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Researcher sees lesson for today in tragedy of immigrants in Manchuria

20 Comments
By Takaki Tominaga

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Most of the former immigrants ...said they were unaware that the land and housing had been taken from locals...., 

Yeah, right. All they needed to do was read a Japanese newspaper at the time to realize they were receiving stolen goods.

Still, he said, many believed they deserved the property....

OK, now I get it. These people and their leaders don't deserve any sympathy.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Let's get one thing right - these were not immigrants. Immigrants have to be invited by the government of that country. They were, at the very least, illegal immigrants, and at worst, invaders.

There seems to be some parallels with the English invading Ireland and African countries like then-Rhodesia but I don't think the British government ever used germ warfare or biological weapons.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

It wasn't so much blind obedience to authority as it was a way out of poverty for many. It was like heading west during the 19th century or to California for Depression era farmers. Many of these emigrants were trying to find a better life in what was seen as a promising new frontier with wide tracts of land they could own.

But I have to say that for Kurimizawa to send villagers there as late as 1944 is either absolute stupidity or cruelty seeing that Japan was obviously at defeat's door.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

This may not be a totally accurate statement

but I don't think the British government ever used germ warfare or biological weapons

There has been some belief that the British used smallpox as a biological weapon to remove the aborigines in Australia after European settlement but this is not proven beyond the balance of probabilities, other theories are that smallpox came from the north, either way smallpox decimated Australian aboriginal populations during the European invasion of Australia.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Kurumizawa, who repeatedly said he wanted to "live right" in his diaries, which he kept from 18 until his death at the age of 42, sympathized with the idea of a "stable East Asia," the justification Japan's leaders gave for leading the country into war, Tezuka said.

The invasion of Asian countries to create a stable East Asia free of western imperialism was the mission. Many Japanese still believe this.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

But I have to say that for Kurimizawa to send villagers there as late as 1944 is either absolute stupidity or cruelty seeing that Japan was obviously at defeat's door.

The media was heavily censored at the time so it may have not been clear in rural Nagano, a tradegy all round. Japan was a poor agricultural nation at the time, a way out of poverty is attractive for any second son

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Good headline, this indeed is a lesson for all of us to consider. Back in the day Colonialism was a field of study - Japan as it turned out was a dollar short and a day late.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I think there are far better examples of lessons for TODAY'S situations than the example of Japan's military-backed and locally unwanted-colonization of a foreign land/foreign race for exploitation. Otherwise, you might not get the sympathy this author clearly intends to generate from their readers.

I am sure that while the Japanese themselves could certainly look on these "pioneers" as seeking to create a "stable Asia", the natives, whose lands, homes and lives they stole away in the process (as well as other natives around the world who also still smart from similarly concocted large scale takeovers), might use very different, and far less euphemistic, words to describe what Japan tried to force on China and the rest of Asia way back when...

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Still, he said, many believed they deserved the property as they had endured an agricultural slump back home and moved to the continent with dreams of starting anew.

Enduring an agricultural slump? Not unlike today. It’s called being pathetic at farming. Still doesn’t at any level justify moving on to someone else’s land in another country that they are probably buried on.

euphemistic indeed, a big word for avoidance of truth.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

3 things-

1) Great article. Goes against the grain and points out that Chinese people raised Japanese orphans.

2) Confirmation of conspiracy-

[ On Sept. 18, 1931, part of the South Manchuria Railway on the outskirts of Mukden, now Shenyang, was bombed, a conspiracy planned by the Kwantung Army of Japan, which was in charge of the defense of the railway.

Calling the bombing the work of Chinese forces, the Kwantung Army quickly seized control of Mukden in the name of self-defense, and in 1932, Manchukuo was created by the Japanese army with Pu Yi, the last Qing emperor, as its nominal ruler. ]

3) The Japanese government did a similar thing when it send scores to Hawaii in the late 19th c. -

[ Plantation owners first brought workers to Hawai‘i from China, but the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 inspired planters to seek out new sources of labor. They turned to Japan, where they recruited thousands with the promise of lucrative, short-term contracts. Between 1885 and 1894, an estimated twenty-nine thousand Japanese immigrants arrived to serve as contract workers on Hawaiian sugar plantations. By the turn of the century, they had become the largest ethnic group on the islands.

Upon arrival, any dreams of prosperity were immediately dispelled. Workers encountered unforeseen hardships, inhumane conditions, and deplorable wages. [3] They worked twelve-hour days for less than six cents an hour. Overcrowded barracks and poor diets led to surges in illness. Those who attempted to run away would be beaten and jailed for breaking their contracts. ]

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"It seemed like most of the farmland was already cultivated, and I was suspicious that it was forcibly expropriated (from locals)," he said, although he added that he did see some evidence of development work by Japanese immigrants in a few settlements.

What could have happened to those that had cultivated the land?

Where did this dude think he was for crying out loud!?!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan has no strategic vision in 1930s and World War2, the shear madness of widening Japan's Frontline in Asia continent and the Pacific brought herself to defeat! And Japan was unaware Josef Stalin's vengeance mania he sent the more than half a million Japanese to Siberia labour camps until after his death! If Stalin lived longer the imprisonment of Japanese will be longer!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Manchuria was not at Rajesh until the Russians snuck in after the war was ended. Viva la Japan

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

i've read somewhere that the farmers did not own the land they were farming in japan pre-war days and there was a substantial rent they had to pay which made life difficult... i believe it was the Americans who came in and changed this allowing farmers to own the land they cultivate... well done to Americans for this!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@ShinkansenCaboose

Russia did not "sneak in after the war was ended," Joseph Stalin agreed the Tehran Conference in November 1943, that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan once Germany was defeated. At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, Stalin agreed to Allied pleas to enter World War II in the Pacific Theater within three months of the end of the war in Europe.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I think there are far better examples of lessons for TODAY'S situations than the example of Japan's military-backed and locally unwanted-colonization of a foreign land/foreign race for exploitation. Otherwise, you might not get the sympathy this author clearly intends to generate from their readers.*

@HitoBito This is obviously a period of history that interests him that is why he wrote a book about it. Maybe you can write a book on the "far better examples of lessons for TODAY'S situations" (or at least mention what they are in your comment).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan portraying itself as a victim yet again?

Oh well... not really a surprise

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Jeff Lee : Hay Mr Privilege westerner in Japan before the war 90% of Japanese were low class illiterate Farmers. Few were educated and most could not read or write and a very good chance of not knowing any information about Japan history was only by mouth. Like these farmer would hear of the great success of the farmers who immigrated to Hokkaido in the 1900,s and taken a punt on their success decide to move to Manchuria. The major Majority of Japan are not like the elite 10% Jeff.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan portraying itself as a victim yet again?

Oh well... not really a surprise

Seems to me it's a recounting of how Japanese citizens were exploited and victimized by their government.

Also a personal tragedy of someone idealistic whose desire to help his constituents led instead to their disastrous misfortune.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ian

how Japanese citizens were exploited and victimized by their government

The only ones exploited and victimized in this case were the locals whom the Japanese govt deprived of their land and livelihood.

There are situations that allow for multiple interpretatons, but I don't think this is one of them

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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