The exclusion of Chinese workers and the decline of their residential segregation during the early Showa era in and around Tokyo

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The purpose of this article is to clarify the process by which Chinese workers were excluded from the urban labor market and how Chinese residential segregation declined during the early Showa era in and around Tokyo, due to the government policies on foreigners, conditions of the urban labor market, and boycott movements against them. The data used in the analysis were gathered from the diplomatic record office of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The results of the study can be summarized as follows. The occupational structure of Chinese workers who had immigrated to Tokyo during the first half of the 1920s underwent a drastic change because of the outbreak of the Showa Crisis. At this time, the wage levels of Chinese workers employed in the construction and labor sectors fell, and some began working in various other fields such as the leather industry. After 1930, Japanese workers started boycott movements against them, and nearly half lost their jobs. Therefore, in late 1930, many unemployed Chinese had requested to return to their country and many did so with the assistance of the Japanese government. During the late 1920s, the Japanese government's deportation policies toward Chinese was also becoming stricter. In the early 1920s, the government had already adopted a policy of refusing new Chinese workers entry into the country and implementing employment controls on workers employed in the construction, labor, and manufacturing sectors. Beginning in 1926, the number of deportations increased rapidly, but the major targets of deportation were 'criminals,' such as thieves. However, beginning in 1929, the major targets of deportation escalated to include illegal gamblers, illegal immigrants, and illegal workers, and in 1930, the number of repatriates reached its zenith. Furthermore, in 1927 the targets of deportation tended to concentrate on jobless Chinese, but beginning in 1928, they tended to concentrate on workers employed in the construction and labor sectors, who competed with Japanese workers in the labor market. The decline of Chinese residential segregation was first caused by these government policies. Those policies excluded Chinese workers who had settled in the Sumida and Arakawa districts from the urban labor market and deprived them of job opportunities. As a result, Chinese workers were obliged to return, and Chinese residential segregation in Tokyo which began in the early 1920s disappeared.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)694-714
Number of pages21
JournalGeographical Review of Japan, Series A
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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