"Left-behind" Japanese and Japanese government policies since the 1990s
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 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.