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After empire comes home: economic experiences of Japanese civilian repatriates, 1945-1956

Nishizaki, Sumiyo (2016) After empire comes home: economic experiences of Japanese civilian repatriates, 1945-1956. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The economic impact of large influxes of population is a complex topic. This research contributes to this field by examining one of the most significant, but least researched, examples of postwar migration – the repatriation of more than six million (including three million civilians and demobilised soldiers each) to Japan after the Second World War. One pervasive image of Japanese civilian repatriates is that of the immigrant farmer of Manchuria who settled as a part of Japan’s Manchurian policies and had difficult repatriation experiences under the hostility of local people. However, many returned from other regions as well, including Korea and Sakhalin, and repatriates consisted of not only farmers but also colonial government officials, employees of public and private corporations, and small business owners, amongst others. This paper specifically focuses on civilian repatriates in selected prefectures (Ibaraki, Hiroshima, Kanagawa and Osaka) in 1956 and their occupational changes during the time of economic transition. Whilst it is evident that for many repatriates the postwar transition was not entirely smooth, the data presented in this research suggests that in contrast to prevailing notions, repatriates’ postwar resettlement was facilitated by a) employment in family farming and the tertiary sector, b) employment at government agencies or c) the transferability of repatriates’ skills in industry and retail and services. The information from the 1956 government survey into repatriates’ postwar lives shows that approximately 60 per cent of repatriates fell in these categories, while the other 40 per cent found employment in new areas or became unemployed. As a result, despite the scale of the repatriation, the settlement was broadly successful. It can be argued that this type of transition helped to bring political and economic stability, which became a foundation of Japan’s postwar growth.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Sumiyo Nishizaki
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Supervisor: Hunter, Janet

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