Going to Manchuria: Imperial Japan, Migrant Workers, and the Mobilization of Tokyo | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


The emigration movement to Manchuria began in full scale with the establishment of Manchukuo in 1932, when approximately 300,000 Japanese people migrated to northeastern China to the end of the war. Recent scholarship on Manchuria has focused on non-state, non-elite actors, unlike postwar scholarship that centered its attention on national economic and political elites in order to critique the governing structures and their operation. Following this trend, this paper explores the settlers from Tokyo who were poor but dreamed about renewing their lives in Manchuria, thereby supporting the Japanese empire. Considering the sheer number of settlers who participated in the emigration movement, cases of Tokyo might not reflect largely on the national efforts. However, Tokyo occupied an indispensable place in the emigration campaign by modeling the patterns and structures that would form the national agenda. This paper examines why many people willingly supported the occupation of foreign land and analyzes the complex apparatus that structured and managed the mobilization operation without imposing a cohesive authoritarian regime. The paper concludes that what enabled such popular participation was a widespread culture of imperialism made evident in the action of the poor Japanese citizens who chose to become farmers in Manchuria.


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