Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Postwar Movements

After the war, women and children who wished to return to Japan and had maintained their Japanese household registrations appear to have been able to transit fairly smoothly. However, one returnee from China in 1953 testified to a Diet committee that he had heard that there were “an extremely large number of Japanese beggars” in Fujian Province, including “many women who carry children on their backs as they walk from Chinese house to Chinese house receiving things.” The door to returns closed with the rupture in Sino-Japanese relations in 1958, but reopened briefly in 1973, when the government of Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei adopted a lenient approach to repatriations following the 1972 normalization of relations between Japan and the PRC. In the following years, the Japanese government appears to have provided funds to repatriate at least a handful of women and adopted children in Fuqing; but policies became more restrictive in the mid-1980s, in response to concerns about the rise in illegal labor migration, including by people from Fuqing posing as Vietnamese refugees. From the 1970s to the 1990s, Chinese residents of Yokohama reportedly helped some five hundred people from Fuqing and their Sino-Japanese families to return to Japan (or move there for the first time), but their efforts were constrained by the Japanese government’s insistence that the individuals provide documentary proof of their Japanese nationality.

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