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Colonizing Manchuria : racial harmony and agricultural emigration in the Japanese empire McDowell, Kevin


From 1932 to 1945 the Japanese government sponsored agricultural emigration campaigns to Manchuria designed to restructure rural society in Japan and create enclaves of Japanese communities in the outlying regions of north Manchuria. The agricultural emigration movement fused agrarian ideology with the racial harmony concepts developed by colonial agencies in the region. The primary objective of the minzoku kyowa ideology was first to block Chinese nationalism and later to foster the creation of a 'national spirit' in the new state of Manchukuo. Agrarian activists and Kwantung Army officials collaborated in planning and organizing the emigration enterprise. For Nohonshugisha emigration was a solution to the economic and social malaise of the countryside, while the military was mainly concerned with placing the settlers along transport networks and on the border with the Soviet Union, thereby enlisting them as informal auxiliaries in combating Chinese resistance and guarding against Russian invasion. The emigration venture began in 1932 with a five-year trial emigration program and then grew into a plan to locate 1,000,000 Japanese farming households in Northeast China in a twenty-year period. As the scale expanded emigration to Manchuria, bolstered by propaganda, popular media, and a network of migration agencies that extended from the national government to local leaders, organizations, and schools, moved into the public consciousness. Colonists, ranging from young boys to families, were promised empty spaces, bountiful land, elevated social status, and a pioneering role in building a society rooted on racial harmony. Colonizing Manchuria, however, proved to be a difficult and disillusioning venture when propaganda images and minzoku kyowa gave way to the complexities of farming the Manchurian frontier.

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