During the last three decades, Japan has been one of the main destinations for Chinese migrants. The population of Chinese in Japan is growing rapidly. According to the Immigration Bureau statistics, the Chinese population in Japan had grown thirteen-fold since the 1980s, surpassing the Korean migrants in Japan. Despite the recent political turmoil between China and Japan, many Chinese tourists and migrants come to Japan. If this trend continues, there could be a prospect for improvement of the Sino-Japanese relations with non-traditional security aspects in spite of the political tensions. Through their economic interdependence, both nations can not only benefit financially, but also culturally, thus building multicultural coexistence.
Chinese migrants have the longest history of any migrant group in Japan, and their numbers are certainly remarkable (Chen 2008). The Chinese migrants have been present in Japan since the 1900s and played a significant role in the introduction of Western products by acting as intermediaries between Japan and the West. They served as translators for Western merchants and acted as agents for Japanese traders who were not accustomed to doing business with the Westerners. They also taught the Japanese how to manufacture Western products such as clothes, furniture and even Western-style houses. For instance, as the Yokohama settlement flourished and Western houses needed to be built, Chinese craftsmen who had experience building such dwellings in the foreign settlements in Hong Kong or Shanghai were engaged (Nishikawa 2002). The Chinese concentrated in trading, restaurants, barber shops and the clothing industry. Many of these migrants came to Japan through kinship networks and they were not welcomed by the Japanese society due to their lack of personal hygiene and opium addiction.
There were many push and pull factors that lead to migration from mainland China to Japan. In the Meiji Period, China was internally unstable due to Opium War, Chinese Revolution, and Boxer Rebellion. Japan, on the other hand, was economically modernized, and was experiencing political and job stability. Furthermore, Japan’s victory over Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War attributed to Chinese migration to Japan without a doubt. China’s defeat was seen as a decline of China’s hegemony and as a first Asian country to defeat Europe gave a sense of liberation and hope to defeat colonial powers to other countries. Japan gave other East Asian countries a desire for independent future, and an ideology of Pan-Asianism was created. These pull factors were subsequently appealing to the Chinese and formed a curiosity for them to learn more about Japan.
Prior to Japan’s colonization of Korea in 1910, the Chinese were the biggest foreign community in Japan. They were mainly students and many influential political and military leaders of China were once students in Japan. After Japan’s annexation of Korea, the migration flows between Japan...