Period of seclusion
Thus began, in the seventeenth century, Japan’s period of seclusion,
Background Information Japan
Official language: Japanese
Area (2011): 377,955 km²
Population (2011): 127,799,000*
Population density (2011): nationwide average of 343 inhabitants per km²; in Tokyo 6,016 inhabitants per km²
Population growth (2011): -1.6% (negative growth since 2005)
Foreign-born population (2011): 2,078,480 persons (1.63%)**
Labor force (7/2012): 62,770,000 persons; participation rate: 59.2% (men: 70.8%; women: 48.3%)
Unemployment rate (7/2012): 4.3%
Religions (2007): Shinto (105 million), Buddhist (89 million), Christian (2 million), other (9 million)***
Unless otherwise indicated, the data given relates to the 2012 Statistical Yearbook of the Japanese Interior Ministry (MIAC 2012).
*According to the last nationwide census, held on 1-10-2010, the total population amounted to 128,057,352 (MIAC 2011).
***U.S. Department of State 2010. Many Japanese reject exclusive allegiance to one religion; the total number of adherents of the above religions is therefore greater than the total population of Japan.
Period of opening up
The “opening up” of Japan was finally enforced by Matthew C. Perry, a Commodore in the U.S. Navy, who docked at the port of Edo, modern Tokyo.
As it continued to modernize, Japan became the destination of migrants from China and Korea. In 1917 the Chinese, who had hitherto been the largest minority in Japan, were overtaken by the Koreans – the result of the colonization of Korea in 1910 and the consequent relative freedom of travel between the two territories. In 1939 the Korean mobilization began and Japanese firms were given the right to engage Koreans as workers in Japan. From 1941 forced labor from the Chinese territories was recruited in a similar manner, approximately 42,000 persons in total. In 1938 the proportion of Koreans on the main Japanese islands already amounted to 1% (approx. 800,000 persons) and by the end of the war it had risen to 2%. At the end of the war 31,000 Chinese forced laborers were also living in Japan as well as 28,000 immigrants from Japan’s then colony of Taiwan. Today, Korean or Chinese immigrants and their descendants who have been resident in Japan since the war are referred in the literature as "old-comers".
Despite this immigration, in the first half of the twentieth century Japan was regarded as a country of emigration. Between 1885 and 1942 some 800,000 Japanese emigrated, chiefly for economic reasons. The United States and numerous countries in the Asia Pacific region were among the destination countries of this emigration. After the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1908, which restricted emigration to the USA from Asia, the countries of Latin America, especially Brazil and Peru, gained in popularity among Japanese emigrants. In the space of three decades some 190,000 Japanese emigrated to Brazil; by 1988, after further emigration had taken place and families had been raised, the Japanese community had grown to 1.2 million. Emigration to Manchuria and to the new colonial territories of Korea and Taiwan – at the end of the war there were about a million Japanese settlers living in the colonial territories – served political rather than economic interests, specifically the manifestation of newly created state boundaries through a policy of settlement.
In 1955 the number of foreigners registered as resident in Japan was 641,482 (0.71% of the total population), the majority of them being Koreans who had lost their colonial Japanese citizenship after the end of the war. The 1970s finally saw the beginnings of return migration to Japan from north-east China by second or third generation Japanese, representing a delayed wave of repatriation after the end of Japanese imperialism. At the same time three further streams of emigration to Japan by "newcomers" were getting under way. These comprised, firstly, female migration from Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines (many of these women were categorized as "entertainers" and worked in the sex industry), secondly – reflecting the internationalization of the Japanese economy – business people from the USA and the countries of western Europe, and thirdly, refugees from Indochina.