Remaining Japanese in Sakhalin and Post-war Japan:
Post-war History in the Japan-Soviet Borderland
Tokyo: Kokusai Shoin, 2019

 Remaining Japanese in Sakhalin as well as Remaining Japanese in China was recognized as a tragedy of war in post-war Japan, especially after the 1990s. This book discusses the remaining phenomenon not from the view of war but from the view of border shifting. It examines the influence of border shifting on borderland people.

In the first chapter, the author discusses the concepts and outcomes of migration studies, Japanese colonial studies, multiculturalism and border studies. This leads him to propose borderland history as a suitable theoretical framework. This is for four reasons. Firstly, conventional trans-regional studies have tended to discuss modern East Asian history using a mono-centric circle structure that places the Japanese empire at the center of modern East Asia. In contrast, borderland historical studies have attempted to discuss modern and contemporary East Asian history from the perspective of a poly-centric circle structure regarding the borderland as an arena of competing interests for empires. Secondly, the concept of “nation” has been (re)essentialized by conventional modern and contemporary East Asian historical studies. On the other hand, borderland historical studies have recognized the concept “nation” as one of individual qualities such as gender and class etc. Thirdly, borderland historical studies did not recognize the oppression of the state as a phenomenon derived only from colonialism and imperialism specific to capitalism but divided it into a structure specific to the modern nation-state and a structure universal to human societies. Fourthly, borderland historical studies discussed phenomena such as border shifting and migration/remaining which generated contradictions against the ideas of nation-state.

In the second chapter, the author examined border shifting in modern and contemporary East Asia, especially the regions under the Japanese Empire’s domination and pointed out that border shifting caused not only earlier inhabitants to be removed and new inhabitants to arrive but also the earlier inhabitants to remain in situ. This indicates that remaining was not a phenomenon specific to the Japan-Soviet war but was a universal phenomenon in modern and contemporary East Asia.

In the third chapter, the author analyses the earlier inhabitants removal from and remaining in Sakhalin, the new inhabitants migration to Sakhalin in the post war era and related social movements.

In the fourth chapter, the author provides an academic definition of “remaining Japanese in Sakhalin” and examines the total of 4,908 persons in thirteen kinds of lists related to remaining Japanese in Sakhalin. He also uses additional research conducted with the supporting organization for return of remaining Japanese in Sakhalin. The definition of a remaining Japanese in Sakhalin is an individual who: (1) lived in Sakhalin oblast as of July 23rd, 1949 or who had lived in the area but moved to another area in the USSR and; (2) one or both of the parents had legal registration in the main lands of the Japanese Empire or Karafuto, or is highly likely to have had. The author adopted three criteria for the birth year: (1) August 10th, 1945, (2) December 31st, 1946, (3) July 23rd, 1949. Based on this definition, the research indicates: (1) the number of remaining Japanese in Sakhalin was between 1,348 to 1,560 people; (2) the female proportion of the population was 66-71%; (3) there were two peaks of birth year, 1924-1929 and 1947-1948; (4) compared with other times, the female proportion was much higher in the first peak; (5) this indicated that the second peak was generated by children of female Japanese of the first peak married with male Koreans after the war; (6) almost 70 % of remaining Japanese in Sakhalin retuned to Japan in the cold-war era; (7) in the post cold-war era, the number of annual deceased surpassed the number of annual permanent returnees; and (8) it was possible to estimate that almost 70% of remaining Japanese in Sakhalin belonged to Korea-Japanese households and the remaining 30% were made to stay by the USSR because of one or more of the following – they had committed a crime, they held important technical skills, they had lost their identification cards or for another reason.

In the fifth chapter, the author examined the documents of Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and evaluated the cold-war return from Sakhalin (collective return from 1957 to 1959 and individual return from 1951 to 1976). He argues: (1) the cold-war collective return was a continuation of repatriation of Japanese interned in Siberia executed just after Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956. (2) The Japanese government had to prepare the ships for the collective returns and accepted returnees including Koreans without any idea of the total number of remaining Japanese in Sakhalin and the plan of the Soviet government. (3) The Soviet government attempted to avoid collective return because it might suggest to an international audience the responsibility of the USSR for remaining Japanese (the Soviet government changed the return style from collective return to individual return in 1959 unilaterally and rejected the proposal of collective return by the Japanese government in 1965 when mass returns were expected). (6) the cold war Japanese returnees did not organize any social movement for promoting the return of the remaining Japanese. However, some of the Koreans who returned to Japan with their Japanese wives organized “Karafuto Kikan Zainichi Kankokujin Kai (Association of Koreans in Japan returned from Sakhalin)” in Japan for promoting the return of the remaining Koreans in Sakhalin. The information collected through the Association indicated that almost 20% of remaining Koreans in Sakhalin had the intention to return not to the Republic of Korea but to Japan.

In the sixth chapter, the author examines the documents of the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the records of the National Diet of Japan, interviews of the persons concerned and the publications of the repatriate organization. He discusses the reason that the number of the cold war returnees of remaining Japanese in Sakhalin decreased rapidly after 1966 and no returnees appeared after 1977. The reasons are: (1) the existence of Koreans suspected of being illegal immigrants who formed relationships of convenience as Korean-Japanese couples and Koreans pretending to be Japanese was criticized in the National Diet of Japan and it caused a negative attitude of the Japanese government toward the cold war return of remaining Japanese in Sakhalin. (2) the origins of this issue were the difference of resident registration systems between Japan and USSR, and Korean-Japanese households dispersed in and after the Japan-Soviet war. (3) the petitions for return from Sakhalin in the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan were documents that remaining Japanese, their families in Japan, ministries of the Japanese government and autonomous associations in Japan made for submission to the authorities of USSR to permit return. (4) an examination of some letters from female remaining Japanese to their families in Japan revealed that they were afraid that their families would refuse to accept their return to Japan because of their Korean husbands. (5) the integrated organization for repatriates from Karafuto (Southern Sakhalin under the Japanese Empire), the All Japan Federation of Karafuto (Zenkoku Karafuto Renmei) had been concerned with remaining Japanese in Sakhalin. However, the organization’s attitude toward promoting return of remaining Japanese stalled because all of the former important persons interned in Siberia were sent back to Japan just after the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956 and they launched the social movement for the restoration of Karafuto around 1956. (6) the decline of return from Sakhalin after 1966 had three causes – a decrease of remaining Japanese who met the requirement for return, the negative attitude of the Japanese government toward return because of the social costs for the integration of children born after the war and for the integration of the Japanese women’s Korean husbands, and the intention of the USSR to avoid international concern for remaining Japanese as a humanitarian problem. (7) in addition to the above, the Umemura Hideko incident and Do Man-sang incident occurred in the middle of the 1970s and made remaining Japanese and Koreans recognize that expressing their will to return to Japan or Republic of Korea was dangerous. (8) an officer of the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Japan declared that remaining Japanese in Sakhalin in contact with the Japanese government were persons remaining in Sakhalin of their own will. This statement was influenced by descriptions in the reports of visits to Japanese graves in Sakhalin written by officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and information provided by the authorities of the USSR via the Embassy of Japan in the USSR.

In the seventh chapter, the author examines the documents of the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and interviews of remaining Japanese and considers the situation of remaining Japanese in the cold war era: (1) visits to Japanese graves in Sakhalin were realized after 1965. However, the purpose was a visit to Japanese graves and therefore the Japanese government did not plan any investigation on remaining Japanese nor reunion of dispersed Japanese families. (2) visits to Japanese graves in Sakhalin gave remaining Japanese important opportunities not only to meet mainland Japanese but also to exchange information about remaining Japanese unknown to each other. Moreover, the relationships built in that time led to the social movement for return in the post-cold war. (3) the Japanese government did not plan temporary return to Japan though they acknowledged that many remaining Japanese wished to do so. (5) opposition of Korean husbands or children, anxiety about the lives of and discrimination against Koreans in Japan, and the rejection of exit applications to the authorities of the USSR caused the continuation of remaining. (6) the process and motivation of the formation of Korean-Japanese households in the post war era had two aspects — love marriage and unwilling marriage — equally, the choice of returning/remaining had an assumption of extremely low permeability, therefore, there is a limitation to understand these issues from a viewpoint of antinomy.

In the eighth chapter, the author examines internal documents and newsletters of supporting organizations for returning from Sakhalin in the post-cold war era and evaluates the post-cold war return after 1990: (1) the rise of permeability between Sakhalin and Japan after the end of 1980s caused the increase in the number and kinds of visitors from Japan to Sakhalin, including many former Japanese residents, and some of them organized a social movement in Japan for promoting return from Sakhalin (Association for encouragement of return of Japanese in Sakhalin / Karafuto (Sakhalin) Dōhō Ichiji-Kikoku Sokushin no Kai). (2) this movement exploited the methods and human resources of the Movement for encouragement of return of Koreans in Sakhalin organized at the end of 1950s. (3) the realization of the first collective temporary return led to the creation of a private social group of remaining Japanese formed in the cold war era into “Association of Japanese (Hokkaidoan) in Sakhalin.” (4) initially the integrated organization of repatriates cooperated with the social movement for return. However, the integrated organization for repatriates from Karafuto (the All Japan Federation of Karafuto) did not have enough motivation to shoulder the whole of the social movement for return. The All Japan Federation of Karafuto was more concerned with the movement for the restoration of Karafuto. The Association for encouragement of return of Japanese in Sakhalin played the chief role in the social movement for return.

In the final chapter, the author compares remaining Japanese in Sakhalin with Japanese repatriates from Karafuto and remaining Koreans in Sakhalin. (1) repatriates did not claim their own right to return to Sakhalin but claimed the restoration of Karafuto, on the other hand, the permanent returns of Japanese and Koreans in the cold war era and the post-cold war era did not necessarily mean re-integration of dispersed families nor return to their ancestral land. They postponed life in their “homeland” to life in geographical “hometown” and both people lost “hometown” as a part of “homeland” through border shifting. (2) Remaining was generated by imperfect removal in re-borderization and continued by low permeability in trans-borderization with isolation from the previous spheres of livelihood. (3) Micro-level factors such as individual anxiety for life and intentions of dispersed families or present household members as well as macro-level factors such as low permeability resulting from international relationships were important causes of the continuation of remaining.