent residents (Special Permanent Residents and general permanent residents alike) were exempted from 1993. All alien registration fingerprinting ended from 2000, when signatures were required and an alien registration version of family registration was introduced.

While Caprio's secondary source does not specify this much detail, it accurately notes the 1993 and 2000 turning points.

"reintroduced this practice"

Japan has not reintroduced fingerprinting as a matter of alien registration. The fingerprinting Caprio refers to, as beginning from 2007, involves submission of biometric data, including scans of the tips of both index fingers, and a scan of the face, of all aliens -- except Special Permanent Residents and a short list of others.

"includes the Japan-based Korean and Chinese populations"

This is not true -- or is highly misleading. Perhaps Caprio intends "Japan-based" to mean only those "Koreans" and "Chinese" who qualify as Special Permanent Residents -- but he has not said so.

In any event, SPRs are not defined by nationality but by whether they were once persons who lost the nationality of Japan as an effect of the effectuation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty from 28 April 1952. This means non-Interior nationals of Japan who were residing in Japan (as defined after territorial settlements) on or before 2 September 1945, or their descendants born in Japan on or after 3 September 1945 -- and have continually resided in Japan.

SPRs represent about fifty nationalities. The vast majority are "Koreans" (ROKoreans or Chosenese) followed by "Chinese" (ROChinese). However, the vast majority of Chinese in Japan are not SPRs. And both the number and the proportion of Koreans who qualify as SPRs, among all Koreans in Japan, is rapidly decreasing.

"naturalizing and assimilating as Japanese"

The vast majority of Koreans who have naturalized were born and raised in Japan, probably into and in a family consisting of one Japanese parent if not also other Japanese relatives. Even those with two Korean parents, who are born in Japan, never "assimilate" because they become what they are as they grow up in Japan.

Becoming Japanese nationals is not, for most naturalizers who are born in Japan, an occasion to change in any significant way -- except to be able to say they are Japanese.

"introduced in the latter 1952 Act"

Alien registration and fingerprinting laws originated in GHQ/SCAP orders to register Japanese it had defined as "non-Japanese" -- including Taiwanese, Chosenese, and Nansei islanders. Some alien registration and fingerprinting began in 1946 before the 1947 Alien Registration Order. However, fingerprinting was not part of the 1947 ordinance.

These measures were inspired by -- not modeled on -- US practices. Caprio's secondary source says "inspiration" -- and a comparison of the Japanese ordinance with the US act would show that this is true.

While the Alien Registration Law began operating from 28 April 1952, with provisions for fingerprinting, the provisions were not worked out and enforced until 1955. This fact is missing from Caprio's secondary source -- though one of its co-translators and co-adapters was a key figure in the anti-fingerprint movement. Much about this book, though a valuable secondary source, is flawed like Caprio's article (see Takemae 2002).

Reading between the lines

It is often hard to different Caprio's voice from those of his sources. At times he comes across as a ventriloquist who plays the dummy. One gets the impression, though, that he is comfortable as a publicist for what he calls -- six times -- the "plight" of particularly Koreans in Japan.

Whatever the purpose of his article, though, much of the material he cites is very interesting -- worth the price of admission, as it were. And he leaves sufficient tracks to review his sources from other points of view.

What Caprio's article strongly suggests to me -- is not just what he calls the "forging of alien status" of Taiwanese and Chosenese in "American occupied Japan" -- but what I would call the "disintegration" of their lives in the prefectures as Japanese.

Not only did American "policy makers" set in motion the eventual alienation of Taiwanese and Chosenese from Japanese nationality in advance of peace treaty settlements -- but, in the postwar remnants of Japan, they also aided and abetted the minoritization of Taiwanese and Chosenese who, before the Occupation, had been participating in prefectural life as Japanese.

Caprio states that the purpose of his article is to consider the application of the "democratic ideals" stated in the Potsdam Declaration to "Japan's minorities" while examining "the plight of Japan's Korean population". But he does not question whether there really was such a "plight" as to warrant the view that Koreans were victims of "enslavement" who needed to be "liberated" -- much less "returned" to their "homeland" if they happened to be in "Japan".

Caprio states that Americans gathered information on Koreans by reading Japanese publications and interviewing "Koreans living in the United States and Korean soldiers who had been captured by US military forces" among others. He seems to understand that the sources of information were not the most reliable.

He states in his introduction that "the occupation authorities imposed a policy that resembled (and even exceeded) the discriminatory policies practiced by the Japanese over its [sic / their] thirty-six year period of colonial occupation of Korea."

Yet rather than clarify how the "American occupation" was worse than the "Japanese occupation" -- and suggest what GHQ/SCAP might have done to carry out the Potsdam call for the establishment of "respect for the fundamental human rights" -- he cynically asserts that GHQ/SCAP's alienation policies did not represent a "significant change" -- because he thinks being Japanese nationals under Japanese rule had not meant anything.

Biographical note

Routledge bills Caprio as "a member of the Department of Law and Politics, Rikkyo University." He bills himself on Japan Focus as "a professor in the Department of Intercultural Communication and the Graduate School of 21st Century Design Studies at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Japan."


Mark E. Caprio

Mark E. Caprio
Japanese Assimilation Policies in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945
[Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies]
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009
ix, 320 pages text (including notes, glossary, bibliography, index), 16 pages black-and-white photographs and other images, softcover

Caprio 2009 is reviewed on an independent page as Mark Caprio on "Assimilation Policies in Colonial Korea".


Mark E. Caprio and Yu Jia

Mark E. Caprio and Yu Jia
Legacies of Empire and Occupation: The Making of the Korean Diaspora in Japan
The Asia-Pacific Journal (Japan Focus)
Volume 37, Number 3, Issue 9, 24 September 2009

This article is a revised version of the following article.

Mark Caprio and Yu Jia
Occupations of Korea and Japan and the Origins of the Korean Diaspora in Japan
In Sonia Ryang and John Lie (editors)
Diaspora Without Homeland: Being Korean in Japan
[Global, Area, and International Archive, 8]
Berkeley: University of California Press
Paper edition: [March] 2009
ii (Contents), 229 pages, softcover
PDF edition: February 2009
229 numbered pages, 236 pages in PDF file
Pages 21-38

The Japan Focus version reviewed here states that the original title was "Legislating Diaspora: The Contribution of Occupation-era Administrations to the Preservation of Japan's Korean Community". This title also appears on a Rikkyo University website list of publications Caprio.

The revision of the original article, though in some ways an improvement, still has some major flaws. The article orchestrates a lot of mostly familiar facts and anecdotes that are interesting and important but do not quite justify the author's contention that postwar conditions in Korea and Japan should be viewed as having contributed to the "making" of what they call of "the Korean diaspora in Japan".

Even if one adopts "diaspora" as a proper metaphor to describe a scattering of some Koreans away from Korea as an "ancestral homeland" before the end of World War II, strictly speaking "Korea" had been Chōsen, which had become part of Japan in 1910, by which time Japan included the prefectural Interior, Taiwan (from 1895), and Karafuto (from 1905, and part of the Interior from 1943). The Korean diaspora "in Japan" thus involved more than the "Japan" the Allied Powers created out of "Japan proper" (the prefectural Interior) after the war.

A more important problem, though, is the manner in which the authors in effect racialize "Koreans in Japan" as "overseas Koreans" who represent a "diasporic population" or "community" -- apparently defined by shared sentiments toward "Korea" (rather than "Japan") as an "ancestral homeland" -- and somehow "created" or "made" or "preserved" by the manner of the postwar occupations of Korea and Japan.


"Understanding the reasons why Koreans chose to remain [in Japan after World War II] involves considering practical economic, cultural, and social factors, as well as examining the postwar geopolitical factors that prevented those who wished to return to Korea from doing so." -- the authors observe toward the end of the introduction, then state -- "This paper considers these factors that shaped the creation of a Korean diaspora in Japan during postwar occupations in Japan."

"A culmination of these factors" -- the authors conclude -- "set in motion a process that established in postwar Japan, as Sonia Ryang notes, Japan-based Koreans as a diasporic population in Japan."

The titles and contentions of the original and revised articles suggest somewhat different viewpoints. It is one thing to hold that the Occupation of Japan contributed to "the preservation of Japan's Korean community" and quite another to hold that it shaped or contributed to "the making of the Korean diaspora in Japan".

The problem with both viewpoints is clearer when examining the demographic picture painted by articles -- namely, to cite the version under review, that, of the "over two million people" who constituted the "community" or "diaspora" of "Koreans in Japan" at the end of World War II, "roughly two-thirds (1.4 million) returned" to the peninsula within two years after their "liberation" by the end of the war. "At the end of the U.S. Occupation," they write, "an estimated 650,000 to 800,000 Koreans remained in Japan."

On the negative side of the critical ledger I would point out that, while the authors speak of the "U.S. Occupation" of Japan, despite its domination by the United States it was formally an Allied Occupation. Occupation policies and laws, while heavily influenced by American military officers and civilian authorities, reflected the collective goals of the Allied Powers.

On the positive side, the revision shows a lot of improvement, some minor, some major. Where the original says "Liberation encouraged most overseas Koreans to return to their ancestral homeland" (page 21) the revision has "many" (my italics).

On the negative side, the term "overseas Koreans" has reverberations of the sort of voice one might hear from a state or a nationalist -- "Overseas Chinese" -- "Overseas Japanese" -- "Overseas Americans" -- whatever. And "ancestral homeland" would appear to rule out the possibility that Japan, too, might have been an "ancestral homeland" for at least some Koreans in Japan (see more about this below).

"Postwar political and economic circumstances discouraged an estimated 600,000 Koreans in Japan from repatriating", the authors wrote in the original article (page 21). The revision marks an improvement in that, from the outset, as cited above, it overtly recognizes economic, cultural, social, and geopolitical factors -- though the authors fail to give sufficient attention to the truly personal and familial factors that ought to discourage writers from speaking of "overseas Koreans" and "ancestral homelands" as though to racialize the entire population of "Koreans in Japan". Fashionably singularizing "them" as a "community" or a "diaspora" is bad enough.

Caprio and Yu's collaboration on Koreans in Japan during the occupations of Japan and the southern part of Korea after World War II makes sense, given their mutual initerests and connections with Rikkyo University. Caprio's doctoral dissertation on "Koreans into Japanese: Japan's assimilation policy" (2001) and his early report on "Japanese and American Images of Koreans: A Tale of Two Occupations" (2003). Yu completed her doctoral disseration on "A study of America's policies toward South Chōsen [Korea] and the Japan occupation: Centering on militarization" (米国の対南朝鮮・対日本占領政策の研究 : 軍事化を中心に Beikoku no tai-Minami-Chōsen, tai-Nihon-senryō taisaku no kenkyū: Gunjika o chūshin ni) at Rikkyo University (2006), where Caprio became an associate professor in 1996 and has been a professor since 2003.


The article is full of information, culled mainly from GHQ/SCAP documents, about (1) how the United States, during World War II, perceived Koreans in Japan in relation to plans to liberate Korea from Japanese rule, establish Korea as an independent state, and repatriate Koreans from other places, but especially from Japan, and (2) the conditions on the Korean peninsula, and in Japan, faced by Koreans in Japan when Japan surrendered and it became possible for them to "repatriate" to their "ancestral homeland". Some did and some didn't -- hence, according the the authors, "the creation of a Korean diaspora in Japan during postwar occupations in Japan."

It is now fashionable to refer to the "Korean diaspora" throughout the world but also in Japan. Apart from the appropriateness of "diaspora" as a description of the population of Koreans in Japan today, it would appear that those who were in Japan as redefined after the war, and their Japan-born descendants, were not "created" during the occupations of Japan and Korea. The Koreans in Japan were already there, owing to the "diaspora" that took place before the end of the war.

A State, War, and Navy Departments' joint directive to Supreme Commander General Douglas MacArthur attempted to answer an important [sic + question] that "Aliens in Japan" raised: whether Koreans were to be seen as friend or foe. This report, issued in October 1945, first identified Japan's Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean residents as "liberated peoples," that is, peoples "not included in the term "Japanese." [sic + "] The report then confused matters by acknowledging that since these peoples "have been Japanese subjects" [if necessary] they "may be treated . . . as enemy nationals." [32] Their ambiguous status would bedevil Koreans both in Japan and Korea as neither Occupation administration felt as comfortable dealing with the "liberated" Koreans as it did the defeated Japanese enemy.

[32] Joint Chiefs of Staff, "Basic Directive for Post-Surrender Military Government in Japan Proper (November 3, 1945)." "Division of Special Records, Foreign Office."

This is typical of how Caprio, in much of his writing, morphs historical documents into statements suit his critical objectives but deviate from the facts.

"Chinese and Formosans"

The JCS directive -- a directive (not a "report) dated 3 November 1945 -- directed the Supreme Commander for the Allied Forces -- not "Supreme Commander General Douglas MacArthur" -- to "treat Formosan-Chinese and Koreans as liberated peoples". "Formosan-Chinese" refers not to "Chinese and Formosans" but to "Formosans" erroneously regarded by JCS as "Chinese".

not included in the term "Japanese"

That "Formosan-Chinese" means only "Formosans" is clear from the exclusion of "Formosan-Chinese and Koreans" from the term "Japanese" as used in the directive -- for the same paragraph, which states that they may be treated as enemy nationals if necessary, also states that, while those [liberated nationals] who so desire may be repatriated, "priority will be given to the repatriation of nationals of the United Nations" -- and Chinese (but not Formosans and Koreans) were United Nations nationals.

SCAP directives to the Japanese government, dated before and after the JCS directive, correctly differentiate "Chinese" and "Formosans" while regarding both, along with Ryukyuans and Koreans, as "non-Japanese" for purposes of repatriation. Only Chinese were actually foreigners under Japanese law, while Ryukyuans, Formosans, and Koreans were Japanese. The commonality in the "non-Japanese" classification of Ryukyuans, Koreans, and Formosans is the location of Ryukyu, Korean, and Formosan household registers outside the control and jurisdiction of "Japan" as redefined in the same JCS and related SCAP directives.

Note that the 1943 Cairo Declaration, which became the foundation of the terms of surrender, had listed Taiwan as one of the territories which had been "stolen" from China and would be "restored" to China. The Republic of China (ROC), as an Allied Power, had received Japan's surrender of Formosa (Taiwan) on 25 October 1945 but had not yet formally nationalized the territory or its affiliated inhabitants. Formosans in Japan would not be recognized as Chinese by SCAP until 1946 when ROC established legal measures for restoring Chinese nationality to "overseas Taiwanese" and SCAP permitted ROC's mission in Occupied Japan to issue certificates of nationality to Formosans (Taiwanese) who wished to be Chinese.

"confused matters"

Nothing is confusing about the treatment of "liberated peoples" as collectively emancipated but individually subject to the enforcement of recognized laws for personal acts. Not only had Formosans and Koreans had been Japanese subjects, but legally they were still Japanese nationals, and those residing in Occupied Japan remained fully subject to Japanese laws as enforced by the Imperial Government of Japan.

Formosans and Koreans in Occupied Japan were not "liberated" from Japan's control and jurisdiction, and so long as they remained in Japan, they would remained in Japan, they would be subject to its laws and their enforcement by Japanese authorites. But they would also be subject to "occupation law" under SCAP, the sovereign authority in Japan for the duration of the occupation, hence subject prosecution for war crimes and other offenses against the Allied Powers.

The position of the Allied Powers toward the treatment of "liberated peoples" is clear in the 1943 Moscow Declaration concerning Austria -- which, as an entity to be re-established as an free and independent state, would nonetheless be held responsible for its "participation in the war at the side of Hitlerite Germany."

True, some people may have been "confused" by the proviso that "liberated nationals" could be treated as "enemy nationals" if necessary -- but the reference is clearly to acts comitted as subjects of an enemy state. This provision is conventional in postwar settlements.

"ambiguous status . . . comfortable"

This is an interesting statement but odd -- in that it presumes that either "Occupation administation" was capable of being "comfortable dealing with" either Japanese or Koreans. SCAP in Occupated Japan, and the USAMGIK in the southern occupation zone of Korea, dealing withwould bedevil Koreans both in Japan and Korea as neither Occupation administration felt as comfortable dealing with the "liberated" Koreans as it did the defeated Japanese enemy.



Some keywords are insufficiently glossed.

"home country" and "ancestral homeland"

The expression "home country (hongoku)" is properly glossed, but the authors fail to note that legally "hongoku" (本国) refers to one's country of affiliation, usually as a matter of nationality. The Sinific term most commonly associated with the expression "ancestral homeland" -- "sokoku" (祖国) -- refers not to nationality but to the place to which one traces especially one's family roots on one's father's side of the family -- hence "sokoku" is often translated "fatherland" as opposed to "motherland" or "bokoku" (母国).

SCAP documents most frequently speak of "homeland" when referring to the repatriation of "non-Japanese" from "Japan". Japanese versions typically render "homeland" as "hongoku" (本国). Some SCAP documents also refer to "native land" meaning also "homeland" regarded as the place where one is presumed to regard as their "home country" whether or not they actually "born in" or "came from" the the land or country.

I point out these details because many people who use these terms -- including Caprio and Yu in their account of "The Making of the Korean Diaspora in Japan" -- fail to mention, to attach sufficient significance to, Koreans in Japan at the end of the war had no reason to regard "Korea" as their "home country" much less their "ancestral homeland" -- in particular those who were (1) born in the Interior, (2) former Interior registrants who had entered Chōsen registers through marriage or adoption, (3) Chōsen-registered offspring of unmarried Chōsen and Interior registrants -- among others who might feel as though they belonged in "Japan". Corresponding to such people were those in Interior registers who had reason to feel that their "homeland" was Korea -- including those who had (1) entered Interior registers through marriage or adoption, or (2) been born in Chōsen.


The authors make this statement in the article (italics in article, underscoring mine).

Ch'oe Seog-Ui was eighteen when Japan surrendered; at nineteen he accompanied his mother back to Korea. He recalls his most immediate thought after hearing the emperor's surrender announcement as being, unless there were extraordinary circumstances (such as pro-Japanese sentiment) "all Japan-based [Korean] brethren (zainichi dōhō) would return to their home country (hongoku). Hardly any Korean would wish to remain in Japan. [30] Ch'oe did return to southern Korea in April 1946, only to find himself back in Japan six months later, where he joined the hundreds of thousands of Koreans who eventually chose to forgo repatriation at this time.

A footnote cites "Ch'oe, Seog-Ui, Zainichi no genfūkei: rekishi, bunka, hito [Original landscapes of Japan-based Koreans: history, culture, people] (Tokyo: Akaishi shoten, 2004), 40." The full particulars are as follows.

崔碩義 (チェ ソギ)
明石ライブラリー 68

Che Sogi Zainichi no genfōkei
(Rekishi, bunka, hito)

[Original landscape (scenery) of Zainichi]
(History, culture, people)]
Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, 14 October 2004
290 pages, hardcover

The paragraph which apparently inspired Caprio and Yu to characterize Ch'oe's recollection the way they did structurally translates like this (Che 2004, page 40).

"Now that the ancestor country [fatherland] (祖国 sokoku) has been liberated, what are we waiting around for in this different country [alien land] (異国 ikoku)?" was the true feeling of the simple [unaffected] same-womber [compatriate] masses." I myself at the time, believed and did not doubt that, "Except for people who had some special circumstance [reason] -- for example, people who would have difficulty returning because they had they plainly [blatantly] done like-Japan [Japanophilic] [pro-Japan] acts -- sooner or later all same-wombers in Japan would withdraw [return, repatriate] to the home country [homeland], and people remaining in Japan would become practically none. Fortunately it was decided that return-to-country-boats [repatriation ships] (帰国船 kikokusen) would be leaving from the port of Maizuru, so everyone was hugely delighted.

Che (Ch'oe) does not even mention the emperor's surrender announcement in his book. He shows no interest in the emperor, much less in his surrender announcement, which in any event had not mentioned Korea, much less its liberation. Che does, of course, link the "liberation of the fatherland" with 15 August 1945. But "at that [the] time" -- in the above translated passage from his book -- refers to the period following, not the moment of, the liberation.

In the pages immediately before his remark about most compatriots eventually returning, Che reminisces about the days, weeks, even months after the liberation, during which he other compatriots are carrying on with their lives, surviving, biding their time, figuring out what to do -- and some, like Che, are throwing themselves into the activites of Chōren activities. Che himself ends up helping establish a branch of Chōren in Maezuru in Kyoto prefecture.

Maezuru, a port town on the Japan Sea, was the sight of considerable repatriation to and from Japan and Korea. Che reports that about 30,000 compatriots returned from Maezuru between September 1945 and May 1946 (page 41). In April 1946, SCAP directed the Japanese government to repatriate all Koreans who were then at the Maezuru Repatriation Facility by the end of the month (SCAPIN-904). Thereafter, Maizuru would specialize in the repatriation of Chinese to central China, while Koreans who had registered their desire to repatriate would be processed primarily at the ports of Hakata in Fukuoka prefecture and Senzaki in Yamaguchi precture (SCAPIN-927, Annex III)

So these are the conditions under which Che and his compatriots are asking themselves -- "What are we dragging our feet about?" While many couldn't wait to leave, and rushed to the nearest port, others did hesitate, and some -- like Che -- would leave and then return.


The article outlines how, in the view of the authors, most Koreans came to be in Japan -- failing to note, clearly, that at the time, Korea was part of Japan, and Koreans who "crossed to Japan" were actually crossing to the Naichi or "Interior" of Japan from "Chōsen" as Korea had been renamed in 1910. They were not "immigrants" but "migrants".

These discussions [between ROK and Japan] consistently avoided the question of citizenship, even though an increasing number of Koreans came to be born and raised in Japan. Both societies followed jus sanguinis, or citizenship as determined by the father's line. Japan and the ROK both had reasons to avoid this issue, or any other that significantly altered Japan-based Korean status. For the Japanese, their postwar image of the homogeneous people allowed no room to admit a minority group by introducing jus soli, or citizenship as determined by place of birth. The ROK, for its part, had reason to see that the nationality of these people remained in limbo, even if they did not register as Koreans, to ensure their availability as an additional supply of recruits for the ROK military. At the time it initiated discussions with Japan, a fairly substantial number of Japan-based Korean "volunteers" had fought in the war. [65] It would not be until the early 1980s, when Japan relaxed its citizenship requirements, that Japan-based Koreans began to naturalize as Japanese in greater numbers.

[65] One SCAP memorandum makes reference to "volunteers from Japan" being used in the war. It notes that the Korean Mission requested that these soldiers be released to the ROK army should their services no longer be needed by the U.S. Army. "Memorandum: SCAP to the Chief of the Korean Diplomatic Mission in Japan, Korean Volunteers (February 13, 1951)," The Syngman Rhee Presidential Papers, Yonsei University, File 646.

It would be nice to know on what grounds Caprio and Yu feel Japan and ROK accorded "citizenship" since their nationality laws concern qualifications for being nationals, not citizens.

"avoided the question of citizenship"

There seems to be a misconception here. From the very beginning of their talks in 1951-1952, ROK and Japan agreed that nationality was a matter of domestic law -- and did not qualify as a subject for negotiation. Neither state, seeking to establish normal diplimatic relations, had any say in the sovereign right the other state to govern its own nationality.

At the same time, sovereign states, when normalizing their relationship, agree to recognize each other's nationality when confirmed by the governing state. I.e., ROK would recognize Japanese nationality when confirmed by Japan, such as with a passport or a certificate of nationality, and Japan would recognize ROK nationality when confirmed by ROK.

These understandings regarding nationality were essentially agreed to before the Allied Occupation of Japan ended. ROK-Japan talks disrailed on the eve of the effecutation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952 over other issues. The normalization treaty signed by ROK and Japan in 1965 enabled both countries to begin to recognize each other's nationality upon evidence of possession.

Such differences that existed between the Japan and ROK, when they began normalization talks in 1951 under SCAP direction, lay in ROK's contention that Koreans never legally possessed Japanese nationality, and Japan's view that Koreans had possessed its nationality since its annexation of Korea in 1910 and would lose it when Korea was formerly separated from Japan under the terms of the peace treaty. SCAP, too, had taken to position that Koreans, at least those who had remained in Japan, continued to possess Japanese nationality.

ROK had no objections to Japan's plans to separate Koreans from its nationality and require Koreans to naturalize if they wished to reacquire Japanese nationality, since (1) ROK did not recognize that Koreans had Japanese nationality, and (2) whether Japan permitted them to naturalize, and under what conditions, was up to Japan. SCAP also appears to have accepted Japan's conclusions as to the effects the territorial separations in the San Francisco Peace Treaty would have on the possession of its nationality by Chosenese (Koreans) and Taiwanese (Formosans).

"jus sanguinis", "jus soli"

The principle of "jus sanguinis" -- right-of-blood -- can be patrilineal, matrilineal, bilineal, or amibilineal. Japan's and ROK's nationality laws were not only patrilineal (in cases of married nationals) but also matrilineal (in cases of unmarried female nationals, or of female nationals married to stateless aliens). And in cases of children born in Japan or ROK to stateless or unknown parents, they were also "jus soli" -- right-of-soil.

"even if they did not register as Koreans"

Presumably Caprio and Yu mean "register as ROK nationals" -- for, in principle, all aliens affiliated with the Korean peninsula have been registered as "Koreans" since 1947. Until 1965, "Korea" formally meant only "Chōsen" and "Koreans" were formally only "Chōsenjin" (Chosenese). Japan informally began to accept "Kankoku" (ROK) on alien registration forms before 1965, but only its normalization with ROK has it reported "Korean" alien statistics as "Kankoku/Chōsen". Today this conflation includes "Kita Chōsen" (North Korea), but in some statistics this refers specifically to DPRK, as distinct from ROK or Chōsen.



David Chapman

The Third Way and Beyond: Zainichi Korean Identity and the Politics of Belonging
Japanese Studies (Japanese Studies Association of Australia)
Volume 24, Number 1, May 2004
Pages 29-44

Discourses of Multicultural Coexistence (Tabunka Kyōsei) and the 'old-comer' Korean Residents of Japan
Asian Ethnicity (Routledge, Taylor & Francis)
Volume 7, Number 1, February 2006
Pages 89-102

Beyond the Colonised and the Colonisers: Intelletual Discourse and the Inclusion of Korean-Japanese Women's Voices
Japanese Studies (Japanese Studies Association of Australia)
Volume 26, Number 3, December 2006
Pages 353-363

I am giving all three of Chapman's article a yellow seal because -- though extremely unreliable on matters of history, law, and social policy -- they expose and exemplify the "discourse" that passes for thought in some "scholarship" on minorities in Japan.

Chapman 2004

David Chapman
The Third Way and Beyond: Zainichi Korean Identity and the Politics of Belonging
Japanese Studies (Japanese Studies Association of Australia)
Volume 24, Number 1, May 2004
Pages 29-44

House of cards

Chapman has balanced another card on the growing house of cards consisting of articles and books, mostly in English, by writers who appear to be more interested in fashionable "discourse" than in historical, social, and legal facts concerning so-called "Koreans in Japan". Like many of the English sources he cites, his article is a blend of his own translations of opinion from a few Japanese sources, and citations from English sources concerning matters he apparently does not feel he should study firsthand -- like history, law, policy, and related statistics.

Chapman does not seem to know very much about the social and political history of Koreans in Japan. The manner in which he describes the past implies that Japan "colonized" Korea, that Korea was never really part of Japan, and that Koreans never became Japanese. He starts, very badly, like this (Chapman 2004: 29, bold purple emphasis mine).


Although recent migration is part of the process, the 35 year colonisation of Korea by Japan between 1910 and 1945 is, for the most part, the reason for the large displaced population of zainichi Koreans in Japan. [Note 1] The process of colonisation led to large numbers of Koreans being mobilised between the Korean colony and the Japanese metropolis. [Note 2] After the end of World War Two an approximate population of 600,000 Koreans remained in Japan to face uncertainty as former Imperial subjects. The colonisation process and the subsequent post-war division of the Korean peninsula into a communist North and democratic South have created a complicated post-war legacy as diverse as the zainichi communities themselves. Although many factors have influenced notions of zainichi identity, since the early 1970s there has been a salient development of discourse that I describe as a debate on the location of identity.

Note 1Zainichi literally means 'resident in Japan' and is now commonly used by both the Japanese and Korean population to refer to the Korean residents of Japan.

Note 2 Recent evidence has suggested that assumptions about most zainichi in Japan being descendants of Koreans forcibly brought to Japan during World War Two are debatable and that the majority of victims of kyōsei renkō returned to Korea soon after the end of World War Two (Fukuoka, Lives of Young Koreans in Japan, 9-11) [Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press, 2000].

"35 year colonisation"

Korea and Chosen were under partial or total Japanese control and jurisisdiction for forty years. Korea was a protectorate of Japan for five years before it was annexed, at which point it became Chosen -- a part of the sovereign empire. Chosen was no more a "colony" than Alaska or Hawaii. Japan's treatment of Chosen was one of gradual assimilation toward total intergration -- a process and goal not well described by "colonisation".

"displaced population"

How does "recent migration" figure in the "process" that accounts for the present "displaced population" of Koreans in Japan today?

Who, exactly, has been "displaced"?

Chapman states that, as of 1950, "the proportion of Japan-born zainichi was 49.9%" -- and by 1993 this proportion was about 90 percent (Chapman 2004: 31).

Which Korean population in Japan he is talking about? The population that derives its legal status from residence in the prefectures as of the end of World War II in 1945 and their descendants? Or the total Kankokujin/Chosenjin population that includes "recent immigrants"?

Nor is it clear why an article dated 2004 does not have more recent statistics -- since the end-of-war defined population has been rapidly dwindling, and the Japan-born proportion is approaching 100 percent.

Why, in any event, should anyone who migrated to and settled in the prefectures -- much less their prefecture-born descendants -- be characterized as "displaced"?

In 1950, all of Chapman's zainichi were still Japanese nationals -- except in GHQ/SCAP-inspired alien registration and immigration laws. While only 50 percent were born in "Japan" as defined by GHQ/SCAP, practically all of the rest were born in Japan as it existed before the empire was downsized to the prefectures, minus Okinawa and Karafuto, and short a few other islands.

In other words -- practically all Japanese in the prefectures who lost their nationality in 1952 because their registers were in Chosen were Japan-born. And half, by Chapman's account, were still in the country of their birth -- Japan.

In what sense, then, are any of these people "displaced"? Does Chapman think they should not be where they are?

"zainichi" Koreans in Japan

Chapman goes to the trouble to define "zainichi" -- but fails to examine its ideological faces -- and does not justify his own use of the term -- exoticized by italics no less -- in places where presumably he is posing as a scholar-observer.


Chapman's "Korean colony" and "Japanese metropolis" are fashionable references to what Japanese law even now refers to as "Chosen" (朝鮮 Chōsen) and the "Interior" (内地 Naichi). Both were territories within the sovereign dominion of the Empire of Japan. In other words, Chosen was part of Japan.

Different forms of labor mobilization took place throughout Japan, including Chosen, in response to regional manpower needs caused by Japan's adventures in China from 1937.

The manner in which Chapman footnotes his claim -- that "colonisation" led to large numbers of Koreans "being mobilised" -- suggests that he is not really interested in pursuing what exactly is "debatable" about the "assumption" that most Koreans in Japan are the descendants of Koreans forcibly brought to Japan during World War II. Not only are most end-of-war defined Koreans in Japan not the descendants of mobilized Koreans, but the mobilization of Koreans and others had nothing to do with World War II.

The evidence against the "descendants of forced laborers" myth is "recent" only to those who have nursed at the breast, and not yet been weaned, of the large body of idological "scholarship" -- in Japanese as well as in English -- on Koreans in Japan.

In fact, an examination of contemporary materials -- from government statistics to yearbooks of the late 1930s and 1940s -- as well as academic and other reports appearing during and shortly after the Allied Occupation of Japan -- shows very clearly the substantial flow of Chosenese subjects who freely migrated from the peninsula to the Interior before the start of labor mobilization -- and there is no doubt that most labor conscripts returned to the peninsula soon after the war, whereas roughly half of those who had freely migrated and settled stayed.

Fact checking

Chapman is particularly weak on legal and social facts. It is not clear what me means when he says that circa 1982, "North Koreans" were given re-entry permits and that most were given permanent residence upon application -- since he does not explain how "North Koreans" came to be residing in Japan (Chapman 2004: 39).

Had Chapman been residing in Japan as an alien in the 1960s and 1970s, he would have qualified for enrollment in Japan's national health insurance and national pension schemes. Yet he claims the "nationality requirement" was not eliminated from "social security legislation" until the 1980s (Ibid. 39).

The following paragraphs are my candidates for the best examples of misinformation in the article (Ibid. 39-40, bold purple emphasis mine).

Revision of the Nationality Law in 1985, effected in 1986, allowed nationality if either parent is Japanese and amendments under the Domicile Registration Law have allowed a child obtaining Japanese nationality to use a Korean surname. As part of the original Normalisation Treaty with South Korea in 1965, residential status for Koreans in Japan was reviewed, and in 1991 a category called 'special permanent residence' (tokubetsu eijū) was created which unified the status of all permanent residents. This new category led to more rights and less insecurity, the abolishment of fingerprinting the following year, and the opportunity to be employed in the public service was improved slightly.

Since the mid-1980s, in line with amendment of the Japanese Nationality Law (1985) effected in 1986, which allowed nationality based on a bilineal principle (if either parent is Japanese), there have been ever-increasing numbers of zainichi choosing to naturalise as Japanese. . . .

"if either parent is Japanese

Revisions made in the Nationality Law in 1984 came into force in 1985. The "bilineal" (actually "ambilineal") criterion made it possible for a child of married parents to acquire Japanese nationality if either the mother or father was Japanese. The law had always allowed the child of an unmarried Japanese mother to acquire Japanese nationality.

"Korean surname"

The Family Registration Law was never revised to permit the use of a "Korean surname" -- because the law has never disallowed the use of any name because of putative ethnicity.

"all permanent residents"

The "Special Permanent Residence" status for "Statutory Special Permanent Residents" did not include all permanent residents. It subsumed only the statuses of residence -- some permanent, some not -- that had been tied to the Potsdam Declaration and the San Francisco Peace Treaty and related agreements -- including the "Kyotei Permanent Residence" status provided for qualified Republic of Korea nationals by the Japan-ROK status agreement that went into effect in 1966, and the "Special Provision Permanent Residence" that became available for Chosenese and some other postwar residuals from 1982.

The creation of the "Special Permanent Residence" category had nothing to do with the gradual termination of fingerprinting as a matter of alien registration.

"ever-increasing numbers . . . choosing to naturalise"

Naturalization statistics clearly show that there is no relationship between naturalization trends and the Nationality Law revisions introduced from 1985. Naturalization figures remained fairly flat from 1970 to 1990 -- and actually dropped in the late 1980s.

In any event, the effect of the ambilineal criterion on naturalization would be negative. Since most Koreans in Japan marry Japanese -- and since the intermarriage rate has been increasing -- the ambilineal criterion means that fewer Koreans are born in Japan, hence there are fewer Koreans who might at some time naturalize.

"postdiasporic zainichi"

Chapman's main aim was to "[trace] some of the important aspects and the overall direction of the zainichi intellectual discussion and debate from 1970 to the late 1990s and early 2000s" (Chapman 2004: 42). Most of his "tracing" centers on the "third way" thinking of Kim Tong Myung -- which Chapman calls "a major discussion and debate within Japan's zainichi Korean communities" (Ibid. 31) -- though in fact it caused a minor stir among a very small circle of people.

Chapman introduces borrowed notions of "third space" and "hybridity" to clarify, he thinks, attempts by Kim and others to "determine where zainichi identity can belong in Japanese society" (Ibid. 38-39).

Earlier in the article Chapman enthusiastically embraced the "diasporic perspectives" (Ibid. 32) of other writers -- and "diasporic" and "postdiasporic" pop up everywhere as fancy references to the "first-generation" and the "second- and third-generation (Japan-born)". So what would he call the "recent migration" he mentions in passing at the start of his article and its Japan-born generations? "Neodiasporic" and "postneodiasporic"? And what does this "paleo/neo" divide imply for the "solidarity" of so-called "zainichi" as a product of "colonialisation"?

The "zainichi community" appears to have a constant population -- only because new migrants from the peninsula, who have no treaty-accorded entitlements, are increasing at the about the same high rate that "paleozainichi" are shrinking through intermarriage, naturalization, and death.


The "third way" supposidly defines an alternative direction for the Japan-born generations . . .

. . . who had been under "the hegemonic control of zainichi political organisations and anti-Japanese nationalism" (page 29, abstract)

. . . or under "The hegemonic control of the diasporic first generation was based on an overwhelming homeland allegiance bounded by anti-Japanese nationalism" (page 32)

"In other words, the third way was the creation of a space for multivocal negotiation away from dominant notions of identity located in hegemonic definitions of nationhood to a space where new identities could be imagined (page 34)

. . . in yet other words, the third way would create relief from "the hegemonic control over zainichi society by its two main political institutions, Mindan and Sōren, represented as the first-generation zainichi community (page 35)

. . . and, if you haven't gotten the point by now, "This movement of independence was a move away from hegemonic first-generation zainichi beliefs of temporary residence in Japan to more permanent notions of belonging" (page 42, Summary and Conclusion).


Chapman's "Summary and Conclusion" includes this graph (Ibid. 42).

Soon after the third way proposal, the zainichi population began to project themselves as diverse individuals rather than belonging to a homogenised group. However, the representation of diversity still excluded some members of the zainichi population. The framework of the third way as explained by Kim disqualified the naturalised zainichi and those of mixed marriages from belonging to the zainichi group.

While pointing out the exclusiveness of Kim's "third way" -- Chapman does not question who has the right to include "naturalized" people -- who are Japanese and not "Koreans in Japan" -- in the imaginary and apparently essentially racialist "zainichi" cohort. Nor does he remark on, or otherwise appear to understand the irony of, the extent to which Kim's "third way" -- which epitomizes what I would call "ultra-zainichi-ism" -- is rooted in the racioethnic "nationalism" one finds in both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

transdiasporic hegemonic ethnotaionalism

The terms "minzoku" and "dōhō" -- which Chapman fumbles with in both the main text and the footnotes of his article -- are the racialist anchors of ethnonationalism on the peninsula, where people pronounce them "minjok" and "tongp'o".

In other words, Kim's "third way" is actually tethered to what I would call -- if pressed to speak Chapman's language -- a "transdiasporic hegemonic Korean ethnonationalism" -- which is tangibly more anti-assimilationist and exclusive than the views embraced by most "diasporic first generation" migrants -- who chose to come to the prefectures, and stayed because they found themselves better off in postwar Japan than they thought they would have been on the peninsula.

Even in the 1970s and the 1980s -- when, according to Chapman, Kim's "third way" thinking provoked a "major discussion and debate" in Japan -- the vast majority of Koreans in Japan would have had -- not only "friends (Japanese friends among them) and relatives" in Japan (Ibid. 36) -- but also Japanese neighbors and Japanese colleagues -- and, given the high intermarriage rate, a Japanese parent and grandparents, a Japanese spouse and child or two, and a host of in-law Japanese relatives.

In other words -- the vast majority of Koreans in Japan -- not only the end-of-war defined population but also the "recent migration" cohort -- have survived by embracing and mixing with the mainstream population -- which accommodates embracing and mixing with with a fairly high degree of tolerance and acceptance. How can such Koreans be "displaced"?

Even Koreans who have chosen to enclave in conspicuously Korean communities within Japan's mainstream do not appear to be "displaced". Like members of enclaved communities everywhere, they navigate between their nominally more "Korean" homes and neighborhoods and the "Japanese" world with relative ease, accommodating life on both sides of a highly permeable boundary that integrates and blends more than it divides.

The only truly "displaced" Koreans are the small minority of blood-proud "intellectuals" like Kim -- who would find more in common with people on the peninsula who share his view of "naturalization" and racioethnic "mixture".

But Chapman cannot see this, because he has been too busy balancing more cards on the rising house of "zainichi discourse" in English.

Chapman also apparently did not notice that what Kim was doing was strongly influenced by the ethnic movements of the late 1960s and the 1970s in North America. Some Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Americans began advocating a turning away from the options defined by the older generations of "Chinese" and "Japanese" and "Korean" Americans -- toward the forging of a "united front" of "Asian" or "Asian American" (now "Asian and Pacific American") solidarity against the awesome forces of WASP (now just "white" or "anglo") hegemony. And some of the more radical voices have eschewed intermarriage and mixture.

Chapman 2006a

David Chapman
Discourses of Multicultural Coexistence (Tabunka Kyōsei) and the 'old-comer' Korean Residents of Japan
Asian Ethnicity
Volume 7, Number 1, February 2006
Pages 89-102

Most of the wrinkles in Chapman's 2004 article (above) are still evident in this one, and a few new wrinkles also need ironing.

1. "During the Second World War, numbers came to peak due mostly to colonial programmes of forced mobility" (pages 88-89).

However, mobilization (not "mobility") was not "colonial" but applied to all Japanese subjects throughout the empire. Mobilization laws were promulgated in 1938 to accommodate the spreading war in China. Recruiting and conscription, some forced, had peaked before the start of the Pacific War.

2. "The majority of the old-comer Korean migrant population in Japan is composesd of descendants of these individuals who remained in Japan" (page 89).

However, (a) practically all Chosenese in the prefectures at the end of the war were born in Japan, since Chosen was part of Japan, (b) those who, from 2 September 1945, had remained in what remained of Japan after the enforcement of the San Francisco Peace Treaty from 28 April 1952, constituted the initial population of Koreans who were legally entitled by various laws concerning persons who lost their Japanese nationality pursuant to the effects of the treaty, (c) the vast majority of the legally-entitled ROK nationals and Chosenese in Japan today are the Japan-raised descendants of this initial population, and therefore (d) "old-comer Korean migrant population" is a highly misleading characterization of these Koreans, who came into the world by migrating through birth canals in Japan.

3. "As Kang [Sang Jung] points out, this exclusivity based on nationality and thereby ethnicity prevents the zainichi from excersing the right to self-determination and therefore exclusion, or a Japanese identity and therefore assimilation" (page 92).

However, nationality is a raceless legal affiliation with a state, while ethnicity is a private matter having nothing to do with legal status in Japan. Are individuals really are not free to express whatever "ethnic identity" they wish? Personally? Within their families? In school clubs? Through participation in any number of organizations that facilitate acquisition, expression, and maintenance of ethnic identity?

4. "Since the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, Koreans in Japan have been disenfranchised. However, those who naturalize as Japanese have the same voting rights as Japanese nationals" (page 92, note 6).

However, Chosenese and Taiwanese lost their right to vote in "Japan" (as defined by GHQ/SCAP) when election laws were revised in late 1945, to exclude Japanese nationals whose registers were not in "Japan". Moreover, "Koreans in Japan" who "naturalise as Japanese" -- do not "have the same voting rights as Japanese nationals" -- but are able to vote because they are Japanese nationals.

5. "Assimilation and integration in Japan, particularly given its historical background, is no longer viable as a method for homogenisation and control" (pages 99-100).

Chapman does not define what he means by "assimilation" or "integration" -- much less does he explain why this should be a problem for the vast majority of "Koreans" in Japan -- who are born and raised in Japan, most into families with one or more Japanese members, one of them likely their mother or father -- or otherwise are living in mainstream neighborhoods rather than enclaved in neighborhoods with significant and conspicuous concentration of Korean residents.

In other words, most "Koreans" in Chapman's "old-comer" cohort are linguistically, socially, and culturally part of mainstream "Japanese" society as a result of being born into and growing up in the mainstream. That they are legally "Koreans" is both an artifact of Japan's and ROK's nationality laws -- which are based on right-of-blood principles, meaning parental (not racioethnic) lineage -- and a consequence of their choice to remain aliens.

Chapman 2006b

David Chapman
Beyond the Colonised and the Colonisers: Intellectual Discourse and the Inclusion of Korean-Japanese Women's Voices
Japanese Studies (Japanese Studies Association of Australia)
Volume 26, Number 3, December 2006
Pages 353-363

This article is a good example of the sparks of "intellectual" madness that fly off head-on collisions of "gender" and "race" -- engendered by collusions of radical feminism and ethnonationalism.

There are several species of "women" in Japan -- "Korean-Japanese women" -- "Japanese women" -- "Korean women" -- "zainichi women" -- and apparently a subspecies called "'Japanese' women". There are also at least three species of men -- "Japanese men" -- "zainichi men" -- "first-generation Korean-born men". None of these terms are defined -- and no explanation is given for the absense of any mention of species which theoretically exist -- "Korean men" -- "Korean-Japanese men" -- "Japanese-Korean women" -- "Japanese-Korean men" -- and their 'Korean' and 'Japanese' subspecies.

The madness spikes when Chapman attempts to legitimize the "important concerns" he claims he expresses, by remarking that they "are being addressed in some quarters of Japan" -- such as IMADR.

1. "the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) [was] founded in 1988 by the burakumin population" (page 360).

IMADR was not founded by "the burakumin population" -- as such a population does not exist (see 2. below). IMADR was founded by the Buraku Liberation League (BLL) with a coalition of members from BLL-friendly organizations. BLL is one of several organizations that claim to represent the interests of people who live in neighborhoods that are identified with former outcaste communities. BLL's most powerful rival successfully lobbied the United Nations to withhold NGO status from IMADR until BLL moderated its intimidation tactics and otherwise showed that it embraced the UN's principle of freedom of expression.

2. "Burakumin or hisabetsu Buraku are the terms used for what is commonly referred to as outcaste groups discriminated against in Japan. Members of these groups are ethnically no different than the majority of 'Japanese' and are historically placed as descendants of outcastes from the early Edo period (seventeeth cnetury)" (page 360, note 42).

There are no "outcaste groups" in Japan, muchless "members" who run around calling themselves "burakumin". Eta, hinin, and other statuses which could be stigmatized as "outcaste" were abolished in 1871. All that remain today are neighborhoods which are to some extent remnants of places where outcastes and former outcastes lived -- and hence where some of their descendants might reside.

The term "hisabetsu buraku" -- "discriminated buraku" (settlement which receives discrimination) -- is one of several politically correct ways to describe such places. This term -- like "mikaihō buraku" or "unliberated buraku" (settlement which is not yet liberated) -- expresses BLL's focus on "buraku jūmnin" or "buraku residents" -- regardless of their family ancestry -- who may experience discrimination from individuals who harbor prejudice against those they suspect, because of their past or present residence, to be descendants of yesteryear's outcastes.

The term "burakumin" is popular mostly among foreign journalists and scholars who have yet to realize that "burakumin" not only do not exist, but the word is not appreciated by residents of BLL-controlled buraku, much less in mass media or academic publications in Japan -- except in some BLL and IMADR English publicity produced by people who apparently use "burakumin" thinking it makes the "buraku problem" easier for foreigners to understand.

Needless to say -- because there are no "outcaste groups" -- there are no "members" of such groups. All that exist are BLL and a few other interest organizations that deploy their various ideologies in their "struggles" against real and imaginary caste, class, gender, and/or racioethnic discrimination.

Some present and past residents, of some neighborhoods associated with yeasteryears lower castes, have of course experienced some forms of discrimination -- but this does not amount the existence of a population called "the burakumin".


David Chapman

David Chapman
Zainichi Korean Identity and Ethnicity
[Routledge Contemporary Japan Series, 17]
London: Routledge, [2007], 2008, 2009, 2010
x, 182 pages, hardcover

Note on dates of publication   The copy under review was printed on 5 January 2010 in La Vergne, Tennessee, USA, apparently from a digital file. The copyrigh date is 2008 but the copyright page states the book was transferred to digital printing in 2009. However, a November 2008 review gives a publication date of 2007 and states the book was published on-line in October 2008, And Chapman, in a 1st-person account of his life published on-line in July 2009, states that he turned his doctoral thesis into the book, which was published the previous year. Hence I am calling the book "Chapman 2008".

The first thing one notices about this book, after its high price, is its thinness -- only 144 pages of main text sans front and back matter.

The second thing one notices is that three of the book's six chapters - Chapters 3, 5, and 6 -- are recyclings or retreads of very recent journal articles -- reviewed elsewhere in this Bibliography as respectively Chapman 2004, 2006b, and 2006a. Chapman acknowledges this but for some reason refers to Chapter 3 as "Chapter 2" (page x).

A quick glance at these chapters confirms that they repeat most of the same errors in the journal articles. Chapman has rushed out a book without allowing sufficient time to gather corrective feedback on his journal articles. Routledge is peddling inferior material that anyone with library access to the journals can pull down in pdf files for free.

Some parts of the book are better than others. On the whole, though, it represents yet another setback in the recent "scholarship" on Koreans in Japan -- driven more by interests in publicizing "victimhood" causes than by careful research and attention to historical and legal facts.

Because much of the content is in the vein of Chapman's recent journal articles, I will focus on parts of Chapter 4 -- "Civilization" -- after observing some problems in the Introduction and the Glossary. Some of the errors in Chapter 4 are compounded in a later journal article -- Chapman 2008 -- which is also reviewed in this Bibliography.

I have grouped my comments under the following headings.

One-drop "zainichiism"
Warping Tei Taikin's "identity"
Japanese terms
Kokumin and Nationality Law
San Francisco Peace Treaty
Constitution and nationality
Fingerprinting and alien registration
End of fingerprinting
Public service employment

One-drop "zainichiism"

The very first page is full of language lessons.

informal roundtable discussion (zadankai)
emphatically opposed (daihantai)
agreed (sansei
honmyō (Korean name)
zainichi (resident Korean)

The first three glosses are useless. The last two, in addition to being of questionable use, are inconsistent with other definitions.

In the Glossary, Chapman defines "honmyō" and "zainichi" as follows.

honmyō true name
zainichi resident Korean in Japan

While "true name" is truer to the meaning of honmyō -- real name, actual name, legal name -- why not just write "Korean name" or "Chinese name" or "Japanese name" or "real name" depending on context? And spare the italicized ink?

"Zainichi" means simply "in Japan". However, it is also used as a synonym for the more technical term "zairyū" -- which means "remaining in" Japan (or elsewhere) with a legal status.

Generally "zainichi gaikokujin" implies "zairyū gaikokujin" -- meaning "aliens residing in Japan" as a matter of legal status of residence. "Resident Korean" in reference to Japan could mean only an alien of putatively "Korean" nationality who has a legal status of residence in Japan -- i.e., is registered as an alien resident of a municipality in Japan as a national of one of three entities -- the Republic of Korea (ROK) [Kankokujin], the legacy entity of Chosen [Chosenjin], or (exceptionally) the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) [Kita Chosenjin].

Elsewhere in the Introduction, Chapman defines "zainichi" as follows.

Despite all labels having the potential to exclude or marginalize, I have chosen to refer to the 'Korean' population in Japan as zainichi for two reasons. First, it is a pragmatic choice to avoid other types of confusing and complicated nomenclature as described above and because the term is now widely accepted and used. [Note 7] Also, I use the term zainichi because it avoids the inclusion of nationality as a defining element in identifying this community. As I will explain later in this book, the homogenizing effect of both Japanese and Korean national identity have played a significant role in marginalizing many zainichi.

[Note 7] It is important to note that the term 'zainichi' is also used to identify other groups of migrants in Japan such as those of Brazilian (zainichi burajirujin) and Iranian (zainichi iranjin) backgkround.

Chapman's phrasing and argumentation reflect his own confusion about the complexities of labeling.

"two reasons"

Chapman's first reason is actually four -- (1) "zainichi" is pragmatic, (2) it avoids confusion, (3) it avoids complications, and (4) it is widely accepted.

A label is useful if it is accurate and clear. If accuracy and clarity can be achieved by avoiding confusion, fine. But how can either accuracy or clarity be achieved by avoiding complications? And when is "widely accepted" ever a good reason for adopting a label -- if the intent of adopting the label is to avoid real and significant complications?

Chapman is pandering to what I call the "zainichiist" school -- in order to promote a notion of "multiculturalism" that virtually racializes "Koreans in Japan" -- a notion of what I call "zainichi determinism" -- which seeks to embrace in the "zainichi community" anyone and everyone with one drop of putatively Korean blood -- just as African Americanists, say, want to claim Tiger Woods as "black" by default, without regard to what else he may be or prefer to be.

"nationality . . . community"

Chapman's second reason is actually a fifth -- (5) liberating "zainichi" from considerations of "nationality" allows the definition of a "community" that includes anyone of putatively Korean nationality or descent.

I say "descent" because, in addition to Koreans -- who are Koreans because of their nationality -- Chapman speaks only of Koreans who naturalized as Japanese, and children of Korean-Japanese parentage. There are, of course, complications that he may or may not have considered -- other nationalities in Japan who are of Korean descent, Koreans who are not of Korean descent, Japanese who are of Korean descent but not through naturalization -- not to mention Japanese who are spouses or parents of Koreans, or in-laws of Koreans.

This second (fifth) reason is the only truly significant reason for Chapman's choice of "zainichi" to represent his imaginary "community" or Koreans in Japan. But his statement is specious.

Chapman has resorted to a verbal slight of hand to create the illusion that the word "zainichi" itself "avoids the inclusion of nationality as a defining element" -- but no. Chapman himself is imposing this meaning on the word -- in order to avoid dealing with historical and legal complications that either confuse him or do not facilitate his multiculturalist agenda.

"other groups of migrants in Japan"

Why is Chapman associating "zainichi" with "other groups of migrants in Japan"? Does he think that "zainichi" are migrants? Why, in any case, does he speak of migrants "in" Japan -- which suggests that they are somehow nomadic?

Most Koreans in Japan are nationals of either ROK or of the legacy entity of Chosen (Korea). Most of these Koreans were born in Japan defined as the prefectures. Most are settled. However, most other settled aliens in Japan today migrated to Japan.

Why does Chapman speak of "groups" of people? Does he think that people migrate or settle in "groups"? In "communities"? Has he every thought about the implications of his metaphors -- except as vehicles for imagining "communities"?

Why does he believe is it "important to note" that "zainichi" is also used to refer to Brazilians and Iranians in Japan? Aren't Brazilians and Iranians in Japan identified by nationality? As are "zainichi gaikokujin" (aliens in Japan) generally? As are "zainichi Nihonjin" (Japanese in Japan)?

All legal status issues in Japan -- including the issues that Chapman discusses in his chapter on Citizenship -- hinge on nationality. The chapter betrays the depths of his confusing of "nationality" and "citizenship" in Japanese law.

Warping Tei Taikin's "identity"

Practically every page of the book has a remark like -- "Even the use of the country name for Korea of 'The Great Korean Empire' (Daikan Teikoku) was prohibited between 1887 and 1910 and instead the name Chōsen was allocated by Japan" (page 18). But if Chapman's understanding of history and law is hit and miss, his treatment of people's names and their ideas is also cavalier.

In the text Chapman describes "David Aldwinkle (Arudō Debito)" as "a former American and now a naturalized Japanese citizen" (page 121). But "David Aldwinkle" is the former name of a Japanese national who calls himself "Arudou Debito" -- not "Arudō, Debito" as Chapman lists his name in the References section (page 161).

Chapman is good at making rules he immediately breaks. This is evident in the Glossary, which has two sections -- "Zainichi Korean individuals" and "Japanese terms".

At the start of the "Zainichi Korean individuals" section Chapman describes a few "systems available for romanizing the Korean language" then says he has "generally used the McCune-Reischauer system, except in those cases where an individual is known to prefer a different spelling" (page 145, emphasis mine)

Most of the names on the list will be familiar to anyone who has followed issues related to Koreans in Japan. Most are authors of books written in Japanese as their native language if not their mother tongue.

One kanji name stands out as that of someone I have known for more than thirty years. But the romanized version is not his.

Tei Taikin

The person Chapman calls "Chŏng Dae-kyun" called himself Saitō and Chung when I first met him. He has never referred to himself as Chŏng and now calls himself Tei.

Chapman does not index "Chŏng Dae-kyun" despite giving nearly half a page to what turns out to be a misrepresentation of Tei's views, referring to his 2001 book (page 134), and listing this book in the back under References (page 163). However, both the back cover and the colophon of the book clearly show that it is authored by 鄭大均 (てい たいきん Chung Daekyun). And in case Chapman did not notice the kana reading, the colophon states "©Tei Taikin 2001" in alphanumeric text at the bottom.

If Chapman had read anything else by Tei -- who is very prolific -- he would have recognized that Tei knows exactly how he prefers to be called. Recently Tei has been calling himself only Tei Taikin when writing in Japanese -- though his legal family name is now different.

Tei has spelled his personal name various ways -- Dae-kyun and Dae-Kyun, and more recently Daekyun. He authored his 1978 MA dissertation at UCLA as "Dae-Kyun Chung". He co-authored an article with George De Vos in a 1981 book as "Daekyun Chung" -- though the editors wrote "Dae-Gyun Chung" on the title page and jacket (and corrupted some terms in my own contribution to the same book).

Tei's earliest books in Japanese were authored by 鄭大均 (ちょん・てぎゅん) or 鄭大均 (チョン テギュン). The kana readings, which represent how Tei was then pronouncing his name, transliterate "Chon Tegyun" -- which very closely approximates "Chŏng Taegyun" -- the expected pronunciation of the name in Korean as represented in McCune-Reischauer romanization.

These variations be as they may -- it is Tei's name, and he knows how he wants to be known by others. But apparently Chapman feels that it is a "Korean" name and hence must be pronounced in "Korean" rather than "Japanese".

Tei was born in Japan and has been living in Japan for six decades minus a number of years he lived in ROK while maintaining his residency status in Japan. For reasons that are no one's business but his, he now prefers the Sino-Japanese pronunciation of the graphs he uses to write his name.

Why not? Tei's mother tongue is Japanese. Tei himself is Japanese.

Chapman may have seen the "Tei Taikin" reading -- if he saw it at all -- as a form of "assimilation". His misreading of Tei's views about identity and affiliation may have led him to conclude that the publishers, not Tei, were responsible for the "Japanization" of his name.

Chapman's misreading of Tei's views would appear to signify an inadequate reading ability. In this case, his faulty comprehension seems to reflect a projection on the page of what I would call a rescue fantasy -- his advocacy of "multiculturalism" as a means of saving "zainichi" from the evil forces of Japanese assimilation.

There are numerous examples, throughout his book, as in his journal articles, where Chapman sees what he wants to see -- rather than what was or is -- in history and law. And in Tei's very clear thesis, Chapman saw his own fuzzy definition of "zainichi -- and his own wishful thinking about the maintenance of "their identity".

Tei's definition of "zainichi"

Not only does Chapman misconstrue Tei's name, but he mistranslates the title of Tei's book. "Zainichi kankokujin no shūen" (在日韓国人の終焉) does not mean "The demise of resident Koreans" -- but "The end of Zainichi ROK Koreans".

Tei very consciously uses the term "Zainichi Kankokujin" -- and the Japanese equivalent of "The end of . . ." -- as in "The End of History and the Last Man". Tei is rather meticulous about his own definitions and usage, and he likes titles that metaphorically allude to recognizable works.

Tei's book focuses on the decline of a very specific cohort, which he defines as Special Permanent Residents who possess ROK status (Kankoku-seki) or "ROK nationality". He calls this cohort "Zainichi Kankokujin" -- then calls the "same old comers" who possess Chosen status (Chōsen-seki) or legacy Chosen affiliation "Zainichi Chōsenjin".

Tei then declares that he will refer to both of these "old timers" (oorudo taimaa) as "Zainichi" -- by way of differentiating them from other ROK nationals, particularly those who began living in Japan from the 1980s, who he will call "new comer ROK nationals" (nyuukamaa no Kankokujin).

In other words, Tei defines "Koreans" generally in terms of their alien affiliation (nationality) -- and "Zainichi Koreans" specifically in terms of their treaty-based status of residence. Tei does this clearly and concisely, using nomenclature that is neither confusing nor complicated.

Chapman, when paraphrasing Tei, not only ignores Tei's definition of "Zainichi" in favor of his own "zainichi", but also turns Tei's views around 180 degrees to serve his own.

Tei's phrasing (Tei 2001:4)

アイデンティティと帰属 (国籍) の間のずれ
aidentiti to kizoku (kokuseki) no aida no zure
gap between identity and affiliation (nationality)

Chapman's paraphrasing (Chapman 2007:134)

discrepancy between identity and belonging
(aidentiti to kizoku no zure)

Why does Chapman paraphrase rather than cite Tei's phrasing? Apparently he wishes to suppress the "nationality" element in Tei's definition of Zainichi Koreans as persons having (1) ROK or Chosen nationality and (2) SPR status. Unlike Tei -- who is not confused by the complications of history and law -- Chapman has suppressed nationality in order to facilitate his own definition of "zainichi" (Chapman 2007, page 5).

In the final sentence of his paragraph on Tei's views, Chapman entirely twists Tei's views to suit his own "zainichi identity" agenda.

Chapman writes that "In this way, he [Tei] believes the zainichi population can maintain their identity and derive a sense of belonging in Japanese society (Chŏng [sic] Dae-kyun [sic] 2001:4-5).

Tei observes that Zainichi Kankokujin "have come to leave their treatment in Japan to agreements between the government of ROK and the government of Japan" -- and have an "attitude of entrusting their own fate to a country [ROK] with which they have no sense of affiliation [belonging] (帰属意識 kizoku ishiki)" -- wonders how "we" are to explain this, whether it can be explained -- then makes this statement (Tei 2001:5, my structural translation).

Tei Taikin on changing affiliation to suit identity

So what should [we] do? Zainichi Kankokujin should change [their] affiliation in accord with their identity (そのアイデンティティに合わせて帰属を変更すればいい sono aidentiti ni awasete kizoku o henkō sureba ii). In other words, we should acquire Japan[ese] nationality, and live as full members of this society . . . ."

Tei says nothing about "maintaining identity" as "zainichi". Indeed, such an allegation would totally contradict his thesis that Zainichi Kankokujin (and also Zainichi Chosenjin) need to abandon their Zainichi status and become Japanese.

Not only does Tei define "Zainichi" as legacy status (SPR) Koreans -- but by "identity" he means the sense of belonging he feels many if not most such Zainichi naturally feel toward Japanese society -- because they were born and raised in Japan. An increasing number are even the children or grandchildren of Koreans who were born in Japan.

Tei is saying that Zainichi Kankokujin should become Japanese in order to bring their legal status (nationality affiliation) into line with their sense of affiliation with Japan. He is arguing, very clearly and very cogently, that Zainichi Kankokujin are becoming extinct -- as they realize that their true identity is with Japan -- and recognize that it makes more sense to become Japanese as a way to close the gap between their Japanese identity and their passive, remote, legacy affiliation with a country toward which they feel little or no sense of belonging.

That Chapman could warp Tei's views 180 degrees into his own hope that "the zainichi population can maintain their identity" -- despite the precision and clarity of Tei's title and writing -- is not surprising, given the unreliability of many other parts of his book.

Chapman imagines that "zainichi" are mostly unassimilated "Koreans" who are struggling to maintain their identities -- and need his advocacy. Tei's real "Zainichi" are mostly people with Japanese identities and Korean nationalities.

Like Tei, most SPR or former SPR Koreans in Japan never "assimilated" because they grew up in Japan under conditions pretty much like those of their Japanese neighbors, classmates, and workmates. Very likely one if not both of their parents also grew up in Japan. Very likely one of their parents is or was Japanese. And most likely their spouse is Japanese and their chilren are Japanese.

They have not assimilated -- and cannot assimilate -- because they have never been other than what they are -- essentially at home in Japan, Japanese in their sociocultural identity, Japanese in every way but affiliation -- nationality.

Japanese terms

Here, too, Chapman has broken his own rules. According to the "Japanese terms" part of the Glossary, "Kankokujin" Means "South Korean". He did not translate the "Kankokujin" in the title of Tei's books this way. In his commentary on Tei's ideas he writes only "zainichi" eight times and "(South) Korean" once (Chapman 2007:134).

Chapman lists fifty words and expressions in the "Japanese terms" section of the "Glossary". About one third are wrong or misleading. Here are the most problematic definitions in the first half of the list.

Ainu indigenous people of Japan -- Should be "an indigenous people of Japan" because there are others. Ainu are Japanese, and while they may be regarded as "indigenous" in Hokkaido, the vast majority of other Japanese are no less "indigenous" in other parts of Japan.

Burakumin outcaste groups discriminated against in Japan -- No. There are no outcastes, no outcaste groups, no Burakumin.

Chongryun North Korean political group in Japan -- Well, yes, sort of. But what is its name?

Chōsen North Korea -- No. North Korea is "Kita Chōsen" in Japanese. Chōsen is the name Japan gave Korea after annexing Korea in 1910. It is the territory whose independence Japan recognized in the San Francisco Peace Treaty, to which Japan abandoned all claims and rights. It is the territory in which Japan confirmed the government of the Republic of Korea was the only lawful government, in the normalization treaty the two governments concluded in 1965. While no longer part of Japan, it remains an integral part of the Empire of Japan in present-day legal actions that the effects of legacy laws -- since revised if not abrogated or dead -- particularly in nationality confirmation lawsuits. In other words, "Chosen" is alive and well in the continuing history of Japan-Korea-Chosen-ROK-DPRK relations.

Chōsenjin North Korean -- No. Chōsenjin are Chosenese -- people who continue to be classified as affiliates of the former Japanese territory of Chosen -- because they have not migrated to a nationality that Japan recognizes. They are de facto, not de jure, stateless, in the sense that "Chosen" is a legacy entity which is not a state and has no government. In civil matters, involving considerations of private international law, the applicable law of a Chosenese litigant is likely to be ROK, not DPRK, since most Chosenese have registers in ROK and are not necessarily politically oriented toward DPRK -- which, in any case, Japan does not recognize. The Ministry of Justice handles the border crossings and short-term visa statuses of DPRK nationals totally differently than it does the exits and reentries of Chosenese, the majority of whom have rights of residence in Japan and no legal ties with DPRK.

Kankoku South Korea -- Yes and no. "Kankoku" can refer to "Korea" during the final years of the Yi dynasty -- an abbreviation of "Dai-Kan Teikoku" or "Empire of [Great] Korea" (1897-1910) -- the name of the state Japan annexed as "Chōsen" in 1910. Today "Kankoku" means the Republic of Korea. "South Korea" would be written "Minami Chōsen".

Kankokujin South Korean -- Yes and no. See above.

kokka nation -- No. State.

kokumin national citizen -- No. National. Japanese law does not define "citizen".

The rest of the list is no better.

Kokumin and Nationality Law

The first nine pages of "Citizenship" (Chapter 4) are given to presentations of how Chapman thinks some Koreans in Japan have experienced "citizenship" problems advocated "rights as citizens" -- both of which he glosses as "shiminken -- which is not a term in Japanese domestic law. Chapman -- or Suh Yong-dal in Chapman's opinion -- makes this statement (page 61).

Kokumin is linked with the nation, meaning 'Japanese national' (holding Japanese nationality), whereas shimin and jūmin are more closely aligned with residency at a local level or the meaning 'citizen'.

"Kokumin" means only "national" and would mean "Japanese national" only in the context of Japan. "Shimin" means an affiliate of a "city" municipality -- as chōmin, sonmin, and kumin would be affiliates of town, village, and ward municipalities. "Jūmin" means simply "resident" as established by registration in a municipality. None of these words mean "citizen" -- which is not defined in Japanese law.

Chapman then turns to "The Japanese Constitution and the nationality clause" (pages 68-71). He says things like this about the postwar constitution (page 68-69).

[Page 68] Under the revised Japanese Constitution (promulgated on 3 November 1946 and effected on 3 May 1947) Japanese people went from being Imperial subjects (shinmin to Japanese nationals (kokumin). Although Koreans in Japan were technically still Japanese nationals until 1952 they were not treated as such. . . . In 1947, Japan established the gaikokujin tōroku rei (Alien Registration Ordinance), and because former colonial subjects did not possess Japanese nationality they were registered as aliens and differentiated as such. Further regulation of nationality was possible by the Japanese authorities under strict naturalization processes, through the maintenance of the revised 1950 patrilineal Nationality Law (kokuseki hō) based on the original 1899 Law (number 66) that retained the jus sanguinis (the granting of nationality or citizenship according to bloodline) system (Kashiwazaki 2000a:21). [Note 12]

Kashiwazaki 2000a -- See Kashiwazaki 2000 in this Bibliography.

[Note 12] According to Morris-Suzuki (1998: 189), the use of the jus sanguinis system in the creation of the Nationality Law of 1899 was in response to the fears of large-scale Chinese migration in the Pacific region after the end of the Sino-Japanese War in 1895.

Morris-Suzuki, T. (1998) Re-inventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation, New York: M.E. Sharpe.

These lines represent much of what Chapman writes -- in what often comes across as a stream of consciousness -- one thought running into another -- fact, opinion, and error thrown into a verbal blender.

"revised Japanese Constitution"

The 1890 Constitution was not revised. It was replaced by an entirely new constitution.

"Imperial subjects to Japanese nationals"

"Subjects" (shinmin) under the 1890 Constitution were "nationals" (kokumin) of the Empire of Japan. "Shinmin" (subject) denoted a person's relationship to the sovereign emperor. "Kokumin" (national) denoted a person's affiliation with the state. "Kokumin" was used in the 1947 Constitution because it established that sovereignty resided in "Nihon kokumin" (Japan[ese] nationals, "the Japanese people").

In other words, in the new legal order, Japanese continued to be "nationals" but ceased being "subjects". The disuse of "subject" began immediately after the war. The earliest postwar imperial rescripts also refer to "kokumin" rather than "shinmin".

"technically still Japanese nationals"
"did not possess Japanese nationality"

In the space of a few sentences -- Chapman has caused "Koreans in Japan" to lose their nationality. Not only were nationals of Japan until 1952 -- but, except for demographic (and later alien registration) purposes, they were treated as nationals. The 1947 Alien Registration Order stipulates that "Among Taiwanese those the Minister of Interior determines and Chosenese, with respect to the application of this imperial ordinance, for the present shall be regarded [looked upon] as aliens" -- which means they are not aliens, except under this order.

"strict naturalization processes"

Aside from the fact "naturalization processes" have never been especially strict -- it was not possible for Taiwanese and Chosenese to naturalize until after 28 April 1952 -- for until then they were Japanese.

"nationality or citizenship"

This is true only in the sense that the domestic laws of some states define "nationality" while others define "citizenship" as the measure of affiliation. Japan's Nationality Law defines only "nationality" -- and international law recognizes only "nationality".

Nationality acts in the United States have defined US nationality in terms of "citizens" and "nationals" -- again, as a matter of domestic law. International law recognizes only US nationality. Whether a person who possesses US nationality is a "citizen" or a "national" under US law has no bearing on the legal status of the person under international law.

"fears of large-scale Chinese migration"

Chapman habitually cites the more radical sources for his statements on Japanese law. He does not write, or argue, as though he has ever examined the laws he refers to with his own eyes and come to his own conclusions.

Here he cites Morris-Suzuki, who cites Haniwa Satoru, who cites other Japanese sources. As the story of nationality is passed from one "critic" to the next, it gets distorted.

Morris-Suzuki cited Haniwa to facilitate her own radical critique of "citizenship" in Japan, in which she says this (Suzuki 1998:189)

Morris-Suzuki on 1899 Nationality Law

The Meiji constitution left open the question of defining precisely who was and who was not a "Japanese subject": This issue was not settled until the passing of Japan's first Nationality Law in 1899. Early drafts of the law suggest that Japanese officials were thinking of a relatively generous definition, including people of foreign ancestry born in japan as well as children of Japanese parents. But when the law was eventually enacted, shortly after the Sino-Japanese War ended and at a time when fears of large-scale Chinese migration were sweeping the Pacific region, it adopted a restrictive approach based on ius [sic = jus] sanguinis (that is, citizenship derived from descent or "blood line") rather than on place of birth or residence. Although the 1899 law included provisions for naturalization, these were cumbersome and seldom used: Between 1900 and 1949 just 298 people (including 161 Chinese and 39 British citizens) became naturalized Japanese (Haniwa 1980, 316).

Apparently Morris-Suzuki has not herself examined the early drafts of the 1899 Nationality Law or studied its naturalization provisions.

"early drafts"

There were a number of efforts to define the legal parameters and rules for acquiring and losing Japanese status from the beginning of the Meiji period. Practically all are based on patrilineal principles.

The "National Status Law" drafted in 1887 was based primarily jus sanguinis, primarily patrilineal principles. Revisions of its provisions were embedded in the 1890 Civil Code -- which was promulgated but never enforced.

Article 18 of the 1890 Constitution provides that the conditions for being a Japanese subject shall be as determined by law. Article 10 of the 1947 Constitution makes the same provision for the conditions of being a Japanese national.

The first full-bodied nationality provisions consisted of twelve articles in the 1890 Civil Code, grouped under Chapter 2, which concerned "National status" (国民分限 Kokumin bungen). This version of the Civil Code was never enforced, owing to controversy over its effects on family law.

When redrafting the Civil Code, lawmakers separated the "national status" provisions into a standalone law that became the Nationality Law. While much more succinct and detailed, the 1899 Nationality Law adopted essentially the same rules for acquisition and loss of Japanese status as those set down in the 1890 Civil Code.

These rules included the primary application of the principle of jus sanguinis (right of blood, i.e., affiliation based on parental lineage), and the secondary application of the principle of jus soli (right of soil, i.e., affiliation based on place of birth), to the acquisition of Japanese status at time of birth.

This formula was strongly inspired by German and (especially) French laws, which had been known and studied in Japan for many years before the 1890 Civil Code began to be drafted in the late 1880s. Not only had this formula become the most common in the world, but it generally reflected the customary affiliation practices of family law in Japan, Korea, China, and other Asian countries.

In other words, long before the Sino-Japanese War, lawmakers were in essentially agreement on national status rules. The Imperial Diet never seriously considered the adoption of jus soli as the primary criterion for acquiring Japanese status.

The delay in the passing the of the Nationality Law had mostly to do with delays in coming up with a revised civil code that incorporated acceptable family law principles, including the "ie" or "corporate family" system. Such a Civil Code was promulgated and enforced in two parts, in 1896 and 1898. A revised Family Registration Law, reflecting new family law provisions in the second part of the Civil Code, was enforced from the same day in 1898.

The 1899 Nationality Law came into force from 1 April 1899. Its enforcement was timed to complete the body of laws required by the 1890 Constitution before 17 July 1899, when extraterritoriality ended in Japan. The Rules of Laws of 1898 was also timed to facilitate Japan's legal competence as a fully sovereign state.

Imperial Ordinance No. 289, promulgated on 21 June 1899, extended the Nationality Law and some other laws to Taiwan. Most people on Taiwan had already become Japanese subjects pursuant to the Treaty of Shimonoseki of 1895. Now the same law that applied in the Interior (prefectures) would determine the acquisition and loss of Japanese status among Taiwanese.

There was no perceived threat of Chinese flooding into Japan after the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895. In fact, in 1895 Japan gave shelter to some Chinese who had aided Japan in the War.

In 1895, on the recommendation of the Minister of War [Rikugun Daijin] Ōyama Iwao (1842-1916) to Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi (1841-1909), over one hundred Chinese in Liaotung [Liaodong] peninsula, who had assisted Japan during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, were permitted to "change their allegiance and migrate to [move to and settle in] our imperial country" [waga teikoku ni kika ijū suru]. At the time there was no law of nationality, hence no provisions for naturalization, and so change of allegiance was effected in the customary manner of enrollment in Japanese registers. (Asakawa Akihiro, "Meiji zenki no kika kyoka sha: 'Tokubetsu no sengi" ni yoru kika o megutte" [Naturalizers during the first half of the Meiji period: Focusing on allegiance change through special deliberation], Imin kenkyu nenpo, Number 9, March 2003, pages 135-153).

"provisions for naturalization"

The general provisions for naturalization in the 1899 Nationality Law are essentially the same as the general provisions in the current law, which originated in 1950. The provisions for easing the rules in various cases are also similar to those in current law.

Morris-Suzuki -- and Chapman, blindly following her -- makes the mistake of equating low naturalization figures with "cumbersome" (Morris-Suzuki) and "strict" (Chapman). They do not consider the number of aliens in Japan at the time, much less the number of aliens who might have wanted to become Japanese. As today, aliens who had settled in Japan, or aliens born in Japan, could become Japanese if they wanted to naturalize.

Certain categories of people who today have to naturalize -- such as alien spouses and adopted alien children of Japanese, and children who had not been recognized by their Japanese fathers at time of birth -- were able to gain Japanese nationality without naturalizing under the 1899 law -- a foreign wife generally if she stood to loses the nationality of her home country (which was usually the case), a foreign husband if he qualified as a "nyūfu" or "incoming husband".

Japan was in fact rather liberal when it came to its nationality rules -- which were entirely raceless.

San Francisco Peace Treaty

Chapman writes these remarks about nationality settlements after Japan's acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration terms of surrender in 1945 (page 69, citation note omitted).

The treaty [San Francisco Peace Treaty] provided the opportunity for the Japanese government to decide the status of Koreans in Japan. During the occupation the Japanese learned that SCAP did not specify a clause for nationality rights for former Imperial subjects to be included in the treaty. Nine days before it came into effect the Japanese government issued a circular advising that, as a result of the peace treaty, Japanese nationality for Koreans and Taiwanese would be revoked (Kashiwazaki 2000a: 22-3). . . . On the day the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect those resident Koreans who did not become naturalized Japanese found themselves under the control of the Alien Registration Law (gaikokujin tōroku hō) and the Immigration Control Law (shutsunyūkoku kanri hō) as ordinary foreigners instead of members of the Empire. [Note 14]

Here, too, are some examples of the kinds of convoluted sentences that Chapman gets away with -- despite (I presume) the vetting of editors who (1) know something about the subject matter, and (2) know how to narrate historical facts in a clear and non-contradictory manner.

"During the occupation"

Of course it had to be during the Occupation. When else would it have been? But the United States never indicated to Japan that it intended to impose nationality settlement conditions on Japan. Not once. If anything, the GHQ/SCAP avoided interfering in matters that would ordinarily be settled in treaties between concerned states.

There were opinions among legalists and others, within GHQ/SCAP, that Formosans and Koreans in Japan should be given a choice of nationality. It is not clear how they thought this could or should be achieved. But it doesn't matter, because their views never reached the level of policy.

Japan understood this long before it came time to negotiate terms in the peace treaty.

"Nine days before"

As soon as Japan and other party states inked the San Francisco Peace Treaty in September 1951, negotiations got underway between Japan and ROC, and between Japan and ROK, concerning nationality settlements. ROC and Japan came to terms. ROK and Japan did not.

ROC and Japan signed a peace treaty, concerning the status of Taiwan and Taiwanese, on the very day the San Francisco Treaty came into effect -- the day Japan regained its sovereignty and with it the right to represent itself in foreign affairs. Japan recognized ROC's right to determine the legal status of all Taiwan affiliated persons, in Japan as well as within Taiwan. ROC does not appear to have made any demands that Japan allow Taiwan affiliated persons in Japan to continue to be Japanese nationals.

Japan had once considered the option of allowing Taiwanese and Chosenese in Japan the option of continuing to be Japanese nationals. ROK accepted Japan's explanation for why it had changed its mind. However, ROK also demanded that Japan accord Chosenese in Japan "national treatment" -- meaning that, though Chosenese would be aliens, they would be treated like Japanese. Naturally Japan refused.

"Japanese nationality . . . revoked"

Not exactly. The Japanese nationality of Taiwanese and Chosenese was not revoked because it was never conferred. Taiwanese acquired Japanese status as an effect of the terms in the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki. Chosenese acquired Japanese status nationality as an effect of the annexation of Korea as Chosen in 1910.

The acquisition of Japanese status was predicated on the territorial affiliation of Taiwan and Chosen with Japan's sovereign dominion. This territorial affiliation was lost upon effectuation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, in which Japan abandoned all right, title, and claim to Formosa (Taiwan) and Korea (Chosen).

When Japan formally ceded Taiwan and Chosen away from its sovereign dominion, effective in 1952, it also ceded their population registers. And because Japanese nationality is territorial, Taiwanese and Chosenese lost the nationality which Japan had ascribed to Taiwan and Chosen registers when Taiwan and Korea became part of Japan in 1895 and 1910.

The only way Taiwanese and Chosenese could have continued to be Japanese would have been to allow those who wished to remain Japanese to enroll in a municipal register in Japan under Japanese registration laws. Japan could not have initiated such enrollment without treaty provisions and special laws to implement the treaty provisions.

As it was, under ROC and ROK laws (to say nothing of DPRK laws), people in ROC and ROK registers were already ROC or ROK nationals if they were in Taiwan or ROK, and ROC and ROK registered persons in Japan had already been recognized or stood to be recognized as ROC and ROK nationals. Japan could not have unilaterally carried out a program of enrolling Taiwanese and Chosenese in prefectural registers without the approval and cooperation of ROC and ROK.

ROC representatives in Japan had already confirmed the desire of most Taiwanese in Japan to migrate to ROC nationality. ROK had begun to accommodate the migration of Chosenese in Japan to ROK nationality, but many Chosenese -- despite their affiliation with provinces south of the 38th parallel, which were under ROK's control and jurisdiction -- chose to not to, for a number of reasons, some political.

ROK-Japan talks floundered on a number of issues. One was the status of ROK nationals in Japan. The other was the disposition of Chosenese -- most affiliated with provinces under ROK's control and jurisdiction.

For Japan, the simplest legal and political solution was to let all Chosen-affiliated persons (including ROK nationals and Chosenese) lose their Japanese nationality as an effect of the separation of Chosen from Japanese territory -- and to provide that they naturalize if they wanted to be Japanese.

"resident Koreans . . . found themselves"

All Taiwanese and Chosenese in Japan as of 28 April 1952 "found themselves" under the control alien registration and immigration laws as "foreigners" because that is what they had become as a result of losing their Japanese nationality.

"who did not become naturalized Japanese"

Only foreigners can naturalize, and Taiwanese and Chosenese did not become foreigners until 28 April 1952. So applications for naturalization would have to be made after this date.

"ordinary foreigners"

Taiwanese and Chosenese were not foreigners before the peace treaty came into effect. They were Japanese. They were treated as aliens for purposes of registration related to "repatriation" -- and for alien registration, hence for border control purposes -- long before they became foreigners from 28 April 1952.

Law No. 126, concerning Potsdam Declaration issues, effective from 28 April 1952, revised the Immigration Control Order to permit persons who had lost their nationality, and who had been continuously resident in Japan from on or before 2 September 5, and their children born in Japan on or after 3 September 1945, to continue to reside in Japan without acquiring a status of residence -- until otherwise determined by law.

Such treaty-provisioned aliens have never been treated as "ordinary foreigners" under Japanese law. They have always been, and continue to be, treated exceptionally as aliens.

"members of the Empire"

No people in Japan at the time were "members of the Empire". The "Empire" ceased to exist when Japan signed the Instruments of Surrender. The surrender caused Taiwanese and Chosenese in particular to be treated as "liberated" people -- meaning that they were no longer "subjects" of Japan. Other Japanese, too, were regarded as "nationals" -- not "subjects" -- of Japan under the Allied Occupation. Chapman himself noted that "subjects" had become "nationals" under the 1947 Constitution -- but failed to observe that they had also been "nationals" when they were "subjects".

Constitution and nationality

Chapman relies entirely the opinions of others for comments about Japan's Constitution and nationality that are simply not supported by facts plainly evident in the Constitution and the documents that show how it was drafted and edited.

[Page 70] Subsequent legislation based on the Constitution also began to use the term kokumin. As I have mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, this term, according to a number of commentators (see Yang Tae-ho 1996: 134-5; Kim Tae-young 1999: 8; Suh Yong-dal 2003; Urabe 1992: 45-6), is interpreted by the Japanese state to include only those who hold Japanese nationality. The interpretation of this term in this way therefore excluded the zainichi with Korean nationality or members of other immigrant groups that had not naturalized as Japanese. In fact, according to koseki Shoichi (1988: 235-6), the term kokumin was substituted for the English [sic = Japanese] translation of 'all people' (subete no kokumin) so as to deprive all non-Japanese citizens, especially former colonial-subject Korean [sic = Koreans] and Chinese, from holding constitutional rights (also refer to Hook and McCormack 2001: 6).

This paragraph compounds errors made earlier in the chapter and adds convolutions that reflect Chapman's dependency on "commentators" -- "publicists" of like mind -- to make it seem that "zainichi" are victims of a devious linguistic plot against them.

"interpreted by the Japanese state"

Any student of the language of law in China, Korea, and Japan would recognize that the terms "kokumin" in Japanese, "guómín" in Chinese, and "kungmin" in Korean mean precisely what the characters imply -- "country/nation affiliates" or "nationals" -- meaning people who possess the nationality of the country/nation in question. Of course Koreans in Japan are excluded from "kokumin" -- because they are aliens -- i.e., they do not possess Japanese nationality.

Chapter 3 of the 1947 Constitution is, after all, about "Kokumin no kenri oyobi gimu" -- "Rights and Duties of the People" in the received English translation. This is boilerplate constitutionese. Chapter 2 of the 1890 Constitution was called "Shinmin kenri gimu" -- "Rights and duties of subjects". Various Chinese and Korean constitutions have used similar phrasing.

The title of Chapter 3 in the earliest GHQ/SCAP draft is precisely "Rights and Duties of the People". The first literal Japanese translation was "Jinmin no kenri oyobi gimu". "Jinmin" had been legalese for "the people" of a country in treaties since the middle of the 19th century.

However, the usual term for reference to "the people of Japan" -- meaning "nationals of Japan" -- had been "Nihon kokumin". Hence all subsequent Japanese drafts had "kokumin" -- which conformed to legal usage in Japanese domestic law, and to the concept of "national" in international law.

The term "kokumin" is, in fact, used in the Preface to the constitution in its most general sense to mean "a people of a country". The phrase "sekai no kokumin" reflects "peoples of the world" in the English draft.

It is apparent that Chapman has not studied the manner in which the 1947 Constitution was drafted. The GHQ/SCAP draft was rushed out by amateurs who knew little about constitutions and less about Japanese law.

What I call the "nationalization" of the GHQ/SCAP draft untangled a number of serious contradictions in the GHQ/SCAP draft and otherwise brought the draft into line with conventions in both domestic and international law. The editorial process, too, was rushed, but was always under close GHQ/SCAP scrutiny, and the final draft was a great improvement over the original.

For the sort of details which Chapman should have observed, see my The nationalization of Chapter III: Changes of "people" and "persons" in Japan's 1947 Constitution and related articles under "Aliens and the Constitution" in the "Nationality" section of this website.

"the English translation of 'all people'"

What Chapman says doesn't make sense -- even allowing that "English" is an error for "Japanese". What would be gained by substituting "kokumin" for "subete no kokumin"? Or vice versa? Nothing.

In any event, the expression is "subete kokumin". Moreover, "subete kokumin" was used in Articles 25, 26, and 27 before "all people" was used in the English version.

"All people" in the English version appears to be a structural error for "all of the people" -- since all other instances of "people" reflect "kokumin" -- whereas all instances of "nanibito mo" are reflected as "every person" / "any person" / "all persons" / "no person" and the like.

Article 25, which Chapman cites, derived from what was originally Article 24, which was split into Articles 25 and 26). The article was developed like this. The use of "all people" in the English version begins after vernacularization of Japanese draft (Stage 3).

Stage 1  13 Feb 1946  all men → 何人モ
Stage 2   6 Mar 1946  国民ハ凡テ → all persons
Stage 3  15 Apr 1946  すべて国民は
Stage 4  17 Apr 1946  すべて国民は
Stage 5   3 Nov 1946  すべて国民は [ → all people ]

Compiled by William Wetherall

In other words, with the exception of the GHQ/SCAP draft and its literal Japanese translation at Stage 1, the Japanese drafts were always "kokumin" with an emphatic "subete". From Stage 2, "all persons" became the English version of "kokumin wa subete" -- and "all people" became the English version at some point after "kokumin wa subete" was colloquialized from Stage 3. There was no deception here. It was all on the table, in plain, clear ink.

"non-Japanese citizens"

What is Chapman talking about? Not even "Japanese citizens" are defined in Japanese law. Only affiliation -- national affiliation and municipal (and derivatively prefectural) affiliation. National affiliation is based on possession of Japanese nationality -- of course. Local (municipal and prefectural) affiliation is based on residence for all legal residents -- regardless of nationality.

[Page 70] As mentioned, zainichi were 'foreigners' from 1952 and therefore automatically excluded. With the signing of the ROK-Japan Normalization Treaty in 1965 some improvements were made regarding the legal status of the ROK-affiliated (South Korean) zainichi population. This was achieved through the creation of the special permanent residency (tokubetsu eiūken) category mentioned in Chapter 2.

"special permanent residency"

The 1965 Japan-ROK normalization treaty did not make provisions for improvements in the status of ROK nationals in Japan. Such improvements were provided by the Japan-ROK status agreement signed in 1965 but not effective until 17 January 1966.

The permanent residence status Chapman is referring to is called "Kyōtei eijū" (Agreement permanent residence) -- not in the agreement but in reference to the ordinary permanent residence that was permitted under the agreement. The status itself was no different from ordinary permanent residence. All that different was the manner of application and approval.

Much simpler applications were made to a municipal hall rather than to an Immigration Bureau office. The agreement mandated the Minister of Justice to permit acquisition of permanent residence status to all applicants who met the conditions stipulated in agreement. Not all ROK nationals were qualified.

The category of "Statutory special permanent resident" (Hōtei tokubetsu eijūsha) -- usually called simply Special Permanent Resident" (Tokubetsu eijūsha) -- was not established until 1991. The status of SPR -- which is categorically different from that of ordinary permanent resident -- is available to all qualified persons regardless of nationality. Most SPRs are ROK nationals or Chosenese, followed by Chinese (mainly ROC affiliated), the United States, and about fifty other countries.

[Page 71] As demonstrated, the 'nationality clause' in the Japanese Constitution has often been pinpointed by zainichi commentators as a major barrier to inclusion allowing 'official' legislative exclusion of zainichi in various ways.

"'nationality clause'"

There is no nationality clause anywhere in the 1947 Constitution. Some of the articles under "Rights and duties of nationals" naturally apply only to nationals. Others also apply to aliens.

However, the specific parameters of rights, duties, and other matters in the Constitution -- including whether nationality is a factor -- are established by various laws. The Constitution itself does not exclude aliens from any aspect of social and political life in Japan.

Fingerprinting and alien registration

As in his earlier articles, Chapman distorts and exaggerates his story about fingerprinting. He describes fingerprinting as "one of the first issues that truly unified zainichi residents with other permanent permanent residents in Japan" (page 73) -- though (1) not all Koreans in Japan were or are permanent residents, (2) support came from non-permanent residents, and (3) the movement did not truly unite aliens -- and even betrayed the usual divisions in the ranks of Koreans.

"over 10,000"

Chapman states that by 1985 "the total number of foreign residents refusing to be fingerprinted reached a figure of over 10,000" (page 73). But the vast majority of these foreigners, mostly Koreans, refused only during the grace period within which they were required to comply with the law or face penalties and possibly arrest. There were never more than a few hundred actual refusers, and many of these refusers submitted their prints rather than face arrest and prosecution.

Chapman makes such unqualified statements to support his boast that "the 1980s was dominated by protests against fingerprinting of foreign residents" (page 73). The movement "dominated" only the minds of refusers and their supporters -- and the Ministry of Justice officials that used the movement as a pretext to take control of alien registration away from local governments (see below).

Kang Sang-jung

Chapman states that Kang Sang-jung refused to be fingerprinted and "was soon to be imprisoned for his continued protest but eventually succumbed and allowed himself to be fingerprinted" (page 73).

Chapman tells a great story -- but it is not true. In the source he cites -- "Kang, in Kang and Morisu 2002: 131-4" (page 74) -- Kang makes it explicitly clear that he decided to give his print in order to avoid being arrested and jailed -- the usual procedure before arraignment and release.

No refuser was ever imprisoned -- not even if they were arrested, prosecuted, found guilty, lost all appeals, and refused to pay the fine for refusal -- as Ronald Fujiyoshi did. In December 1995 the Supreme Court upheld an earlier verdict that found Fujiyoshi guilty of violating the Alien Registration Law. He had until the end of January 1996 to pay a 10,000 yen fine. Having failed to pay the fine, he was detained in a workhouse for five days in lieu of payment.

Kang states that he gave his fingerprint when he was about to be arrested and jailed. Some supporters urged him to continue, even it he was jailed. Unable to decide, he consulted the pastor of a certain church. The pastor assured him that giving his fingerprint would not be an escape. In any case, it was his decision. The supporters around him had no right to say anything. Kang gave his print. Some supporters distanced themselves from him. Other's didn't. (Kang and Morris 2002:133-134)

Notice that I have written "Morris" where Chapman has written "Morisu"". This is another example of breaking his own rule about names. The dust jacket, cover, title page, and colophon all clearly state "Kang Sang-jung / Morris Hiroshi". Morris reflects 森巣 (もりす) in Japanese. Morris lives in Australia. Tessa Morris-Suzuki also lives in Australia.

End of fingerprinting

Chapman writes this about the end of fingerprinting for purposes of alien registration.

[Page 74] The fingerprinting requirement was also revised in 1992 for special permanent residents and since 8 January 1993 it has been replaced by a signature. The abolition of fingerprinting at this time, however, did not extend to other permanent residents such as other foreigners married to Japanese and it did not extend to non-Japanese workers or students staying for one year or more.

This paragraph is mostly wrong -- and some of the phrasing is typical Chapmanesque. Does "not extend to other permanent residents such as other foreigners married to Japanese" mean that "special permanent residents" are married to Japanese? What about "non-Japanese" staying for one year or more who were not "workers or students"?

1992 revisions effective in 1993 eliminated fingerprinting for all permanent residents -- general and special. Both kinds of permanent residents, 16 years old and above, were required to give signatures in lieu of a fingerprint.

Other revisions, also effective in 1993, abolished the 1955 Cabinet Order on Fingerprints. Code concerning what was left of the fingerprinting requirement was directly embedded in the Alien Registration Law.

1999 revisions effective in 2000 abolished all fingerprinting. All registered aliens sixteen years old are now required to provide a signature -- and refusal to do so is punishable. An alien version of family registration was also introduced.

[Page 75] The success in protesting against fingerprinting that led to the abolition of the requirement was once described as the event that clearly defined the zainichi position in Japanese society in relation to access to human rights (Ebashi and Bae 1994: 143). Such successes against state legislation and the subsequent changes helped to crystallize the possibilities in self-making citizens through imagined social change. This was a significant victory for the zainichi and, for that matter, the foreign resident populations. This added to the momentum of activism that was already growing at the time. However, despite these concessions and the increase in foreign workers to Japan throughout the 1980s, the alien registration system still remains.

This is the final paragraph of the "Fingerprinting and the Alien Registration Law" section. Paragraphs like this -- which beat the drums of victory -- abound in Chapman's book and other writing.

Again the diction is Chapmanesque.

"foreign resident populations"

Does Chapman not mean to include "the zainichi" among "the foreign resident populations"?

"alien registration system still remains"

And why should "these concessions" made in the 1990s and "the increase in foreign workers" in the 1980s -- not result in a continuation of the alien registration system? The system remains -- the way it is today -- precisely because of the increased inflow of new foreigners and the civil disobedience of mostly settled foreigners in the 1980s -- among other reasons.

Chapman's comprehension of the history of fingerprinting as a matter of alien registration is based on a handful sources that apparently did not enlighten him -- and his own radical imagination.

He does not understand that -- by the time the refusal movement gained momentum in the early 1980s -- the Ministry of Justice had already effectively abandoned its interest in alien fingerprinting -- as carried out by local governments, which also recognized that fingerprinting aliens for the purposes contrived during the Allied Occupation was a waste of time.

What really "dominated" the 1980s was the introduction of computers in the processing of all manner of records at all levels of civil administration. The Ministry of Justice maintained its usual law-and-order posture in the face of the refusal movement -- while developing a computerized system for producing alien registration cards at Ministry of Justice facilities -- to replace the booklets then being directly issued by municipal governments.

The inflow of foreign workers that began in the late 1970s and accelerated in the 1980s was merely another incentive for the ministry to streamline the alien registration system under its closer surveillance.

As fingerprinting was phased out, the Alien Registration Law was revised to give the Ministry of Justice control over matters that previously had been delegated to municipal governments. When the dust on battlefield of fingerprint refusal had settled, the municipal governments had lost primary jurisdiction over alien registration.

The story has yet another important wrinkle.

Chapman's "victory" was aided and abetted by Japan's 3000-plus municipalities at the time -- even by the roughly 700 that declined to report refusers. There was nothing the Ministry of Justice could do about the non-reporting municipalities -- except revise the Alien Registration Law and procedures, in such a manner that gave the Ministry of Justice the power to directly enforce the provisions of the law.

Loss of primary jurisdiction over registration matters was actually a plus for some of the the "supporting" municipalities -- held hostage by their radical civil servant unions, which often supported local refusers. Shifting both the authority to issue alien registration certificates, and enforcement powers, to the Ministry of Justice effectively denied the unions their leverage concerning alien registration matters.

Chapman tells the "fingerprinting" story as one in which Koreans and others aliens bravely battle the government and win. He tells the story, not as a scholar, but as a cheer leader. The end of fingerprinting, which he takes as a victory in the battle, really marked a loss of the war.


In this section, Chapman makes all the errors he made in early articles -- and in his 2008 article -- regarding the registration systems of what he calls the "colonial period". Again, he depends entirely on sources written by other "scholars" of the victimhood school, who are stronger on advocacy than confirmation of historical and legal facts.

Here, too, he repeats a number of familiar lines -- with new lines that expose the problems he has with definition and diction.

[Page 76] Reflecting this have been recent cases appearing in the Japanese Supreme Court protesting the lack of rights in political representation by zainichi and other permanent residents in Japan which have involved claims of discrimination based on inconsistencies in the Constitution. As mentioned above, the Japanese Constitution as it presently stands lacks specification on the rights of 'non-Japanese' in Japan and it is sometimes assumed that the Constitution pertains only to Japanese nationals (kokumin). However, the Supreme Court has argued that foreigners are covered, based on the pre-existence of natural and fundamental rights as human beings (Tsunemoto 2001: 133). In February 1995 the Supreme Court also stated that under Article 8 [sic = Chapter 8] in the Japanese Constitution local voting rights for foreigners are not illegal (Kajita 1996: 107; Jung Yeong-hae 1999: 28).

. . . Arai Shōkei, who naturalized as Japanese, gained a seat in the House of Representatives and became the only zainichi politician to become a member of the Diet in the postwar period.

"zainichi and other permanent residents in Japan"
"naturalized as Japanese . . . zainichi"

Again, it seems that Chapman is defining "zainichi" as permanent residents. Yet Arai Shōkei, a Japanese politician, is said to have been a "zainichi politician". Was he therefore a "Japanese permanent resident" as opposed to an "non-Japanese permanent resident"?

Chapman's loose and lazy definition of "zainichi" notwithstanding -- I'm confused.

"inconsistencies in the Constitution"

For example?

"rights of 'non-Japanese'"

Chapman's habit of enclosing non-Japanese in quotes is peculiar. There are broadly two legal statuses in Japan -- nationals and aliens. Nationals are Japanese. Aliens are non-Japanese. There is no reason to mark either.

The Constitution clearly gives some rights to nationals, and just as clearly gives some rights to all persons. However, some of the rights that appear to be intended only for nationals are, by the nature of the right, and given the intention of the Constitution, are also recognized for all persons. At the same time, some of the rights that appear to be intended for all persons are essentially limited to Japanese -- again, by the nature of the right.

These interpretations of the Constitution have been conventional for many decades. Recent Supreme Court decisions have not really said anything that legalists haven't always known.

"Article 8" [sic = Chapter 8]

Chapter 8 of the Constitution, concerning local self-government, contains four articles, the first of which states that local public entities will regulated by by law in accordance with the principle of local autonomy. This law is the Local Autonomy Law -- Law No. 67 of 17 April 1947, effective from 3 May 1947.

Article 15 -- in Chapter 3, concerning rights and duties of nationals, provides that nationals ("the people") have the right to choose and dismiss their public officials, and other matters related to suffrage.

"local voting rights for foreigners are not illegal"

The 1995 decision referred to by Chapman does not rule that local voting rights are not illegal. It states that the Constitution does not prohibit aliens from voting in the municipalities and prefectures in which they are domiciled.

In other words, it is possible for aliens to have rights of suffrage in local elections -- if local laws provide for such rights. In fact, voting by foreigners would definitely be illegal in the vast majority of localities -- since their ordinances have not legalized alien voting.

Public service employment

This chapter disrails in a number of places -- especially at the end, with a misinformed reference to the Korean village of Utoro in Kyoto" (pages 80-81).

"Chong Hyang-gyun"

Before that, Chapman mentions in passing the case of a public health nurse named Chong Hyang-gyun (text page 80).

Chong Hyang-gyun, although born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Korean father, was told that Japanese nationality was necessary for those talking up positions tied to the exercise of power (McNeill 2005).

David McNeill's article is a newspaper report about Chong's response to an unfavorable decision by the Supreme Court in her law suit against the Tokyo Metropolitan Government concerning ordinances which require that higher ranking Tokyo civil servants be Japanese nationals.

Apparently Chapman was not aware that Chong is Tei Taikin's sister. Since I know Tei, and something about his family, including his sister, I was puzzled by several statements in McNeil's article, so immediately sent a copy to Tei.

Tei had had been observing media response to his sister's press conference following the Supreme Court decision. Predictably, he was neither surprised about nor happy with the distortions of his family history at press conferences and interviews -- partly his sister's fault -- and partly the fault of writers who have a tendency to garble some things they hear in interviews and take the factuality of other things for granted. Tei wrote some articles about such misepresentations.

Chong parents were Japanese when they married and Japanese when she was born. The mother was an Interior subject, and the father was a Chosenese subject residing in the Interior. When they married, she migrated into his family register and became Chosenese. They lost their Japanese nationality when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect.

Chong, her older brother Tei, and an even older brother, also lost their presumptive Japanese nationality in 1952. I say "presumptive" because one can only assume that customary nationality law operated in the case of Chosenese -- before Japan's surrender to the Allied Powers and its loss of control and jurisdiction over Chosen -- continued to operate in the case of children born in Occupied Japan to resident Chosenese. Most Japanese court decisions assume it did.

The father, a writer, and other members of the family, became nationals of the Republic of Korea. The father later moved to the Republic of Korea, where he passed away. The oldest brother also passed away. The mother naturalized, again becoming Japanese, and she too passed away. Tei naturalized. His sister does not wish to naturalize.

Brother Tei and sister Chong do not share the same views about her employment situation. While Tei is supportive as a brother, he criticizes her expectations that Koreans in Japan be given the same rights as Japanese. He believes that, if she wishes to function fully as a member of Japanese society, to the extent of holding a higher level civil service post, and voting, that she should naturalize -- as he has.

Tei -- not Chong -- has actually lived and worked in the the Republic of Korea and mastered Korean. He married a Korean woman, and they have a son, who Tei eventually brought to, and raised in, Japan.

The story of Tei and Chong is far more poignant and meaningful than any of those that Chapman strung together from secondary and tertiary sources. How did he miss it? Chong edited a book about her case in 2006. The same year, Tei published a family history that included Chong's case, his naturalization, and their differences.

Chon Hyan Gyun [Chong Hyang Gyun] (editor)
Seigi naki kuni
("Tōzen no hōri" o toitsudzukete:
Tochō kokuseki nin'yō sabetsu saiban no kiroku)
[Country without justice
(Continuing to question "natural legal principle":
A chronicle of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government
nationality appointment discrimination trial)]
Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, 2006
310 pages, hardcover

Tei Taikin [Chung Daekyun]
Zainichi no taerarenai karusa
[The unbearable lightness of being [Korean] in Japan]
Tokyo: Chūō Kōron Shinsha, 2006
vii, 194 pages, paperback (Chūkō Shinsho 1861)


Erin Aeran Chung

Erin Aeran Chung
Immigration and Citizenship in Japan New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010
xiii, 205 pages, hardcover

Chung 2010 is reviewed on an independent page as Erin Chung on "Immigration and Citizenship in Japan".


George Hicks

George Hicks
Japan's Hidden Apartheid
(The Korean Minority and the Japanese)
Aldershot (Hants UK): Ashgate, 1997
viii, 171 pages, softcover

The title of the book forewarns of its radical victimhood tone. A few truths are buried among the half-truths and outright falsehoods. Here are citations of some of the many erroneous statements concerning nationality and related matters, with comments in hanging paragraphs.


The preface gets off to a predictably bad start by claiming that Koreans are "Japan's largest minority" (page vii).

Page one of the main texts cites an encyclopedia as saying there are "'about three million Burakumin [sic] a caste of "untouchables" known pejoratively as the Eta ['those full of filth'] living in about 6,000 communities'" (page 3). Hicks then observes that "Koreans, including those who have become naturalized (about 160,000), are close to 800,000 in number" (ibid.). Apart from the fact that both descriptions are seriously flawed, "Burakumin" (who he also calls "ghetto dwellers") would appear to outnumber "Koreans" even when inflated that those who no longer Koreans.

"Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were brought to Japan in the 1930s and 1940s" and "They were the forebears of the 700,000 strong Korean minority in contemporary Japan, many of them in the second, third, or even fourth generation without Japanese citizenship" (page vii).

Most Chosenese who stayed in the prefectures after Japan's surrender in 1945 had migrated from the peninsula and settled. Most of those who had been brought to Japan as labor recruits, some as volunteers and others as conscripts, returned to the peninsula after the war.

"In recent decades, as a result of the movements among Koreans . . . it became possible for many Koreans to become Japanese citizens" (Preface, page vii). . . . "Koreans, who had Japanese citizenship under colonial rule, were deprived of that citizenship . . . following World War II" (page viii).

No "movements" have made it possible for Koreans to become Japanese. Aliens have been been able to naturalize since 1899. Japanese law defines nationality but not citizenship. Chosenese (not "Koreans") were Japanese because they were nationals of Japan. They became aliens in 1952 when separated from Japanese nationality on account of the territorial separation of Korea from Japan under the terms of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. As aliens they were able to naturalize.

"A 1991 agreement with the ROK led to relaxed and uniform permanent residence for all resident aliens" (page viii).

Permanent residence is not uniformly available to all resident aliens. Only aliens who qualify under laws related to the provisions of the the Peace Treaty with Japan are able to acquire status as Special Permanent Residents. Other, if qualified by permanent residence provisions in the Immigration Control Law, may apply for status as [General] Permanent Residents. SPRs have more legal privileges than GPRs.

Main text

"Since the amendment of the Domicile Registration Law in 1984, Japanese officialdom no longer insists on the adoption of Japanese names when Koreans are naturalized." (page 18).

The Family Registration Law has never placed limitations on "Korean" or "Chinese" or other such names. Names are limited only by the requirement that everyone in the same register share the same family name, and that everyone have a single personal name, and that all such names be written in approved script.

"In 1950, a Nationality Law was enacted under which nationality was automatically acquired only by birth to parents of Japanese nationality. This differs from birth on the country's territory, common among Western countries." (Page 51)

The 1950 law was essentially the same as the 1899 law. It was also essentially the same as the laws of most states in the world, including most "Western countries". Japanese nationality has never been automatically acquired by anyone. Nationality is obtained only through registration. The child of a non-Japanese mother married to a Japanese man could become Japanese. The child born in Japan of stateless parents could become Japanese.

"There can be little doubt that by depriving the Koreans of their Japanese nationality, Japan acted illegally, immorally, and unwisely. Japan's American drafted Constitution states that nationality is to be determined by law, rather than administrative decision. Secondly, the usual international practice allows individual choice of nationality when territorial changes occur . . . . In this case, however, Japanese officials took the power of choice away from the individual. It was also irrational to make no distinction between other aliens entering Japan with foreign nationality, and former colonial subjects who had come there, often forcibly drafted, as Japanese nationals. (Page 51)

In the absence of any interest in the Republic of China or, eventually, the Republic of Korea to provide for choice of nationality in the treaties they made with Japan, Japan was within its rights to not to permit choice. The "usual international practice" is far from being a single standard. In any case, no Japanese nation has ever had the "power of choice" of nationality -- except those who have had two or more. Finally, Japan's postwar laws have always differentiated between former "colonial subjects" who became aliens, and other aliens.

All countries govern their nationality by law. Even when, as when naturalizing in Japan, nationality is acquired by application for permission, rather than through notification and automatic application of the law, the procedure for application and ministerial decision is governed by law.

The stipulation in the 1947 Constitution that qualifications for being a Japanese national will be determined by law is virtually identical to a similar stipulation in the 1890 Meiji Constitution.

"Those who did not apply for naturalization were the vast majority and came under the jurisdiction of the Immigration Control Law, enacted to complement the Nationality Law" (page 52).

The two laws are totally unrelated. Chosenese who had been Japanese, when losing their Japanese nationality, became aliens. At this point the Immigration Control Order (not then a law) applied to them. Only after becoming aliens were they able to apply for naturalization.

"The long-term survival of an identifiable Korean minority seems to depend, as earlier suggested, on maintaining cultural identity, together with Japanese acceptance of a distinction between nationality and ethnicity in a pluralist society. One hint of such a possibility lies in an amendment to the Domicile Registration Law, concurrent with that of the Nationality Law, allowing a child obtaining Japanese nationality to use a Korean surname." (Pages 57-58)

The Nationality Law has nothing to do with names. The Family Registration Law has never had restrictions on "Korean" names.

"The 1984 revision of the Nationality Law has abolished fingerprinting and introduced sex equality." (Page 88)

The Nationality Law has never had anything to do with fingerprinting. The 1984 revision degenderized only the patrilineal principle in cases of married parents (the father had to be Japanese), making it an ambilineal principle (either the mother or father has to be Japanese).

"This agrees with the general trend in the Welfare Ministry's statistics for marriage, which show that the number of Korean women marrying Japanese have exceeded males since 1969. This means that the balance of males entering into partnerships would not register their marriage on their own Permanent Domiciles, which would be located in Korea, so that children would be entered on the wife's domicile and the marriage would not be recorded -- a practice already noted." (Pages 108-109)

A marriage is not a marriage if not recorded. If the "partnership" is a common-law relationship, then there is no "husband" or "wife".

Today, a child born to a Japanese woman will be recorded in her register and become Japanese, if she files a notification of its birth in a timely manner, regardless of whether she is married (if married to a Japanese man, she will share the register with her husband, who may or may not be the child's biological father), regardless of the nationality of the father, and regardless of whether the father is even known.


Changsoo Lee and George De Vos (editors)

Changsoo Lee and George De Vos (editors)
Koreans in Japan: Ethnic Conflict and Accommodation
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981
xiv, 435 pages, hardcover

Changsoo Lee and George De Vos [editors]
with contributions by Daekyun Chung,
Thomas Rohlen, Yuzura [sic Yuzuru] Sasaki,
Hiroshi Wagatsuma, and William O. Wetherall

This book, as of the time of this review (2009), is nearly three decades old as a publication, and well over thirty years old as a concept. Of the book's 15 articles, 6 were by Changsoo Lee alone, another 4 by Lee with George De Vos, another by De Vos with Daekyun Chung, 2 by Hiroshi Wagatsuma writing alone or with Yuzuru Sasaki, and one each by Thomas Rohlen and yours truly, William Wetherall.

6  Changsoo Lee
1  Changsoo Lee and George De Vos
3  George A De Vos and Chongsoo Lee  
1  George A De Vos and Daekyun Chung
1  Hiroshi Wagatsuma
1  Yuzuru Sasaki and Hiroshi Wagatsuma
1  Thomas Rohlen
1  William Wetherall

This is not a review of the book but a sort of gossipy account of how the book came to be published with its complement of contributors, and how a proposed Japanese adaptation of the book failed to fly.

For a web version of my article in this book, see Public Figures in Popular Culture: Identity Problems of Minority Heroes in the "Minorities" section of this website. For my own hindsight assessment of the article, see Wetherall 1981 in this bibliography.


The book is not a conference book, nor is it a collection of articles by a particularly broad group of scholars. It was, in fact, very much the product of researchers within the gravitational pull of George De Vos and his satellites.

I had been a student of De Vos when an undergraduate and graduate student, and at the time he asked me to write the article for the Korean book I was in Japan doing research for a doctoral dissertation on suicide.

De Vos, Wagatsuma, and Sasaki

George De Vos was by far the best known author, with Hiroshi Wagatsuma a somewhat distant but highly respected second. The rest of the contributors were not generally known in the social sciences or in Japanese studies on either side of the Pacific. Yuzuru Sasaki had collaborated with Wagatsuma, and through Wagatsuma with De Vos, on earlier projects.

See the Acknowledgements on the Konketsuji site for fuller biographical details about De Vos, Wagatsuma, and Sasaki, and remarks about their relationships.

Changsoo Lee

Changsoo Lee had written a PhD dissertation in 1971 on The Politics of the Korean Minority in Japan for the University of Maryland, Political Science, international law and relations research. It is arguably the best such dissertation of several that had been written on one or another aspect of the so-called "Korean Minority in Japan" by Koreans who had migrated to the United States to study.

Lee then joined the faculty of the University of Southern California. As I recall, he met Wagatsuma about the time Wagatsuma moved from the University of Pittsburgh to the University of California at Los Angeles in the early 1970s.

Thomas Rohlen

Thomas Rohlen, a newbie professor at the new UC Santa Cruz campus, had become associated with De Vos through his own studies of social issues, including suicide and minorities. I attended two colloquia at Berkeley, in 1973 and 1974, at which Rohlen presented papers, and I am sure De Vos introduced us, though I can't recall talking with him, and had no other contact with him.

Daekyun Chung

Daekyun Chung, now known as Tei Taikin, became a graduate student at the Asian American Studies Center at UCLA, largely through the encouragement of Wagatsuma. Wagatsuma served as the chairman of the faculty committee that supervised Chung's 1978 MA thesis, Japan-born Koreans in the U.S.: Their experiences in Japan and the U.S.. Chung met De Vos through Wagatsuma, and at some point he gave De Vos a tour of the Korean neighborhood in Kawasaki, where Chung had been active as a community worker and researcher.

I first met Chung in Tokyo before he went to UCLA. He had a part-time job in Kawasaki, and had done some community work and research in the city's "Chōsen buraku". He showed me around the neighborhood, and we talked a lot about his research there, and he added my name to the byline of a two part report on his study of the community. See Tei Taikin on nationalism and Koreans in Japan: The wrongs of "Zainichi" victimhood and the rights of naturalization for a detailed overview of Tei's life and writing.


John Lie

John Lie
Narratives of Exile and the Search for Homeland
in Contemporary Korean Japanese Writings
In Kai-wing Chow, Kevin M. Doak, and Poshek Fu, editors
Constructing Nationhood in Modern East Asia
Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2001
Chapter 11: Pages 343-358

Coming out when it did, the same year he published Multiethnic Japan (see Lie 2001a), it is not surprising that John Lie begins this article with characterizations like those which appear in the book (page 343, underscoring mine).

Korean Japanese constitute a group that is once visible and invisible, homogeneous and heterogeneous. Their visibility is exemplified by the traditional Korean costumes that schoolgirls commuting to ethnic Korean schools wear (at least those schools affiliated with Sōren, the pro-North Korean organization in Japan). But the vast majority of perhaps a million Koreans in Japan "pass" as Japanese, as they are physically indistinguishable and culturally assimilated into Japanese society. Virtually all of them speak Japanese fluently and, especially for later generations, very few aspects of their lives render them distinct from their Japanese counterparts. . . .

Lie does not seem able to decide if "Koreans in Japan" are "Koreans" or "Japanese". But he is convinced that they constitute a "group" -- and that "Nearly all of them are colonial-period migrants and their descendants" (page 343). For the most part, however, he labels "them" as "Korean Japanese". And he makes the three "Korean Japanese" novelists whose "narratives of exile" he regards representing their "search for homeland" fodder for his contention, toward his conclusion, that "Instead of belong to a nation-state, there is a new, dispersed sense of peoplehood" -- a "diasporic identity" as an alternative to "exile" -- which "offers a deterritorialized and deracialized notion of solidarity" (page 354).

In 2000, some 635,269 aliens of Kankoku or Chōsen status were registered as residing in Japan. 507,429 or 80 percent of these Korean aliens were Special Permanent Residents, meaning their statuses are linked with continuous residence in Japan since 2 September 1945 when Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers, ending World War II in Asia and the Pacific, or their birth and rearing in Japan as descendants of such treaty-status aliens.

Also as of 2000, some 243,762 Kankoku/Chosen status aliens had become Japanese by naturalization. Having become Japanese, they were no longer Koreans. And hundreds of thousands of Japanese have been born to Japanese married to Koreans, or to Japanese who are fully or partly descended from Koreans, but such people are Japanese, not Koreans.

Lie's "perhaps a million" seems to conflate all manner of people who are in fact "Japanese" rather than "Korean" by nationality, and "Korean Japanese" is not a possible status in Japan. Lie observed in a note that he uses "Korean Japanese, Koreans in Japan, and the Korean diaspora in Japan interchangeably" (note 1, page 356). He does not seem to have wondered how many of the "perhaps a million" people he is labeling "Korean Japanese" or "Koreans in Japan" or "the Korean diaspora in Japan" might feel that they are just "Koreans" or just "Japanese" -- or possibly something Lie has not imagined.

Two of the three authors whose "narratives of exile" Lie introduces were Koreans and one was Japanese. The Japanese writer had become Japanese at the time she was in elementary school, when her parents naturalized, and though she used a Korean-style penname, her legal name was a Japanese-style name. The other two writers have also been known by variations of their Korean-style names.

Lie appears to want to recognize diversity within his "deterritorialized and deracialized" diaspora, which is at once "homogeneous and heterogeneous". Yet his notion of diasporic "peoplehood" requires that he impose an artificial "solidarity" on his "group" -- to the point that, regarding the various names by which the three writers have been known, he has opted -- "For the sake of consistency" -- "to render all names in their Korean form, using the McCune-Reischauer system" (note 1, page 356).

The underlying "consistency" in Lie's classification scheme appears to be a one-drop "Korean blood" principle.


John Lie

John Lie
Zainichi (Koreans in Japan)
(Diasporic Nationalism and Postcolonial Identity)
[Global, Area, and International Archive]
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008
xiv, 229 pages, paperback

The following adaptation of Chapter 4 -- "Recognition" (pages 97-132 -- is also reviewed here.

Zainichi Recognitions: Japan's Korean Residents' Ideology and Its Discontents
Japan Focus <>
Posted 3 November 2008, retrieved 9 November 2008

Lie 2008 is reviewed on an independent page as John Lie on "Zainichi" as "ethnic Koreans".


John Lie

John Lie
Zainichi: The Korean Diaspora in Japan
Education about Asia (Association for Asian Studies)
Volume 14, Number 2 (Fall 2009)
Pages 16-21

Feature: Asian Intercultural Contact

The title of this article -- "Zainichi: The Korean Diaspora in Japan" -- suggests that it is a tie-in to Lie's 2008 book, Zainichi (Koreans in Japan): Diasporic Nationalism and Post Colonial Identity. The penultimate section -- "The Recovery of Multiethnic Japan" -- appears to plug his 2001 book, Multiethnic Japan. According to the Author Note at the end, the article draws on both books -- which I have reviwed elsewhere in this bibliography as Lie 2001 and Lie 2008.

The article comes across as a radical rant in a journal that, while "slick" and "politically correct" in its views of "Asia", generally avoids ideological extremes in its efforts to illuminate the region. As such, it marks a retrogression to the flaws of Lie 2001 ("F") -- whereas Lie 2008 ("C") demonstrates Lie's ability to explore and chart certain parts of the complex terrain of "Koreans in Japan" with greater accuracy and clarity than most writers in English.

In this brief article, however, Lie does a lot of damage to the cause of understanding history and society in Japan. Misleading and erroneous statements abound. Lie appears to relish confusing a long list of expressions for "Koreans" and "Japanese" which may or may not be synonyms -- and, at times, by convoluted sentences that beg for editorial untangling.

The back story here is that there seems to have been no one at Education About Asia who was willing or able to check John Lie's "facts" -- or question his usage and prose. At least half of the "F" I am giving this article was earned by EAA's "referees" and editors.

Boxes galore

John Lie begins his short article with this paragraph, consisting of five sentences, each describing "Zainichi" (his title) differently (page 16, underscoring mine).

People from the Korean peninsula had been sailing to the Japanese archipelago and shaping Japanese history since the beginning of surviving records. Yet these past influxes and influences have little direct bearing on the contemporary Korean population in Japan. Only several thousand Korean nationals were in the main Japanese islands at the time of Korean annexation in 1910. Rather, it was the labor shortage in the 1920s that led to the rapid expansion of the ethnic Korean population in the main Japanese islands. By 1945, there were about two million Koreans in Japan.

The underlined expressions represent only a few of the variety of ways that Lie labels "Zainichi". His operative word is "ethnic" but he never explains what he means by "ethnic Koreans" or "ethnic Japanese" as opposed to just "Koreans" and "Japanese" as a matter of raceless civil nationality.

"people from the Korean peninsula"

"People from the Korean peninsula" leads the first sentence as Lie's description of people who had been coming to Japan since the beginning of surviving historical accounts. The second sentence leaps to "the contemporary Korean population in Japan."

Today people speak of the "Korean peninsula" but there was no such entity at the time Lie is referring to. Ditto for the "Japanese archipelago". Implying that the inhabitants of the peninsula were "Koreans" is also misleading.

Surviving records make it clear that there are a multitude of polities on the peninsula. Some of the people from the Korean peninsula are described as being of Chinese descent. And the people who came to the "Japanese archipelago" seem to have included some people of Yamato descent who had been born outside the archipelago.

Lie is not wrong to simplify early history for the sake of leaping into the present. His remark that this history has little to do with the contemporary Korean population in Japan is also not incorrect.

However, a number of Korean scholars in Japan and elsewhere have written, with passion, about the vestiges of early migration and settlement from the peninsula, and about later intercourse between the peninsula and the archipelago. Not a few Koreans in Japan are aware of certain elements of this history, especially elements that play into a victimhood view of Japan-Korea relations.

And not a few people in Japan, of various degrees of Korean and Japanese descent, are aware that, in 2001, on the occasion of his 68th birthday press conference, Akihito publicly and favorably recognized the Korean roots of one of his own lineal ancestors, and even cited the early chronology that recorded this fact. His statement was widely appreciated in the Republic of Korea an acknowledgment of close contacts Korea and Japan.

Lie's article is flawed by his focus on racioethnic conflict within "Japan" to the exclusion of other forms of contact and exchange between the peninsula and the archipelago over the millennia, centuries, decades, and even past few years.

"nationals" . . . "ethnic population"

The third sentence speaks of Korean nationals in the main Japanese islands at the time of the "Korean annexation in 1910". The fourth sentence refers to the expansion of the ethnic Korean population in the main Japanese islands. By the fifth sentence Lie is stating that there were about two million Koreans in Japan by 1945.

In the first sentence of the second paragraph, Lie explains that after the annexation in 1910 -- which is better described as "Japan's annexation of Korea" -- Lie writes this (page 16, underscoring mine).

After the formal annexation [of Korea by Japan] in 1910, ethnic Koreans were Japanese imperial subjects (kōkoku shinmin), but ethnic hierarchy was a structural feature of the Japanese empire.

I'm confused. In 1910, the Empire of Korea was joined to the Empire of Japan. At this time, Korea became Chosen, and Koreans became Chosenese. Because Chosen was part of Japan's sovereign dominion, Chosenese were "imperial subjects" (帝国臣民 teikoku shinmin) as well as "nationals" (国民 kokumin). The Japanese gloss Lie gives for "imperial subjects" is not the general expression.

What, in any event, is "ethnic" about "Koreans"? There was no "ethnicity" in Japanese law. Chosenese were Chosenese as a matter of territorial registration, not ethnicity -- in the same way that Taiwanese and Interiorites were such because of their registration status. Lie is imposing a racioethnic definition on civil statues.

Of course the territory of Chosen and its affiliates became objects of integration and assimilation into Interior standards of law, language, society, family, culture and so on. And undoubtedly there were racioethnic hierarchies in some social and political circles. But to allege such hierarchies were "structural" is to overlook the larger civil structures of imperial law.

"Zainichi" . . . "ethnic Korean population"

Lie then makes this remark (page 16, underscoring mine)

With Japan's World War II defeat, the majority of ethnic Koreans left the Japanese archipelago . . . . In spite of suffering racial discrimination and economic exploitation, some 600,000 ethnic Koreans remained in Japan and constituted the Zainichi population (zainichi means "residing in Japan" and can refer to non-Koreans, but the term has become synonymous with the ethnic Korean population in Japan).

Suddenly Lie is talking about "racial discrimination" -- but does not define what he means by "racial" as opposed to, say, "ethnic". Apparently he is defining "Zainichi" as the "ethnic Korean population" which remained in "Japan" after World War II. Again, he does not clarify his grounds for characterizing "Koreans in Japan" as "ethnic Koreans".

In his own writing elsewhere, Lie clearly shows his awareness that definitions of "Zainichi" considerably vary and are extremely controversial among writers in Japan. This awareness has not stopped him, in his other writing, from using the term arbitrarily, as it suits his own whims. And the whimsical nature of his usage is apparent in this article.

There is, in any event, no linguistic foundation in Japanese for translating "Zainichi" as "ethnic Koreans". The term "ethnic Koreans" has crept into the English vocabulary as translationese for "zainichi" on the part of writers who view "Koreans in Japan" as an "ethnic" entity. When read in English news reports on, say, issues in Japan like immigration, alien registration, alien suffrage and the like, the expression "ethnic Koreans" is is a mistranslation of Japanese terminology for civil status having nothing to do with ethnicity.

Broadly speaking, there are general meanings of "zainichi" in reference to so-called "Koreans in Japan". Only the first two are truly based on "Koreans" as a civil status. The third is a "racioethnic" perception that both transcends and subverts civil status.

1. Koreans in Japan who possess the status of Special Permanent Resident This is an essentially "residual" or "legacy" population. The SPR status is based on postwar treaty settlements and is available only to people in Japan who qualify under laws that are tied to the settlements. People representing about fifty nationalities now possess this status. Most are nationals of the Republic of Korea. The number of SPRs is rapidly decreasing.

2. All residents of Japan who are nationals of one or another "Korean" entity The most representative Korean entity is the Republic of Korea (an existing entity, aka South Korea). The other Korean entities are Chosen (a defunct legacy entity) and DPRK (an existing entity, aka North Korea).

3. Anyone with a drop of putative "Korean" racioethnic blood in their veins Here, "Korean" is an emotional racioethnic label having nothing to do with legal status. Individuals are free to attach it to themselves. Some people, though, impute the label to others without their permission, by way of racializing them.

"ethnic Koreans" . . . "ethnic Japanese"

Lie correctly points out that "Risks of financial loss and political instability were far from the only reasons Koreans stayed in Japan" (page 16).

Many ethnic Koreans had married ethnic Japanese. Moreover, many ethnic Koreans born in Japan were linguistically and culturally Japanese. According to a 1951 study, sixty-percent of Zainichi were born in Japan, and forty-three percent of them could not speak Korean.

Again, it is not clear what Lie means by "ethnic" since there has been no "ethnicity" in legal status. Supposing, though, that some "ethnic Koreans" were "linguistically and culturally Japanese". Are they therefore "ethnic Japanese"? And what about "ethnic Japanese" who might have been linguistically and culturally "Koreans"? Would they be "ethnic Koreans"?

"born in Japan"

Lie has subtitled his article "The Korean Diaspora in Japan". The term "diaspora", which he does not discuss, is mostly a fashionable gesture to the victimhood school of social history.

The bigger problem is the meaning of "in Japan" in Lie's article.

Among "Koreans in Japan" as of 1951, all were born in Japan -- except those born outside Japan before the annexation of Korea in 1910, or outside Japan between 1910 and 1945 when Japan included Korea as Chosen, or outside Japan as defined from 1945 exclusive of Korea (Chosen). Lie defers to the school of historiography that excludes "Korea" from "Japan" between 1910 and 1945.

"imperial citizenship"

Lie's descriptions of status and rights in postwar Japan are similarly puzzling (page 16, underscoring mine).

Ethnic Koreans had been Japanese nationals under colonial rule, but they gradually lost their rights, including 'imperial citizenship,' after the war. Quite frequently, the Japanese authorities had it both ways. Ethnic Koreans were stripped of their suffrage in 1945, presumably because they were not Japanese, but some Koreans were arrested as Japanese war criminals . . . ."

Lie failed to mention that, in the terms of surrender, "Koreans" were regarded as "liberated" people, and GHQ/SCAP, and in turn the Japanese government, was under directives to treat them as "non-Japanese" for border control and registration purposes. However, "Koreans" remained Japanese nationals, and were treated as such, for other purposes.

Even in the Alien Registration Order that was enacted during the Occupation, Koreans and Taiwanese were not categorically "aliens" but only said to be treated as such only for the purposes of the law.

Nor were Koreans or Taiwanese excluded from suffrage as Koreans or Taiwanese. All people who were not subject to the Family Register Law, which applied only to the prefectures, were disqualified from voting in "Japan" as defined after the war.

"the larger public"

The first part ends with this puzzling statement (page 16).

By the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty when Japanese sovereignty was restored, ethnic Koreans in Japan, the Japanese authorities, and the larger Japanese public regarded the Zainichi population as irredeemably Korean.

In fact -- "Koreans" (Chosenese) were such by reason of their legal status, not any putative ethnicity. Chosenese included some people who were not originally affiliated with Chosen. "Japanese" -- a civil status referring to people affiliated with "Japan" as an occupied territory -- included people who were originally affiliated with Chosen or another Japanese territory, if not with a foreign country.

"The Japanese authorities were far from unified in their attitudes toward Chosenese (Koreans) in Japan. By the larger Japanese public Lie appears to imply that there was "a smaller Japanese public" which did not regard "the Zainichi population" as "irredeemably Korean".

And what about Lie's ethnic Koreans in Japan? Were they not also -- in his cracked hall of mirrors -- fragmented by various views of the Zainichi population? Did "the larger Korean public" also think that being "Korean" was somehow indelible?

One odd statement after another

The rest of Lie's article is strewn with one misleading if not incorrect claim after another. Here is just a small sample.


"By the late 1950s, Sōren's hold over ethnic Koreans in Japan was nearly total" (page 16). This will come as a surprise to Mindan -- which was not "the ethnic organization affiliated with South Korea" (page 17), but an organization that facilitated legal status and other issues involving Chosenese who wished to migrate to Republic of Korea (ROK) nationality.

As to why so few Koreans "repatriated" or "returned" to North Korea during the 1960s, and rapidly dropped off after that, it would seem obvious (pages 16-17). Lie has already given some very good reasons why, after World War II, some 600,000 Koreans remained in Japan. Those reasons -- birth and intermarriage in Japan, nativity in Japanese and ignorance of Korean, and total socialization and acculturation in Japan -- are, two decades later, even more powerful motives for not going to a country they had never been to or from which they had become alienated.

"entrepreneurial pursuits"

Lie talks about "South Korea citizenship" when he means "Republic of Korea nationality".

He seems to think it "ironic" that "employment discrimination" should spur "entrepreneurial pursuits" -- when this is probably the rule rather than the exception in all societies. However, he shows no evidence that Koreans who establish businesses tend to do so because of "discrimination" -- much less that the founders of "Lotte" and "Softbank" went into business because of discrimination (page 17).


The following statement is typical Lie's convoluted style (page 18).

Discrimination manifested itself at critical life junctures -- education, employment, housing, and marriage. Government policy came close to apartheid or Jim Crow laws, but the Japanese stress was on excluding Koreans as "aliens" rather than establishing separate institutions.

In the second paragraph (page 16), Lie has spoken of "the promotion of mixed marriage between Japanese and Korean subjects" after the 1930s when "formal integration" intensified. He has also stated that, circa the late 1940s, speaking of the Koreans who has remained in postwar Japan, "many" had married Japanese. Now he is telling us that there is some sort of discrimination in "marriage" on a par with discrimination in education, employment, and housing.

Presumably the discrimination in education, employment, and housing are on the part of "Japanese" toward "Koreans" -- but what about marriage? Who is discriminating against whom? Postwar vital statistics show a steady and fairly rapid increase in marriage between Japanese and Koreans -- both defined by nationality, not ethnicity -- as ethnicity is a personal, not legal, matter.

Anyone who is not a national of Japan is an "alien". What sort of "institutions" does Lie think Japan should have -- other than the civil institutions which, in the administration of some rights and duties associated with legal status, sometimes differentiate between "Japanese" and "non-Japanese" nationality?

No "government policy" in Japan has ever come close to "apartheid or Jim Crow laws" -- except in radical rhetoric.

Linguistic illusions

This is another example of the way Lie feeds the reader a truthful cake with radical frosting.

The Korean pronunciation of the name for Korea, after all, is Chosŏn, not Chōsen; only a Japanese person would employ what for native Korean speakers is an odd-sounding word, a signifier of colonial conquest.

But Lie has told us that, as of 1951, "forty-three percent of [Zainichi] could not speak Korean. When was the last time he heard a typical "Zainichi" use "Korean" pronunciations when speaking Japanese?

In point of fact, Japanese Chōsen; -- not Korean Chosŏn -- is the name of the entity that Korea became as part of Japan. And it remains the name of the entity as a legacy which continues to exist in Japanese law.

All "Zainichi" and former "Zainichi" I have known in Japan, when speaking Japanese, will generally say "Kankoku" for ROK and "Kankokujin" for its nationals, "Chōsen;" for the former entity and "Chōsenjin" for its legacy affiliates, and "Kita Chōsen;" (or sometimes just "Chōsen") for "North Korea".

"What Side Are You On?"

Lie begins the section bearing this heading like this (page 18).

The Zainichi population faced the infeasibility of returning to Korea, the implausibility of being Japanese, and the impossibility of being otherwise. Rather than assimilation or repatriation, Zainichi faced the choice between Japanization or Koreanization.

The first line is actually quite good. It supports what Lie has already told us -- that, among the 600,000 or so Koreans who has remained in Japan after World War II, "sixty-three percent . . . were born in Japan" and "many [who were] born in Japan were linguistically and culturally Japanese" (page 16).

Therefore -- how could "Zainichi" face "Japanization" if they were already "Japanese"?

And -- how could "the Zainichi population" possibly "return" to Korea if most were born in "Japan" as Lie seems to define the country?

It seems to me that Lie, and the editors of EAA, might have asked themselves which side they were on -- the side of historical truth and descriptive accuracy -- or the side of victimhood ideology.

"blood descent" . . . "citizenship"

Lie writes this (page 18).

Between 1952 and 1985, the Japanese government projected an ethnoracially homogeneous vision of Japanese society -- one race, one ethnicity, one nation. In effect only people who could claim blood descent, and preferably a pure one at that, deserved citizenship. Yet it would be misleading to focus solely on restrictive Japanese policies and practices. Having assimilated culturally, most ethnic Koreans hesitated to take the next step.

Japan's Nationality Law is not a law of "citizenship" -- and, in fact, Japanese laws do not define "citizen" or "citizenship". The principle path to nationality at time of birth is family lineage, not racioethnic "blood descent".

Nationality at time of birth was primarily patrilineal under the first Nationality Law in 1899. Though revised as a new statute, the 1950 Nationality Law was essentially the same as the 1899 law with regards to acquisition of nationality at time of birth.

There has been no race or ethnicity in the law. Nationality at time of birth has been primarily based on family lineage and secondarily based on place of birth. The lineage principles refer to family, not racioethnic, descent. Putative ethnic or racial mixture has never been a matter of law, or a barrier to acquiring Japanese nationality.

From 1985 the law became ambilineal, meaning that nationality could be acquired through either the father or the mother in cases of marriage to an alien. Even before 1985, the law had been matrilineal in cases of children born out of wedlock. The law has always been right-of-soil (place of birth) for children whose parents are stateless of unknown.

Lie drops "between 1952 and 1985" into his story with virtually no explanation of the significance of either year. He is right, though, to to point out that the major barrier to naturalization has been the "mindset" of not a few Koreans in Japan, who have chosen to link putative racioethnicity (an emotional state) with nationality (a legal status).

Some of the strongest opposition to the revision of the Nationality Law from 1985 came from radical race-pride "Zainichi-ists" (my term) -- mostly Republic of Korea nationals whose minds were set by the strongly patrilineal and patriarchal character of ROK family and nationality law at the time.

These critics also worried that -- because of the already high and climbing out-marriage rate of Koreans to Japanese -- such a revision in the Japanese law would spell the statistical demise of Koreans in Japan, especially those whose residency in Japan was linked with the Chosen-era. For Japanese married to aliens usually register their children in their own honseki. So even if such children also acquire an alien nationality, they are classified as Japanese, not aliens.

Naturalization has been possible since 1899. There have never been any racioethnic pre-requisites, and all manner of people who have wanted to become Japanese have naturalized. Chosenese ("Koreans" under Japanese rule) were unable to naturalize until 1952 because they did not not lose their Japanese nationality until that year.

"non-Japanese names"

Lie tells this fabulous story about names (page 18-19).

Because naturalization required the adoption of Japanese-sounding names (based on approved Chinese characters) until the 1990s, it reprised the 1940 edict that outlawed non-Japanese names (sōshi kaimei). Naturalization also mandated compliance with the Japanese practice of household registration (koseki), which became transposed to the traditional Korean landlord practice of household registration (chokbo). . . .

The so-called sōshi kaimei edicts that came into effect in Chosen in 1940 did not, in any manner, ban "non-Japanese names". They required conformity with the Interior (prefectural) family register standard of all members of the same register sharing the same family name -- which conflicted with Korean customs of maintaining clan names. The edict even permitted the continuation of clan name notations on the registers, and there was no legal objection to the form of Korean names as such.

Naturalization in Japan has never mandated "Japanese-sounding" names. In fact, name pronunciations are not shown in family registers. Naturalization requires, as Lie states, conformity with family register practices, since status in a family register is tantamount to nationality status. Permissible name rules apply to everyone who acquires nationality.

There were, to be sure, discriminatory -- or at least potentially discriminatory -- administrative guidance from the Ministry of Justice during part of the period that Lie talks about. But these were extralegal measures, not matters of law.

"data on ethnic diversity"

Lie seems to lament the fact that Japan does have American-style race boxes or otherwise racialize its national and alien residents.

. . . Because neither the Japanese government nor social scientists systematically collect data on ethnic diversity, there are only Japanese nationals and Korean nationals. To be a Japanese citizen means to assume Japanese ethnicity as well. The logic of Japanese government demographers was shared by most ethnic Koreans.

Being Japanese -- a "national" not "citizen" of Japan -- has always been a matter of civil status, not racioethnicity. Being of "Japanese ethnicity" has never been a requisite for acquiring Japan's nationality at time of birth, or later in life as through naturalization.

Legally, "Korean" nationality is also a purely civil status, having nothing to do with putative "Korean" racioethnicity -- notwithstanding the ethnonationalist and otherwise racialist sentiments of people who believe otherwise.

Since racioethnicity is unrelated to nationality -- and because putative racioethnic descent and related sentiments are not matters of law -- how can the "logic" of "Japanese government demographers" be other than to tally people according to their purely civil nationality status?

"ideology of monoethnicity"

Lie makes this plausible observation about ideological concerns with "blood purity" (page 19).

The ideology of monoethnicity affected both ethnic Japanese and ethnic Koreans. The vocabulary of blood purity was frequently invoked by Zainichi to shun intermarriage and to resist naturalization. In effect, the belief in ethnic essence, presumably carried by "blood," accompanied the pursuit of purity.

However, whose "ideology of monoethnicity" is Lie talking about? If "blood purity" has been "frequently invoked" by "Zainichi" as a reason to "shun intermarriage" and to "resist naturalization" -- then how does Lie account for the increasing and very high percentage of Korean nationals and Japanese nationals who have intermarrying, and the numbers of ROK and other Korean nationals who have been naturalizing?

In fact, only a handful of radical Korean "Zainichi-ists" (my term) and die-hard Japanese "Yamatoists" (my term) have advocated some sort of racioethnic "purity".


Lie makes a number of odd remarks about "passing" (page 19).

. . . Because [Zainichi] were at once indistinguishable from ethnic Japanese and were discriminated against as Koreans, Zainichi could navigate everyday life in Japan by living as if they were Japanese. Unlike African Americans, not passing for Zainichi requires a decision to be out of the ethnic closet: one must consciously assert ethnic distinction by using a Korean name or divulging Korean ancestry. The documentary foundation of ethnic distinction -- expressed in everyday life as Korean name and Korean ancestry -- is koseki. . . . Passing, in this context, became a temporary expedient and ironically reproduced monoethnic ideology.

Again, we see total confusion in the way Lie manipulates terms like "ethnic Japanese" and "Japanese", and "Zainichi" and "Koreans" and "ethnic Koreans". He focuses on "Korean ancestry" as though people who have a choice might have the personal right to emphasize their "Japanese ancestry".

In any event, what "koseki" is Lie talking about? Everyone who has a family register that is territorially affiliated with Japan is Japanese -- regardless of their putative ethnicity. Why should someone who happens to have an ancestor who was or is a Korean -- or a parent who had been or is a Korean -- or had been a Korean before naturalizing in Japan -- not be Japanese?

Overlooking the fact that some so-called "African Americans" do in fact "pass" as something else, who has empowered Lie to insist that people who choose not to publicize their "Korean ancestry" are "Zainichi"? Or "Koreans"? Or "ethnic Koreans"? Must a person feel that they are "Zainichi" -- or does Lie have a right to insist that they are "Zainichi" -- simply because they may have a relative or two or ten who are or were "Koreans" by some definition of this word?

Marriages between Interiorites and Chosenese before the Allied Occupation of Japan began in 1945, and between GHQ/SCAP defined "Japanese" and "Koreans" from 1945 to 1952, and between Japanese and Koreans as aliens since Chosenese lost their nationality in 1952, became fairly common. This means that a very large percentage of aliens in Japan today, who are remnants or descendants of the postwar Korean population, are the children or grand-children or great-grandchildren of a Japanese national if not themselves a former Japanese national.

Given all this mixture, who is Lie to insist that possession of a "Korean name" or "Korean ancestry" according to a "koseki" should constitute being in an "ethnic closet"? I myself have used this expression as sweepingly as Lie has here. While undoubtedly there are cases where the the metaphor applies, I no longer feel that people who choose not to publicize their family histories, or even their present legal status, are necessarily in an "ethnic closet".

Do not people who have various ancestries in their family histories, have the right to decide whether they wish to be "ethnic" this or "ethnic that" or "ethnic" nothing? Is it not their business to decide what they wish to be in public?

Yes, some Japanese who are of some degree of Korean ancestry, and some Japanese with Korean only ancestry, chose to keep their family histories private -- for various reasons, including, in some case, anxiety about the possibility of being treated differently by others. But I have met such people who say they just want to be Japanese. And it is their business to decide what what kind of Japanese they wish to be, if other than simply a national of Japan.

"permanent residency"

Lie speaks of various changes in "Japanese attitudes and policies" and the "declining force of systematic discrimination" as factors in "efforts to incorporate the Zainichi population". Apparently the following development was intended to be an example of such change.

By 1991, the permanent residency (tokubetsu eijū) status was granted to almost all the Zainichi population.

Since it is not clear what Lie means by "the Zainichi population" it is not clear what me means by "almost all". Taking "almost all" at face value, he is referring to registered aliens of one or another Korean alien status -- which, of course, has nothing to do with their putative ethnicity. This would correspond to the second of my definitions (above).

The population of Koreans who qualified as Special Permanent Residents (特別永住者 tokubetsu eijūsha) in 1993 was has been rapidly decreasing.

"suffrage rights"

Lie makes this statement about "suffrage rights in local elections" (page 20).

After the 1995 Japanese Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of local suffrage for non-citizens, the right to vote in local elections spread across the nation.

Across what "nation" has Lie witnessed the "spread" of the right to vote in local elections? Certainly not Japan.

The 1995 Supreme Court ruling Lie refers to stated that present laws do not permit aliens to vote in local elections. The ruling also held that the Constitution, while guaranteeing suffrage rights for Japanese, does not prohibit the state from extending such rights to aliens.

That is where things stand as of this writing (October 2009). All attempts to introduce a national law to extend some aliens some rights of local suffrage have failed.

The issue of alien suffrage remains controversial within the halls of government. There is talk of attempting to introduce another bill into the Diet. But the coalition government centering on the Democratic Party of Japan, which came into power in the fall of 2009, has yet to show its intentions regarding alien suffrage.

"Korean Japanese"

Lie's final two sentence introduce yet another "box" (page 21).

The growing awareness of multiethnic Japan renders the recognition of Zainichi increasingly mainstream. Multicultural Japan and the identity of Korean Japanese are inextricably intertwined, and they suggest one possible outcome of the modern Korean-Japanese struggles.

He appears to use "multiethnic" and "multicultural" interchangeably -- which is not surprising, considering how these terms have come to be conflated in the United States.

In the first paragraph, Lie talks about "people from the Korean peninsula" -- "the contemporary Korean population in Japan" -- "Korean nationals" in Japan -- "the ethnic Korean population" in Japan -- and just "Koreans in Japan". In the course of the rest of the article, he speaks of "Koreans" and "Zainichi" and and "the Zainichi" and "Zainichi in Japan" and "Japanese" and "ethnic Japanese" and "Japanese nationals", among other categories he never bothers to define.

Now, suddenly, he speaks of "Korean Japanese".

Tellingly, he does not speak of "Japanese Koreans".

"Koreans in Japan"

In speaking of "Koreans in Japan" and "ethnic Koreans" and "Zainichi" in one breath -- and in associating these and other "Korean" terms with "Korean ancestry" as a matter of racioethnic descent -- Lie all but endorses the "one drop" school of thought about racioethnic identity in Japan. In some other publications, however, he appears to criticize such extremism.

The closest Lie comes to clearly defining "Koreans in Japan" in this article is a graph showing the "Population" of "Korans in Japan" for the period 1910 to 2010. The graph is attributed to a Wikipedia gif file (page 17). The article does not say so, but the original data is from Mindan, which posts the annual population totals the period as representing 在日韓国人・朝鮮人数 (Zainichi Kankokujin・Chōsenjin sū) or "Number of Kankoku persons and Chosen persons in Japan" -- an historically impossible label for much of the period.

Lie's article provides no explanation of what the graph actually represents. There are, in fact, broadly three kinds of "Koreans" during the period 1910-2010.

1. 1910-1945 "Koreans" as Japanese of Chosenese territoriality in the prefectures of the Interior of the Empire of Japan.

2. 1945-1952 "Koreans" as Japanese of Chosenese territoriality in the prefectures of "Japan" as defined by Occupation Authorities.

3. 1952-2010 "Koreans" as aliens of legacy and recently established "Korean" polities -- "Chosen" as a territory of Japan from 1910-1945/1952 (most likely during the first several years of this period); "Republic of Korea" as a peninsular entity established in 1948 (most likely since the late 1960s), and "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" as a peninsular entity established in 1948 (possible but very unlikely today).

The figures in the table span only 1911-2006. The post 1952 figures reflect annual resident alien statistics. These statistics conflate the residual "Korean" population that originates from the day Japan signed the Instruments of Surrender in 1945 -- comprised today only of "Koreans" who qualify as Special Permanent Residents -- with postwar migrants from the peninsula who continue to be Koreans.

As such, it would appear that by "Koreans in Japan" Lie means only "aliens" of one or another "Korean" nationality status -- which conforms to my second definition (above). As such, these Koreans are Koreans by nationality, not ethnicity.

Recent trends

As of 1993, there were 682,276 aliens of "Kankoku" (ROK) or "Chōsen" (legacy Chosen) status -- of which 578,741 were SPRs. As of 2007, there were 593,489 Koreans in Japan -- of whom 426,207 were SPRs, among a total of 430,229 SPRs representing about 50 different nationalities.

The natural increase in the population of "Koreans in Japan" has been gradually decreasing since the mid 1950s. The increase began to show a tendency to be negative in the early 1980s, and has been increasing negative since 1985 after the change in the Nationality Law that year.

There is, to be sure, an increase in recent migration from the peninsula, but the SPR component of the "Koreans in Japan" population is falling faster than the rise in the number of Koreans migrating to Japan.

None of this is apparent from Lie's article -- intended, apparently, to improve the quality of Education About Asia in the English-reading catchment of the Association for Asian Studies, which is based in the United States. John Lie's misrepresentations of "Multiethnic Japan" and "Zainichi" appear, now, to dominate this English-reading world.



Tessa Morris-Suzuki

Tessa Morris-Suzuki
Invisible Immigrants: Undocumented Migration and Border Controls in Early Postwar Japan
Journal of Japanese Studies
Volume 2, Number 1, Winter 2006
Pages 119-153

Revised and expanded version

Japan Focus <>
Posted 31 August 2006, retrieved 2 January 2007

The following review is based on both versions.

Citations were lifted from the Japan Focus version. I added text which had been deleted from the JSS version, marked the added text with overstriking, and marked text not in the JSS version with blue highlighting. The mechanics of style -- puntuation, bracketing, and footnoting -- are as received in the Japan Focus version.

Morris-Suzuki attempts to fill in some of the "linguistic holes" that the words of "historians and social scientists" leave when they "weave words together like nets to catch the truth". She does in fact fill in some of the interstices left by "countless texts on Japan's economy and society" that have oversimplified the migration of labor to Japan from Korea after World War II.

She admits her own earlier assumptions that "immigration to Japan occurred in two distinct waves: one during the colonial period up to 1945, and the other beginning around 1980". She confesses that too "unquestionly accepted the notion that the years from 1945 to the last quarter of the twentieth century constituted a 'blank space' in the history of immigration to Japan" (JJS, page 120; Note 6: For example, Tesa Morris-Suzuki, Re-Inventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation (New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1998), pp. 175-76).

She tosses, shovels, and dumps all manner of material into the gap -- including stories related by illegal entrants, and facts and figures from a wide variety of sources, and original and borrowed opinions. Rich in detail and spiced with Morris-Suzuki's trademark analysis and critique of conditions in Japan for aliens and other minorities, this article is a valuable contribution -- despite a number of flaws that are common to her articles and others of their kind.

Migration from Korea

Morris-Suzuki focuses on migration to Japan from Korea. She delimits the scope of her observation like this (JJS, pages 121-123).

The accepted narrative of Japan's migration history, however, remains framed by that powerful image of Japan's postwar development as "growth without migrant workers". This narrative runs roughly as follows. The prewar colonial period generated large-scale movements of people, including mass emigration from Japan to the colonial empire and beyond, and the forced and voluntary entry of Korean and other colonial subjects Koreans, Chinese and others to Japan. As a result, there were over two million Koreans, and smaller numbers of Chinese and Taiwanese residents in Japan at the end of the Pacific War. Of these almost three-quarters were repatriated after the war, but their places in the workforce were filled by the repatriation of more than six million Japanese from all over the former empire, and by rural-urban migration within Japan. During the 1950s and early 1960s there was a small outflow of Japanese emigrants to Latin America, and a rather more significant outflow of people from US-occupied Okinawa to the same destination. Other than this, however, postwar Japan was characterized above all by its lack of international migration at least until the 1980s (though a few scholars also note that the post-1980 migration boom was prefigured by an inflow of female workers to the Japanese sex industry which began in the second half of the 1970s[8].

Immigration during the years from 1945 to the late 1970s is wholly missing from this story (as is the post-occupation emigration of foreign residents from Japan). Yet such immigration certainly occurred, and this essay seeks to explore its nature and its implications for our understanding of migration history in the Japanese context. The exploration is, of necessity, preliminary and incomplete. As we shall see, it is impossible to provide accurate statistics of migrants who entered Japan between 1946 and the late 1970s, but it seems clear that they numbered at least in the tens of thousands, and possibly in the hundreds of thousands. Documentary material is more readily available for the postwar occupation period and the 1950s than it is for the 1960s and 1970s: a fact also reflected in the coverage of the discussion presented here.

This discussion also focuses mainly on migration from Korea, which was by far the largest source of postwar immigrants. However, a variety of other smaller migratory flows also await scholarly study. The postwar repatriation of Taiwanese and Chinese residents in Japan, and the entry of Taiwanese and Chinese migrants in the postwar decades, are important and little-explored topics. Another neglected issue is cross border movement between Okinawa and the rest of Asia. Since Okinawa was under US occupation until 1972, it operated under a migration regime different from the one described here. Postwar immigrants to Okinawa included Taiwanese workers brought in to cultivate pineapple plantations, and workers from the Philippines employed in or around US military bases. The history of their lives both before and after Okinawan reversion remain important topics of study. Many of the questions about borders, nationality and Japan's immigration policy raised in this essay are also of relevance to these further dimensions of postwar migration which, for reasons of space, are not examined here.

[8] For example, Wolfgang Herbert, Foreign Workers and Law Enforcement in Japan, London, Kegan Paul International, 1996; see also Hiroshi Komai (trans. Jens Wilkinson), Migrant Workers in Japan, London, Kegan Paul International, p. 2.

Occupation of Japan

Regarding "separate occupation regimes" Morris-Suzuki writes this (JJS, pages 126-127).

After the War, large parts of Northeast Asia were occupied by the victorious Allies, and Japan was divided into two parts under separate occupation regimes. The major part of the country was placed under an allied occupation whose headquarters [the Supreme Command Allied Powers -- SCAP] exercised control with the help of through a Japanese administration, while the "Nansei [Southwestern] Islands" (including Okinawa> [23] were placed under direct US military rule. Meanwhile, the southern half of the newly independent Korea was also occupied by the United States, which proceeded to install the right-wing regime of Syngman Rhee, while Soviet troops moved in to occupy the northern half of the Korean Peninsula.

Many details in this description are simply out of focus.

The Allied Powers were under the command of General MacArthur. His title was Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP). His General Headquarters were located in Tokyo.

SCAP's jurisdiction included "Japan" as defined for Occupation purposes, but also extended to Korea south of the 38th parallel until XXXX.

exercised control throughout what was known as the but a position held by General MacArthur. SCAP's General Headquarters (GHQ) was in Tokyo.

The Nansei Islands including the Ryukyu islands (Okinawa) and some islands affiliated with Kagoshima prefecture, and also some island groups affiliated with Tokyo prefectures, were separated from "Japan" for Occupation purposes and placed under a United States Military Government. By December 1950, Okinawa was being administered under a civiliam arm of the USMG called United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (USCAR).

The Allied Occupation of Japan, including Okinawa, ended on 28 April 1952. As a result of terms agreed to in the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the United States continued to oversee the administration of Okinawa and some other territories under a United Nations trusteeship while recognizing that Japan possessed residual sovereignty over these territories. This arrangement was not an "occupation".

"through a Japanese administration"

SCAP did not exercise control "through a Japanese administration". The Japanese government -- the emperor, the cabinet, the diet, the ministries and agencies -- continued to govern Japan pursuant to the 1890 Constitution and then the 1947 Constitution and all laws that continued to operate -- subject to SCAP's authority and direction.

"Japan was divided into two parts"

Since the sovereign territory of the Empire of Japan included Taiwan, Chosen, and the Interior -- which inlcuded Karafuto and the Kuriles -- and since Japan also had internationally recognized legal control and jurisdiction over the South Sea Islands and the Kwantung Leased Territory, Japan was divided into many parts.

The Interior of Japan -- the prefectures -- were divided into three territories. Karafuto, a prefecture, and the Kuriles, which were part of Hokkaido prefecture, were invaded and occupied by the Soviet Union.

Alien statistics

A section titled "The Language of Invisibility" begins with these three graphs (JJS, pages 123-124).

Statistics themselves have the capacity to render people invisible. Consider this description of the background to contemporary migration issues in Japan, which accompanies a table showing the number of legally registered aliens in Japan between 1920 and 1991: "Since overrunning (but not completely exterminating) the indigenous Ainu and Okinawan cultures on the islands occupied by Japan, the Japanese have enjoyed centuries of ethnic and cultural stability… Between 1950 and 1988 the percentage of foreigners in the total population of Japan was consistently about 0.6 percent".[9] The figures in the table support this image of stability: they suggest, to be precise, that the percentage of legally registered foreigners in the Japanese population was 0.72% in 1950, 0.68% in 1970, and 0.70% in 1985.[10]

But constant percentages do not necessarily mean an absence of movement or change. For one thing, as we shall see, there was in fact a substantial exodus of over 70,000 Koreans in the years 1959 to 1961. [11] At the same time, in a large and growing population, stable percentages represent a growth in the actual number of registered foreign residents in Japan by over a quarter of a million: by 109,852 between 1950 and 1970, and a further 142,064 between 1970 and 1985 (though this is partly accounted for by natural increase, since children born in Japan to foreign fathers were also foreigners).

Furthermore, reliance on the official figures raises important problems. Faith in government data is particularly evident in studies of Japan, where the presence of a well-organized and statistically-minded bureaucracy induces a ready acceptance of the official record. Yet in fact (as government officials themselves occasionally admit) the apparently precise figures for registered foreigners in postwar Japan bears an uncertain relationship to reality. The growth in the number of documented foreign residents in Japan between 1950 and 1970 was at least partly a result of the introduction of more rigorous registration procedures[12]; more importantly, most immigration to Japan in the postwar decades took the form of undocumented "illegal" entry, and does not appear in the official record at all. Bearing that in mind, the postwar decades begin to look less like a time of stability and closure than a time of complex and poorly recorded cross-border flows.

[9] Wayne A. Cornelius, "Japan: The Illusion of immigration Control", in Wayne A. Cornelius, Philip L. Martin and James F. Hollifield eds., Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1994, pp.375-410; quotation from p. 375.

[10] I have calculated these percentages by comparing the figures for legal registered aliens given in Cornelius "Japan: The Illusion of Immigration Control" loc. cit. with the figures for the total Japanese population given in Tsuneta Yano Memorial Foundation ed., Nippon: A Chartered Survey of Japan 1989-1990, Tokyo, Kokuseisha, 1989, p. 43.

[11] Homusho Nyukoku Kanrikyoku, Shutsunyukoku Kanri to sono Jittai -- Showa 46-Nen, Tokyo, Okurasho Insatsukyoku, 1971, pp. 95-96.

[12] As we shall see, more rigorous registration also made it more difficult for "illegal migrants" to obtain residence documents. However, its principal effect seems to have been to ensure the registration of previously unregistered "legal" foreign residents.

Morris-Suzuki is in the habit, as seen here, of citing figures in secondary and tertiary sources to make her points -- rather than cite original statistics reports. Here she uses figures from two different sources to compute her own percents.

"foreigners in the Japanese population"

She speaks of "foreigners in the Japanese population" -- which is odd -- since foreigners are not Japanese. Demographic surveys in Japan generally yield three figures -- Japanese, aliens, and total. Two kinds of surveys are conducted: surveys of registration data, and census surveys of households.

I can reproduce Morris-Suzuki's figures only by calculating the percent of "total registered aliens" as a ratio to "total census population". Not only has she misrepresented "total population of Japan" as "total Japanese population" -- but she has mixed registration data with census data -- which are not the same measures.

The following figures are my compilations of from national census and alien registration reports. The percentages reflect my calculations.

Aliens in Japan -- Census and registration figures

       Census  Prcnt  Rgstrtn  Prcnt    Diff Prcnt
         ca   %ca/ct     ra   %ra/ct d=ra-rc %d/rc
1950  528,048*  0.63  598,696   0.72  70,648    12
1960  577,205   0.62  650,566   0.70  73,361    11
1970  600,613   0.58  708,458   0.68 107,845    15
1980  740,038   0.63  782,910   0.67  42,872     5
1985  761,439   0.63  850,612   0.70  89,173    10

Prcnt   = Percent
Rgstrtn = Registration
Diff    = Difference

ca = census alien population
ct = census total population of Japan (not shown)
ra = registered alien population
%ra/ct = percent of registered aliens
         as ratio to total census population
 d = difference by which count of registered
     aliens exceeds census count of aliens
%d/r = percent of registered-census difference
       as ratio to registered aliens

Compiled by William Wetherall


* 528,048 in the 1950 figures represents (1) the 630,793 people residing in "Japan" (Honpō), as defined by GHQ/SCAP and as stipulated in the 1947 Alien Registration Order, who DO NOT HAVE principle registers (honseki) in "Japan" -- i.e., "non-Japanese" as defined for alien registration purposes -- MINUS (2) the 102,745 "non-Japanese" residing in Japan whose honseki are in Karafuto, Chishima (the Kuriles), Okinawa (Ryukyus), Kagoshima-ken Oshima-gun, and Ogasawara. The remaining 528,048 "non-Japanese" include people residing in "Japan" whose honseki are in Chosen (464,277), Chugoku or Taiwan (39,885), USA (4,922), UK (910), Canada (781), Germany (720), other "aliens" [gaikokujin] (15,697), and Uncertain [fushō] (856).

While people falling under (2) were excluding from "Japanese" in the 1950 census, they were included as Japanese from the 1955 census, for on 28 April 1952 Chosenese and Taiwanese lost their Japanese nationality, but Karafuto and Chishima affiliates did not lose their nationality, and the residual nationality of people affiliated with the Okinawa and other territories that remained under United States administration, who were residing in Japan, was recognized, hence they were counted as Japanese and not aliens.

It is not my object here to explain the disparities and anomalies apparent in the above set of demographic data -- but they demand at least an attempt to explain them -- and any such attempt will greatly complicate Morris-Suzuki's expedient brushing off of official statistics.

"most immigration to Japan"

There has been no "immigration" to Japan -- legal or illegal -- because Japan has never granted "immigration" visas. There are only "entrants" -- a term which applies to both aliens and Japanese who enter Japan. One can speak of "migration" across borders in terms of entry and departure. That's about it.

However -- taking Morris-Suzuki at her word -- is it really true that most entry, sojourning, and settlement in Japan has been "undocumented 'illegal' entry?

Had she examined longitudinal changes in alien registration data by nationality, she would have observed the following trends -- which seriously disupute claims like -- "postwar Japan was characterized above all by its lack of international migration at least until the 1980s" . . . "Immigration during the years from 1945 to the late 1970s is wholly missing from this story" . . . "migration from Korea . . . was by far the largest source of postwar immigrants" (JSS, page 122, see fuller context above).

The following table allows comparision of growth rates of the alien registration figures for all aliens and for categorial Koreans and Chinese, from 1950 to 1980, plus 1985. The census population figures for Japanese only are shown for comparison. Japan carries out a national census every five years. Japanese resident registration and alien resident registration figures are reported annually.

Registered aliens in Japan by nationality

           Census	    Alien registration
         Japanese     Total   Kan/Cho  Chugoku

1950   82,568,844   598,696   544,903   40,481
1960   92,841,296   650,566   581,257   45,535
1970  103,119,447   708,458   614,202   51,481
1975  111,251,507   751,842   647,156   48,728
1980  116,320,358   782,910   664,536   52,896
1985  120,287,484   850,612   683,313   74,924

Kan/Cho = Kankoku/Chosen [ROK / Chosen]
Chugoku = Chugoku [PRC / ROC]

Compiled by William Wetherall

The Japanese census population increases about 40 percent from 1950 to 1980. The total registered alien population increases by about 30 percent. The Kankoku/Chosen cohort increases by about 20 percent, but the Chugoku cohort increases by about 30 percent.

Had the Korean population of 1950 increased by 30 percent, it would have been about 708,000 in 1980 -- about 44,000 more than the received figure. But 708,000 is much too low to account for the negative population factors during the period.

102,455 Koreans were permitted to naturalize between 1952 and 1980. Not all were still alive at the time the 1980 census was taken, but assuming they had not naturalized, and that about 80 percent had survived, the 1980 Korean population would have been larger yet by perhaps 80,000. (The Chinese population would also have been somewhat higher had a guesstimated 20,000 Chinese not naturalized during the same three-decades.)

By the same reasoning, the Korean population would have been larger by perhaps another 60,000 had "the exodus of over 70,000 Koreans in the years 1959 to 1961" to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea not taken place.

This means the 1980 registered Korean population would have been larger than the received figure by around 150,000 -- which means the 1980 figure would have been roughly 815,000 or about 50 percent higher than the 1950 figure. This would be even higher if there had not been a natural decline or attrition resulting from the acquisition of Japanese nationality by the children of Korean women married to Japanese.

Something is obviously odd -- neither steady nor stable -- about the especially the Korean data -- whether examined in 1970 or 1980 in comparison with 1950.

While Morris-Suzuki is right to point out that some people slip through port-of-entry and municipal registration tallies, she needs to consider a much longer list of variables than she does -- in her rush to disparage the credibility of government data, apparently in order to justify her own haphazard and expedient use of statistics gleaned mostly from secondary sources.

The following table is a continuation of the above table, showing the growth of other nationalities of registered aliens in Japan between 1950 and 1985.

       Brzl   Phil Peru     USA   Other	Sttlss

1950    169    367  178   4,962   6,815    821
1960    240    390   40  11,594  10,880	   630
1970    891    932  134	 19,045  20,955    818
1975  1,418  3,035  308  21,976  26,545  2,676
1980  1,492  5,547  348  22,401  32,971  2,719
1985  1,955 12,261  480  29,044  46,653  1,982

Brzl   = Brazil
Phil   = Philippines
Sttlss = Stateless

Compiled by William Wetherall

Japan usually ranks its alien registration stats in the order of the countries of nationality with higher numbers of nationals in Japan. Here I have ordered the countries according to their ranking as of 2006. From 2007 Chinese outranked Koreans. From the 1980s, the US is rapidly overtaken by the Philippines, and then Brazil and Peru, while Brazil overtakes the Philippines.

Once PRC citizens begin to migrant to Japan in growing numbers, they rapidly overtake everyone, including Koreans. The Korean figure represents a rapidly declining component of pre-end-of-war resideents and the their postwar offspring, and an increasing number of new Korean entrants.

The new-entrant components of the Korean and Chinese populations can be estimated by examining changes in status of residence statistics. Pre-end-of-war residents and their postwar offspring generally have different statuses -- now mostly Special Permanent Residence.

The table clearly shows an exponential increase in the numbers of aliens in the listed categories other than Koreans and Chinese. Very roughly speaking, the populations double from 1950 to 1960, double again from 1960 to 1970, and significantly increase though at a slower rate from 1970 to 1980 -- after which the inflow of new entrants accelerates for practically all nationalities.

The most conspicuous exception during the 1970s is the increase in Filipinos -- which jumps to 2,250 in 1972 largely because of the reversion of Okinawa to Japan -- then continues to dramatically increase.

The increase in the Filipino population is partly, but far from entirely, related to "the Japanese sex industry" -- no more than the concurrent increases in aliens of other nationalities were driven by the demand for alien sex workers in Japan -- though of course sex workers increase, more among some nationalities than others. Aliens of all nationalities come to Japan for many reasons, and the vast majority are not objects of exploitation.

The return of Okinawa to Japan's sovereign fold also accounts for the leap in stateless aliens in 1972 to 9,268. This figure quickly fell below the 3,000 plateau by 1975.

Morris-Suzuki -- referring to third-party sources rather than testifying from the standpoint of having examined and analyzied the statistics herself -- remarks that "the post-1980 migration boom was prefigured by an inflow of female workers to the Japanese sex industry which began in the second half of the 1970s" (JJS, page 122, see fuller context above). But clearly there is much more migration into Japan than she is aware of or wishes to acknowledge -- depending as she does on the work of other researchers who focus on the same "victim" cohorts as she does.

Morris-Suzuki correctly observes that "it is impossible to provide accurate statistics of migrants who entered Japan between 1946 and the late 1970s" -- then speculates -- "but it seems clear that they numbered at least in the tens of thousands, and possibly in the hundreds of thousands" (JJS, page 122).

The data and testimony she presents on detentions and arrests of illegal entrants and official estimates substantiates a guesstimate of 100,000 "invisible" illegal aliens plus or minus a few tens of thousands as of the late 1970s (JJS, page 135). But during the decades between 1950 and 1980, several times this number of aliens openly and legally entered Japan and sojourned or settled -- and were otherwise quite visible in both census and alien registration counts, flawed for all the reasons such statistics inevitably are.

"children born in Japan to foreign fathers"

Morris-Suzuki's statement is typical of the offhand remarks she makes about the operation of nationality laws in Japan. A child is born to its mother, not to its father. Under Japanese nationality laws past and present, the child of an unmarried Japanese woman has become Japanese regardless of the status of the father. Before 1985, only children born to a Japanese woman who was married to a foreigner would not have become Japanese.

"undocumented 'illegal' entry"

Morris-Suzuki habitually equivocates when it comes to the word "illegal". Apparently she cannot accept the legal fact that entry into Japan other than according to the law is illegal -- in addition to being undocumented.

However, she does not seem to recognize that, in addition to illegal "invisible" existence in Japan, there is also illegal "visible" existence in Japan. Illegal entry may end in illegal "visible" existence, and legal entry may end in illegal "invisible" existence.

Illegal entrants who are motivated to legitimize themselves will register using falsified documents. This is much more difficult to do today, given the computerization of both port-of-entry and alien registration records using passport numbers and related data as keys to link port-of-entry and alien register databases. But registration using forged documents was relative easy in before the computerization of records.

Legal entrants who are motivated to go underground will avoid registration. They, too, are likely to acquire forged documents to facilitate certain aspects of "legal" life short of registering as aliens or otherwise risking exposure of their illegality.

Agreement Permanent Residence

Morris-Suzuki says this about "treaty permanent residents" and Koreans she believes "remained stateless" (JJS, page 133).

However, treaty permanent residents "Treaty Permanent Residents" did not receive access to welfare, public housing, etc.[40 41] More important importantly, individuals had to apply to become treaty permanent residents "Treaty Permanent Residents", and could acquire this status only if they were South Korean citizens. The new system therefore excluded large numbers of Koreans in Japan who continued to identify themselves with the North Korean regime, or who chose to define themselves as nationals of "Korea as a whole" rather than of South Korea, and who remained stateless.[41 42] The Treaty also did nothing to help the many Korean residents who had "illegally" entered or reentered re-entered Japan in the postwar period: indeed the agreement specified that the only people eligible to apply for Treaty Permanent Residence were those who "have lived in Japan permanently from before 15 August 1945 to the date of their application."[42 43]

[40 41] [omitted]

[41 42] Ibid., p. 208; see also Sonia Ryang, "Introduction: Resident Koreans in Japan", in Ryang ed., Koreans in Japan, 1-12; citation from p. 4. The nationality of Koreans in Japan was divided between Kankokuseki -- citizenship of the Republic of Korea (South Korea), and Chōsenseki. Those with Chōsenseki include people who define themselves as citizens of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and a substantial number who defined themselves above all as nationals of a future re-united Korea.

[42 43] [omitted]

Of course individuals had to apply because all legal actions involving changes of status require notification or application. And of course Agreement Permanent Residence was available only to qualified ROK nationals because the agreement was between Japan and ROK, and ROK has no standing in the legal status of non-ROK nationals.

"the only people eligible to apply"

More importantly -- Morris-Suzuki appears not to have read the "Agreement between Japan and the Republic of Korea concerning the legal status and treatment of nationals of the Republic of Korea residing in Japan" "Japanese Treaty No. 28 of 1965, ROK Treaty No. 164) -- signed in Tokyo on 22 June 1965 and effective from 17 January 1966. ROK and Japan signed many instruments in the process of normalizing their relationship in 1965. The most important, for most ROK nationals in Japan, were the normalization treaty and the status agreement.

"Agreement Permanent Residence" (not "Treaty Permanent Residence") was extended to ROK nationals residing in Japan from on or before 15 August 1945 -- and to their lineal descendants born on or after 16 August 1945 -- as follows (my translation).

Article 1

1. The Government of Japan, when a national of the Republic of Korea who falls under either of the following, in accordance with procedures determined by the Government of Japan to implement this agreement, makes an appliciation for permission for permanent residence within five years from the day this agreement comes into effect, shall permit permanent residence in Japan.

(a) a person who has been residing continuously in Japan from on or before 15 August 1945 until the time of application

(b) a person who, as a lineal descendant of a person who falls under (a), was born in Japan on or after 16 August 1945 and within five years of the day of enforcement of this agreement, and has since then continuously resided in Japan until the time of application

That qualified ROK nationals were required to apply is a matter of course -- not only because personal particulars would have to be vetted, but also because any change of alien status of residence can be effected only upon receiving permission from the Ministry of Justice. Not only did qualified individuals have a choice to apply or not within five years, but the five-year window also allowed time for Chosenese who might otherwise have qualified to acquire ROK nationality and apply.

While normally permission for acquisition or change of alien status of residence is discretionary, the status agreement clearly mandates approval of an application from a qualified person. This mandate is more strongly stipulated in the "Special immigration law to implement Japan-ROK status agreement" (Law No. 146 of 1965) -- promulgated on 17 December 1965 and enforced from 17 January 1966.

"remained stateless"

Morris-Suzuki seems imply that Koreans who to be saying that Koreans who were affiliated "South Korea" or identified with "North Korea" were stateless. However, Japan has recognized only Republic of Korea, and hence only ROK nationality has legal standing in Japan. All who remain "Chosenese" as a legacy status are precisely and only that -- "Chosenese".

No Chosenese is recognized as a national of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea simply because they "identify" with DRPK. No Chosenese is "stateless" simply because they identify with neither ROK nor DPRK.

Morris-Suzuki is in the habit of citing faulty secondary and tertiary sources by way of unscoring her claims about legal status. Sonia Ryang makes makes these statements in the article cited by Morris-Suzuki (Sonia Ryang, "Resident Koreans in Japan", page 4, in Sonia Ryang, editor, Koreans in Japan, London: Routledge, 2000, pages 1-12).

Sonia Ryang on "stateless" Koreans

In 1945, when the Allied occupation of Japan started, Koreans in Japan were liberated people; by 1952, when the occupation ended, they were stateless people with few civil rights and extreme insecurity of residential status. . . .

The 1965 South Korea-Japan normalization of diplomatic relations enabled Koreans in Japan to obtain the right of permanent residence on condition that they apply for South Korean nationality. This arrangement restructured expatriate political power relations: faced with this choice, many Korean residents, including some who had previously supported North Korea, applied for South Korean nationality. Those who remained stateless, approximately 250,000 out of 640,000 in 1974 (Lee 1981: 144-5), had no civil status or overseas travel documents until the early 1980s, that is, for more than three decades after Korea's liberation.

Ryang's characterization is given to inaccuracy and exaggeration. The vast majority of Chosenese in "Japan" as defined by the prefectures -- except the few who have never registered as residents and have therefore been invisible to government bean counters -- have always had civil status in Japan. While their status changed during the Occupation, and again after they lost Japanese nationality in 1952, they have always had status and standing under Japanese law.

Loss of Japanese nationality did not render Chosenese "stateless". On the contrary, Japan has always viewed Chosenese as affiliates of "Chosen" -- the entity to which it abandoned all rights and claims in the San Francisco Peace Treaty. From Japan's viewpoint, Chosenese lost their Japanese nationality because Chosen ceased to be part of Japan's sovereign dominion, which meant that Chosenese were no longer affiliated with Japan's demographic territory or "nation" and therefore no longer qualified to possess Japan's nationality.

Morris-Suzuki added "citation from" to note 42 in the Japan Focus version. But Ryang makes no reference to "Korea as a whole" on page 4.

In the context of a divided Korean peninsula, however, "Korea as a whole" would be a suitable gloss for "Korea" as referred to in English versions of legal instruments related to the territorial status of what in all Japanese versions is called 朝鮮 (Chōsen). That Chosen became two states -- which were at war when the San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed in 1951, and were still at war when the treaty came into effect in 1952 -- created a host of problems that continue to leave Chosenese in Japan without a recognized nationality -- but this does not mean they are stateless.

Japan has never classified Chosenese, after their loss of Japanese nationality in 1952, as stateless. They have always been conflated with ROK nationals in alien registration statistics, since it is presumed they are either latent or potential nationals of the Republic of Korea, or are nationals of "Chosen" -- i.e., "Korea", i.e, "Korea as a whole" -- which, as an entity, exists only as a "ghost" or "legacy" of the territory of Chosen when part of Japan -- a phantom "state" that has no government.

It is possible to describe Chosenese as "de facto stateless" because their "Chosen nationality" is affiliated with an illusionary state. But they are not "de jure stateless". Japanese Supreme Court decisions have recognized that Chosenese have "Chosen nationality".

Immigration control functions

Morris-Suzuki writes this about the agencies which oversaw "immigration control functions" (JJS, page 137).

In the final years of the occupation, SCAP had gradually transferred immigration control functions to a Migration Control Bureau [55 57] attached to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

[ omitted ]

Soon after the end of the occupation, in August 1952, migration control functions were transferred from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to an Immigration Control Bureau [Nyūkoku Kanrikyoku] located within the Ministry of Justice.

[55] Shitsunyūkoku Kanricho, renamed the Nyuukoku Kanricho in 1951.

[57] Shitsunyukoku Kanricho, renamed the Nyuūkoku Kanricho in 1951.

Morris-Suzuki's description of the origin, evolution, and migration of "immigration control" in Japan is extremely loose.

From 10 August 1949, matters related to border crossing, meaning the entry and departure of all persons into and from Japan, other than Allied Powers military and Occupation Forces personnel and their families, were placed under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). From 1 October 1950, alien registration was also placed under the foreign ministry.

From 1 August 1952, when the Attorney General's Office was reconfigured as the Ministry of Justice, procedures for entering and exiting the country for Japanese and aliens alike, and alien registration matters, were placed under the supervision of the justice ministry.

The bureaucratic shuffling of agencies between 10 August 1949 and 1 August 1952 was rather convoluted. Here is approximately what happened (see "Legal Terminology" in the "Resources" section for fuller details).

Immigration control chronology

10 August 1949 -- Immigration Department established within the Control Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

1 October 1950 -- Emigration and Immigration Agency established as an external agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At this time, alien registration, which had been under the Civil Affairs Bureau of the Attorney General's Office,was moved under MOFA.

1 November 1951 -- Emigration and Immigration Agency becomes simply Immigration Agency.

1 August 1952 -- Immigration Agency is reconfigured as Immigration Bureau under the Ministry of Justice, as the Attorney General's Office was renamed as of the same date.

Immigration Control Order

Morris-Suzuki says this about the Immigration Control Order of 1951 (JJS, page 138).

What was distinctive about the Japanese system was not so much the Migration Control Ordinance itself, but rather the way it [sic = in] which migration controls and citizenship policy interacted. The restrictive features of the ordinance were magnified by the presence of large groups of people who had been Japanese nationals when the ordinance was introduced but were unilaterally defined by the state as "foreigners" soon after.

This passage contains the sort of misinformation that mars a number of other parts of this article.

"Migration Control Ordinance"

Morris-Suzuki cannot seem to decide if she is talking about a "migration control" or "immigration control" ordinance or law. What she calls the "Migration Control Ordinance of October 1951" in the JJS version she parenthetically qualifies in the Japan Focus version as "renamed the Migration Control Law after the end of the occupation" -- which is not true.

She is referring to the "Immigration [exit-and-enter-country] Control Order (Cabinet Order No. 319 of 1951), enacted on 4 October 1951 and enforced from 1 November 1951. This ordinance was given the efficacy of law from 28 April 1952 by Law No. 126 of 1952, promulgated and effective from 28 April 1952.

However, the title of the law was not changed until 1 January 1982, when the "Immigration Control Order" became the "Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law". Still, the law continues to be indexed as "Cabinet Order No. 319 of 1951".

"citizenship policy"

It is anyone's guess what Morris-Suzuki means by "citizenship policy" since neither "citizen" nor "citizenship" are defined in Japanese law -- and she does not explain what she means by the expression in her article.

"unilaterally defined . . . as 'foreigners'"

There are two problems here. One, Japan did not "unilaterally" define Taiwanese and Chosenese as foreigners. GHQ/SCAP, and both the Republic of China and the Republic of Korea, were in a position to insist that Japan offer Taiwanese and Chosenese who had been in the prefectures at the end of the war and remained the option of continuing to be Japanese.

GHQ/SCAP left post-Occupation nationality issues to Japan. On the very day the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into force, Japan and ROC concluded a peace treaty -- which had been fully negotiated in advance of 28 April 1952 -- in which Japan recognized ROC's legal standing over the nationality status of anyone in Japan who had been affiliated with Taiwan under Japanese rule. Japan had also entered into negotiation with ROK, and while these negotiations did not bear much fruit until 1965, ROK made no attempt to pressure Japan -- directly or through the United States -- to offer anyone it considered its nationals or potential nationals the option to remain Japanese.

GHQ/SCAP had begun treating Taiwanese (Formosans) and Chosenese (Koreans) in "Japan" as "aliens" from the beginning of the Occupation. By the end of 1945 such persons were categorically "non-Japanese" for "repatriation" purposes. By 1947 they were categorially "aliens" for alien registration purposes. In most other respects they remained Japanese, but status as aliens under all laws from 28 April 1952 originated in partial alienation from the beginning of the Occupation.


Tessa Morris-Suzuki テッサ・モーリス・スズキ

Tessa Morris-Suzuki
Exodus to North Korea: Shadows from Japan's Cold War
[Asian Voices]
Lanham (Maryland): Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007
x, 291 pages, softcover

テッサ・モーリス・スズキ (著)
田代泰子 (翻訳)
342, 31 ページ

This book represents the fruits of Morris-Suzuki's efforts to shed light on an issue which has been highly politicized by many researchers including herself -- the voluntary leaving of some Koreans in Japan with some non-Korean, mostly Japanese family members, for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea between 1959 and 1984, when the "repatriation" program terminated.

Morris-Suzuki's writing has the edge of a scholar-publicist -- an academic who sets out to champion a cause. In this book, her cause is the plight of people who have sufferred what -- according to Koreans and Japanese she spoke with, who had returned from DPRK to Japan -- a miserable life in a country they had hoped would offer more.

Fortunately, Morris-Suzuki is a good writer and excels at telling stories, dramatically and fairly straight, with little or no ideological interferrence. This book abounds with tales and anecdotes she has heard from people who have been to DPRK and back, and the stories alone make the book worth reading.

I have organized my comments under the following headings.

Snow, birds, and plants
The usual problems
Found in translation
Double standards
The plot thickents

Snow, birds, and plants

Readers of Japanese literature may appreciate, or bemoan, the first line -- "The train comes out of the long tunnel into a dark world of snow" (page 3). The next graph, too, is reminiscent of the opening of Kawabata Yasunari's Snow Country. In this respect, too, Morris-Suzuki is more creative than most writers on social issues.

She sometimes slips into a first-person voice to relate her encounters with informants and describe other movements during her research. She also, at times, describes the movements of birds and plants (page 21).

A raucous flock of white cockatoos had descended on the balcony outside my office on the university campus, destroying my potted oleander bush, so I bought a tub of flowering hyacinths to replace them, and some bean and tomato seedlings to plant in our garden at home.

Such asides may increase the illusion of vicarious participation in Morris-Suzuki's quest to discover the truth about what she calls an "exodus" to DPRK. But the reader will have to resist the temptation to feel that, because she knows her birds, likes flowers, and raises veggies, her account of Koreans in Japan must be true.

The usual problems

Here are a few examples of some of the problems that mar this otherwise interesting work.

[Page 12] The "return" of those 93,340 people -- 86,603 ethnic Koreans, together with 6,731 Japanese and six Chinese spouses or dependents -- to North Korea between 1959 and 1984 is not the only example of a voluntary mass migration from capitalist to communist camps during the Cold War. in 1960, at the very time when the repatriation to North Korea was in full swing, some ninety-four thousand people of Chinese ancestry were repatriated from Indonesia to the People's Republic of China -- just part of a process in which perhaps as many as half a million overseas Chinese (mostly from Southeast Asia) returned to post-Revolutionary China, in time to encounter the height of the Great Leap famine that took tens of millions of lives.

Here we have what appears to be a minor problem which has major implications.


What Morris-Suzuki means by "ethnic" is anyone's guess. It pops up in a lot in her writing, and in the writing of others on Koreans in Japan.

There is no foundation for the use of "ethnic" here or in most other instances. The statistics she cites, concerning departees from Japan to DPRK, are based on nationality -- a legal status having nothing to do with race or ethnicity.

Ditto for "Japanese" and "Chinese" -- both nationalities, not ethnicities. Presumably the "Chinese" are nationals of the Republic of China.


What Morris-Suzuki means by "Koreans" is very fuzzy. There are no "Koreans" in Japan except as a conflation of aliens affiliated with one of three different entities -- (1) a legacy entity that no longer exists (Chosen), (2) a recognized entity (Republic of Korea), and (3) an unrecognized entity (Democratic People's Republic of Korea).

The vast majority of "Koreans in Japan" are ROK nationals. Practically all others are Chosenese. Only a few are DPRK nationals. So one needs at least three categories of "Koreans" in order to talk the different problems faced by each. A more refined discussion of problems related to legal status requires subdividing these three general classifications of "Koreans" into various subcategories.

The same passage in the Japanese edition (page 25) has 朝鮮人 (Chōsenjin). This is the term used in Japanese reports and statistics on departees to DPRK. It means "Chosenese" and refers to people in Japan who, under Japanese law, continue to be identified as affiliates of the former Japanese territory of Chosen -- because they have not migrated to a recongized nationality.

Chosenese cease being Chosenese the moment they acquire the nationality of a recognized state. They are most likely to obtain ROK nationality, and in fact most ROK nationals in Japan are former Chosenese.

When the repatriation program began in 1959, Japan and ROK had not yet normalized their relationship. But Japan was acknowledging ROK nationality and accommodating claims of ROK status in alien registration. In principle, Chosenese -- not ROK nationals -- were invited to "repatriate" to DPRK.

When Chosen was part of Japan, "Chosenese" included people who entered Chosen registers at the time of their birth or later. Those who entered when born inlcuded children of Chosenese men married to non-Chosenese, including affiliates of the Interior (prefectures) or Taiwan.

However, a non-Chosenese wife usually migrated to her Chosen husband's register and become Chosenese. Non-Chosenese also entered Chosen registers and became Chosenese through adoption -- including husband adoption. Marriage and adoption were also causes for a Chosenese to leave a Chosen register and cease being a Chosenese. Birth into a register affiliated with any territory of Japan, and migration between territorial registers, was a matter of family law, not ethnicity.

[Page 22] During the period of Japanese colonial rule from 1920 to 1945, hundreds of thousands of Koreans crossed the waters to the colonial power. Some were brought over forcibly to work in mines and factories; others came in relatively fortunate circumstances, as students enrolling in Japanese colleges or merchants plying their trade in the cities of the colonial mother country. Many more arrived in Japan in response to social and economic pressures: fleeing rural poverty, searching for an income on construction sites , in textile mills, in restaurant kitchens, and in tiny back-alley factories.

This is an example of victimhood writing at its best.

"colonial . . ."

Apparently Morris-Suzuki want's her readers to believe that Korea was a "colony". In fact, her "Koreans" were migrating within Japan.

She fails to disclose that Japan annexed Korea as Chosen, that Chosen was an integral part of Japan, and that Chosenese were Japanese. Taiwan and Chosen were treated somewhat differently than colonies, and during the Pacific War they were even placed under the Minister of Interior -- though the Governor-General of Chosen resisted the ministry's authority.

"brought over forcibly"

The order in which Morris-Suzuki lists the "forces" of migration shows her ideological victimhood programming skills at their best -- on a par with the three repetitions of "colonial" in this single short paragraph.

In fact, some 799,878 Chosenese were in the Interior as of 1938 -- the year before labor recruiting then labor conscription began. Through the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s, migration to the Interior accelerated as laws became more permissive and egalitarian regarding the transit and treatment to and in the Interior of people from other territories.

The growth of migration from Chosen to the Interior began and continued as a movement of people seeking a better life. While true that some migrated because their lives on the peninsula had been disrupted by development policies, including at times displacement from their land, most came in pursuit of personal and family dreams.

By the time labor recruiting and conscription began in 1939, there were vibrant Chosenese communities in several parts of the Interior -- and they continued to grow in the early 1940s.

The chapter in which the above citation appears is missing from the Japanese edition. The Japanese edition is sometimes very different -- and comparatively superior.

Found in translation

Morris-Suzuki explains in her afterword to the Japanese edition that it is somewhat different from the English edition, which she says "was written for readers who don't even know that there are Chosenese (朝鮮人 Chōsenjin) in Japan" (page 341).

Many difficult problems arise in the choice of words when writing about a politically controversial theme, and these problems are compounded when translating the words into Japanese -- she observes -- and gives this example (page 341, structural translation mine).

For example, the phrase "North Koreans in Japan" which frequently appears in English sources concerning [the] return-to-country [帰国 kikoku] [theme] -- because [one] does not say "Japan-resident North Koreans" (在日北朝鮮人 Zainichi Kita-Chosenjin) [in Japanese] -- not only cannot but invite misunderstanding, but is very difficult to put into Japanese. I deeply thank Tashiro Yasuko, who perseveringly [and] minutely dealt with such troublesome problems that cling to translation work.

What Morris-Suzuki says about "North Koreans in Japan" is true. Except for a few DPRK nationals who have been admitted to Japan for short-term stays to engage in cultural, athletic, and other limited activities -- as many as several hundred a year -- there have been no "North Koreans" in Japan.

The problem with Exodus to North Korea is that one is never sure which "Korea" and what "Korean" Morris-Suzuki is talking about. Granted that the book is not about entity politics and legal status in Japan. But all one gets are a few paragraphs paragraphs with less than reliable comments about nationality, family register, and other status issues.

Some readers will wonder which "Korea" she is talking about when she read that "In Korea, it [Haisen no hi (the Day of Defeat in War)] is known as Gwangokjeol (the Day of the Return of the Light)" (page 22). This is an ROK romanization of an ROK holiday -- romanized Kwangbokchŭl in McCune-Reischauer. In DPRK it is known as Chogukhaebangŭi nal -- meaning "Day of Fatherland Liberation". Not much light returns from that black hole.

p>Readers deserve a clear, concise, non-ideological overview of why there are not one, not two, not even just three -- but a few more categories of "Koreans in Japan". And they deserve to know which Korea, and which Koreans, Morris-Suzuki is talking about.

Colonialism, discrimination, violence, the division of the peninsula, and the Korean War have all cast their shadows over the history of Zainichi Koreans -- Koreans in Japan. They have struggled, failed, succeeded, faced prejudice and discrimination, intermarried. Some have maintained a strong sense of ethnic pride; others have assimilated or sought out their own delicate balance between the cross-currents of multiple identities. Today Japan's Korean minority has a fourth and fifth generation. Most Zainichi Koreans speak little or no Korean; most have no memories of life in Korea. They are permanent residents, but hundreds of thousands remain foreigners under Japanese law, unable to vote and required (like other foreigners) to carry their alien registration cards with them at all times.

Equating "Zainichi Koreans" with "Koreans in Japan" tells nothing about who these "Koreans" are -- except that they are in Japan -- which we know from the English. All "Zainichi" does is give Morris-Suzuki license to spice her book with exotic italics.

"Korean minority"

If by "Koreans in Japan" Morris-Suzuki means non-Japanese with a nationality status linked with a past or present entity on the Korean peninsula -- then the singularization of "Japan's Korean minority" is sort of like speaking of "America's WASP majority". The only thing the people who comprise the various subcategories of this "minority" have in common is their status as aliens.

"permanent residents"

It is not true that Koreans in Japan "are permanent residents." Some are. Some aren't. And among those who are, one kind is decreasing as the other kind increases.

There are two kinds of permanent resident statuses in Japan today -- general Permanent Resident and Special Permanent Resident. General PR is available to any qualified alien. SPR is available only to aliens in Japan who lost their Japanese nationality when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect and their offspring, who meet very specific residency requirements related to conditions at the end of World War II.

The number of SPR Koreans in Japan is rapidly shrinking as members of this legacy population die, naturalize in Japan and other countries, and marry with persons of other nationalities -- particularly Japanese, in which case the children are likely to become Japanese under Japanese law.

The number of general PRs has been increasing as more postwar migrants, who do not qualify for special treatment under legacy laws, have been coming to Japan on various kinds of limite-activity visas and then settling.

As of 2004, there were 607,419 "Koreans" in Japan as conflated in alien registration statistics. 83 percent (504,420) were permanent residents -- including 7 percent (42,960) general PRs and 76 percent (461,460) SPRs. The remaining 17 percent (102,999) held a variety of other residence statuses.

The total number of Koreans in Japan has been decreasing -- because the decrease in SPRs has been greater than the increase in new migrants.

"remain foreigners"

Koreans are foreigners by definition. Most of those who have become general PRs could have naturalized rather than become permanent residents. That so many SPRs "remain foreigners" is a reflection of their choice -- as naturalization would not be difficult, and virtually all would qualify. In fact, for the past few decades, between 5,000 and 10,000 Koreans a year have been naturalizing from various statuses of residence.

Double standards

Presumably Morris-Suzuki spoke with her informants in Japanese. Possibly she recorded the conversations. Most likely there is only one original version of their story.

However, the English and Japanese versions are sometimes very different. What should be common facts are sometimes different. What should be the same metaphors are sometimes different.

Apparently she wrote two English manuscripts -- one for publication in English, the other for translation into Japanese. Did the translator have access to the original interviews? Or did Morris-Suzuki provide her with Japanese transcripts of relevant parts of the interview to help get the right phrasing and tone?

The double standard is evident in many places. Here are just a few examples from a related story (structural translations mine).

English edition Translation of Japanese edition

[Page 63] "My mother said 'Sit down. I want to talk to you.' Then she explained to me, 'You're not Japanese. You're registered as a foreinger; you are a Korean.'"

He pauses for a long time, and then continues, "I felt . . . I felt that I had been totally negated. I knew nowhere but Japan. I spoke only Japanese. I couldn't grasp the reality of what it meant to be Korean. I didn't know a single Korean song, didn't speak a word of Korean. Nothing. It wasn't so much the fact that I was not Japanese that was shocking -- well, that was a shock too of course -- but what was worse was the sense of having nothing to put in its place. If I'm not Japanese, I thought, then what on earth am I? My parents had no answer to that question -- just the bare facts. My mother had been Japanese until she got married and lost her nationality. Dad was Korean by birth, but had come to Japan as a small child and was a Japanese public servant when he got married. He had no close relatives in Korea and didn't speak the language."

[Pages 74, 76] "By my mom I was told, 'I've got something to say so sit down there.' Then she let me hear [what she had to say] -- You're not Japanese. [You're] registered as an foreigner, [your] race is Chosenese (民族は朝鮮人だ Minzoku wa Chōsenjin da), [she said]."

Thereupon Rika Hiroshi, silent for a long time, again opened his mouth.

"I . . . I felt like I'd been negated one-hundred-and-eighty degrees. Though told I'm not Japanese, I do not know anywhere other than Japan, cannot speak but Japanese. [I] I don't know a single Chosen song, and there is no reason I would be able to speak any Chosenese (朝鮮語 Chōsengo), so the realization [an actual feeling] of being told I'm Chosenese doesn't even exist. What was a shock, more than not being Japanese -- of course that too was a shock, but more than that, well, what-ese am [I], and what should [I] do? that they [answers to these questions] don't exist was a bigger shock. My mom, as an explanation, said something like, despite [she] herself being Japanese, now she has no nationality. As for my dad, [he said] [his] blood was Chosenese (血は朝鮮人だった chi wa Chōsenjin datta), but at the time he married my mom he was a public [civil] servant. Now, in the nationality part of [his] Alien Registration Certificate is recorded ROKality [ROK nationality] (韓国籍 Kankoku-seki), but since there are no close relatives on the Chosen peninsula, no one [in our family] can speak Chosenese. That far even I understood."

Some of the detail is not just different for very different.

"Korean" / "race Chosenese"
"Korean by birth" / "blood Chosenese"

The racioethnic and blood metaphors are missing from the English version. They ring true in the Japanese version -- i.e., that is the way a lot of people talk. But did the informant say such things? Or is this an embellishment of the writer or translator?

"was Japanese . . . lost nationality"

The Japanese edition makes it seem as if the mother feels she "is" Japanese . . . but despite this fact, she now has no nationality. Apparently no nationality at all -- neither of Japan nor of ROK.

"Japanese public servant"

Of course he was a "Japanese" public servant -- because, at the time, was Japanese. The Japanese edition rings truer to how people would talk in Japanese -- i.e., people would not qualify "public servant" as being "Japanese". Even if Morris-Suzuki means "public servant in Japan" there would be no call to qualify "public servant" when speaking Japanese.

Alien Registration Certificate

Details pertaining to the father's status as an alien -- revealed in this and another passage in the Japanese edition -- are missing in the English edition (see below).

How, though, did it come to pass that the father -- who must originally have been registered as an affiliate of Chosen as a territory of Japan -- come to be registered as an affiliate of Kankoku (ROK)?

ROK did not exist until 15 August 1948. It did not have a mission in Japan -- at the invitation of SCAP, which represented Japan in its foreign affairs -- until 194X.

Ordinarily, a Chosenese would not have been registered otherwise except on account of his or her own declaration that of affiliation with ROK. Did the father at some point declare himself a national of ROK? Or did a registsar arbirarily assign him ROK nationality?

When exactly did his alien registration begin to reflect that he was an ROK nationality? Why, if an ROK national, would he have wanted to go to DPRK?

If such questions have occurred to Morris-Suzuki, she chose not to talk about them.

English edition Translation of Japanese edition

[Page 63] In 1940, Korea's colonial rulers had decreed that all Koreans were to adopt "Japanese-sounding" names. To avoid discrimination, many Koreans in Japan went on using those Japanese names, in public a [sic = at] least, in the postwar period -- indeed, many still use them today.

[Page 76] In 1939, those who had been colony controlling Chosen (朝鮮を植民地支配していた者たち Chōsen o shokuminchi shihai shite ita mono tachi) decreed that Chosenese were all to create family name, change personal name in/to a/the "Japan[ese] style". Even after the war, to avoid discrimination, many Chosenese who remained in Japan (日本在留の朝鮮人 Nihon zaiū no Chōsenjin) continued to use such "passing names" ("通名" "tsūmei") -- at least publicly. Today too there are lots of people who are using [them].

This is one of numerous examples of the extent to which English readers are fed simplistic, misleading, even erroneous exaggerations -- while Japanese readers get a more detailed and factual (or nearly factual) version of history.

The decree was issued in 1939. Chosenese were to comply during a six-month period beginning on 11 February 1940 -- celebrating the start of the 2,600th year of the imperial realm.

The head of each Chosen family register was required to adopt a single family name that would represent become the legal name of all register members -- who customarily had kept their natal clan names -- hence a husband and wife went by different clan names -- say Kim and Pak.

If the head of household did not file a notification of choice of family name -- Kim, Pak, Kaneda, Yamamoto, whatever -- the clan name of the head of the register would by default become the family name for the entire register -- say Kim. Within the register, however, individual clan names would continue to be recorded, and Chosenese were free to consider the implication of these names when marrying.

The decree did not oblige Chosenese to change their personal names. In fact, whereas there was no charge for filing a notice of choice of family name, a fee had to be paid to petition a court to approve a change if personal name.

English edition Translation of Japanese edition

[Page 64] In colonial times, the family register was also the marker that divided ruler from ruled. Although prewar and wartime Korean and Taiwanese colonial subjects possessed Japanese nationality in terms of international law, within the empire, they were eternally differentiated from "ethnic Japanese" by the fact that their families were registered not in "Japan proper" (naichi) but in the "external territories" (gaichi). In colonial times, when Japanese women married Korean men, their Japanese registration would generally be expunged, and they would acquire their husband's external territory registration. But since the end of the war and the independence of Korea, this transfer of registers had become impossible. Miyo, on her marriage, was left with no family registration at all. Her son, too, was left without a registration, his uncertain legal identity an embodiment of all the unresolved problems of Japan's postcolonial history.

[Page 77] [During] the colonial period, family registers were a marker which divided those who ruled and those who were ruled. Colonial subjects of Chosen and Taiwan before the war and during the war, possessed Japan[ese] nationality under international law, but within the empire, because their family registers were Exterior (外地 gaichi) and not "Interior" ("内地" "naichi"), they were then and forever sharply differentiated from "the Japan[ese] race" (日本民族 Nihon minzoku). In the colonial period when a Japanese (日本人 Nihonjin) woman married a Chosenese (朝鮮人 Chōsenjin) man, that the wife would enter the "Exterior" family register of the husband was ordinary [normal]. However after the war when Chosen became independent, such transfers of family registers became impossible. In Miyo's copy of [her former family register showing her] removal from the register is written "sent to Chosen", but actually there had not been a transfer. Thus Miyo through marriage would come to completely lose [her] family register. Miyo's son too continued to be without a family register. In the nationality part of the Alien Registration Certificate the Japan[ese] government compells [aliens / them] to carry at all times was recorded "ROK" (韓国 ROK), but the ROK government knew nothing [of the matter] -- this uncertain legal status of the son was [truly] a manifestation of all the unsolved problems in the post-colonial history of Japan.

Though the Japanese translation reflects many of the flaws of the English version, it presents a more accurate account of what apparently happened in the case of Miyo and her son.

"divided ruler from ruled"

Morris-Suzuki's division of Japanese into "Koreans" who were "ruled" and "Japanese" who were "rulers" does not reflect legal fact. All Japanese, regardless of their territorial affiliation, were under the sovereign rule of the emperor.

"Japanese nationality"

Chosenese possessed Japanese nationality, and were therefore Japanese, under international law -- precisely because they possessed Japanese nationality and were Japanese under domestic law.

"'ethnic Japanese'"

Bracketed or not, "ethnic Japanese" is an imposition of a racioethnic metaphor on a legal status that was territorial, not ethnic. Family register affiliation was not based on family and nationality law, not race or ethnicity.

Note that the Japanese version brackets "Interior" and "Japanese race in order to associate one with the other -- although, in fact, they were not at all the same.

Contrary to what Morris-Suzuki implies, not only did the term "Japanese" embrace all people of Japanese nationality during what she calls "colonial times" -- but the reach of the non-legal term "Nihon minzoku" came to embrace practically all subjects of the sovereign empire -- regardless of their territorial (subnational) status, whether Interior, Taiwan, Karafuto, or Chosen.

English versions of some ethnological and genetics research typically subsumed "Chosenese" within "Japanese" -- even if they also qualified "genuine Japanese" or "Japanese proper" when classifying racioethnic varieties of "Japanese".

One good example is Atusi Yamaura's "On some hereditary characters in the Japanese race including the Tyōsenese (Coreans)" (The Japanese Journal of Genetics, Volume 16, Number 1, February 1940, pages 1-9). The Japanese title is 日本人 (朝鮮人を含む) の数種の正常遺伝形質 -- which translates "Normal hereditary characteristics [forms and qualities] of several species [varieties] of Japanese (including Chosenese)". The English report differentiates "Genunie (excluding Tyōsenese) Japanese" and "Tyōsenese".

The whole point of the racioethnic unification policies that emerged as the multi-territorial empire matured was to unify Japanese subjects under the common "Yamato minzoku" or "Nippon minzoku" umbrellas. While these two expressions were not always synonyms, their conflation is clearly expressed in the English titles of the ethnological journal 日本民族 -- Iamato Minzoku ("The Japanese Race").

"Japan proper"

The "naichi" and "gaichi" designated "Interior" and "Exterior" territories. The Interior consisted of the prefectures, the "Exterior" other polities, including Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chosen, which were parts of Japan's sovereign dominion.

"Japan proper" is a quaint English tag which means "Japan literally" or "Japan strictly speaking". Many Japanese terms are thus corrupted by translators who prefer to accommodate familiar English usage rather than press English into the service of Japanese metphors.

"the independence of Korea"

"Korea" did not immediately become independent. After Japan surrendered, the peninsula was occupied south of the 38th parallel by the United States, and north of the parallel by the Soviet Union. Two "Koreas" -- not one "Korea" -- became independent states though still somewhat tethered to their US and Soviet backers in 1948.

By the end of 1948, the United Nations General Assembly had deemed the Republic of Korea to be the only lawful government on the peninsula. By January 1949, the United States had recognized ROK, and SCAP, which oversaw Occupied Japan's foreign affairs, permitted ROK to establish a mission in Japan.

Interactions (exchanges) between Interior and Exterior registers were suspended from 15 October 1945 because Japan no longer had control or jurisdiction in territories outside Occupied Japan. This proved a great inconvenience for residents of Occupied Japan whose registers were in Formosa (Taiwan) or divided Korea (Chosen), on in Soviet-occupied Karafuto or the Kuriles.

ROK's mission in Japan began to enroll Chosenese in ROK nationality and accommodate the family registration needs of ROK nationals in Japan. The main problem concerned Chosenese who did not migrate to ROK nationality, though most had registers in Korean provinces south of the 38th parallel.

"transfer of registers"

Territorial registers were not transferred. Rather, a person was disenrolled in a register in one territory and enrolled in a register in another territory. All actions or exchanges between registers -- whether within the same territory, or between different territories -- began with the filing of a notification of birth, death, marriage, divorce, or whatever.

In the case of marriage, which territory's laws applied depended on the territorial affiliation of those whose status would be affected by the notification. If both spouses were Interiorites, then Interior family law would apply. If one spouse was an Interiorite and the other a Chosenese, say, then Interior law would apply if the husband was an Interiorite and Chosen law would apply if the husband was Chosenese.

Morris-Suzuki's description of the status of Miyo and her son is misleading -- and is differently misleading in the Japanese translation. The English version is dumbed down to the point that it doesn't make sense -- especially given the emergence of two Koreas, one recognized, the other not.

The plot thickens

"The Shadow Ministry" -- Chapter 7 -- is the most important in the book, as it raises the question -- central to the thesis of the book -- as to whether the government of Japan aided and abetted the "repatriation" of Chosenese to DPRK as a "strategem" to reduce the population of Koreans in Japan.

This chapter also best showcases Morris-Suzuki's writing talent -- thanks to which this book was a pleasure to read despite its flaws.

As for Morris-Suzuki's thesis, which she had advanced before the publication of her books, at least one student of Korean issues begs to disagree. Asakawa Akihiro believes that Morris-Suzuzki and "Asahi media" are guilty of perpetuating a lie in allegating that Japan was partly responsible for the tragedy of the repartriation movement to North Korea.

Asakawa first rebutted Morris-Suzuki's contention, which she had raised before she published her book, in an article published in the August 2005 issue of Shōkun. The following article is in the same vein as the magazine article.

鄭大均、古田博司 (編集)
342ページ、文春新書 520

"Kitachosen e no kikan undō no higeki ha Nihon ni sekinin ga aru" to iwaretara
[If told the "Japan has responsibility for the tragedy of the repatriation movement to North Korea"]
Pages 155-163
Tei Taikin and Furuta Hiroshi (editors)
Kankoku/Kita Chōsen no uso o miyaburu: Kingendaishi no sōten 30
[Seeing through the lies of the Republic of Korea and North Korea: 30 points of controversy of recent- and present-age history]
Tokyo: Bungei Shunjū, 2006
342 pages, softcover, Bunshun Shinsho 520

Asakawa places the blame on DPRK and its supporting group in Japan -- Chōsen Sōren, more fully called Zai-Nihon Chōsenjin Sōren Gōkai -- General Association of Korean Residents in Japan -- better known by its Korean abbreviation, Chongryun (Sōren).

He cites a number of sources, including recent exposés of Chongryun's activities, which allege that relatives the returnees had left in Japan were pressured to pay money for the support and safety in DPRK -- meaning that DPRK was using the returnees as hostages to build its foreign capital.

The truth "lies" somewhere between Morris-Suzuki and Asakawa -- but closer, I think, to Morris-Suzuki.

The Koreans and Japanese who left Japan for DPRK did so at their own risk. In hindsight they were deceived -- by others who knew better or should have known better -- by others who didn't know better and had no way of knowing better -- and by their own ignorance and naivete.

Some of the people who promoted repatriation program may have known that many of the returnees would be disappointed. Whether anyone knew it would be a "tragedy" is arguable.

While the Japanese government did not directly encourage departure from Japan, a number of officials aided and abetted the program, which could not have been implemented with government approval and even particiaption. And certainly the government is responsible for the conditions that made some Koreans feel that they were not welcome in Japan and should not expect better treatment in the future.

It is left to other writers to draw a fuller picture of what happened and why. Whoever attempts to do so will find Morris-Suzuki's work extremely valuable, but will have to read it with care.


Ōnuma 1986
Ōnuma Yasuaki   大沼保昭

1986年4月30日 初版第1刷発行、xi, 360ページ
1993年10月1日 新版、496ページ

Ōnuma Yasuaki
Tan'itsu minzoku shakai no shinwa o koete:
Zainichi Kankoku·Chōsenjin to shutsunyū kanri taisei

[ Transcending the myths of a single-ethnonation [race] society:
Koreans and Chosenese in Japan and the exit-entry-country control system
30 April 1986 1st edition 1st printing published, xi, 360 pages
1 October 1993, new edition, 496 pages
Hardcover, jacket

Onuma 1986 Cover of Ōnuma Yasuaki, Tan'itsu minzoku shakai no shinwa o koete, 1986 edition
Transcending the myths of a single-race society
Koreans and Chosenese in Japan and the
exit-entry-country control system
Yosha Bunko scan

Ōnuma 1986, 1993

The 1993 edition, a signifantly expanded version of the original, includes policy recommendations and proposes a special measures law to improve the status and treatment of Koreans and Chosenese in Japan.

Ōnuma Yasuaki (大沼保昭 1946-2018) was a professor of international law at Tokyo University and an human rights activist outside Japan as well. His most important writings focus on the legal status and treatment of what he calls "Zainichi Kankoku·Chōsenjin" or "Korea/Chosen-ese in Japan", which I will call Koreans and Chosenese in Japan.

The scope of any study of the status of Koreans and Chosenese in Japan should, in my conception, embrace the following periods.

  1. Before 1897   People affiliated with the Korean or Chosun peninsula at any time before Chosun (Chosŏn, Chosen, Chōsen 朝鮮) became the Empire of Korea (Dai Kan Teikoku 大韓帝国 Kankoku 韓国) in 1897
  2. 1897-1910   Koreans as subjects of the Empire of Korea before it was annexed as part of Japan in 1910, when (1) Korea became Chōsen, a territory within Japan's sovereign dominion, (2) Koreans, meaning people in peninsular household registers, became Chosenese, meaning people in Chōsen registers, (3) Chosenese became Japanese on account of the territorial principle of Japanese nationality, which derives from membership in a household register affiliated with a local polity within Japanese sovereign dominion
  3. 1910-1945   Chosenese during the years that Chōsen was a territory of Japan and Chosenese were Japanese
  4. 1945-1952   Chosenese in Occupied Japan, where they remained Japanese in nationality but were "deemed" by Japanese law, in accordance with Allied directives, non-Japanese for purposes of border control and alien registration, until which time a treaty between Japan and the state that would be established on the peninsula determined otherwise
  5. 1952-1966   Chosenese after 1952, when they lost Japanese nationality, and 1966, when the status agreement Japan and the Republic of Korea signed and ratified Japan in 1965 came into effect, after which Chosenese in Japan could be recognized as Koreans if they migrated to ROK nationality
  6. Since 1966   Koreans and Chosenese after Japan recognized ROK and its nationality, when it became possible for Chosenese to become Koreans through formal procedures established by the ROK government, while those who remained Chosenese continued to be classified as Chonenese, a legacy status linked with household registers still affiliated with a province of the Chōsen peninsula, whether under the jurisdiction of ROK in the south or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Chōsen) in the north.

Ōnuma's writings about law and policy are useful, and many of his observations are insightful. But he habitually prefaces his reports with commentary about human rights, and his "rights" advocacy sometimes gets in the way of understanding what makes laws "legitimate" in their peculiar political and social settings -- even if they appear to violate a coneption of "rights".

Of course Ōnuma understood how the laws that have affected the legal statuses and treatments of "Koreans and Chosenese in Japan" came into existence. And of course he understood how such laws -- including common laws, statutes, ordinances, directives, and related regulations and rules -- have been applied by officials and courts reponsible for interpreting and enforcing them.

Yet Ōnuma was a believer in the "human rights" he felt have become embodied, explicitly or implicitly, in "international law", which he idealized as "superior" to national laws. The problem is that, in the real world, "human rights" are also constructs of political arrangments. And the applicability of international conventions -- such as those created by the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations -- are subject to the same political limitations on their "legitimacy" as national laws, or the directives issued the government of Occupied Japan by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), which (SCAP9by the Allied Powers laws and "supranational""the superiority of "rights" he argued were "international law" "universal human rights" whether and, in my opinion, has

and other that have governed status and treatment in Japan have laws become laws, and how laws operated

Ōnuma 1979-1980

九六巻三、五、八号 (一九七九年)
九七巻二、三、四号 (一九八〇年)

Ōnuma Yasuaki
Zainichi Chōsenjin no hōteki chii ni kan suru ichi kōsatsu
[An examination concerning the legal status of Koreans (Chosenese) in Japan]
Hōgaku Kyōkai zasshi
<Journal of the Jurisprudence Association> [Tokyo]
Six parts
Volume 96, Numbers 3, 5, 8 (1979)
Volume 97, Numbers 2, 3, 4 (1980)

Onuma 2004


Ōnuma Yasuaki
Zainichi Kankoku/Chōsenjin no kokuseki to jinken
[Nationality and human rights of Kankokujin (ROK nationals) and Chōsenjin (Chosenese) in Japan]
Tokyo: Tōshindō, 4 October 2004
xii, 394 pages, hardcover

Japanese War Guilt and Postwar Responsibilities of Japan
Berkeley Journal of International Law
Volume 20, Issue 3, 2003, pages 600-620.

Yasuaki Onuma
"Japanese War Guilt and Postwar Responsibilities of Japan"
Berkeley Journal of International Law
Volume 20, Issue 3, 2003, pages 600-620
Excerpt, pages 607-608


Sonia Ryang

Sonia Ryang
North Koreans in Japan: Language, Ideology, and Identity
Boulder: Westview Press, 1997
xix, 248 pages, hardcover

This important book has the usual dead wood and less-than-sturdy trees in its forest -- but its forest is otherwise healthier than most of its kind. Its best features are those that reflect the author's personal experiences.

Sonia Ryang has made many contributions to the English literature on Koreans in Japan, both generally and, like this book, with a focus on what she calls "North Koreans in Japan" -- meaning Koreans in Japan who have never lived a day of their life in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, most likely have no family ties with provinces north of the 38th parallel of the Korean peninsula, but consider themselves -- or used to consider themselves -- loyal followers of Kim Il Sung if not also Kim Jong Il.

Ryang herself was born into a family in Japan which had strong ties with Chongryun, the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, an organization for the support of Koreans in Japan who identify with DPRK and its leaders. Her articles and books are strongly flavored with insights into her own life as a woman who left Japan in her mid twenties, went on to discover anthropology in the United Kingdom, and is now a professor in the United States -- having in the process released much of the Chongryun world from her acquired embrace -- but keeping the sort of empathy everyone needs to understand where they have been.

So Ryang is not one of those anthropologists who has briefly participated in life of natives she set out to observe in the field. She was herself one of the natives, and later took to examining her own world objectively -- both to understand it, and to understand why she became disillusioned with, and estranged from, Chongryun -- but not the study of Koreans in Japan.

Personal anthropological accounts like Ryang's are valuable apart from whether they are accurate in matters of social, political, and legal history. Ryang has done more personal legwork in running down and confirming some facts than many writers on Koreans in Japan are content to cite from inferior secondary sources. Yet there are some problems.

Here I will focus on what Ryang says about nationality, under the following headings, followed by a biographical note.

"overseas nationals of North Korea"
On ROK nationality in Japan
On DPRK nationality in Japan
"Japan's internal affairs"
"Japanese nationality"
"if the parents so agreed"

"overseas nationals of North Korea"

In her introduction Ryang makes this statement, which includes a footnote (page 2, and page 18 note 1).

The existence of North Koreans in Japan may strike many as a novelty, as diplomatic relations between the North Korean and Japanese governments have not been established and there is no official North Korean representation in Japan. Even in the rest of the globe, whereas South Koreans are readily found, we do not often encounter North Koreans, as North Korea does not allow its nationals to travel abroad freely. Nonetheless, there exists an organization that takes as its mission the unity of Koreans in Japan around the government and leadership of North Korea, and there are Koreans who call themselves overseas nationals of North Korea. [1]

1. I use the term nationals as largely coterminous with citizens. The original Korean word, kongmin, can mean either.

This is a generally accurate description -- up to the point that Ryang places the burden of identity on the individuals who "call themselves" nationals of DPRK.

In fact, DPRK law defines "nationality" (국적 國籍 kukchŏk") and "citizens" (공민 公民 kongmin). The founders of DPRK specifically declined to refer to the "people" (인민 人民 inmin) of the new state as "nationals" (국민 國民 kungmin). The People's Republic of China, too, tossed the term "national" in the ideological wastebasket when it established its laws of affiliation.

DPRK and PRC consciously rejected the conventional term "national" as an appropriate term for their liberated "people" in favor of "citizen". Whereas "national" (國民, 国民) refers to state affiliation whether or not sovereignty resides with nationals, "citizen" (公民) connotes popular sovereignty.

Ryang gives a lot of attention to the expression "overseas nationals", which she glosses in Japanese as "kaigai kōmin" (page 55). She usually brackets or italicizes the expression, to underscore its prevalence in the ideological world of "North Koreans" in Japan, while questioning its use to describe their status.

Ryang's analysis of Chongryun's persistent characterization of its members as "overseas nationals" is both cogent and concise. The expression is "central to Chongryun's legitimating discourse" -- and it is "easy to brush aside as an ideological cliché" -- but the fact is that "such an identity constitutes part of their reality" -- though its legal basis, she adds, is not clear (page 92).

The legal problem with "labeling its members overseas nationals of North Korea, even though the majority of its members come from southern Korea" is a problem because Japan does not recognize DPRK, much less Chongryun's "self-identification as an overseas organization of North Korea" (page 115).

This drama becomes more fascinating when Ryang explains why "The term ethnic minority is stigmatized in Chongryun discourse" (page 111, note 4). It turns out Chongryun split with the Japanese Communist Party because JCP expected its Korean members to contribute to the revolution in Japan as members an "ethnic minority" in Japan -- whereas Chongryun viewed its members as "overseas nationals" of DPRK who happened to be residing in Japan -- not as "ethnic minorities" that were somehow affiliated with Japan (page 115).

Later she observes that, in the aftermath of growing disillusionment with the idea of reunification on the peninsula, "There seems to be a linguistic vacuum created by the gap between the reality Chongryun Koreans live in and its portrayal within Chongryun's Korean language. But so far Chongryun has not successfully replaced the term overseas nationals." It cancelled the teaching of subjects related to Kim Il Song, no longer alive, "while preserving the basic organizational language around its official identity . . . constrained by its self-definition as the overseas organization of North Korea, not the organization working for Koreans in Japan at large, without commitment to North Korea or any other political entity" (page 161).

Ryang's focus on "overseas national" comes at the expense of extended commentary on other expressions, like "remaining compatriots" -- her gloss for "jaeryu tongpo" (page 84). She clearly differentiates these two terms in some of her translations of Chongryun texts (page 90, for example). Yet she makes no mention of "overseas patriot", reflecting "haeoe tongp'o", perhaps the most common expression in DPRK ethnonationalist literature.

By making no comment on "overseas compatriot", she leaves the impression that it might be a synonym of "overseas national" -- which it is not. "Compatriot" is arguably far more common than either "citizen" or "national" in ethnonationalist Korean literature in DPRK, ROK, and Japan -- because it embraces "ethnic siblings" that exist beyond the legal parameters of "citizens" (DPRK) and "nationals" (ROK).

The term that "compatriot" is meant to translate has a lot in common with another word -- Japanese "minzoku" and Korean "minjok" -- which Ryang equates with "nation" in some places (pages 82-83) and "ethnic [group]" elsewhere (page 86). Ryang does not gloss "ethnic minority" (page 111, note 4, and page 115) but normally this expression reflects "shōsū" in Japanese and "sosu minjok" in Korean -- both representing 少数民族.

Ethnonationalist Korean literature in English is full of expressions like "one nation [race]" and "our nation [race]" -- reflecting "tanil minjok" and "uri minjok" -- among other such expression.

Restricting our attention to just "citizen" and "compatriot", though, the following expressions are contenders for use in describing "Koreans in Japan" from one or another point of view -- which I have somewhat arbitrarily divided into DPRK and/or ROK. The "Google" figures represent hangul hits as of 1 September 2008 from a computer in Japan.


해외공민 haeoe kongmin 海外公民
Literally "citizens beyond the seas"
Meaning "overseas citizens"
Loosely and misleadingly "overseas nationals"
902 Google

재외공민 chaeoe kongmin 在外公民
Literally "citizens residing outside [DPRK]"
Meaning "[DPRK] citizens abroad"
52 Google

재일공민 chaeil kongmin 在日公民
Literally "citizens in Japan"
Meaning "citizens in Japan"
2 Google

재류공민 chaeryu kongmin 在留公民
Literally "citizens remaining in [some country]"
Meaning "citizens residing in [some country]"
0 Google


해외동포 haeoe tongp'o 海外同胞
Literally "same wombers [siblings] beyond the seas"
Meaning "[non-citizen] overseas compatriots"
More fashionably "ethnic Koreans in foreign countries"
249,000 Google

재일동포 chaeil tongp'o 在日同胞
Literally "same wombers [siblings] in Japan"
Meaning "compatriots in Japan"
219,000 Google

재류동포 chaeryu tongp'o 在留同胞
Literally "same wombers [siblings] remaining in [some country]"
Meaning "compatriots residing in [some country]"
374 Google

Mainly ROK

재외동포 chaeoe tongp'o 在外同胞
Literally "same wombers residing outside [ROK]"
Meaning "[non-national] compatriots abroad"
Loosely and misleadingly "overseas Koreans
815,000 Google

In 1999, ROK enacted, promulgated, and began to enforce a law called in short literally "Compatriots abroad law" (재외 동포 법 Chaeoe tongp'o pŏp 在外同胞法). More fully this law is literally "Law concerning exit-and-entry-of-country and legal status of compatriots abroad" (재외동포의 출입국과 법적 지위에 관한 법률 Chaeoe tongp'o ŏi chulipkuk kwa pŏpchŏk chiwi e kwanhan pŏmnyul). The Japanese translation is 在外同胞の出入国及び法的地位に関する法律 (Zaigai dōhō no shutsunyūkoku oyobi hōteki chii ni kan suru hōritsu).

The ROK government dubs its English translation of this law "Act on the Immigration and Legal Status of Overseas Koreans" -- which morphs "abroad" to "overseas" and dilutes the nationalist force of "compatriots" -- which itself obscures the biological metaphor of "same wombers" -- also used in Chinese and Japanese ethnonationalist writing.

On ROK nationality in Japan

Ryang begins her most focused discussion of the nationality of "Koreans in Japan" like this (page 122).

The "nationality" of Koreans is itself highly debatable. In 1947, when Koreans were first registered as aliens, they were all registered under Chōsen, "Korea," denoting not the state's name but the Korean peninsula [two citations notes omitted]. In 1949 the South Korean government issued a national registration certificate to its nationals abroad and demanded that the Japanese government and the occupation authorities use Kankoku, "R.O.K.," instead of Chōsen, in registering Koreans in Japan.

In the several graphs that follow this (pages 122-123), Ryang, using secondary sources, fairly accurately summarizes the position of the Japanese government and the opinions of courts and legal scholars as to the recognition of ROK and/or DPRK nationality when it came to either alien registration or determining which state's law should apply in civil matters. I would criticize her summary only for the impression she creates that the Japanese government, or Japanese courts, are in a position to determine any nationality other than Japanese.

In fact only the state that has jurisdiction over the nationality in question has any standing in determining if a person in Japan actually possesses that nationality. The only issue for Japanese bureaus and courts is what state's law should apply, in a specific private matter in Japan -- such as inheritance or marriage -- in the case of an alien, including dual nationals and stateless persons, and Japanese who possess another nationality.

See review of Cho 2007 for an overview of shifts in thinking about criteria for deciding what country's laws should apply to "Kankoku/Chosenjin in Japan" in private civil matters.

Contrary to what Ryang writes, however, "Chōsen" did not refer to the "Korean peninsula" but to the entity of Chosen as part of Japan's sovereign territory from the viewpoint of both Japanese and international law. This was also the viewpoint of the Allied Powers who, considering international law, recognized that "Korea" had been a legal part of Japan's sovereign dominion and would not be fully separated from Japan until the signing of an appropriate treaty.

Nor was there at time a Korean "state" -- except as an entity which had yet to be created in Chosen ("Korea"), under the divided rule of two occupation authorities. Under Japanese law, and under GHQ/SCAP policy, "Koreans" (Chosenese) remained Japanese nationals -- notwithstanding GHQ/SCAP's directive to classify and treated as "non-Japanese" for "repatriation" and other such purposes which resulted in their exceptualization as aliens (with Japanese nationality) under registration and immigration control laws.

ROK could set up a mission in Japan and begin to enroll Chosenese as its nationals only with the permission of GHQ/SCAP -- and at the request of Chosenese who wished to be ROK nationals. This did not begin to happen until ROK demanded that GHQ/SCAP allow it to establish a mission in Occupied Japan -- which took place in early 1949 after the United States itself recognized ROK as a state, following the UN Generally Assembly resolution to recognize ROK as the only lawful government on the peninsula.

Japan was never in a position to formally recognize ROK as a state until it had regained its capacity to represent itself in diplomatic affairs from the day the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect. Until then, ROK was obliged to approach the Japanese government through GHQ/SCAP.

On DPRK nationality in Japan

Chongryun's claim that its members are "overseas citizens" -- whether or not Japan recognizes DPRK -- would be reasonable so long as Chongryun truly represents DPRK. In fact, according to Ryang, it never has (page 123-124).

In northern Korea the citizen's certificate was issued beginning in 1946. Unlike South Korean and Japanese registrations, which are household registrations that include a number of family members on the form, North Korean registration seems to be on an individual basis. . . .

North Korea, however, does not appear to be insisting on granting its nationality to Chongryun Koreans. There is no legal office in Pyongyang or in Tokyo to certify the nationality of Chongryun Koreans, nor is there any routine legal procedure to acknowledge the North Korean nationality of Koreans in Japan. Since the Japanese government does not recognize North Korea, it has no embassies or consulates in Japan. As far as the Japanese government is concerned, in theory no North Korean can be normally resident in Japan, and Chongryun Koreans are registered as aliens, not North Korean nationals. Moreover, North Korean nationality law is for the most part unknown to outsiders [source omitted]. . . .

Though careful to distinguish "northern Korea" as an occupation zone in 1946 and "North Korea" as a state by 1948 -- and while accurate about the absence of provisions for the confirmation of DPRK nationality in Japan -- she misrepresents some other matters.

Japan's postwar family registration system recognizes the individual as the primary unit of registration. It continues to require married couples of Japanese nationality to be registered in the same household register and share the register name. It also continues to require a Japanese child to be recorded in the register of its Japanese parents or parent. However, children, at a certain age, have the legal right to establish their own household register, or may enter another register when they marry.

All aliens in Japan are registered as aliens. Possession of DPRK nationality, and recognition of such possession, would change only the nationality recorded on an individual's alien register. Japan in fact considers "Chōsen" to be the de facto nationality of the defunct territory of Chosen as the "Korea" whose independence Japan recognized in the San Francisco Peace Treaty. However, because this "Korea" does not exist as a state, Chōsenjin (Chosenese) are de facto stateless -- but not de jure stateless. Japan continues to conflate Chosenjin with Kankokujin in its immigration and alien statistics, because it has recognized ROK as the only lawful state in "Korea" (Chōsen). Chōsenjin will remain the affiliates of "Korea" (Chōsen) as a legacy entity -- until they migrate to another nationality (ROK, Japan, whatever) or die.

Chongryun's pretense that its charges are "overseas citizens" has, however, been consistent with DPRK's Nationality Law. Its 1963 law clearly stated that "Those who are Koreans (Chosŏn saram), who possessed the nationality of Korea (Chosŏn) before the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and their children, who by the day of promulgation of this law had not abandoned that nationality" -- while its 1995 law reiterated that "Those who are Koreans and their children who possessed the nationality of Korea before the founding of the Republic and have not abandoned that nationality" -- shall be citizens of DPRK.

In other words, DPRK also regards itself as the successor state of an entity previously known as "Chōsen" in Japanese and "Chosŏn" in Korean. And the above cited articles in its nationality laws are essentially "initial determinations" of its population of those who possess its nationality are thereby considered its "citizens".

See DPRK's Nationality Act: First East Asian law to degenderize nationality for my translation DPRK's 1995 law, and commentary on both the 1963 and 1995 laws.

"Japan's internal affairs"

Elsewhere in her Introduction Ryang remarks -- as an example of Chongryun's "strict policy of noninvolvement in Japan's internal affairs" -- that "Chongryun identified its members and potential members as 'overseas nationals' of North Korea, thereby respecting Japan's sovereignty" (page 7).

It is not all clear what Ryang means by this. Nationality recognition is a matter of agreement between states. Chongryun is not a state. It is not even recognized as an organ of a state. The claims it reportedly makes about is members could not possibly be construed by Japan as an act of interfering with its internal affairs, much less an encroachment on its sovereignty -- since Chongryun, as a private organization having no diplomatic standing, is free to claim whatever it wants -- so long as it abides by the Japanese laws that govern its operations as a legal entity in Japan.

Ryang appears to be still somewhat under the spell of Chongryun's propaganda -- in taking at face value Chongryun's "diplomatic posturing" as DPRK's "wannabe mission" (page 113, my characterizations). Thankfully, though, her book is an important and honest -- if here and there misleading or erroneous -- attempt to "look at the mechanism by which Chongryun's organizational identity is produced and the social effect Chongryun's self-representation generates both inside and outside its organizational boundaries" (page 11).

"Japanese nationality"

Several misleading and erroneous remarks appear in a section called "Law and Koreans" -- where it is clear that Ryang has not digested political, social, and legal history very well.

She makes similar statements about how Koreans in Japan as of 1952 ceased being Japanese in this book (Ryang 1997), and in a contribution to a book she later edited ("The North Korean homeland of Koreans in Japan", in Sonia Ryang, Koreans in Japan: Critical voices from the margin, London: Routledge, 2000, pages 32-54).

Ryang 1997: 120

In 1952, upon the signing of the San Francisco treaty between Japan and the United States, Koreans lost the Japanese nationality they had possessed de facto by virtue of their status as colonial subjects.

Ryang 2000: 32

[Koreans in Japan] were no longer Japanese citizens owing to the forfeiture of their Japanese nationality as an effect of the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty between the Japanese and US governments.

In fact, "Koreans in Japan" were Japanese because "Japan" had included "Chosen". Chosenese were subjects of the Empire of Japan because Chosen was part of Japan's sovereign dominion. Japanese nationality was the same throughout the sovereign empire: i.e., all subjects -- "colonial" and otherwise -- were nationals. No subject/national of the Empire of Japan was a "citizen" of Japan. Even today, Japanese law defines only "nationals" and "nationality" -- not "citizens" or "citizenship".

The San Francisco Peace Treaty was concluded between the Allied Powers and Japan. It established that Japan, "recognizing the independence of Korea, renounces all right, title, and claim to Korea, including the islands of Quelpart, Port Hamilton and Dagelet." The treaty makes no stipulations whatever -- and implies nothing -- about the nationality disposition of persons affiliated with "Korea" -- i.e., the defunct Japanese territory of Chosen.

Japan interpreted the peace treaty to mean that, in renouncing its sovereignty over Chosen and Taiwan, it also renounced its authority to continue to ascribe its nationality to their affiliates. Hence the Civil Affairs notification that denationalized Chosenese and Taiwanese effective from when the treaty came into effect on 28 April 1952.


In the same "Law and Koreans" section, Ryang makes this statement about nationality and marriage.

The way in which the Japanese government institutionalized kika, or naturalization, confirms Koreans' general feelings. In the Japanese nationality law, the kika is referred to as a "permit," a benefit bestowed upon an individual who is eligible to become Japanese, not a right to be obtained in exchange for fulfilling a set of requirements. Marriage to a Japanese person does not automatically grant a Japanese passport to a non-Japanese spouse. In order to apply for a Japanese passport, the spouse-to-be has to be naturalized first and then get married as a Japanese.

There is nothing "institutionalized" about the provisions for naturalization in Japan's Nationality Law, present or past. They are pretty much like the provisions for naturalization in the laws of other countries -- another example how Japan's Nationality Law generally conforms with the laws of most other states.

Practically all nationality laws in the world define "naturalization" as a process of petition and permission. Acquisition and loss of nationality through marriage is possible only when provisions are made for derivative nationality.

Japan's 1899 nationality law had provisions for nationality derived through marriage. Like most other states at the time, it provided that an alien woman who married a Japanese would become Japanese, and a Japanese woman who married an alien would cease being Japanese if she gained her husband's nationality.

The 1950 law eliminated these provisions. By then, many states were abandoning the older international principle of one nationality per family, in favor of recognizing nationality as an individual attribute. The notion that a woman's nationality should be that of her husband's was compatible with the expectation that a wife would follow her husband -- and he, not she, was likely to be privileged with rights of suffrage. This notion lost its rationale when women gained the right to vote.

Many provisions of ROK's 1948 nationality emulated Japan's 1899 law, including its provisions for gain and loss of ROK nationality through marriage and adoption. ROK's 1998 Nationality Act, like Japan's 1950 law, requires the alien spouse of a national to naturalize if the spouse wishes to be the same nationality as his or her national spouse. 1995 revisions in DPRK's Nationality Law provided that "The nationality of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, on account of a marriage or a divorce or of an alliance of adoption or a dissolution of an alliance, shall not change (Article 11, my translation). A similar provision in the original 1963 DPRK law covered only marriage.

Japanese passports are never "automatically" granted. They are generally issued only to applicants who apply and are recognized as Japanese.

Foreigners have never been required to become Japanese in order to marry a Japanese national. Japan's nationality laws have generally eased naturalization requirements for alien spouses of Japanese. In other words, Japanese civil law has recognized alien-Japanese marriages.

An alien spouse who naturalizes becomes Japanese when he or she -- armed with a notification of permission to naturalize -- establishes a family register. Since a marriage between two Japanese is recognized only by co-registration in the same register, the naturalized spouse will usually establish his or her register within the already established household register of his or her spouse, and thereby assume its family name.

"if the parents so agreed"

Ryang writes this about the nationality of children under Japan's Nationality Law (page 123).

In 1963 the North Korean nationality law was formally established. It allows separate nationalities for married couples, the children inheriting their mother's nationality, if the parents so agree. (In Japan it was only in the mid-1980s that the government allowed this.)

Ryang is trying to say too much in too few words about laws she does not seem to have fully understood and carefully compared.

1. Japan's 1950 Nationality Law most significantly departs from the 1899 Nationality Law in recognizing that marriage will not affect a woman's or a man's nationality.

2. DPRK's 1963 law, like Japan's 1985 law, are essentially ambilineal, meaning that a child born between citizens (DPRK) / nationals (Japan), or between a citizen / national and an alien, would be recognized as citizen / national. Socialist states were generally the earliest to embrace ambilineal laws, in a world that remained predominately patrilineal until the latter quarter of the 20th century.

3. DPRK's 1963 law additionally provided that "The nationality of a child born between a citizen residing in a foreign country and a citizen of a foreign country citizen will be determined according to agreement of the parents" (Article 5, my translation). The 1995 law (Article 7) recognizes the wish of the parents in the case of a child under 14 years of age, the wish of the parents and the consent of a child 14 years old or older, and the wish of an adult who is the offspring of such a union. Japan's law has never placed such a restriction on nationality acquisition by a child born overseas between a national and an alien. The consent of the alien parent is not required.

4. Under Japanese law, there is no such thing as "inheriting" nationality. There are no provisions -- other than naturalization -- for obtaining Japanese nationality after a fairly narrow window of opportunity to file a birth notification with appropriate authorities. Whether born in Japan or overseas, a child qualified for Japanese nationality at time of birth will acquire Japanese nationality only upon timely registration of the birth in the Japanese parents' or parent's family register -- at a municipal hall, or at a Japanese mission overseas. Late registration runs a real risk that a child will be disqualified.

Biographical note

Sonia Ryang was born in Japan in 1960, and raised in Japan by Korean parents who were members of Chongryun, an association for Koreans in Japan who pledge their allegiance to DPRK. Her father was a professor at the DPRK-accredited, Chongryun-run Korea University in Tokyo, from which she herself graduated in French. In her mid twenties she entered University of York, and eventually obtained a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge.

Ryang has been a research fellow at The Australian National University, an assistant professor at at Johns Hopkins University, and is not an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at The University of Iowa.

She says this about herself on the latter's website (31 August 2008).

I combine British Social Anthropology with American Cultural Anthropology as my intellectual asset. My training was in the heart of British social anthropology, while my teaching career has taken place in the US, first at Johns Hopkins University, and then, now here at the University of Iowa. This has given me interesting and unique experience, in addition to having grown up in Japan as a member of Korean minority.

Ryang describes her growing up in Japan at some length in "A Native Anthropologist" (pages 16-18) at the end of the introduction of this book, and says more about herself in "The Anthropologist's Identity" (pages 220-224) at end end of the conclusion. This is perhaps the most interesting characterization of her status as a "North Korean" (page 18).

I had been well insulated inside the cocoon of Chongryun; seclusion from the outside world, including Japanese society, was a prime feature of Korea University's education in my day. . . . We grew up in a displaced social space that pretended, albeit temporarily, to be North Korean though it existed inside Japan.


Sonia Ryang and John Lie (editors)

Sonia Ryang and John Lie (editors)
Diaspora without Homeland: Being Korean in Japan
[Global, Area, and International Archive, 8]

Berkeley: University of California Press
Paper edition: [March] 2009
ii (Contents), 229 pages, softcover
PDF edition: February 2009
229 numbered pages, 236 pages in PDF file

Ryang & Lie 2009 is reviewed on an independent page as Ryang et al on "Being Korean in Japan".


Apichai W. Shipper

Apichai W. Shipper
Fighting for Foreigners
(Immigration and Its Impact on Japanese Democracy)
Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2008
xv, 216 pages, hardcover

This book's titles -- plus the authority of its university press imprint and jacket endorsements by Princeton and Stanford professors, its generally readable prose, and the fashionable appeal of the author's thesis of "democratic multiculturalism" -- will attract the attention of numerous college students and others who will read the book as what I call a "one-stop" survey of stereotypes about Japan and its minorities.

Most readers will be unaware that they are absorbing viewpoints which are at least as stereotypic in their representations of Japan and minorities in Japan as the stereotypes toward "foreigners" that Shipper, following many other "authorities" on the topics he covers, claim with some foundation to be prevalent in Japan. I am continually amazed by how easily scholars in the United States, where "peer reviewing" now governs the quality of practically all academic writing, get away with stereotypic murder in their articles and books on minorities in Japan.

Here I will touch upon just a few of the problems, selecting my usual themes of "nationality" and "race" but also what he calls "zainichi Koreans".

"the Japanese" and "migrants"

The front flap of the dust jacket makes this statement (underscoring mine).

Nongovernmental organizations established by the Japanese have been more effective than the ethnically particular associations formed by migrants themselves, Shipper finds.

This statement -- not necessarily written, edited, or otherwise approved by Shipper -- faithfully represents the drift of his book. And I would generally agree that even smaller NGOs, given the right organizational goals and media and other resources, can be more effective at drawing attention to their interests than much larger organizations built around singlular and generally more exclusive "ethnic" or other such populations.

But the phrasing of the jacket blurb is highly stereotypic and misleading. NGOs in Japan are not the established by "the Japanese" but by individuals of various nationalities, ethnicities, and other attributes, who are motivated by particular viewpoints.

The term "migrants" is preceded by several uses of the term "immigrants" in the context of "an influx of foreigners" and "illegal foreigners". But anyone who moves can be a migrant. And the vast majority of migrants in Japan are Japanese. And Japanese come in various ethnicities. So what are the implications of contrasting "the Japanese" with "ethnically particular associations formed by migrants"?

"old immigrants"

Shipper characterizes foreigners in Japan like this (page 2, underscoring mine).

Although Japan has one of the most controlled borders in the industrialized world, the number of foreigners rose from 750,000 in 1975 to 2 million in 2005. Many of these are old immigrants from Korea and China who were born in Japan, but over half are new immigrants from Asia and Latin America, who work in small- or medium-sized manufacturing firms.

How is it possible that "old immigrants from Korea and China . . . were born in Japan"? How can anyone be "from Korean and China" if they were "born in Japan"? How can anyone "born in Japan" be an "immigrant"?

These are not trivial abuses of terminology, for much of the diction in this book -- not unlike the phrasing in many other books with similar themes -- is out of focus, or blurred like a snapshot taken in haste or with a shaky hand.

To be continued.


Michael Weiner and David Chapman

Michael Weiner and David Chapman
Zainichi Koreans in History and Memory
In Michael A. Weiner (editor)
Japan's Minorities: The illusion of homogeneity
Second edition
London: Routledge (Taylor and Francis), 2009
Pages 162-187 (Chapter 8)

This article, in Weiner 2009, replaces Weiner's article on Korean victims of the atomic bomb in the earlier 1997 edition of Weiner's book, which Weiner 2009 substantially revised. See Weiner 2009 for a review of most other contributions to the book.

Weiner built his reputation on his studies of Koreans in Japan, beginning with his doctoral dissertation, published in 1989 as Origins of the Korean Community in Japan, 1910-1923 (Manchester: Manchester University Press). His 1994 book, Race and Migration in Imperial Japan: The Limits of Assimilation (The Sheffield Centre for Japanese Studies, Routledge), is also essentially about Koreans in Japan. So why he teamed with Chapman to write the chapter on Koreans in the 2009 revised edition of his 1997 collection of articles on minorities in Japan is not clear. The order of names in the byline suggests that Weiner was the senior author, presumably for reasons other than his seniority in either age or experience.

To be continued.


Melissa L. Wender

Into the Light
[Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies]
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009
ix, 320 pages text (including notes, glossary, bibliography, index), 16 pages black-and-white photographs and other images, softcover

Caprio 2009 is reviewed on an independent page as Mark Caprio on "Assimilation Policies in Colonial Korea".


William Wetherall

Public Figures in Popular Culture: Identity Problems of Minority Heroes
In: Changsoo Lee and George De Vos (editors)
Koreans in Japan: Ethnic Conflict and Accommodation
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981
Chapter 12, pages 281-303 (text), 406-413 (notes)

I felt pretty good about this article when writing it and during the first few years after it came out. I was a bit disappointed that the editors failed to make all the corrections I had marked on the galleys. And I spotted a couple of errors I had failed to detect. Still -- in my vanity at the time, I would have given it an "A" and the entire book a "B" if not an "A". Today, three decades later, I would give both the book and my article a "C".

Here I will comment on how I would rewrite the article in the light of my present understanding of history, society, thought, and behavior in Japan, and how I would respond to Kosaku Yoshino's remarks about my comments on Watanabe Shōichi.

For a web version of the article, see Public Figures in Popular Culture: Identity Problems of Minority Heroes in the "Minorities" section of this website. For my account of how the book came to be published in English and nearly published in Japanese, and my assessment of John Lie's comments on the book, see Lee and De Vos 1981 in this bibliography.


My article continues to be widely cited today in articles about Korean or former Korean athletes, singers, and other public figures in Japan. I have misgivings about some citiations, which appear to support contentions that significantly differ from mine, but I have probably comitted the same sin more than once.

Many people have told me they like the way I patched together scraps from popular books and magazines to create a quiltwork showing how various individuals in Japan have defined themselves in relation to others, based on their perceptions of race and ethnitity. Today I would use a broader mix of material, and integrate some of the endnote commentary into the story, to create a somewhat different story.

I would also write the article from a significantly different point of view. In particular, I would have rephrased many things along the following lines.

1. All references to "citizenship" and "citizens" would have been to "nationality" and "nationals" in accordance with Japan's nationality laws past and present.

2. I would not have characterized outcastes as "historically called eta and presently known as burakumin" -- partly because the term "outcastes" would embrace several historical classifications of people -- but more importantly because, even at the time I wrote this, "burakumin" was an inappropriate label. Unfortunately, people writing in English today continue to use the term to refer to a "group" of people which does not exist, decades after even "buraku liberation" organizations abandoned the term.

3. My descriptions of "Koreans" would have taken into account that "Korea" was "Chosen" between 1910 and 1945/1942, and as such was part of Japan. Accordingly, I would have referred to some "Koreans" as "Chosenese", who as such were either Japanese or former Japanese, and made other such distinctions in the interest of historical accuracy.

4. I would not have spoken of "assimilation" so casually, as the word is inappropriate when speaking of the majority of Koreans in Japan at time -- meaning those who were born and raised in Japan, who became whatever they became without assimilating.

5. I would have talked about "discrimination" a bit differently, mostly by way of differentiating what might actually qualify as "discrimination" on the part of one individual against another, from what might be better understood as the effects of self-stigmatization.

6. I would have used both "ethnic" and "ethnicity" with more caution and less frequently.

7. I would have used the term "race" somewhat differently, by way of differentiating "racialism" from "racism".

Kosaku Yoshino on "race thinking"

I had the honor of being mentioned twice by Kosaku Yoshino concerning my views of Watanabe Shōichi, first in Yoshino's somewhat contentious book on Cultural Nationality in Contemporary Japan: A Socilogical Enquiry (London: Routledge, 1992, paperback edition 1995), and again in his article on "The Discourse on Blood and Racial Identity in Japan" in Frank Dikötter, The Construction of Racial Identities in China and Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1997, pages 199-211).

Yoshino differentiated two kinds of "race thinking" in Japan like this (Yoshino 1992: 23-24).

There are two dimensions of what may be called 'race thinking' in Japan. The first concerns the notion of the 'Japanese race' itself; the second the relationship between 'race' and culture.

Yoshino used "race" much as I do when translating "minzoku" in characterizations of Japanese as "tan'itsu minzoku" -- which Yoshino glossed "uni-racial" (Yoshino 1992: 24).

Under "The invention of the 'Japanese race'" Yoshino discusses the "Japanese race" with particular attention to "Japanese blood" as a "symbol" for something that is not so much biological race in the sense of "jinshu" but "ethnic" or "national" race in the sense of "minzoku" -- which he further glosses like this (page 25).

The nihonjinron literature quite often contains the phrase 'the Japanese are tan'itsu minzoku'. Tan'itsu means 'one' or 'uni', but minzoku is a multi-vocal term which, reflecting the Japanese situation, means not only race but ethnic community and nation. Racial, ethnic and national categories almost completely overlap in the Japanese perception of themselves. Tan'itsu minzoku is used as a convenient phrase to indicate the homogeneity of Japanese people without specifying whether one is referring to their racial or cultural features. . . .

Yoshino's "race thinking" typology

Yoshino contends that "Japanese blood" is "not so obviously a 'racial' concept as the term 'blood' suggests" (Yoshino 1992: 27). However, he continues to speak of "race" ambiguously, and at the end of his discussion of the first aspect of "race thinking" he qualifies "race" as actually meaning "quasi-race" (Yoshino 1992: 27).

The preceding considerations already suggest that 'race' (or quasi-race, to be more precise) is closely associated with culture in the discussions of Japanese uniqueness.

In the next section, under the heading "'Race' and culture", Yoshino introduces the second aspect of "race thinking" like this (Yoshino 1992: 27-28).

The second aspect of 'race thinking' among the Japanese closely associates unique Japanese culture with the 'Japanese race'. In 'race thinking' -- not necessarily that of racism -- racial and cultural differences are closely related. . . .

Yoshino then gives examples of what he has in mind by this (Yoshino 1992: 29-30).

The nihonjinron offer abundant examples that suggest that Japanese culture belongs exclusively to the Japanese people ('Japanese race'). Many writers of the nihonjinron have inferred in one way or another the 'uniquely Japanese' mode of thinking from Japanese phrases which, they assume, defy translation, suggesting that one has to be born Japanese to be able to grasp the intricacy and delicacy of the Japanese language. For example, Watanabe Shōichi, professor of English Literature, writes that the spirit of the Japanese language is 'as old as our blood' (1974: 8). He observes that, though he knows of some Europeans whose Japanese is accurate and quite fluent, and though some Korean residents in Japan have won literary awards for their Japanese prose or fiction, he knows of no foreigner who can write good waka or thirty-one syllable Japanese poety (ibid: 105-6). He does not go so far as to say, however, that the spirit of the Japanese language is genetically transmitted. What he suggests is that it 'belongs exclusively' to the Japanese in the sense that it can be truly appreciated only by the Japanese. The analytical importance of the distinction I have proposed earlier may be illustrated here. In an attempt to reveal what he regards as the 'racist' thinking of Watanabe, Wetherall summarises Watanabe as saying that 'the spirit of Japanese language and its poetic expression is all but genetically transmitted' (1981: 299-300, emphasis added), but this shows Wetherall's failure to distinguish the two distinct types of thinking.

What I said about Watanabe Shoichi

Here is what I wrote about Watanabe in my 1981 article (pages 299-300, and notes 42-47, pages 410-411).

Myths of Homogeneity

Ki no Tsurayuki (ca. 868-945), compiler of the Kokin wakashū (905), Japan's first anthology of waka (31-syllable poems), cites in his preface a poem he praises as the archetype of waka, and he attributes its authorship to an immigrant Korean scholar named Wani. [n 42] That the "father" of Japanese poetry was possibly an immigrant is seen by Watanabe Shōichi as evidence that there was little discrimination in early Japan, where he claims that all people were equal before waka in the sense that, in some Euro-American societies, all people are said to be equal before the law. [n 43] Watanabe, a professor of English who argues that the spirit of Japanese language and its poetic expression is all but genetically transmitted, [n 44] stops short of saying that there is discrimination in present-day Japan, but he observes that although some Japan-resident Koreans have won literary awards for their Japanese fiction or prose, he knows of no foreigner who can write good waka. [n 45]

Using an "immune reaction" metaphor, Watanabe has advocated that "a country like Japan, which from the beginning has been strongly aware of the pure blood [of its people], must regard this [aspect of] its character seriously and be stringently cautious about suddenly admitting [into its body] large amounts of alien substances." [n 46] He has also advocated that Japanese should racially discriminate against foreigners of Japanese ancestry by employing only white native speakers of English to teach English to Japanese. He reasons that because Japanese have such an enormous "gaijin complex," they would not feel comfortable learning English from native speakers of Japanese ancestry. [n 47] Watanabe's rationalization for racial discrimination in Japanese society is not without persuasiveness, especially for those who find discrimination convenient, desirable, or profitable.

What Yoshino forgot to say about Watanabe

Let me make three observations about Yoshino's remarks.

  1. What do I say that makes Yoshino think that I do not appreciate the difference between "blood" as a literal "biological" or "genetic" metaphor -- and "blood" as putatively "cultural" or "ethnic" or "national"?
  2. Why would I go to trouble to qualify Watanabe's contentions as all but genetically transmitted if I didn't realize that Watanabe was speaking in metaphors and not literally?
  3. It is clear that Yoshino is referring to the same pages (105-106) of the same book.
    1. Watanabe Shōichi
      Nihongo no kokoro
      [The soul of the Japanese language]
      Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1974
  4. Yoshino observes that Watanabe wrote, earlier in this book, that "the spirit of the Japanese language is 'as old as our blood' (1974: 8)".

    Yoshino says "the spirit of the Japanese language" by way of paraphrasing what Watanabe actually said, which was this (Watanabe 1974:8).

    Yamato words (大和言葉 Yamato kotoba) were words that Japanese (日本人 Nihonjin) used from before history, [and] [they]are as old as our blood (われわれの血と同じく古い wareware no chi to onajiku furui).

    Watanabe was not talking about the "spirit of the Japanese language" here. He was speaking only of so-called "Yamato words" as words which had been in use before there were Chinese characters with which to record them.

  5. Three pages later come the remarks that inspired me to summarize Watanabe's views as implying that "the spirit of [the] Japanese language and its poetic expression is all but genetically transmitted" (Watanabe 1974:11-12, underscoring mine).

    So long as one renders [Chinese characters] in Japanese readings (訓読み kunyomi), no matter what difficult Chinese characters are used, [the readings] are in principle Yamato words (大和言葉 Yamato kotoba), [and] [they] are words that the Japanese race (日本民族 Nihon minzoku) has continued to use through oral transmission from before history. To put [this] in evolutionary terms (進化論的な言い方 shinkaron-teki-na iikata) -- though I don't believe the theory of evolution (進化論 shinkaron) -- [they] go straight back to the age in which ape-like animals (サルみたいな動物 saru mitai-na dōbutsu), as the ancestors of Japanese (日本人の先祖 Nihonjin no senzo), first produced coherent sounds from their mouths. To put [it] in other terms, it is all right to say that Yamato words are directly rooted in the source [origin, wellspring, fountainhead] of the soul [spirit] of the race (民族の魂の源 minzoku no tamashii no minamoto).

Watanabe is clearly -- and strongly -- flirting with metaphors that regard Yamato words as "all but genetically transmitted" vestiges of the "origin of the soul of the race".

Having once met Watanabe -- and having, in many books, magazine articles, and tv appearances read and witnessed his rhetorical style -- I am well aware that he thrives on making provocative statements. He is, however, consistent in his preference for the sort of metaphors that flavor his 1974 book.

To support my characterization of Watanabe's thinking as "racist" I cited at length, from his 1979 book, his use of biological "immune reaction" and "pure blood" metaphors, and also paraphrased his his public statements advocating the employment of only "white" native speakers of English to teach English to "Japanese".

Yoshino -- in his rush to soft-peddle the "blood" and "race" metaphors that characterize some so-called "Nihonjinron" -- ignores the other evidence I have shown to support my contention that Watanabe's thinking is "racist".

My differentiation of "racism" and "racialism"

For what its worth -- long before I read Yoshino's book I began to differentiate "racism" from "racialism". Today I would characterize Watanabe's metaphors as "racialist" -- i.e., he views people through theories of "race" in the diffuse racioethnic sense of "minzoku" -- but is not a "racist" -- i.e., he does not advocate that individuals be discriminated against simply because of the apparent "minzokusei" (which corresponds to "ethnicity" or "ethnonationality").

What puzzles me about Yoshino's book is why -- published as it was in 1992 -- he did not discuss the conflation of Nakasone Yasuhiro's "Nihon kokumin" with "Nihon minzoku".

"Nihon kokumin" is a legal term of nationals of Japan, meaning anyone who possesses Japan's civil nationality, and is therefore Japanese, without regard to their putative race or ethnicity. In the English version of the Constitution, it is "the Japanese people" or "the people of Japan" or just "the people".

"Nihon minzoku" has no foundation in law and is practically always associated with racioethnic continuity and homogeneity.

Nakasone's conflation of the term did not make him a "racist" but it certainly made him a "racialist".

Yoshino's own usage is -- I hazzard -- "all but" an endorsement of the sort of conflation of "the Japanese people" with "the Japanese race" that makes some Japanese feel they are being excluded by the characterization of the "Nihon kokumin" as a "tan'itsu minzoku" -- "a convenient phrase" indeed!

Yoshino similar says this about my assessment of Watanabe in his 1997 article (Yoshio 1997, in Dikötter 1997, pages 202-203, and note 18, page 202).

In an attempt to reveal the 'racist' thinking of Watanabe, Wetherall characterises him as saying that 'the spirit of Japanese language and its poetic expression is all but genetically transmitted'. [Note 18] But Watanabe does not go so far as to say this; what he suggests is that it [the Japanese language] 'belongs exclusively' to the Jajpanese in the sense that it can be truly appreciated only by the Japanese.

Again, Yoshino fails to accurately describe Watanabe's racialist biological metaphors. And, again, he misses my qualification of Watanabe's metaphors as all but tantamount to racial determinism.

I described Watanabe's metaphors as "racist" because he uses such biological imagry to explain putative racioethnic differences in the capabilities of "Japanese" and "non-Japanese" to appreciate Japanese linguistic expression. In other words, Watanabe provocatively -- and dangerously -- straddles the line between racialism and racism.


Buraku issues

Publications related to "Buraku issues" are listed here. In most cases, I have shown only the particulars and a few brief comments with grading.

This page consists of a highly select list of general publications in Japanese and English related to buraku issues, with a few brief comments on each work. Titles highlighted in blue are linked to a fuller review on the "Minorities" bibliography page. Titles hightlighted in green are linked to a fuller review on a page dedicated to the work.

Contrary to the impression that buraku-related publications in Japanese might be scarce or difficult to obtain because of taboos or censorship, there has been no shortage of books and pamphlets, produced by activities and academics, and jouranlists with a flare for reporting on sensitive social and political issues. Since I began living in Japan in the 1970s, I have never had difficulty finding such publications in larger book Tokyo-area bookstores, and some smaller bookstores of the kind found in shopping areas around train stations stations also had a title or two, especially if put out by a major publisher.

I would estimate that more than a thousand books and pamphlets have been published in Japanese over the past half century or so, and as many as fifty such monographs have come out in English.

Advocacy organizations that seek to "liberate" or "integrate" buraku have always made the pen their mightiest weapon, at least when they have free to publish without interference from the state. A few hard-line activists have also discovered that it is not difficult to intimidate others to fall in line with their liberation ideologies or clam up.

In any case, advocacy organizations have cranked out newsletters, journals, survey reports, textbooks and pamphlets for use in schools, and all manner of publications for sale in ordinary bookstores. Today practically every neighborhood bookstore of any size is apt to have a few buraku/dowa titles not put out by advocacy groups.

A number of publications have criticized the tactics that have sometimes marred the public image of buraku/dowa human rights movements. A series of easily available mooks has been on a crusade to expose the shadier sides of certain "liberation" and "human rights" groups and their supporters -- though not without considerable return fire.

Japanese publications

Most Japanese publications on buraku/dowa issues have been written by scholars and journalists who highly sympathize with the victims of discrimination. Many are little more than vehicles for the proletarian ideologies of groups that advocate the "liberation" or "integration" of so-called buraku or dowa areas. Some are so doctrinaire as to be unreadable to all but those ordained in Marxist history, sociology, and economics. A few, though, are remarkably objective and candid.

English publications

The quality of English publications varies according to whether they were written originally in English or in Japanese. Most books and pamphlets written originally in English are by foreign social scientists who set out to explain buraku/dowa issues in terms of a non-Marxist view of "Japanese culture" or "Japanese society". They tend to describe residents of so-called buraku or dowa areas as "burakumin" who are "outcastes" in Japan.

Most English versions of Japanese publications have been put out by the publicity arms of the larger advocacy organizations in Japan. They are apt to be clunky adaptations intended to raise awareness internationally. They are also likely to mimic the "burakumin" terminology that is fashionable in languages other than Japanese -- even though there is usually no foundation for such labeling in the original text.

Mass media

The daily press covers major buraku/dowa issue developments -- which, in fact, are far and few between. Weekly magazines cover crimes and scandals in greater depth. Monthlies kick in with more opinionated commentary. Newspapers like Asahi Shimbun and Asahi related weeklies, and publishing houses with similar liberal/leftist sympathies, are more apt to carry articles or put out books about buraku/dowa issues.

National television networks report major developments. Though there are relatively few documentaries and other non-news programs featuring buraku/dowa issues, they are not unknown.

Several novels and films are particularly well known because their fictional stories have treated the sort of discrimination that buraku/dowa advocacy groups have been trying to eliminate.


Marie-Jose Barbot   マリ=ジョゼ・バルボ

マリ=ジョゼ・バルボ (著)
師岡助之 (編集)
東京: 柏書房、1983年3月

Marie-Jose Barbot [Mari-Jose Barubo] (author)
Morooka Sukeyuki (editor)
Furansu Bunka Kenkyukai (translation)
Shiritagaranai Nihonjin
(Furansujin no mita buraku mondai)
[Japanese no one wants to know about
(Buraku problem as seen by a French woman)]
Tokyo: Kashiwa Shobo, 1983
237 pages, hardcover

Yosha Bunko scan


De Vos and Wagatsuma

George De Vos and Hiroshi Wagatsuma
Japan's Invisible Race
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966, 1972
1966 first edition
1973 revised edition

Yosha Bunko scan
De_Vos_Wagatsuma_1967_Japans_Invisible_Race_000_yb.jpg De_Vos_Wagatsuma_1967_Japans_Invisible_Race_00i_yb.jpg De_Vos_Wagatsuma_1972_Japans_Invisible_Race_000_yb.jpg De_Vos_Wagatsuma_1972_Japans_Invisible_Race_00i_yb.jpg De_Vos_Wagatsuma_1967_Japans_Invisible_Race_220-221_yb.jpg De_Vos_Wagatsuma_1962_Japans_Invisible_Race_220-221_yb.jpg

De Vos and Wagatsuma 1966, 1972


George De Vos 1971
George A. De Vos and William O. Wetherall 1974
George A. De Vos, William O. Wetherall, and Kaye Stearman 1983
Yosha Bunko scan

De Vos 1971
De Vos and Wetherall 1974
De Vos, Wetherall, and Stearman 1983

This pamphlet went through two revisions, each with an additional co-author.

De Vos 1971

George De Vos
Japan's Outcastes: The Problem of the Burakumin
London: Minority Rights Group, 1971
20 pages, pamphlet

This pamphlet was published as Report No. 3, in the Minority Rights Group series of pamphlets on various minority groups.

Report No. 1 "Religious Minorities in the Soviet Union"
Report No. 2 "The Two irelands -- a dual study of inter-group tensions"
Report No. 3 "Japan's Outcastes: The Problem of the Burakumin"

From Wikipedia

Chpts: Origins of caste, Discrimination, Social Deviancy, Process of Passing, Political Activity, Ameliorative measures. "Burakumin ("hamlet people"/"village people") is an outcast group at the bottom of the Japanese social order that has historically been the victim of severe discrimination and ostracism. They were originally members of outcast communities in the Japanese feudal era, composed of those with occupations considered impure or tainted by death (such as executioners, undertakers, workers in slaughterhouses, butchers or tanners), which have severe social stigmas of kegare ("defilement") attached to them. Traditionally, the Burakumin lived in their own hamlets or ghettos. Wiki; 20 pages.

De Vos and Wetherall 1975

De Vos, George A., and William O. Wetherall
Japan's Minorities (Burakumin, Koreans, and Ainu)
London: Minority Rights Group, 1974
20 pages, pamphlet

This is the 2nd revised and expanded edition of the 1968 (1971) pamphlet on burakumin written by George De Vos. This new edition of Report No. 3 was revised and rewritten by William Wetherall, while a graduate student studying under De Vos, to include the Korean and Ainu minorities in Japan, It was first published in September 1974.

De Vos, Wetherall, and Stearman 1983

George A. De Vos, William O. Wetherall, and Kaye Stearman
Japan's Minorities (Burakumin, Koreans, Ainu and Okinawans
London: Minority Rights Group, 1983
18 pages, pamphlet

The title page of this new 3rd edition of Report No. 3 states that it was "updated" by Kaye Stearman. The edition, first published in August 1983, is billed as "the first to include a section on the Okinawans".

3rd edition not authorized by original authors

The 3rd edition of Japan's Minorities was not authorized by either De Vos or Wetherall -- this writer. It came out in 1983, a year after I received my doctorate at Berkeley. I had settled in Japan in 1975, but remained in close touch with De Vos, who chaired my doctoral committee. I had met Wagatsuma through De Vos in 1975, and Wagatsuma had assisted me in my research on konketsuji. By 1978 he had partly returned to Japan, where he helped me set up the lawsuit against the Japanese government over my daughter's nationality. In the meantime, he and De Vos had started feuding over various matters, including the order of their names as co-authors of Heritage of Endurance. By the early 1980s, Wagatsuma had fully returned to Japan, and I and Karel van Wolferen, who I had met in 1969 in De Vos's office at Berkeley, were running copies of the galleys of Heritage of Endurance back and forth between the estranged co-authors. The book was finally published in 1984, the year before Wagatsuma died of cancer. I didn't know about the 3rd edition of Japan's Minorities until around 1984 or 1985. I recall asking De Vos why it had come out without our involvement. He said he had been informed only that Minority Rights Group would be bringing out a revised edition and he had approved, thinking that he and I would be party to the revision. We weren't.

Kaye Stearman was an unfamiliar name to De Vos and of course I knew nothing about her. The 3rd edition of Japan's Minorities describes her as follows.

Kaye Stearman is presently Deputy Director of MRG and is a co-author of Report No. 35 Aboriginal Australians. She would like to extend thanks to the following for their help with this new edition: Mr Toshiaki Kato from the Buraku Liberation Research Institute, Mr Luther De Gale from S.O.A.S., Drs Ian Neary and Michael Weiner for use of their bibliographies.

"MRG" is Minority Rights Group in London. "S.O.A.S." is the School of Oriental and African Studies at University of London. Buraku Liberation Research Institute (BLRI) (Buraku Kaihō Kenkyūjo 部落解放研究所), founded in 1968, is the research arm of Buraku Liberation League (Buraku Kaihō Dōmei 部落解放同盟). In 1998, BLRI was renamed Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute (BLHRRI) (Buraku Kaihō Jinken Kenkyūjo 部落解放人権研究所).


June A. Gordon

June A. Gordon
Japan's Outcaste Youth: Education for Liberation
Paradigm: 2008, paperback

Yosha Bunko scan

Gordon 2008

Japan's attempt to project to the world an image of solid middle-class national identity is challenged by the Burakumin, an outcaste group of indigenous Japanese citizens who have been subjugated for centuries to political, economic, and religious discrimination. In the 1960s the efforts of this group and its supporters led to a 40-year national program of economic aid and educational programs designed to move these people out of poverty and increase life options. These programs, recently terminated, have left the Burakumin and other marginalized groups uncertain of their future. Based on ten years of ethnographic inquiry, Gordon's book explores the views of educators and activists caught in this period of transition after having their lives and careers shaped by the political demands of a liberation movement dedicated to achieving educational equity for the Burakumin and their disadvantaged neighbors. Gordon provides the context of the efforts to achieve the human rights of the Burakumin and the complexity of their identity in a Japanese society struggling with economic and demographic globalization.


Hatanaka Toshiyuki   畑中敏之

Hatanaka 1995


Hatanaka Toshiyuki
"Burakushi" no Owari
[ The end of "buraku history"]
Kyoto: Kamogawa Shuppan, 25 May 1995
230 pages, softcover

Hatanaka 2004


Hatanaka Toshiyuki
Mibun, sabetsu, aidentiti: "Burakushi" wa bohyō to naru ka
[ Status, discrimination, identity: Will "buraku history" become a gravepost? ]
Kyoto: Kamogawa Shuppan, 1 July 2004
197 pages, softcover

Hatanaka 1995 Jacket of Hatanaka Toshiyuki's "Burakushi" no owari, 1995
The end of "buraku history
Yosha Bunko scan
Hatanaka 2004 Jacket of Hatanaka Toshiyuki's Mibun, sabetsu, identiti, 2004
Status, discrimination, identity
Will "buraku history" become a grave marker?
Yosha Bunko scan

Hatanaka 1995

Hatanaka 2004


Kaihō Shuppansha   解放出版社

解放出版社 (編集)

Kaiho Shuppansha (editor)
Interview "Buraku shusshin"
(12-nin no ima, soshite koko kara)
["Buraku origin" interviews (The now and from here of 12 people)]
Osaka: Kaihō Shuppansha, March 2003
171 pages, softcover

Yosha Bunko scan

Kaiho Shuppansha 2003


Kitaguchi Suehiro   北口末広

入門部落解放 一問一答

Kitaguchi Suehiro
Nyūmon buraku mondai ichi-mon ichi-tō
[Introduction to buraku issues: 1 question, 1 answer]
Osaka: Kaihō Shuppan Sha, 1985

Suehiro Kitaguchi
Translation and Introduction by Alastair McLauchlan
An Introduction to the Buraku Issue: Questions and Answers
Surrey: Curzon Press, 1999
viii, 213 pages, hard cover

Yosha Bunko scan

Kitaguchi 1985, 1999

Kitaguchi Suehiro (北口末広), a buraku-born activist-scholar, wrote a Q&A-format primer on buraku issues while going to college. The primer was later translated into English by Alastair McLauchlan, who was studying buraku issues and came to know of Kitaguchi's book and Kitaguchi, by then a college professor and BLL official was instrumental in McLauchlan's field work, which centered on intereviews with 21 BLL members (see McLaughlan 2003 below).

Kitaguchi was born in the Ikue neighborhood of Asahi-ku in ōsaka city in 1956. In 1993, after completing a master's program in international law at Kyoto University, he became a professor at Kinki University Center for Human Rights (近畿大学人権問題研究所 Kinki Daigaku Jinken Mondai Kenkyūjo "Human Rights Problems Research Institute"), where he teaches human rights and society, and human rights law.

Kitaguchi, as an activist scholar, was the director of the Ikue Branch of the Osaka Prefectural Confederation of the Buraku Liberation League (部落解放同盟大阪府連合会生江支部 Buraku Kaihō Dōmei O332;saka-fu Rengōkai Ikue Shibu), as well as the Osaka federation's secretariat, and a member of BLL's Central Executive Committee (中央執行委会 Chūō Iinkai).

Osaka has several buraku, defined by the presence of a BLL branch in the neighborhood. It also has some Korean neighborhoods, some of which overlap with a buraku. Japanese buraku residents and Koreans are known to marry, and BLL is known to want to count Koreans who reside in a buraku as victims of buraku discrimination along with Japanese residents. However, there is sometimes discord between between Korean and Japanese individuals or families in the neighborhoods -- or so I was told in 1988 by an informant from one of the neighborhoods, who attended an Osaka symposium on the global diaspora of Koreans, at which I was the token "non-Korean" panelist -- the others being "Koreans from Japan, ROK, PRC, and the United States.

Kitaguchi's BLL activism brought him into opposition with a Korean human rights organization that disagreed with his approach to conflict resolution. In 1997, Kitaguchi jumped into the middle of a confrontation between the Human Rights Association for Koreans in Japan (在日コリアン人権協会 Zainichi Korean Jinken Kyōkai) and Nippon Life Insurance Company (Nihon Seimei, Nissei, Nissay). Kitaguchi proposed that ZKJK not press its complaint that Nissay discriminated against Koreans, on the condition that Nissay accept ZKJK's educational materials.

This was a typical BLL tactic, in which BLL, when embroiled in a denunciation against a publishing company or other organization, would rein in its dogs in return for allowing BLL to conduct anti-discrimination training within the organization -- the object being to spread its ideological understandings of history and society as the best way to prevent a repetition of acts it considers discriminatory.

When ZKJK refused Kitaguchi's proposal, and continued to protest against the insurance company, Kitaguchi is said to have repeatedly libeled and obstructed ZKJK and its director, which reportedly lead a number of other companies to abandon their talks and ties with ZKJK on human rights issues. Then in 2003, under the direction of ZKJK, a subsiderary group called KJ Dōyūkai (KJ同友会) -- the name of which means something like "association of friends who share same aspirations for human rights of Koreans in Japan" -- was involved in training courses at Taisei [Construction] Corporation, another giant, until Kitaguchi caused disturbances which led Taisei to cancel an event at which ZKJK's director was scheduled to speak on human rights. In 2004, ZKJK sued both Kitaguchi and Taisei for damages, in particular the director's loss of a 100,000 yen honorarium (such lawsuits must include a demand for pecuniary compensation).

Kitaguchi and Taisei won the first round in a decision handed down by the Osaka District Court on 28 February 2007 in what ZKJK's website calls "Heisei 17 [2005] (Wa) No. 2376 damages indemnity claim case" (平成17年(ワ)第2379号 損害賠償請求事件 Heisei 17 (Wa) No. 2378 Songai baishō seikyū jiken), the last hearing for which was held on 11 October 2006 (ZKJK's website also gives Heisei 16 = 2004 as the year the case was filed and accepted, and 2005 as the year it began to be heard before the court).

ZKJK appealed to the Osaka High Court. The court reportedly partly recognized ZKJK's claim against Taisei, which appears to have centered on a breach of contract.

Apparently the bad feelings between Kitaguchi and ZKJK continued. The assistant director of ZKJK reportedly said that, "Among those in the [buraku] liberation movement are some who look down on the movement of Koreans to eliminate ethnonational [racioethnic] discrimination (民族差別), including Komori [former BLL secretariat Komori Tatsuo (小森龍邦)] and Kitaguchi", which was tantamount to contending that some BLL members embraced discriminatory attitudes toward Koreans.

Kitaguchi, for his part, reportedly continued to wonder why KZJK, which talks about human rights, sued him for the economic value of the lecture fee, i.e., loss of the honorarium. According to this essentially Wikipedia account -- which I have supplemented with information from ZKJK's website, among other online sources -- Kawaguchi continued to be subjected to criticism by ZKJK, which continued to receive 100,000 yen per lecture,

For what it's worth -- 100,000 is a fairly standard honorarium for a guest speaker. I myself received this much for presenting a paper on censorship of buraku-related passages in English and Japanese publications at the 42nd National Buraku Problems Summer Seminar held at Kyoto Hall on 29 July 1993 by Buraku Problems Research Institute (部落問題研究所 Buraku Mondai Kenkyūjo), the research arm of BLL's arch rival, the All Japan [National] Federation of Buraku Liberation Movements (全国部落解放運動連合会 Zenkoku Buraku Kaihō Undō Rengō Kai), or Zenkairen (全解運) for short. The paper was published both in BPRI's journal Buraku (部落), and in Narusawa Eiju's book on freedom of expression and the buraku problem, which was also published by BPRI. See Narusawa 1993 on this page for particulars Narusawa's book, and The eradication of the buraku problem in Japanese translations: Errors and lack of awareness not as frightening as censorship for the full text of the paper, which was published and orally presented only in Japanese. Disclosure   The stage at the hall was huge and set back quite a distance from the audience, which was huge, barely illuminated, and just a dark blue of faces to me, standing beind a podium with a fixed mike. The audience response was mixed. A couple of people out of ten or so liked what I said. A couple complained that I didn't use any visuals (I never do). And one said my Japanese was terrible and difficult to follow.


Kobayashi Shigeru

大坂:解放出版社、1979年1月15日 初版発行
vi, 274ページ、函

Kobayashi Shigeru
Buraku "Kaihōrei" no kenkyū
[ Studies of buraku "Liberation edict" ]
Osaka: Kaihō Shuppansha
15 January 1979, 1st edition published
vi, 274 pages, hardcover, boxed

Yosha Bunko scan

Kobayashi Shigeru 1979



Kobayashi Yoshinori   小林よしのり

Kobayashi Yoshinori
Goomanizumu sengen (Sabetsuron supesharu)
[Declaration of gomanism (Special on discrimination)]
Osaka: Kaihō Shuppansha, 1995
179 pages, softcover
BLL denunciation discrimination censorship discriminatory words
Komori Tatsukuni Tsutsui Yasutaka Kumizaka Shigeyuki
部落解放同盟 糾弾 差別 検閲 差別用語 小森 筒井 組坂 日本
Reruns of Gomanism features on discrimination, plus new features, articles, and interviews prepared especially for this book.

ゴーマニズム宣言 (差別論スペシャル)
[Declaration of gomanism (Special on discrimination)]
大阪: 解放出版社、1995

Yosha Bunko scan

Kobayashi Yoshinori 1995


Mahara Tetsuo   馬原鉄男

[The 70 years of the buraku liberation movement]
東京: 新日本出版社、1992

Mahara Tetsuo
Buraku kaihō undō no 70 nen
[The 70 years of the buraku liberation movement]
Tokyo: Shin Nippon Shuppan Sha, 1992
209 pages, softcover, Shin Nippon Shinsho 445

Yosha Bunko scan

Mahara 1992

Mahara, born in 1930, was a professor at Ritsumei Kaikan University at the time he wrote this book. He was also a member of the board of directors (riji) of Buraku Mondai Kenkyujo (The Institute of Buraku Problem), the research arm of Zenkaido (now Zenjindo), and a directing representative (daihyo kanji) of the Zenkoku Buraku Mondai Kenkyu Kyogikai, which is also closely tied to Zenkaido.

1992 was the 70th anniversary of the founding of Suiheisha, the precedessor of BLL, and in turn Zenkaido, which was formed by BLL members who left BLL because it had come to be dominated by members who opposed to the Japan Communist Party.


Alastair McLauchlan

Alastair McLauchlan
Prejudice and Discrimination in Japan: The Buraku Issue
Lewiston (NY): The Edwin Mellen Press, 2003
Japanese Studies Volume 20
ix, 212 pages, hard cover

Alastair McLaughlan
Japan's Burakumin: An Introduction
The Asia-Pacific Journal (Japan Focus)
Volume 4, Issue 1, 4 January 2006
Pages 1-9, PDF file

Yosha Bunko scan

McLauchlan 2003

I cannot write an impartial review of McLauchlan's 2003 book, as remarkable as it may be in some respects, for I was significantly involved at the stage in which he had to radically cut an overweight and out-of-shape doctoral dissertation down to a leanier and fitter length for book publication. McLauchlan, then a Senior Lecturer at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology in New Zealand, visited me at my home in Japan, and I advised him on what to slash and how to revamp what remained. He generally followed my advice. I did not get involved in rewriting or editing, but we did discuss nomenclature problems. I also raised viewpoint problems -- most of them resulting from his efforts to deal with previously published writing in English -- that I felt undermined the quality of his field work and the importance of his findings.

McLaughlan's field work struck me as objective, notwithstanding its facilitation by the Buraku Liberation League (BLL), from whom he obtained permission to interview 21 of its members in a community it politically controlled. He generally describes the experience in his Foreword like this (page iii).

I conducted all interviews in Japanese, and all were audiotaped and later translated into English and analysed by myself. My gatekeeper from the BLL (Y-san) attended some interviews but never attempted to direct either my comments or those of the respondents. Although the sample of 21 residents was selected by the BLL, and all my interviewees were clearly dedicated supporters of that organisation, I do not believe thhathese factors compromised my research.

McLauchlan also asked me to write a preface for his book, which I did. In it, I set down my views of buraku issues while also alluding to the difficult position in which all researchers, Japanese and foreigners alike, find themselves when attempting to do fieldwork within a highly politicized and image-concious organization or community.

See Buraku issues (McLauchlan 2003) for the text of my preface.

See updates to the above remarks in my 2019 reviews of Kobayakawa 2017 and 2018 under the title "Buraku issue" problems: Kobayakawa Akira on false constructions.

McLauchlan 2006

Three years after publishing his book, McLaughlan published the following article in the on-line journal "Japan Focus", now called "The Asia-Pacific Journal (Japan Focus).

The first 3 pages of this 9-page article is an overview of "The Buraku Issue" and it ends with a note that directs the reader to McLauchlan's 2003 book for a detailed explanation of the issue. The article is said to have been written for Japan Focus, and was posted 31 December 2005.

The last 6 pages are described as an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Hell for Leather. a novel McLaughlan wrote based on his field work in an Ōsaka buraku. According to the 3-page introductory article, the novel "tells the story of Taka, a troubled buraku teenager and, although the characters are fictional, the story draws on many hours of Japanese interviews recorded with buraku residents" (page 3). The excerpt is said to have been posted on 16 January 2006.

Apparently the novel was never published.


Miyazaki Manabu   宮崎学

宮崎学その他 (7名)
(何がリアルや! )
[The deep layers of "The true face of Dowa interests" (What is "Real"?!)]
大阪: 解放出版社、2004年1月10日

Miyazaki Manabu et al (7 authors)
"Dōwa riken no shinsō" no shinsō
(Nani ga riaru ya!)
[The deep layers of "The true face of Dowa interests" (What is "Real"?!)]
Osaka: Kaihō Shuppansha, 10 January 2004
207 pages, mook, 7 articles

Miyazaki 2004-01 Miyazaki 2004-01

Front and back covers of Miyazaki Manabu et al (editors), "Dōwa riken no shinsō" no shinsō
"The deep layers of "The true face of Dowa interests" -- What is 'Real'?!"
Buraku Kaihō Shuppansha, 10 January 2004
Yosha Bunko scans

Miyazaki 2004


Mori Tatsuya (author), Dave Spector (editor)   森達也 (著)、デーブ・スペクター (監修)

森達也 (著)、デーブ・スペクター (監修)
大阪: 解放出版社、2000年

Mori Tatsuya (author) and Dave Spector [Deebu Supekutaa] (editor)
Hōsō kinshi uta [Songs banned on air]
Osaka: Kaihō Shuppansha, 2000
191 pages, softcover

Yosha Bunko scan

Mori and Spector 2000


Sueo Murakoshi and Yoshi Miwa (editors)

Sueo Murakoshi and Yoshi Miwa (editors)
Discrimination Against Buraku, Today
(Illustrated by Charts & Tables)
[from the research results on the reality in each prefecture]
Osaka: Buraku Liberation Research Institute, 1986
10, 145 pages, softcover

Yosha Bunko scan

Murakoshi and Miwa 2000

My first, long and most detailed review of this book appeared in The Japan Times in 1986, and a shorter, critically more focused review appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review in 1987, as follows.

Is There a Permanent Subclass in Japan?
The Japan Times
27 December 1986
Page 8

Outcasts of history
Far Eastern Economic Review
Volume 136, Number 26
25 June 1987
Page 50

The FEER review drew a strong letter of protest from Kenzo Tomonaga, the secretary-general the Buraku Liberation Research Institute, which published the book. Derek Davies, FEER editor, sent me a copy of Tomonaga's letter and ask me to reply to its objections, which I did. I never heard about the matter again.

See Buraku Today (JT) for my Japan times review, which is critically similiar to the FEER review but, because I had lots of space, more fully discusses specific content.

See Buraku Today (FEER) + Letters for my FEER review and the letters.


Rositsa Mutafchieva

Rositsa Mutafchieva
From Subnational to Micronational: Buraku Communities and Transformations in Identity in Modern and Contemporary Japan
PhD thesis, East Asian Studies, McGill University, Montreal
April 2009, 234 pages, pdf file

Yosha Bunko scan

Mutafchieva 2009

The abstract of this dissertain reads as follows (page 3).


From the Meiji period on, the social minority group referred to in Japan as burakumin was constituted as what might be called a "subnational" group. In other words, it acted as a supplement to the nation and national identity, a group of people attached but not necessarily belonging to what was conceived as the Japanese nation. With various shifts, this pattern remains in place and guides politics into the 1920s and then through the 1960s and in the 1980s. Subsequently, however, the beginning of a potentially major transformation can be observed. This change is linked to Japan's movement into a globalized nation in the 1980s; it is then that the "subnational" turns into a kind of "micronational" -- a repository of minor national-esque practices. The supplement thus becomes a surplus, opening the nation into a variety of little "nation-like" enclaves that are propagated as local communities and encouraged to act on their own and manage themselves. Similarly, the subnational burakumin -- who were previously construed as subhuman -- become micronational local community residents. Simultaneously, because of their historical experience and familiarity with segregation and self-governance, the burakumin become potential experts on local community initiatives. Only by looking at local histories of buraku communities rather than large histories of the nation can one acknowledge such transformations.


Nakayama Tadaharu


Nakayama Tadaharu
Dōwa no #333;mono fikusaa "Shinboku Shigeki" no ky#333;dai riken giwaku o tsuku!
[Striking the suspicions of the huge interests of bigshot Dowa fixer "Shinboku Shigeki"]
Uwasa no shins#333;
June 1990, Vol 12, No. 6, Issue 115
Pages 24-31

Yosha Bunko scan

Nakayama 1990


Controversies sparked by this article spilled over into television and weekly magazine discussions of dōwa chiiki (buraku) issues. Shinboku Shigeru was rumored to have been the son of parents who naturalized from Chōsen register status. However, people who have compile lists of naturalized public figures report that they cannot find clear evidence of Shinboku's naturalization in Kanpō, the daily report of the Japanese government publishes laws and legal notices, including permissions of naturalization. Naturalization notices give legal names of naturalizers before their naturalization. Passing names and postnaturalization names are not published.


Narusawa Eijū   成沢栄寿

京都: 部落問題研究所、1981年

Narusawa Eijū
Nihon no rekishi to buraku mondai
[ History of Japan and the buraku issue ]
Kyoto: Buraku Mondai Kenkyōjo, 1981
566 pages, hardcover, boxed

Yosha Bunko scan

Narusawa 1981



Yosha Bunko scan

Narusawa 1989



Narusawa Eiju   成澤榮壽 (編)

成澤榮壽 (編)
京都:部落問題研究所, 1993

Narusawa Eiju (editor)
Hyōgen no jiyū to buraku mondai
[Freedom of expression and the buraku problem]
Kyōto: Buraku Mondai Kenkyūjo, 1993
293 pages, softcover

Narusawa 1993 Jacket of Narusawa Eijū (editor), Hyōgen no jiyū to buraku mondai, 1993
Freedom of expression and the buraku problem
Yosha Bunko scan
Narusawa 1993 Okuyama Mineo's interview of Karel van Wolferen on
Japan's control system and freedom of speech and expression
centering on Buraku Liberation League's publication interference
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Narusawa 1993 William Wetherall's article analyzing several examples of
eradication [erasure] of the buraku problem in Japanese translations
Yosha Bunko scan

Narusawa 1993

This book includes 25 signed contributions including Narusawa's 46-page introductory essay (pages 7-52), 13 numbered feature articles and 11 smaller articles divided into the following 3 themes. The articles are appended by a 30-page collection of materials from 5 buraku liberation, community improvement, and human rights organizations and offices, beginning with the central committee of the Buraku Liberation League and ending with the human rights protection bureau of the Ministry of Justice (257-287).

  1. Freedom and suppression of expression
  2. Nagasaki mayor shooting incident and "7,300 letters to Nakasaki major"
  3. Freedom of speech and expression and mass communications and libraries

The 1st part of this book includes 4 numbered feature articles and 3 unnumbered shorter contributions. The 2nd article was Okuyama Mineo's interview with Karel van Wolferen, and the 3rd article was my report on censorship.

Wolferen 1993

成澤 1993, 72-87頁

K. V. [Karel van] Wolferen
< Interviewer: Okuyama Mineo >
Nihon no shihai system to genron·hyōgen no jiyū
Kaidō no shuppan bōgai o megutte
[ Japan's control system and freedom of speech and expression ]
[ (Centering on BLL's publication obstruction) ]
Narusawa 1993, pages 72-87

Wetherall 1993

ウェザロール ウィリアム
成澤 1993, 88-109頁

Uezarooru Uiriamu [Wetherall William]
Nihongo yaku ni yoru buraku mondai no masshō
Ayamari ya ninshiki fusoku wa ken'etsu hodo kowakunai
[ The eradication [erasure] of the buraku problem in Japanese translations ]
[ (Errors and lack of awareness not as frightening as censorship) ]
Narusawa 1993, pages 88-109

Narusawa Eiju

Narusawa Eiju (成澤榮壽 b1934) is an historian who specializes in buraku issues (部落問題 buraku mondai) and dōwa education (同和教育 dōwa kyōiku). He is the son of Narusawa Eiyū (成澤英雄 19), an activist in the prewar "yūwa" (融和) or "integration" movement within the buraku liberation movement, and he was one of the founders and the first secretary-general of the Buraku Mondai Kenkōkai (部落問題研究会) at Waseda University in 1955 when he was a student there.

My acquaintance with Narusawa

Narusawa, aware of my views on censorship in Japan and overseas, of mentions of former outcaste buraku in fiction and non-fiction, contacted me, and invited me to participate in a work group organized around Suzuki Jirō (鈴木二郎 1916-2008), a sociologist and early champion of human rights for minorities in Japan. I had known about Suzuki, and I had cited some of his writing, and apparently Suzuki had heard my name in association with George De Vos and Hiroshi Wagatsuma, the authors of Japan's Invisible Race, who he had met.

At the work group, I talked about my censorship research, and Narusawa, a senior member of the work group, asked me to write an article on buraku-related censorship for Buraku (部落), a monthly journal published by the Buraku Problem Research Institute (部落問題研究所 Buraku Mondai Kenkyūjo), in which he was a leading member. BPRI was the research arm of Zendōren (see below), the arch rival of the Buraku Liberation League (BLL), whose strong-arm censorship tactics Zendōren activists sharply critisized.

The article I wrote for Narusawa appeared in the March 1993 issue (Volume 45, Number 3, Issue 561, pages, 23-40). Narusawa also selected my article for inclusion in his book, and the article was the basis of a presentation I made before an annual convention of Zendōren; in Kyoto.

Narusawa appears to have gotten my name through Karel van Wolferen, or through someone at BPRI who was aware van Wolferen's encounter with BLL, which attempted to censor the Japanese edition of his widely translated book, Enigma of Japanese Power (1990) (see The burakumin debate: Gunfight at the FCCJ corral). In an interview published in the same issue of Buraku that published my article, Karel cited my name along with Frank Upham as two researchers who had personally contributed to his understanding of the so-called "buraku liberation movement" organizations, including BLL. Karel knew De Vos, who was my mentor at UC Berkeley, and in fact De Vos introduced me to Karel in his office on campus in 1969. Karel was also familiar with other academic and journalistic writing on buraku issues. In any event, BPRI considered both Karel and I as "non-hostile" witnesses so to speak -- foreigner writers in Japan who had studied and reported on buraku issues and in principle opposed media censorship, especially the sort of strong-arm tactics endorsed by BLL to suppress wording and views its members didn't like.

I received postcard invitations to attend future meetings of Suzuki's work group, but I begged off, preferring to remain a lone-wolf researcher. I have registered as a member of some organizations simply to receive their bulletins. The only organizations that I actively participated in were the Japan Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), and the Japan Association of Suicide Prevention (JASP). I am no longer a member of JACL and so no longer receive its newspaper Pacific Citizen. As of this writing in 2019, I remain a member of the board of JASP, and continue to receive its annual journal, but I have not attended JASP board meetings or symposia for nearly two decades.

Buraku Problem Research Institute

The publisher of this book -- Buraku Problem Research Institute (Buraku Mondai Kenkyūjo 部落問題研究所) <The Institute of Buraku Problem> -- is the research arm of All Japan [National] Federation of Buraku Liberation Movements (Zenkoku Buraku Kaihō Undō Rengō Kai 全国部落解放運動連合会) or Zenkairen (全解運). Zenkairen originated in 1976 as a reorganization of Buraku Liberation League Normalization National Liaison Conference (Buraku Kaihō Dōmei Seijōka Zankoku Renraku Kaigi 部落解放同盟正常化全国連絡会議) or Seijōkaren (正常化連). Seijōkaren was formally established in 1970 as a Communist Party split off from Buraku Liberation League (Buraku Kaihō Dōmei 部落解放同盟) or Kaidō (解同), which had come to be dominated by Socialist Party members who wanted to purge Communist Party members. In 2004, declaring the buraku liberation movement over, Zenkairen renamed itself National Confederation of Local Human Rights Movements (Zenkoku Chiiki Jinken Undō Sōrengō 全国地域人権運動総連合) or Zenjindō. Zenjindō, still affiliated with the Communist Party, remains as of this writing in 2019 BLL's arch political rival, and BLL remains close to the Democratic Party, a Socialist Party successor. The Socialist Party and its successors have always collaborated more closely that the Communist Part has with more conservative parties over political issues involving so-called "buraku liberation".

Buraku Problem Research Institute was founded in 1948. Buraku Mondai Kenkyū (部落問題研究) <The Bulletin of Buraku Problem>, it's organ, debuted in 1949, changed its name to Buraku mondai (部落問題) in 1950, just Buraku (部落) in 1951, and Jinken to Buraku Mondai (人権と部落問題) in 2002. In 1951, the institute gained the legal status of a "shadan hōjin" (社団法人), in recognition of its activities as a non-profit social foundation.

The institute became affiliated with BLL, but in 1966 its archives and other facilities were occupied by socialist BLL radicals opposed to the institute's communist leanings. The institute continued to operate, and in 1968, BLL socialists founded their own research arm called Buraku Liberation Research Institute (部落解放研究所) or BLRI, which began publishing a journal titled Buraku Kaihō Kenkyū (部落解放研究) <Buraku Liberation Research>. In 1998, BLRI became BLHRRI -- Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute (Buraku Kaihō·Jinken Kenkyūjo 部落解放・人権研究所), and in 2013 the institute became a so-called "ippan shadan hōjin" (一般社団法人), a legal status created in 2006 to replace the former "shadan hōjin" (社団法人) status accorded organizations treated as non-profit social foundations. BLHRRI continues to publish its organ under the title Buraku Kaihō Kenkyū.

What's in a name

The difference in the similar names of the two research institutes and their periodicals betrays the fundamentally different ideological positions of their parent organizations. BLL (Kaidō) continues to focus on "liberation" (kaihō), because it insists that so-called buraku are "discriminated" (hisabetsu 被差別) -- i.e, they "receive" or "are subject to" discrimination -- because they are "not yet liberated" (mikaihō 未開放).

Though its predecessors were also "liberation movement" activists, Zenjindō declared that the "liberation" was over -- except the need to liberate buraku from BLL. It continued, however, to recognize that the ongoing "problem" (mondai 問題) of lingering class, caste, and race (including ethnonational) favoritism that results in discrimination and other human rights violations.

BLL, and BLL related movement organizations, also use "mondai" (problem, issue, question) in their literature -- and today they have also "diversified" into "human rights" and even "peace" as ideological concerns. But whereas Zenjindō and related groups want to "end" the attention given "buraku", BLL factions have vested political and economic interests that require maintenance of "buraku" as a special "category" for purposes of political organization and social policy.

In other words, BLL factions want to keep the "buraku" torch lit. And some radical "buraku" publicists view present but also past "buraku" affiliation as an "identity". See See "Buraku problem" issues; Kobayakawa Akira on false constructions.

In 2016, with both Democratic Party and incumbent Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito backing, BLL partly realized its long-held dream of a "buraku law" -- though it falls short of the sort of law BLL would have preferred if it had its dithers. The most eloquent opposition argument was made by the Communist Party. See 2016 Buraku discrimination elimination law: The legal "racialization" of a non-existent caste.


Ian Neary

Ian Neary
Political Protest and Social Control in Pre-war Japan
(The Origins of Buraku Liberation)
Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989
250 pages, hardcover

Yosha Bunko scan

Neary 2003



Ian Neary

Ian Neary
"Burakumin at the end of history"
Social Research, 70(1), Spring 2003, pages 269(27)

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Neary 2003

The vehicle for this article is significant. Each issue of Social Research is dedicated to a different theme. The Spring 2003 issue focused on "Pariah Minorities" and was edited by Arien Mack. The contents are as follows.

The Symbolism of Black and White Babies in the Myth of Parental Impression (Wendy Doniger)

The Predicament of Racial Knowledge: Government Studies of the Freedmen during the U.S. Civil War (Oz Frankel)

The Dalit in India (Sagarika Ghose)

The Roma: Between a Myth and the Future (Dimitrina Petrova)

"Men" Who Would Be Kings: Celibacy, Emasculation, and the Re-Production of Hijras in Contemporary Indian Politics (Gayatri Reddy)

The Birth of the Pariah: Jews, Christian Dualism, and Social Science (David Nirenberg)

An Ultimate Pariah? Jewish Social Attitudes toward Jewish Lepers in Medieval Western Europe (Ephraim Shoham-Steiner)

Burakumin at the End of History (Ian Neary)

Are Kurds a Pariah Minority? (Michael Rubin)

Social Research is the journal of the New School for Social Research, which got its start in 1933 as the second division of The New School, founded in New York in 1919 -- a good year for progressive pacifists to launch a college bent on changing the world through socialist thought.

Ian Neary is a professor of political science at the University of Oxford, where he is affiliated with various institutes and colleges within that labyrinth of higher education. His interests include policy-making, government-industry relations, human rights in East Asia, and buraku issues.

Neary is one of the few academics outside Japan who has made buraku issues a keystone of his career. His involvement in buraku studies back to the at least the early 1970s, when he conducted reasearch in Japan for Political Protest and Social Control in Pre-war Japan: The Origins of Buraku Liberation (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989). This book is about the emergence of the Suiheisha (The Levelers Society) movement and government "yuwa" (blend and harmonize, i.e., reconciliation, integration) policies in the 1920s and their development until the early 1940s. The Suiheisha was the forerunner of Buraku Kaiho Domei (Buraku Liberation League). The "yuwa" slogan was changed to "dowa" (assimilate and harmonize, i.e., integration).

Neary is more recently the author of the moderately priced The State and Politics in Japan (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002) and the ludicrously expensive Human Rights in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan (Routledge, 2002). He is currently working on a biography of Matsumoto Jiichiro (1887-1966), a prime mover in the prewar and early postwar buraku liberation movements -- who would surely turn over in his grave if a book about him was too expensive for the wallets of independent pro bono researchers like yours truly.


Okiura Kazuteru   沖浦和光

沖浦和光 (著)

Okiura Kazuteru
"Burakushi" ronsō o yomitoku: Sengo shisō no nagare no naka de
[ Deciphering the "buraku history" dispute: In the flow of postwar thought ]
Osaka: Kaihō Shuppan Sha, 2000
328 pages, softcover

Okiura 2000 Jacket of Okiura Kazuteru's "Burakushi" ronsō o yomitoku, 2000
Deciphering the "buraku history" dispute: In the flow of postwar thought
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Okiura 2000

Not once does Okiura speak, himself, of "burakumin". The word appears only once, in reference to a book originally titled "Tokushu burakumin kaihō ron" and later titled "Hisabetsu buraku kaihō ron".

He speaks of "heimin" (commoners), "jinmin" (people), "dōshi" (comrades), and "minshū" (the masses), and of course "senmin" (base people) -- but not "burakumin". He talks of "buraku minshū" (buraku masses) [page 31] and "hisabetsu minshū" (discriminated masses) [page 1990].

Interestingly, he is notably "politically correct" in another area of interest to me -- suicide. He refers to the "jishi" (自死 autothanasia) of someone jailed during the 1920s (page 2). He also describes having encountered Dazai Osamu -- not actually meeting him, but passing him while walking in Hongo in XXX -- and then speaks of Dazai's "jishi" rather than "jisatsu" (自殺 suicide) or "shinju" (心中 "suicide pact" in this case) [page 68].

The expression "jishi" is defined as simply "jisatsu" (self-murder, suicide) in the 5th (1999) edition of Kojien. It did not appear in earlier editions. The word came into use during the 1990s as a sympathetic description of the death of someone who had killed themself under circumstances like overwork.

Okiura Kazumitsu, Momoyama University emeritus professor of comparative culture and history of social thought, has delimited four stages in the development in the postwar debate over buraku history.

Stage 1 -- 1950s, 1960s

Research on buraku history resumed immediately after the end of World War II in 1945 and focused on the history of "senmin". Based on the results of this research, which appeared in the 1950s and 1960s, historians imputed the origins of buraku discrimination to the extremes of status engendered by the dual tenno / senmin systems, which they had not been able to freely discuss before the end of war. [page 322] Influenced by the Marxism that led postwar social thought, the mainstream buraku research was based on a "materialistic" view of history. [page 323]

Stage 2 -- 1970s

The second stage of postwar buraku research pivoted on non-humans (hinin) in terms of "defilement / purity" (kegare / kiyome). Historians focused on changes in "the structure of senmin discrimination" (senmin sabetsu no kozo) that came during a period of major transition in "the control system of the state" (kokka no shihai taisei) from the latter half of the middle ages (chusei, i.e., between Heian and Tokugawa periods) to the start of the recent ages (kinsei, i.e., Tokugawa period). The debate most actively centered on geneologies of "The most active debate centered on the geneologies of "kawaramono" (people who lived on riverbanks), "kawaya" (leatherworkers generally, including butchers and tanners), and "kawata" ("kawaya" or sometimes more specifically people who disposed of the carcasses of cattle and horses). [page 322]

This stage, influenced by "the Annales School" (Anaaru gakuha, L'Ecole des Annales), which blew a fresh breeze into historical research, and by "structuralism" (kozoshugi) in cultural anthropology, has come to be seen as a "paradigm shift in historical perception" (rekishi ninshiki no paradaimu no tenkan). In other words, academia witnessed a shift from historical writing (rekishi kijutsu) which valued "the event history of the surface" (hyoso no jikenshi) to an historical awareness that treaded on "the deeper strata of spiritual history" (seishin rekishi no shinso). This stage witnessed a reevalution of the methods of the historical ethnology of Yanagita Kunio (1875-1962) and Origuchi Shinobu (1887-1953) and others, which had not until then been widely noticed. The mentality and creativity and collective memories of the masses (minshu), which [until then] had not been drawn up [from the well of human experience] by the unrefined class-history view [of Marxist scholars], were actively taken up as valuable raw materials of historical narrative. [page 324]

Stage 3 -- 1980s

Next came a variety of images of buraku history (burakushizo) from every locality, beginning with theories about the origin of discriminated buraku (hisabetsu buraku no kigenron). Research until then had centered on the early capital and nearby provinces (oto kingoku), the topics of most historical materials to date. But now materials from other regions were coming to light, and they stimulated comparison of the conditions of senmin sabetsu in every locality. [pages 322-323]

Stage 4 -- 1990s

This stage is not characterized by the appearance of a new approach. However, it can be said that, at this stage, the barren buraku origin debate dispute that has continued since the end of the 1970s, as to whether buraku originated in medievel [pre-Tokugawa] society, or in recent-age [Tokugawa] politics, has been practically resolved. Concerning the "noble and mean" and "pure and defiled" views at the root of discriminatory notions, more importance is being attached to [their] intellectual historical relationship (shisoshi-teki-na kanren) with the good/mean system (ryosen-sei) in China and the caste system (kasuto-sei) in India, and a number of new understandings (shin chiken) have been put out. That, in such a climate, the discussion centuring on "defilement and discrimination" (kegare to sabetsu) formed from a variety of vantage points including ethnology and cultural anthropology, is also a trait of this stage.


Yuko Okubo

Yuko Okubo
"Visible" minorities and "invisible" minorities: An ethnographic study of multicultural education and the production of ethnic "Others" in Japan
PhD dissertion, Department of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley, 2005
359 pages
UMI 3211466

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Okubo 2005



Ōsaka Dōwa Mondai Kigyō Renraku Kai (editor)   大阪同和問題企業連絡会 (編集)

大阪同和問題企業連絡会 (編集)
企業のなかから 証言―部落問題と向きあって

Ōsaka Dōwa Mondai Kigyō Renraku Kai (editor)
[The Osaka Dōwa Problem Enterprise Association]
Kigyō no naka kara / Shōgen: Buraku mondai to mukiatte
(Buraku mondai to mukiatte)
[Testimonies from inside enterprises:
Contronting the buraku problem]
Osaka: Kaihō Shuppansha, 1998
293 pages, softcover

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Osaka Dowa Mondai Kigyo Renraku Kai 1998

Ōsaka Dōwa Mondai Kigyō Renraku Kai (大阪同和問題企業連絡会) was founded in 1978 with the aim of resolving dōwa problems. In 2003 it was renamed Ōsaka Dōwa ·Jinken Mondai Kigyō Renraku Kai (大阪同和・人権問題企業連絡会). Both organizations have been called "Ōsaka Dōkiren" (大阪同企連) for short. ODKR claimed to have 143 member companies as of February 2013. By April 2017 it was reporting only 140 members, down from 144 in 1998.

According to the colophon of this book, the Osaka Dowa Problem Enterprise Liaison Association was formed with 52 member companies in February 1978 in response to the "Buraku place name list" (buraku chimei sokan) incident of 1975. By April 1998, the year this book was published, the organization claimed to have 144 members.

This was two fewer members than it had in June 1996, according to membership figures published by an umbrella group for such associations called the National Enterprise Liaison Association Grappling With the Dowa Problem (Dowa Mondai ni Torikumu Zenkoku Kigyo Renraku Kai). The liaison group boasted a total membership of 1,671 companies, with the following breakdown its eleven affiliated regional associations. I have rearranged the list according to standard north-south order of reporting regional statistics.

Saitama        56
Chiba          22
Tokyo         127
Aichi          24
Shiga         508
Kyoto          64
Osaka         146
Hyoga          46
Hiroshima     163
Kagawa         12
Fukuoka city  503

TOTAL        1671


Emily A. Su-Lan Reber

Emily A. Su-Lan Reber
"Buraku Mondai in Japan"
(Historical and Modern Perspectives and Directions for the Future)
Harvard Human Rights Journal
12, Spring 1999, pages 297-359

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Reber 1999



Juichi Suginohara

Juichi Suginohara
Today's Buraku Problem
(Feudalistic Status Discrimination in JAPAN)
Kyoto: The Institute of Buraku Problem, 2002
187 pages, softcover

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Suginohara 2002



Takagi Masayuki

高木 正幸

Takagi Masayuki
Dōwa mondai to dōwa dantai
[The dōwa problem and dōwa organizations]
Tokyo: Doyō Bijutsu Sha, 1986
236, 27 pages, softcover


Takagi Masayuki
Shin·Dōwa mondai to dōwa dantai
[ The dōwa problem and dōwa organizations ]
Tokyo: Doyō Bijutsu Sha, 1987
345 pages, softcover

Takagi 1987 Takagi 1987

Left Takagi Masayuki's Dōwa mondai to dōwa dantai (1986)
Right Expanded edition Shin Dōwa mondai to dōwa dantai (1987)
"The dōwa problem and dōwa organizations"
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Takagi 1986, 1987

The author, Takagi Masayuki (高木正幸 1930-1998), an Asahi Shinbun editor (henshū iin 編集委員), was well-known for his signed articles on social issues.

The back pages include a list of 324 dowa and related organizations

94 that relate with polities
3 that the state relates with (Kaido, Zenkairen, Zendokai)
91 that local polities relate relate with
(including 35 Kaido, 17 Zenkairen, 25 Zendokai, 14 others)

230 by the lead words in their name
67 zenkoku
61 nihon (25 zen nihon, 4 dai nihon, 30 nihon, 2 shin nihon)
33 dowa
30 regional
39 other names

Cover blurbs


Book of dōwa issue essential readings
What are dōwa? What is discrimination?

Clarifies dō issues from its point of origin
and considers present dōwa issue
actual conditions and countermeasures


Tamayo   タマヨ (Ōtsuki Tamayo 大槻珠代)

コメディ + LOVE:TAMAYO的差別の乗り越え方

Tamayo [Ōtsuki Tamayo]
Komedi + LOVE
(TAMAYO teki sabetsu no norikoekata)
[Comedy + Love (The Tamayo way to overcome discrimination)]
Tokyo: Kaiho Shuppan Sha, 1994
205 pages

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Tamayo 1994

Ōtsuki Tamayo (大槻珠代), stage name Tamayo (タマヨ), is a Japan-born and Japan-raised comedian who has been active mainly in the United States. She has also been an actress and dancer. As an actress she once went by Kitagawa Saori (北川さおり).

This book is an account of her life in America, 13 years after she ventured there to make a name for herself. She became moderably popular as a comedian who specialized in taboo-breaking black humor that targeted especially race and race relations.


Mitsuru Tanaka

Mitsuru Tanaka
Small Business of Buraku in Japan's Economy
(Industrial Economy and Human Rights)
Suita (Osaka): Kansai University Press, 2004
74 pages, softcover

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Tanaka 2004

This is a badly edited book that is sometimes practically incomprehensible. However, it addresses interesting topics like trends in small leather shoe manufacturers in Osaka in the 1990s, and impact of the 1995 Hanshin earthquake on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) -- the book's main subject.

Buraku-related SMEs have been at the center of buraku liberation politics for several decades now. Everyone agrees that small businesses and industries need to improve their capacity to compete if they, and the communities which depend on them, are to survive. The color of one's liberationist stripes is determined by whether one thinks buraku-related SMEs deserve special attention.

Doctrinaire leftists will argue that buraku, as communities, can survive only if "traditional" buraku industries, mainly those related to meat preparation and shoe making, are protected from "big capital" domestic and foreign. Laize-faire globalists will insist that the best strategy for survival is innovation of both infrastructure and ways that business is done in order to become competitively self-sufficient.

Since Tanaka's book will not be easily available to capitalist researchers, I will liberally liberate lines from the third and final part of his "Conclusion" from obscurity here (pages 35-38).


3. The Future of Buraku Industrial Measures

In discussing Buraku industries in relation to the problems of SMEs [small and medium enterprises], it should be reiterated that the survival and prosperity of SMEs truly depends on their own untiring efforts in harmony with drastic policies implemented by the state and local governments [34]. Problems that Buraku industries face should be viewed in the context of the industrial and economic structure of Japan, especially in the modern capitalist structure, and from the viewpoint they should be solved with correct decisions. The problems cannot simply be solved with financial assistance. The solution requires, amongst other things, education and training in the fields of business management and skill development since human resources hold the key to successful business operation. Needless to say, Japan's economic society is a competitive economic society that rests on capitalism.

Dowa measures, which had been carried out for 33 years, were terminated on March 31, 2002. It should be a moment for a new step forward rather than a termination of Dowa measures [35].

It must be underlined that Buraku industries have been excluded from competition and have been driven into a very disadvantageous position by the "reproductive structure of discrimination" that was shaped during the course of the progress of capitalism in Japan, but that they are now very important for new business development, such as in the fields of total fashion and biotechnology, in the 21st century. It is well explained by the fact that more companies from both inside and outside the country and Buraku are participating into these business fields. Therefore, regardless of the kinds of measures that are to be taken for these industries, they should not be simply protective.

In the first place, SMEs in general are placed in an unequal and disadvantageous position in comparison with monopolies and large enterprises. It is therefore necessary for the government to create measures to provide SMEs with education and strength so that effective and reasonable competition will be realized in economic society. Aggressive and comprehensive measures will naturally be more important for Buraku industries in the path towards the "elimination of discrimination" and complete liberation of Buraku.

To reach the ultimate goal of "total liberation of Buraku," it is essential to have a government that will govern the country under a genuine democracy on the basis of full national consensus and that will fulfil state responsibilities. For the people who constitute such a basis, it is also essential to understand Buraku liberation as a national challenge as well as a challenge for every person.

In short, by improving and reinforcing the past Dowa projects, each of those carried out under the "Law on Special Measures for Dowa Projects", substantial and universal foundations should be constructed as soon as possible, and more practical measures should be developed using them as a base. The problem cannot be solved with just a five-year-extension of the law, "regional improvement" measures, or general measures. It should be reinforced bit by bit while seeking feedback from the measures already implemented. Only in this way state responsibilities can be fulfilled and the national challenge tackled. Indeed, this is the reason why an immediate enactment of the "Fundamental Law for Buraku Liberation" has long been awaited.

As the problem ultimately constitutes a problem of human rights, we should understand that it does not simply remain as a socio-economic problem of Japan, but that it needs to be seen in a global perspective. In other words, for the genuine internationalization of the Japanese economic society, Japan should actively commit itself to human rights issues both inside and outside the country, such as the problem of "migrant workers rights", to fulfil its obligations as an industrialized country. For this, the state as well as people in Japan should begin with the tasks of the elimination of Buraku discrimination and the restoration of humanity.

In other words, if we are to ultimately aim at establishing a socially reasonable division of labour between SMEs and Large Enterprises (LEs) then we need to overcome the legitimatized and unreasonable exploitation of Buraku industries and their work force that have placed them at the bottom of the hierarchy of industrial structure. In order for SMEs to become a "vital majority" in a real sense, the old system that places SMEs at the bottom of the hierarchy should be changed, and a new system that will generate centripetal and cyclic effects and relationships should be constructed by placing SMEs in the centre. The time for this has now come. For this end, it will be important for SMEs to focus more of their efforts on business management and for the administration to implement measures to support them while creating a new role for them as a catalyst to give both sides constructive advice from an international viewpoint [36].

In other words -- support BLL's push for new "dowa measures" and a "special law" that together would firmly set buraku liberation in government concrete and reinforce it with fiscal iron.

Communists would argue that Tanaka's references to dowa measures and a buraku law are gratuitous, that everything he says about SMEs supports JCP's contention that dowa measures are no longer longer needed, and that any law which protects SMEs should cut across society. That is, an SME is an SME, and there is no need to single out buraku-related SMEs.

Capitalists with a socialist streak would allow SMEs that face severe competition from countries like China -- which enjoys the sort of labor-cost, exchange-rate, and scale-of-economy advantages that once characterized some hollowed or quickly hollowing industries in Japan -- a limited period of time with less administrative hand-holding to get their act in order or face the consequences.

Survival-of-the-fittest, red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalists would maintain that SMEs which can't adapt to the pressures of global competition should not be kept alive with government subsidies. Communities dependent on enterprises that die natural deaths will discover ways of renewing themselves, and be stronger for it.


Terazono Atsushi, Ichinomiya Yoshinari, Group K21 (editors)
寺園敦史、一ノ宮美成、グループK21 (編集)

222ページ、別冊宝島 Real 029、ムック

Terazono Atsushi, Ichinomiya Yoshinari, Group K21 (editors)
Dōwa riken no shinso
(Masu media ga mokusatsu shite kita, sengoshi saigo no tabuu!)
[ The true face of dōwa interests ]
[ (The last taboo of postwar history, which mass media has killed with silence <ignored>) ]
Tokyo: Takarajimasha, 1 April 2002
222 pages, Bessatsu Takarajima Real No. 29, mook, 16 articles
345 pages, Takarajima Bunko, August 2003

Terazono 2002-04 Terazono 2002-04

Front and back covers of Terazono Atsushi et al (editors), Dōwa riken no shinsō 1
"The last taboo of postwar history, which mass media has killed with silence"
Bessatsu Takarajima Real 029, 1 April 2002
Yosha Bunko scans

Ichinomiya 2003-03 Ichinomiya 2003-03

Front and back covers of Ichinomiya Yoshinari et al (editors), Dōwa riken no shinsō 2
"Chasing the alchemy of the "Buraku Liberation League" which Mafiaizes human rights"
Bessatsu Takarajima Real 044, 20 March 2003 (2nd printing, 1st printing 3 March 2003)
Yosha Bunko scans

Ichinomiya 2003-11 Ichinomiya 2003-11

Front and back covers of Ichinomiya Yoshinari et al (editors), Dōwa riken no shinsō 3
"The sins of television, newspapers, and intellectuals who have supported the vices of 'movement organizations'"
Bessatsu Takarajima Real 054, 24 November 2003
Yosha Bunko scans

Ichinomiya 2005-11 Ichinomiya 2005-11

Front and back covers of Ichinomiya Yoshinari et al (editors), Dōwa riken no shinsō 4
"'Invasion of human rights' incidents in liberation education and human rights education"
Bessatsu Takarajima Real 067, 27 November 2005
Yosha Bunko scans

Terazono et al 2002

This is the first in series of 4 publications that came out between 2002 and 2006, in both mook and bunko editions, some of them slightly revised in later printings (see below).

The major battles over what is "real" and "unreal" about buraku/dowa issues is being fought in bookstores, in the courts, and on the Wild Woolly Web.

Freelance writer Terazono Atsushi (寺園敦史 b1961) billed himself as a "dōwa administration observer" (dōwa gyōsei obuzaabaa 同和行政オブザーバー) on his Marido mail-magazine website. The main purpose of his campaign was to expose the realities of the buraku liberation movement and the administration of dōwa community improvement measures, which he contended had been, in many local polities, "conspicuously lacking in transparency". No. 1 came out on 21 Feburary 1999 and No. 136 was posted on 21 July 2005.

Terazono's webzine hit hard at dōwa "riken" (利権) or the "interests" that politicians, bureaucrats, small businesses, and even criminal syndicates have in supporting "buraku liberation movements" and facilitating dōwa entitlements. He brought to public attention, as only the Internet can do, numerous examples of the sort of concessions, abuse of privileges, pork barreling, malfeasance, tax evasion, and even fraud that result from the patronage and influence peddling which, at the time, appeared to be going on among those with "vested interests" in institutionalizing "buraku liberation" in Japanese society, rather than in liberating Japanese society from buraku politics.

Marid "Dōwa administration observer"

Terazono's webzine was offered for free distribution to registered subscribers as follows (my translation).

Marid 「マリード」は、フリーライター寺園敦史によるメールマガジンです。多くの自治体において、いまだ透明性に著しく欠ける同和行政と部落解放運動の実態をレポートしています。メールマガジン配信ご希望の方は配信登録のページより手続きしてください。購読料は不要です。

Madrid (マリード ) is a mail magazine by free-lance writer Terazono Atsushi. He reports the actual conditions of dōwa administration and the buraku liberation movement, which in many self-governing bodies [neighborhood associations and municipalities], still conspicuously lack transparency. Those who wish mail magazine distribution, please complete the procedures on the distribution registration page. No subscription fees are required,

Volumes 2, 3, and 4

Volumes 2, 3, and 4 of the Dōwa riken no shinsō series show Ichinomiya Yoshinari first among the three authors. I am representing these volumes as Ichinomiya et al 2003a, Ichinomiya et al 2003b, and Ichinomiya et al 2006.

Ichinomiya et al 2003-03

同和利権の真相 2
東京:宝島社、2003年3月20日 2刷 (2003年3月3日 1刷)
237ページ、別冊宝島 Real 044、ムック
349ページ、宝島社文庫、2003年8月 (2004年4月1日)

Ichinomiya Yoshinari, Group K21, Terazono Atsushi (editors)
Dōwa riken no shinsō 2
(Jinken Mafia-ka suru "Buraku Kaihō Dōomei" no renkinjutsu o ou!)
[ The true face of dōwa interests 2 ]
[ (Chasing the alchemy of the "Buraku Liberation League" which Mafiaizes human rights)" ]
("Invasion of human rights" incidents in
liberation education and human rights education)]
Tokyo: Takarajimasha, 20 March 2003 2nd printing (3 March 2003 1st printing)
237 pages, Bessatsu Takarajima Real No. 44, mook, 18 articles
349 pages, Takarajimasha Bunko, August 2003 (1 April 2004)

Ichinomiya et al 2003-11

同和利権の真相 3
255ページ、別冊宝島 Real 054、ムック
397ページ、宝島社文庫、2004年12月8日 (改訂版)

Ichinomiya Yoshinari, Group K21, Terazono Atsushi (editors)
Dowa riken no shinso 3
("Undo dantai" no aokutoku o saseta TV, shinbun, bunkajin no tsumi)
[ The true face of Dowa interests 3 ]
[ (The sins of television, newspapers, and intellectuals who have supported the vices of "movement organizations") ]
Tokyo: Takarajimasha, 24 November 2003
255 pages, Bessatsu Takarajima Real No. 54, mook, 18 articles
397 pages, Takarajimasha Bunko, 8 December 2004 (Revised edition)

Ichinomiya et al 2005

同和利権の真相 4
238ページ、別冊宝島 Real 067、ムック

Ichinomiya Yoshinari and Group K21 (editors)
Dōwa riken no shinsō 4
(Kaiho kyoiku & jinken kyōiku no "jinken shingai" jiken)
[ The true face of dōwa interests 4 ]
[ ("Invasion of human rights" incidents in
liberation education and human rights education) ]
Tokyo: Takarajimasha, 27 November 2005
238 pages, Bessatsu Takarajima Real No. 67, mook, 19 articles
317 pages, Takarajimasha Bunko, December 2006


Tsukada Takashi   塚田孝

東京:筑摩書房、2013年11月1日 第2刷 (2013年10月10日 第1刷)

Tsukada Takashi
Ōsaka no hinin: Kōjiki, Shitennōji, korobi kirishitan
[ Hinin of Osaka: Beggars, Shitenno Temple, fallen Christians ]
Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1 November 2013 2nd printing (10 October 2013 1st printing)
244 pages, paper cover, Chikuma Shinsho

Tsukada 2013 Jacket and obi of Tsukada Takashi, Osaka no hinin, 2013
Hinin of Osaka: Beggars, Shitennoji, fallen Christians
2nd printing (2013) of 1st edition (2013)
Yosha Bunko scan

Tsukada 2013


Uramoto Yoshifumi   浦本誉至史

東京:明石書店、2005年4月1日 第4刷 (2003年11月10日 第1刷)

Uramoto Yoshifumi
Edo·Tōkyō no hisabetsu buraku no rekishi: Danzaemon to hisabetsu minshū
[ History of discriminated buraku in Edo·Tokyo: Danzaemon and discriminated masses ]
Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, 1 April 2005 4th printing (10 November 2004 1st printing)
241 pages, hardcover

Uramoto 2003 Jacket of Uramoto Yoshifumi's Edo·Tōkyō no hisabetsu buraku no rekishi
History of discriminated buraku of Edo·Tokyo
4th printing (2005) of 1st edition (2003)
Yosha Bunko scan

Uramoto 2003


Yosha Bunko scan

Yokoyama 2005


Yokoyama Yuriko
Meiji ishin to kinsei mibunsei no kaitai
[The Meiji Restoration and the dismantling of the recent-era status system]
Tokyo: Yakakawa Shuppan Sha, November 2005
Yamakawa rekishi monografu
[Yamakawa history monograph]
352 pages, hardcover