Japanese Women Left Behind in China

  • Mayumi Itoh


There was a strange scene at Narita airport in September 1993. Twelve women who appeared to be Chinese flew in from Beijing but were “stranded” at Narita airport. The airport immigration control officers did not allow them to enter Japan, because they did not have valid visas and return tickets to China. They were among over 5,000 “Japanese women left behind in China” at the end of World War II. They put out a banner saying, “Prime Minister Hosokawa Morihiro, please help us.” They pleaded to him, “Please let us die in our homeland, instead of deporting us back to China.” The Ministry of Health identified those who were aged thirteen or more in 1945 as “women left behind in China,” and considered them to have remained in China of their own will. The Ministry did not help their repatriation when it began the search missions for the orphans’ kin in March 1981. The Ministry’s stance was that it owed them nothing, because they knew their identities and (contrary to the fact) they could have returned to Japan on their own if they had wanted. Thus the Japanese government kept ignoring these women. The Ministry allowed them to participate in the orphans’ search missions only in October 1986.1


Special Receiver Japanese Woman Foster Parent Japanese Government Chinese Family 
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  1. 9.
    Sakamoto Tatsuhiko, Tsumetai sokoku (Cold Homeland), Tokyo: Iwanami-shoten, 2003, 82–83.Google Scholar
  2. 10.
    Author interview with Kinoshita Takao, July 30, 2008; and Kinoshita Takao, Chügoku zanryü-koji mondai no ima o kangaeru (To Think about the Problem of Orphans Left Behind in China Today), Tokyo: Chōeisha, 2003, 40–41.Google Scholar

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© Mayumi Itoh 2010

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  • Mayumi Itoh

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