Abandoned Japanese in Postwar Manchuria: The Lives of War Orphans and Wives in Two Countries, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Abandoned Japanese in Postwar Manchuria

The Lives of War Orphans and Wives in Two Countries, 1st Edition

By Yeeshan Chan


188 pages

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This book relates the experiences of the zanryu-hojin - the Japanese civilians, mostly women and children, who were abandoned in Manchuria after the end of the Second World War when Japan’s puppet state in Manchuria ended, and when most Japanese who has been based there returned to Japan. Many zanryu-hojin survived in Chinese peasant families, often as wives or adopted children; the Chinese government estimated that there were around 13,000 survivors in 1959, at the time when over 30,000 "missing" people were deleted from Japanese family registers as" war dead".

Since 1972 the zanryu-hojin have been gradually repatriated to Japan, often along with several generations of their extended Chinese families, the group in Japan now numbering around 100,000 people. Besides outlining the zanryu-hojin’s experiences, the book explores the related issues of war memories and war guilt which resurfaced during the 1980s, the more recent court case brought by zanryu-hojin against the Japanese government in which they accuse the Japanese government of abandoning them, and the impact on the towns in northeast China from which the zanryu-hojin were repatriated and which now benefit hugely from overseas remittances from their former residents. Overall, the book deepens our understanding of Japanese society and its anti-war social movements, besides providing vivid and colourful sketches of individuals’ worldviews, motivations, behaviours, strategies and difficulties.


"This is a superbly researched work about the lives and experiences of the Japanese women and children who were abandoned in Manchuria at the end of the Second World War… Yeeshan Chan is to be commended for having produced such a substantive and impressively researched work which makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the zanryu-hojin and the impact this community is having on the people of both nations." - Sean Curtin; Japan Society Review Issue 34

Table of Contents

1. Approaches to the Study of Zanryū-hōjin Part I: Structures 2. Historical Origins 3. Personhoods Formed in Rural China 4. Repatriation Since 1972 Part II: Families 5. Three Family Accounts 6. Family in Transition 7. Generational Tension & Personhood Developed in Japan Part III: Negotiation 8. Qiaoxiang Practices & Profiting from Kinship 9. Volunteerism & Activism 10. Conclusion: To What Extent They Have Transformed?

About the Author

Yeeshan Chan obtained her PhD from the University of Hong Kong and currently works as a freelance journalist. She has published investigative journalism under a different penname, Yeeshan Yang.

About the Series

Japan Anthropology Workshop Series

Editorial Board:
Pamela Asquith, University of Alberta
Eyal Ben Ari, Kinneret Academic College, Sea of Galilee, Israel

Hirochika Nakamaki, Suita City Museum, Japan
Christoph Brumann, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany

Henry Johnson, University of Otago, New Zealand

Founder Member of the Editorial Board:
Jan van Bremen, University of Leiden

Routledge is very proud to be publishing this important series, which has already signed up a good list of high quality books on interesting topics, and has a truly international range of authors and editors.

A key aim of the series is to present studies that offer a deep understanding of aspects of Japanese society and culture to offset the impression of constant change and frivolity that so tempts the mass media around the world.  Living in Japan brings anyone into contact with the fervent mood of change, and former residents from many other countries enjoy reading about their temporary home, but there is a demand also to penetrate less obvious elements of this temporary life.  Anthropologists specialise in digging beneath the surface, in peeling off and examining layers of cultural wrapping, and in gaining an understanding of language and communication that goes beyond formal presentation and informal frolicking.  This series will help to open the eyes of readers around the world from many backgrounds to the work of these diligent anthropologists researching the social life of Japan.

Submissions from prospective authors are welcomed, and enquiries should be sent in the first instance to the series editor Professor Joy Hendry ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Emigration & Immigration
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General