Anti-Japanese sentiment and the responses of two Meiji intellectuals

Masako Gavin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


After the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), overpopulation and unemployment became pressing issues in Japan. Many intellectuals were concerned about the social and economic hardships caused by these "new" problems, and endeavoured to remedy them through emigration. Hawai'i and California became popular destinations for Japanese emigrants, both being on the Pacific Rim, with their warm climates and good job opportunities. However, when anti-Japanese sentiment arose in both Hawai'i and California in the 1910s, intellectuals such as Abe Isô (1865-1949) and Shiga Shigetaka (1863-1927) became deeply concerned about the rejection of Japanese living overseas. It is interesting to note that Abe's article, "Hainichi mondai to rôdô mondai" (Anti-Japanese Sentiment and Labour Issues), and Shiga's article, "Igi aru hainichi mondai kanwahô" (Effective Ways to Pacify Anti-Japanese Sentiment), were published at the same time in Rikugô zasshi (Universe). This essay examines Abe's response to anti-Japanese sentiment and directly compares it with that of Shiga. In this article, "Abe Isô to imin jinkô mondai" (Abe Isô's View on Emigration and the Population Crisis) (1993), Mamiya Kunio maintains that Abe advocated emigration as a solution to the population crisis at the turn of the twentieth century (from about 1897 to 1905). When anti-Japanese sentiment intensified in the 1920s, however, he began to advocate birth control as the answer to the problem. Mamiya also claims that Abe argued that the anti-Japanese backlash in Hawai'i and California was caused by cultural, religious and racial differences rather than the more "practical reasons" offered by the U.S. government. These differences were too sensitive a topic to be openly discussed by U.S. officials, hence they cited the labour issue and the immigrants' high birth rate as more acceptable reasons for the "antagonism". This essay outlines the views of Abe and Shiga regarding emigration and the social and historical background of emigration and anti-Japanese sentiment at the turn of the twentieth century. It then focuses on Abe's thoughts on anti-Japanese sentiment and his recommendations for easing the antagonism and compares these with the views of Shiga.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-36
Number of pages14
JournalEast Asia: an international quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2004


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