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

Returns in the Late 1990s

Kondō Izumi, age 78, appears to have been the first person repatriated from Fuqing at state expense under the 1994 Law Promoting Smooth Repatriation for Japanese Remaining in China and the Assistance for Self-Sufficiency Following their Permanent Repatriation. Kondō had previously traveled to Japan at her own expense to seek assistance. She does not appear to have been in contact with Kaneko Takakazu's NGO.

Kaneko's NGO helped 92-year-old Yamakawa Tokumi to return to Japan and gain Japanese nationality. Yamakawa had embarked in 1938 from Kobe with her husband and his family on what she expected to be a temporary evacuation, only to wind up unable to return for six decades due to a lack of proof of Japanese nationality. Born into a desperately poor family, she had never been entered into a household register. A family court in Japan heard testimony from her relatives that she was in fact Japanese, and permitted her to be added to one of their registers.

Kaneko's group also helped 85-year-old Matsuikawa Tamako (Yang Yusong) to visit Japan and obtain Japanese nationality. The adopted daughter of a Chinese man, she was taken with her mother Kichi to Fuqing in the wake of 1923 Kantō earthquake. The family lived in extreme poverty. After her adoptive father died, she was sold into a marriage and her mother returned to Japan, and contact between the two ceased. She had never been entered into her mother’s household registration. (Kichi died in 1963.) According to Kaneko’s report, Kichi couldn’t stand life in China, and after her husband died, she sold Tamako and used the money for boat fare back to Japan. The 1934 consular police report, which listed Matsuikawa Kichi as among those "newly discovered" to be in Fuqing, provides a somewhat different account: Kichi had come to Fuqing in 1920 and had made two return trips to Japan in the years since; her husband was in Japan at the time of the report. She had three children, but had given away two (Tamako would have been 21 years old at this time; her status is not clear). Engaged in farming, she indicated that she had no intention of returning to Japan. But like Ogura Nobu and other women, she no doubt made tactical decisions based on changing circumstances.

In addition to women married to men in Fuqing, Kaneko's group also helped with the repatriation of four men who had been adopted as children and taken to China during the war. For powerful accounts of these experiences, see the memoir of Fujimoto/Chen Sōbi, and Chen Youxiong/Tomoo's account in Kaneko's reportage.

Tied as they are to the longer history of women's movements between Japan and Fuqing, these mobile stories must be situated within the larger context of Fuqingese/Fujianese/Chinese migration to Japan in the post-Mao Zedong reform era.

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