Bodies and Structures

"Rescue" and "Recovery" missions

Accounts of "abducted" women, by inciting outrage and appealing to male anxieties, prompted enhanced efforts to reassert patriarchal national control over both Japanese women – seen as weak and frivolous by nature as well as often by their lower-class position – and over Chinese migrants. They also aligned with efforts to establish control over Chinese territory. Much of the work of discovering these women fell on the shoulders of the consular police force, a key instrument of Japanese expansion in Korea and China whose modus operandi was to assert de facto territorial claims for Japan by moving beyond treaty ports and legally recognized concession jurisdictions in tandem with the movements of Japanese nationals. However, not only did Japanese imperialism itself exacerbate the problem that Japanese authorities sought to control, but official efforts to investigate or recover women from the Fujianese periphery also revealed certain limits on the capacity of the imperialist state to “penetrate” the Chinese interior, prior to 1937, in the face of unreliable collaboration from local authorities. 

This pathway focuses on consular police reports to investigate these dynamics. Mobilities are embodied differently, and produce different kinds of friction. These sources elucidate the frictions that police officers themselves experienced in their movements, as well as the fraught nature of their encounters with Japanese women in Fuqing, many of whom preferred (at least from what the reports indicate) to be left alone.  


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