Movement Success and Its Unintended Consequences: Focusing on Japanese War Orphans' Litigation

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 17:00
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Hye Won UM, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA
This paper argues that although the success of Japanese war orphans’ movement has provided financially better living conditions for orphans and their families, it has also caused conflicts among various groups in different organizations and demotivation of orphans from further actions to improve their life in Japan. This paper also claims that political settlement between orphans and Japanese government not only made governmental responsibilities for the past war atrocities and the abandonment of Japanese nationals ambiguous but also left the orphans and their families invisible in Japanese society.

Since over 3,000 Japanese remaining in China after World War II has come back to Japan with their Chinese families from the 1970s, their lack of Japanese proficiency, cultural understanding, and socio-economic resources has brought about various troubles and conflicts among orphans, their supporters, and Japanese government. After several attempts to achieve financial supports from Japanese government failed, orphans and supporters took series of legal actions against Japanese government. These legal actions strengthened the integration of orphans and vitalized their political movement through mobilizing thousands of orphans, their families, and supporters in the protest rallies, remonstrating visits to both houses of National Diet, and other orphan-related events. However, legal actions also revealed different views and conflicts among various groups of orphans and supporters about their movement goals and methods.

To explain several unintended consequences of orphans’ movement, this paper critically examines political environments affecting orphans’ movement from the 1990s. By analyzing newspaper articles, government document, and academic publications, this paper also presents how different views among orphans, supporters, and government officials about orphans’ issues have been shaped and reshaped during the movement, and how these differences led movement participants to conflicts and cooperation during and after the movement.