2013 年 58 巻 2 号 p. 39-55,140
The purpose of this article is to discuss the construction of the ethnic and legal category “Korean” in early postwar Japan. Taking the Imperial Ordinance of Alien Registration, issued in May 1947, the author focuses on how this first ordinance that regulated immigration control and alien registration in Japan was understood and enacted by the Japanese authorities, local governments, and so-called “Korean illegal entrants”, who were the targets of this imperial ordinance. Based on documental sources from General Headquarters Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, the Imperial Japanese Government, and local governments, the author points out the following two things. Firstly, the legal status of “Korean” in Japan was decided through negotiation and compromise between the US Government, the Occupation Forces and the Japanese Government. All three presupposed that Koreans, as “liberated peoples” in Japan, would and should be repatriated from Japan to Korea as soon as possible. Secondly, the instructions to the Japanese local governments indicate that the most important point in registering aliens was not to uncover “illegal entrants” but to find and reduce “ghost populations” stemming from double- or triple-registration for food rations. From the interviews with the former “illegal” migrants from Korea, the following can be pointed out: they made the best use of their knowledge and “common sense” to enable them to obtain their legal identity, the alien registration card, which defined them as “Korean”, thus also as “foreigners”. In fact, most of the “illegal” immigrants had lived in Mainland Japan for years before the liberation of Korea, and their migration history and knowledge of Japanese society enabled them to negotiate with Japanese authorities. With the collapse of the Japanese Empire, ethnic category such as “Japanese”, “Taiwanese” and “Korean” became an important factor that decided legal identities. Based on ordinary everyday ways of understanding, this decision was made through negotiations between each “Japanese” bureaucrat and “Korean” migrant, and influenced the migrant’s whole life and the legal status of “Korean” in Japan.