Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian HistoryMain MenuGet to Know the SiteGuided TourShow Me HowA click-by-click guide to using this siteModulesRead the seventeen spatial stories that make up Bodies and Structures 2.0Tag MapExplore conceptsComplete Grid VisualizationDiscover connectionsGeotagged MapFind materials by geographic locationLensesCreate your own visualizationsWhat We LearnedLearn how multivocal spatial history changed how we approach our researchAboutFind information about contributors and advisory board members, citing this site, image permissions and licensing, and site documentationTroubleshootingA guide to known issuesAcknowledgmentsThank youDavid Ambaras1337d6b66b25164b57abc529e56445d238145277Kate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5fThis project was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
"The Lives of Japanese Settlers in Manchuria"
12020-04-30T18:06:11-04:00Kate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5f352Newsreel depicting the idealized life of Japanese agrarian settlers in Manchuria, c. late 1930s.plain2020-09-24T18:53:01-04:00Manchuria (China)1931-1945Produced by: Manshū Kyōiku Eiga Kyōkai (製作：満州教育映画協会)Public domain.David R. AmbarasManchuria (China)--History--1931-1945.video/mpegDRA-0044Moving ImageKandra Polatis4decfc04157f6073c75cc53dcab9d25e87c02133
Kaneko's reportage added a new dimension to a larger postwar discourse on “left-behind” Japanese in China (Chūgoku zanryū hōjin), “left-behind women” (zanryū fujin) and “left-behind orphans” (zanryū koji) that has taken shape since the normalization of relations with the PRC. But this set of concerns is focused on Manchuria, and framed by the narrative of the collapse of the Japanese continental empire in the face of the Soviet onslaught and the abandonment of the Japanese civilian population by the Kwantung Army. The harrowing stories told of this moment focus on women who opted to marry local Chinese men as the most likely path to survival, or on families who in their desperation left their children to be raised by Chinese. These Japanese had been in northeastern China as part of the official imperialist project of settling Manchuria and incorporating it into the “total empire”; the women who married Chinese men had first gone to the continent under state auspices as farm village brides or as “war brides” for Imperial Army officers. The articulation of their condition as “left behind,” like that of children as “left-behind orphans,” implies a direct connection with the Japanese imperial state, and from the perspective of individuals and families, a direct claim on the postwar state to make them whole by acknowledging their full Japanese citizenship and facilitating their return and integration into Japanese society (Tamanoi 2006, Efird 2008, Araragi 2009, Itoh 2010).
The Japanese government has adopted a piecemeal approach that has guaranteed neither the freedom to return to Japan nor unconditional citizenship to those who do so. With regard to “left-behind women,” who are defined as females above the age of thirteen in 1945, the state has sought to deflect claims of responsibility by defining the women as old enough to have made independent decisions to remain in China after the war. It was only in 1994 that the Diet passed a Law Promoting Smooth Repatriation for Japanese Remaining in China and the Assistance for Self-Sufficiency Following their Permanent Repatriation. Yet as Robert Efird (2008) notes, this law did not clarify the specific policy measures required for its implementation and has thus remained largely symbolic. In recent years, war orphans and their advocates have initiated lawsuits demanding financial compensation for their abandonment and present insecurity. They have achieved some partial legal victories, but limited practical success.
Japanese who remained in Fuqing were largely excluded from this set of developments. As we have seen, the conditions of their migration to China, while certainly informed by the dynamics of Japanese imperialism, were not part of the imperial project; and their stories do not fit into the narrative of flight and trauma (even though they may have experienced these) that frames the Manchuria-centered discourse. While a few have been able to benefit from the 1994 law's provisions, on the whole their lives have remained largely forgotten in postwar Japan: they are again out of place.