Subnationality and integration

The merging of exterior polities into the Interior

By William Wetherall

First posted 1 January 2007
Last updated 25 May 2011

Territory Fujii on "Territory" Nationality Zeballos on "Nationality" Subjection Affiliation
Subnations Racioethnic subnations Territorial subnations Ethnic polities
Govenment Delegated legislation 1918 Common Law Land Development Ministry Greater East Asia Ministry Home Affairs Ministry
Nationalization Prefecturization Interiorization Mizuno on "Interiorization" Alternative history Denationalization


Thought "territory" is thought of as geographical, in relation to states and other polities or political entities, it is also demographic. In other words, a "territory" includes its inhabitants and their sociopolitical organizations.


Fujii on "Territory"

Shinichi Fujii, in The Essentials of Japanese Constitutional Law (Tokyo: Yuhikaku, 1940), made this statement about "Territory" (376-379). I am showing here the entire chapter, which is only four pages, but is one of best summaries I can find, and ends with a vital remark about the application of Japanese laws to gained and lost territories -- published in the 2600th year of the founding of the realm.



The territory constitutes one essential element of the make up of a state, and is the sphere within which sovereignty is exercised as a matter of fact. The object of sovereignty is originally the subjects, but since these occupy a certain fixed area of territory, it may as well be said that the territory is the object of sovereignty. Sovereignty can acquire, cede, and lease territory, on one hand, while on the other it can divide it into parts and use them for the purposes of government and perform the act of directly governing the territory. Sovereignty is exercised all through the length and breadth of the entire territory, within which there is no other power superior or equal to it. Even foreigners, who come within the territory, must obey the sovereign power. The functions of sovereignty, performed over the territory as the object of government, are usually called territorial rights.

The territorial rights thus give full play to sovereignty within the territory, demanding obedience whether of man or of objects, with the exceptions of the sovereigns and presidents of foreign countries, ambassadors, ministers, armies, warships, etc. possessed of extra-territorial rights by virtue of international law. Territorial rights have thus a positive effect within the territory, while they have a negative effect of repulsing the inroads of foreign sovereign powers into the territory. Some places may seem to be under the sovereignty of more than two countries, such as, for instance, occupied areas in war times, leased territories, regions under consular jurisdiction, areas of an international nature, territories under mandate, areas under extra-territoriality, and protectorates, but, in reality, their territorial rights belong to a single country. The following reasons may be cited. First, in an occupied area, the sovereignty of the occupying country seems complete, indeed, but the fact of the matter is that the original sovereignty in the occupied area is temporarily suspended by force of arms. Secondly, in a leased territory, the lessee country indeed exercises sovereignty for a fixed period of time with the consent of the lesser country, but it is still the territory of the lesser country all the same, and no cession of territory for a fixed term as some international jurists say. The same interpretation holds with regard to regions under consular jurisdiction, areas under extra-territoriality, and areas of an international nature. Thirdly, as to the South Sea Islands, mandated to Japan under the League of Nations covenant, they are practically the territory of Japan in that the sovereignty of Japan is exercised there by mandate. Lastly, as to a protectorate, where the sovereignty exercised is not of a primitive nature, but is of the nature of a right granted by international treaties, the internal affairs are indeed subject to interference by the protector country, but even then such interference is based upon the recognition of the protected country, and therefore the latter must not be interpreted as having passed into the hands of the former. Loss of the whole of the territory means loss of the objective of sovereignty, which in turn means the downfall of the state; but the cession of a part of the territory does not lead to the downfall of the state, the size of the territory having nothing to do with the existence of the state.

The provision for the indivisibility of the territory in the constitutions of most European countries has its origin in this principle established by the royal house laws of those countries, for preventing the possible loss of royal dignity by partition of the territories, which were generally conceived to be private royal property in the Mediaeval Ages. In a country where the extent of the territory is fixed by the constitution, no part of it can be ceded to another country without altering the constitution, while in a country where it is determined by ordinary law, the same can be effected by means of a change in law. In Japan, where the supreme power of diplomacy appertains to the Tenno, any change in territorial extent is solely in the hands of the Tenno.

As to whether the laws become effective, as a matter of course, in a newly acquired territory, there are provisions of law. For instance, the enforcement of all laws or part of them in such new territories as Chosen [Note 1], Taiwan [Note 2], and Kabafuto [Note 3] was determined by Imperial Ordinances each time. When any part of a territory has been ceded, that part is no longer under the original sovereignty, and consequently the original jurisdiction becomes reduced by law. Then again, the laws that have been in force in that part alone become ineffective, because they lose the conditions necessary for their existence. A change in any part of a territory does not necessarily mean a change in the nationality of the people inhabiting it, and so it is necessary that a country which comes into possession of a new territory should decide whether or not to give its nationality to the people of that new territory.

[Note 1]  Law No. 30, March, the 44th year of Meiji (1911), "Rules for Enforcement of Laws in Chosen," Article IV.

[Note 2]  Law No. 3, the 10th year of Taisho (1921), "Rules for Enforcement of Laws in Taiwan," Article I.

[Note 3]  Law No. 25, the 40th year of Meiji (1907).

Chosen   Fujii speaks precisely of "Chōsen" rather than "Korea" as the entity which was then a part of Japan.

Kabafuto   Fujii less precisely refers to "Karafuto" as "Kabafuto". See Karafuto: The road to prefecturehood for an overview of the etymology of "Karafuto" and early Meiji premonitions that the characters Š’‘¾ would be misread as "Kabafuto".

Fujii discusses nationality in general, and in relation to Japan's 1899 Nationality Law in particular, in Part IV (The Object of Government), Chapter XII (The Subjection and the Nation).

In "The Nature of the Subject and the Nation" (Section 1, pages 155-156) he observes that "the people" are collectively "a nation in their relation to the state" and that their status as a member of such a nation is called "nationality". In relation to a sovereign, such as exists in a monarchy, the people are called "subjects". In a republic, where no sovereign exists, the people are called simply "the people" (page 155).

In "Nationality" (Section II, pages 156-160), he gives a rather detailed overview of the 1899 Nationality Law. However, he does not elaborate on nationality administration in Taiwan, Karafuto, or Chōsen.





Zeballos on "Nationality"


Let us begin with a list of "nationality principles" set forth about the time Japan annexed Korea as Chōsen, by Estanislao Severo Zeballos, an internationally acclaimed legalist and stateman, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Argentina at times during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The following list is from Seckler-Hudson 1934 (Appendix A, page 273).


1. Nationality is a self-determined right.
2. Every person should have a nationality.
3. No person should have more than one nationality.
4. Every person has the right to change his or her nationality.
5. The state has not the right to prevent persons from changing their nationality.
6. The state has not the right to oblige persons to change their nationality against their will.
7. Every person has the right to reacquire the nationality he or she gave up.
8. The state may not impose its nationality on those domiciled in its territory against their will.
9. Nationality, either by birth or acquisition, determines the application to persons of public and private law.
10. The state is obliged to determine as to public and private law the condition of persons that are without nationality -- heimatlos.

Translated from La Nationalité, Tome Premier, Paris (1914, pp. 233-234.

Heimatlos -- without a home

What, then, does a state do with people who have no nationality? Several of the principles stipulated by Zeballos, who was also a publicist for various causes, compete with -- even contract -- each other. Some of the more salient conflicts are these.

1. Nationality cannot be a "self-determined" right to the extent that sovereign states have the right to determine the rules by which they provide for the gain and loss of their nationality.

2. If everyone should have a nationality, then a state should have the right to impose its nationality on a stateless person who is unable to acquire -- or refuses to acquire -- another state's nationality.

8. If everyone should have a nationality, and if persons domiciled in a state's territory have no nationality, then the state should have the right to impose its nationality on those who are unable, or unwilling, to acquire another state's nationality.

10. If everyone should have a nationality, and if a state is obliged to determine the conditions of stateless persons within its jurisdiction, then the state should be able to impose its nationality on such persons who are unable, or unwilling, to obtain another state's nationality.




Subjection and affiliation with or without consent




Subjection and affiliation with or without consent
Nested affiliation

Japan's state nationality derives from nested municipal and prefectural affiliations that give Japanese nationality a quality that I call "territoriality". Nationality -- national territoriality -- derives mainly from municipality -- municipal territoriality -- i.e., affiliation with a village, town, city, or other local entity or local polity -- through the mediation of prefecturality -- prefectural territoriality -- i.e., affiliation with the territory that has jurisdiction over the municipality.

Local -- municipal -- affiliation is primary. People with legal status in Japan have principle registers and residence registers. Japanese by definition have principle registers in Japan. Aliens by definition do not have principle registers in Japan. However, Japanese, and aliens who are legal residents of Japan, have residence registers in Japan.

A Japanese national may have a principle register in one municipality in one prefecture, but legally reside in another municipality in the same or another prefecture. The person's Japanese nationality derives from the locality of the person's principle register, not the locality of the residence register.

Japanese nationality derives from local territorial affiliations. If Abiko city has jurisdiction over one's principle register, and if Abiko city is part of Chiba prefecture, and if Chiba prefecture is part of Japan's sovereign dominion, then one is an affiliate of the nation (kokumin) of Japan, and therefore possesses the nationality (kokuseki) of Japan. The foundation of one's status as a Japanese national is possession of a principle register in Abiko city. Nationality derives through the fact that Abiko city is incorporated within a prefecture that is incorporated within Japan.

Locality of principle registration and locality of residence registration may be different. The former is the locality of one's principle register -- which is taken as the basis for national affiliation. The latter is the locality where one is registered as a resident -- which is taken as the basis for suffrage, taxes, and other such rights and duties of local, prefectural, and national affiliation.

Japan, when an empire, expanded its national dominion to include, in addition to the prefectural territory, the territories of Taiwan, Karafuto, and Korea as Chōsen. These three territories came with pre-existing administrative legal systems, which were different from the prefectural system as well as from each other. Consequently, the sovereign dominion of the Empire of Japan at one point consisted of four different legal entities -- the Interior (prefectures), Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen.

Japan's nationality -- the demographic territory (nation) associated with its sovereign geographic territory (dominion) -- extended to all individuals in population registers affiliated with the four legal subnations. Consequently, Interiorites, Taiwanese, Karafutoans, and Chosenese were one and all subjects and nationals of Japan.

If one was a member of a family register in the prefectures, then one was Japanese on account of one's affiliation with an Interior (prefectural) municipality. If one was a member of a register in Taiwan, Karafuto, or Chōsen, then one was Japanese on account of one's affiliation with a municipality in Taiwan, Karafuto, or Chōsen.

Family registers are territorial

Family registers are themselves territorial because they are primarily affiliated with cities, towns, or villages, which in turn are affiliated with prefectures or provinces, which in turn are affiliated with a national (including subnational) entity (polity). Japanese nationality derives from the affiliation of the register with a municipality that is part of Japan's sovereign dominion.

Nationality is acquired or lost according to (1) whether a register is affiliated with Japan, and (2) whether a person is qualified to be a member of a register affiliated with Japan. Acquisition or loss of nationality can be caused by either (1) change of a register's national affiliation, or (2) change of an individual's affiliation with a national register.

These principles apply not only to changes of national affiliation, but also local polity affiliation. When municipalities merge, registers merge. When prefectures merged, divided, or adjusted their borders -- as many did during the early years of the Meiji period -- local affiliations changed.

Were Chiba and Ibaraki prefectures to agree that Nagareyama should be part of Ibaraki rather than Chiba, then Nagareyama's prefectural affiliation would change. If Japan were to cede Tsushima (or all of Fukuoka prefecture) to the Republic of Korea, then Tsushima's registers (or all Fukuoka registers) would also be ceded -- and Japanese affiliated with Tsushima (or other parts of Fukuoka) would become ROK nationals -- unless other stipulations were made in the cession treaty.

In other words, population registers are tied to the local polities, and the local polities are legally nested within larger territorial polities. Every register under the legal control and jurisdiction of a local polity is part of the polity's demographic territory.

Family registers remain "quasi" corporate entities

Families in Japan were defined as "ie" or "corporate families" in the 1898 Civil Code. While the 1948 Civil Code did away with the "ie" system, family continued to be "corporate entities" to the extent that they formally define the family relationships that determine the operation of other laws, mostly in the Civil Code. Many rights and duties are defined according the status relationship of one person to another person -- including spousal and parent-child relationships as defined by family registers.

Changes in Japan's family laws after World War II took most of the corporate starch out of families. Though no longer "ie" entities under Japanese statutes, families formally defined by registers continue to be "quasi ie" in the sense that they differ both from less-formally defined common-law "families" and from "families" as privately perceived with no regard for legal definition.

Though everyone has an individual register, registers grouped together by legal spousal or legal parental status relationships must share the same "family name". Consquently, a marriage is recognized only when a couple are recorded as husband and wife in a common register. This means that, when a couple marry, unless they already happen to be in the same register (improbable but not impossible), one must move into the other's register -- or they must establish a new register for themselves (which was not so easily done before 1948).

Children born to married parents will be recorded in the same register as their parents, and will therefore share their common family name. Married parents will share parental rights, but divorce will result in one parent losing parental rights to one or all children. Acquisition and loss spousal or parent-child relationships will affect the operation of other laws, including succession (inheritance) laws.

Corporate families and territorial affiliation

Japan's family registration system evolved during the earlier decades of the Meiji period, within the new prefectural nation, in line with emerging standards which had regionally varied before the Meiji period. Prefectural registration and family law standards were introduced into all new territories that Japan incorporated into its expanding sovereign dominion -- from Hokkaido, Ryukyu (Okinawa), and the Ogasawaras -- to Taiwan, Karafuto, and Korea (Chōsen).

Hokkaido and Ryukyu were quickly nationalized as prefectures, though as such they were administered somewhat differently than other prefectures. Ogasawara was incorporated into Tokyo prefecture.

Karafuto, which had partly been under Japanese control before the Meiji period, was not heavily populated, and was more easily nationalized along the lines of Hokkaido, particularly with reference to Ainu registers and development by migrant settlers. By the 1920s, while still separately administered, Karafuto was being treated essentially like a prefecture, and in 1943 it was incorporated into the Interior as a prefecture.

Taiwan and Chōsen not only came with relatively large populations, but with complex legal and administrative systems. Both territories were placed under the administration of a Government-General, headed by a Governor-General whose authority exceeded that of a prefectural governor in the Interior.

The government in Tokyo quickly extended parts of key Interior (prefectural) laws, including parts of the Family Registration Law and Civil Code, to both Taiwan and Chōsen, but in different ways, to accommodate their local differences. Over the years, both territories were increasing Japanized, and both were injected with larger doses of Interior laws that brought their legal systems closer to that of the Interior.

Family law, particularly as it effected family registers, was given high priority, to accommodate assimilation and mobility within the sovereign empire. By the early 1920s, the registration systems in both Taiwan and Chōsen were sufficienty compatible with that of the Interior, and with each other, that marriages and adoptions between affiliates of the different territories could be accommodated in much as they would have been within the interior.

Marrying, or being adopted, into another family within the Interior, Taiwan, or Chōsen usually in changing family, hence register affiliation. If the other family was in another municipality, then marriage or adoption also resulted in change of municipal affiliation. If the new municipality was in another prefecture or province, then prefectural or provincial affiliation also changed.

By the early 1920s, the registration systems in the Interior, Taiwan, and Chōsen were sufficiently compatible to permit changes of subnational (territorial, regional) affiliation as well. Not only did race or ethnicity not matter, but they were never defined in law. All that mattered was the nature of the status action -- a marriage or adoption alliance, a divorce or dissolution of such, an acknowledgment of a child.

Conflicts of domestic laws

Family law within the subnations still differred in accordance with local customs of marriage, adoption, and naming. It was one thing to permit status actions between individuals with registers in different subnations, and another thing to determine which subnation's local laws should apply.

The Common Law of 1918 faciliated the determination of the "applicable law" in cases of conflict between the subnational laws -- just as the 1898 Rules of Laws determined applicable laws in private interenational matters. Such "laws of laws" are essential in facilitating legal matters between different legal systems.

Conflicts could arise between municipalities or prefectures within a subnational territory, between subnational territories within Japan, and between Japan and other states -- regarding all manner of legal actions. Since Interior polities shared the same family and registration standards, conflicts arose only in status actions involving people affiliated with different subnations or nations.

What happened when a Chosenese man married an Interiorite woman? She usually migrated to his Chōsen register and became Chosenese. But he, if qualified as an "incoming husband", might enter her Interior register and become an Interiorite. Both, however, were Japanese, hence their nationality didn't change.

But until Chōsen laws accommodated the Interior "incoming husband" practice, say, an Interior man could not be adopted into a Chōsen register as a husband. Chōsen family practices were also much more restrictive regarding who could marry whom. Chosenese customs forbid marriages between a man and woman of the same surname clan -- whereas Interior laws probibited marriages between lineal relatives and between colateral relatives within the third degree of blood relationship -- which meant that even first-cousin could marry.

Also under Interior laws all members of the same register would bear the same family name, and family names would change with marriage and adoption. Whereas under Chōsen laws, natal names would not change, meaning that a husband and wife would be known by different surnames -- meaning that the same family could consist of people with two or more surnames.

Under Interior laws families were regarded as corporate entities. While households in need of an heir might adopt someone from within the extended family, blood ties didn't matter in the legal definition of the family. A childless family could adopt a boy or even an adult man unrelated to the family, and he could marry a woman unrelated to the family, and the family would continue to exist as an entity despite the fact that its successors might have no biological ties with past generations.

A Chōsen household would be very reluctant to adopt a male heir other than a closely related relative from the head of household's surname clan -- a younger brother, a cousin, a nephew.

The introduction of Interior family law in Chōsen was welcome by some but resisted by many. Most resistance came at the final stage of Interiorization, when the standard of one family name per household register was imposed on Chōsen registers.

A head of household could designate the name that would become the legal family name of all members of the household. If he didn't designate such a name, his surname would become the common family name.

The register would continue to slow each member's clan surnames. And Chosenese would be free to go by these surnames socially and consider their implications when arranging marriages. But all members of the same register were expected to use the same new family name in the conduct of their legal affairs -- including marriage. One spouse's family name would change to that of the other when marrying, and their children would also bear this name.

Nationality gain and loss as a status act

Since changes of nationality also reflected family law, many of the provisions in the 1899 Nationality Law dovetailed with provisions for register migration in domestic law. Gender rules, however, were more restrictive in nationality migrations than in domestic register migrations.

A marriage between two Japanese did not effect their nationality sttus. One spouse had to migrate to the other's register, but since both registers were affiliated with Japan, whether the wife moved to the husband's register, or vice versa, neither spouse's nationality status would be effected.

A Japanese woman who married an alien male would typically gain his nationality under his country's nationality law, and thereby lose her Japanese nationality under Japan's nationality law. Her loss of nationality would be effected by her migration out of a Japanese register. A foreign husband might, under some circumstances, qualify for migration into his Japanese wife's family register as an "incoming husband" -- and thereby become Japanese. The principle was the same as that which applied to a Japanese man who entered a Japanese woman's register as an "incoming husband" -- otherwise known as an "adopted husband".

The existence of a person who is to some extent legally affiliated with Japan is based on municipal registration. Japanese are registered in family registers. Non-Japanese permitted to be in the country for sixty or more days are registered in alien registers. Unregistered people have no status.

Any change in register status -- whether through birth, death, marriage, divorce, adoption, or other event -- is called a "status act" (g•ªsˆ× mibun koi) in Japanese law. A person's legal status begins -- and ends -- with registration.

Filing a notification of birth for a child born in Japan facilitates its gaining status, either as a Japanese or alien. An unregistered child not only has no nationality but is not even stateless, for statelessness is a status acquired by registration as an alien with no nationality.

Filing a notification of death for a person voids the person's legal status under Japanese law. Just as failure to file a notification of birth means that a child does not gain status, failure to file a notification of death means that a person is presumed to be living.

One is Japanese only if registered in a Japanese family register.

All marriage ceremonies and honeymoons in the world do not result in the status of "marriage" until a notification of marriage is filed -- and marriage notifications require neither a license or ceremony. Ditto for divorce.

Japan's Nationality Law provisions nationality at birth primarily through parental ties with a Japanese nationality -- meaning someone who has a family register in Japan. Nationality is not actually acquired until a notification of birth has been filed in a timely manner -- usually within two weeks of birth -- and the child is registered in the Japanese parent or parents' family register.

The municipality with jurisdiction over the register has the authority to accept or reject a notification of birth. Only a court of law, or a ministerial action based on law, can compell a municipality to effect a status act it would not otherwise have effected.

Soga Hiromi and her mother lost their status in Japan when, after they went missing and failed to be found after many years, were presumed to be deceased. Their family petitioned a family court to permit the local registrar to accept notifications of death, then had their names chiseled on the family grave.

When Hiromi showed up in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, she had no status in Japan. She was no longer a Japanese national. The family had to petition the court to reverse its ruling, which authorized the registrar to restore her to life in the Soga family register. Only then could a passport be made for her.

Since Soga had not left Japan volunatarily, she was not subject to charges of illegal exit. Her involuntary presence in DPRK also exempted her from the need to register the births of her daughters within a specified period of time to retain their presumtive right to Japanese nationality.

The notification, which amounts to a birth certificate, includes the particulars of birth, usually provided that the physician who attended the birth, and accompanied by the physician's signature. The notification also includes the name or names of the parent or parents and their "honseki" or "principal register" addresses, which amount to statements of nationality.



Subnationality, as an actual or virtual legal status, is best understood as a nationality within a nationality. Such nationality can be territorial or racioethnic.

Subnationality in the Empire of Japan was territorial. Subnationality in the United States and the People's Republic of China today is racioethnic.

Belgium defines what I would call "ethnic polities" within its national polity, rather than subnations within its nationality. The "ethnic" qualify of a polity is defined mainly by language.


Racioethnic subnations

Most states in the world do not have racioethnic subnations. Two of several which do are the United States of America and the People's Republic of China. Belgium presents an example of "language-community" status that falls short of racioethnic subnationaliztion.

United States of America

The United States is "one Nation under God, indivisible" only in terms of its overarching federal nationality, which both American "citizens" and American "nationals" possess. "E Pluribus Unum" -- of many, one -- is another characterization of the federal nation as a singular entity composed of diverse members.

The United States legally racializes people, and treats people differently according to their putative race, in two ways -- one of which results in formal subnationalization, which the other encourages quasi subnationalization.

Recognized Native Ameican tribes

The United States recognizes several hundred Native American nations as semi-sovereign entities within the federal republic. Members of recognized tribes is based on ability to prove possession of a certain quantum of Native American blood by descent.

In other words, legal affiliation with any recognized tribe requires being able to prove significant biological ancestry to a racially defined Native American population. Members of a specific tribe have rights and duties that derive from their affiliation with the tribe, and from treaties and other agreements between their tribal government and the federal government.

Some states extend various forms of recognition to tribes that are not recognized as nations by the federal government. Some of these state-recognized tribes represent semi-sovereign polities within the state polities, but because they are not recognized by the federal government, they are not subnations of the United States.

Effects of "race boxes"

In addition to formal racioethnic subnations in the form of recognized tribes, the United States defines quasi "racioethnic subnations" to the extent that formal racioethnic categories affect public policy.

Racioethnic classifications, of the kind used in race boxes on federal or state documents, generally represent first-person self-identifications (application forms), but sometimes result from third-party ascriptions (death certificates). In principle no one is legally required to respond to "race boxes" on, say, census or school admission forms. However, racioethnic classifications and related social policies, while falling short of racioethnic subnationalization, encourage people to think of themselves and others as "members" of quasi racioethnic subnations, which may have different entitlements.

Official recognition of a racioethnic classification -- African American, Asian, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, White, whatever -- does not qualify the putative "group" or "community" as a subnational entity within the federal republic. However, collective identity with such a subpopulation encourages some "members" to embrace ethnonationalist dreams of separation and sovereignty.

The belief that such racioethnic cohorts exist as "groups" or "communities" is strongly encouraged by race boxes. Though they have no standing as racioethnic subnations, they exist to the extent that people expect to be treated as though they were members of such entities -- as in racioethnic apportioning of school board seats, school admissions, and other such "affirmative action" policies based on race-box demographics.

Responding to a query about racioethnic identity on a national census or other form is entirely voluntary. However, with or without an individual's consent, an individual's putative race or ethnicity may effect how the individual is treated by a public or private organization, under laws and regulations that allow the organization to treat people differently according to their putative race.

I am speaking of racist measures like affirmative action in employment and college admissions, which empower employers and admissions officers to racialize applicants and discriminate accordingly.

People's Republic of China

The People's Republic of China constitutionally defines itself as a "unitary multi-national state". This means, in more accurate translation, "unitary multi-ethnonational state".

PRC subdivides its single state nationality into a few dozen "minority nationalities" in addition to the majority Han ethnic nation and unclassified others. All PRC nationals are "Chinese" regardless of their ethnonationality. In addition, every Chinese who can be classified in a category other than "Han" or "other" is affiliated with a minority ethnonational entity, whose members are entitled to participate in its government, among other rights and duties that attend membership.


Territorial subnations

The subnations that made up the Empire of Japan began as territories that were added to the original territories of Japan through various kinds of treaties. All new territories came with inhabitants and their societies. Particularly in the case of Taiwan and Chōsen (as Korea was renamed when annexed), the territories were entirely different with respect to the dominant languages, customs, and legal systems.

However, at no point in the Japanesse administration of its various subnations were "blood by descent" or other such "blood quantum" criteria used for being an affiliate of the subnation, or a national of Japan as a whole. Affiliation with a subnation -- the Interior, Taiwan, Karafuto, Chōsen -- was based on membership in a subnational (territorial) population register.

Membership criteria were based on family law, primarily parental descent but also marriage and adoption. Family law also governed migration between teritorial registers, hence change of territorial (subnational) status. Such matters were governed by local versions of the Interior Civil Code and Family Registration Law.

All members of the four subnations -- the Interior (prefectures), and the exterior territories of Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen were Japanese nationals. Acquisition and loss of Japanese nationality at time of birth or otherwise was governed by statute or customary nationality law, which rested mostly on the princples of family law in population registration practices.

While the imperial subnations were not formally defined as either racial or ethnic polities, they existed as such to the extent that they represented aggregates of biologically different populations, and differed socially in terms of language and customs.


Ethnic polities

Some legal divisions of a state's nationality fall between being true subnationality in either the racioethnic or territorial sense. Belgium, for example, does not specify groups of people as racioethnic subnationals, but defines political regions, language areas, and language communities.

The sort of "entities" that Belgium defines are "ethnic polities" within its national polity, rather than subnations within its nationality. The "ethnic" qualify of an entity or polity is defined mainly by the language that residents are obliged to use in governmental and other public affairs.


Belgium has three political regions (Flemish, Brussels-Capital, and Walloon) and three language communities (the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, the French-speaking Community, and the German-speaking Community). In addition, it defines four language areas (Dutch, Bilingual, French, and German) within the three regions.

This results in several nests of language-defined political enities within Belgium's federal state. The Flemish Community has compentency in the Flemish and Brussels regions. The French-speaking Community has compentency in the French-langauge area of the Walloon Region and in the Brussels-Capital Region. The German-speaking Community has compentency in the German language area in the province of Liege in the Walloon region, which borders Germany.

The governments of the language-defined communities conduct their affairs, and provide services, in the language of the community. In addition, some municipalities along borders of language communities are required to provide services in the langauges of both communities Inhabitancy in an area obliges one to participate in the language of the community that has jurisdiction in the area.





Delegated legislation



1918 Common Law

For further details and relevant articles, see Status and applicable law: Governing the civil affairs of territorialized people.

Common Law (‹¤’Ê–@ Kyōtsūhō)

Promulgated on 17 April 1918
All except Article 3 enforced from 1 June 1918 (Imperial Ordinance No. 144 of 1918)
Article 3 enforced from 1 July 1921 (Imperial Ordinance No. 283 of 1921)


Never abrogated but lost effect from enforcement of San Francisco Peace Treaty on 28 April 1952, when Japan formally lost Taiwan, Chōsen, and other such territories that were part of the sovereign Empire of Japan or under its legal jurisdiction.

Continues to affect judgments in court cases involving legacy status actions between Interior and Exterior family registers.


Law No. 25 of 1923
Law No. 16 of 1942
Law No. 5 of 1943

Law No. 110 of 1943 -- Revision of 1927 Military Service Law to apply to all imperial subjects

As the World War (1914-1918) was coming to an end, the Empire of Japan faced a growing problem -- how to manage all its territories, about to include the German islands it had occupied in 1914 at the start of the war as one of the principal Allied Powers with France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Specifically, Japan needed to coordinate legal procedures between its prefectures, which it called its Interior (Naichi), and other territories under its control and legal jurisdiction, which it called its Exterior (Gaichi).

The Exterior territories included those that were part of Japan's sovereign dominion (Taiwan, Karafuto, Chōsen) and those that were only under its control and jurisdiction (Kwantung Province, South Sea Islands).

Taiwan   Ceded by China to Japan in 1895 after the Sino-Japanese War)

Karafuto   Ceded by Russia to Japan in 1905 after the Russo-Japanese War

Kwantung Province   Leased from China for hundred years in 1898 by Russia, which ceded its leasehold to Japan in 1905 after the Russo-Japanese War

Chōsen   Former Empire of Korea, ceded by itself to Japan in 1910

South Sea Islands   Former German islands occupied by Japan during the World War in 1914, civil administration created by Japan in June 1918, placed under Japanese mandate by the League of Nations on 17 December 1920, pursuant to the Treaty of Versailles (signed 28 June 1919, effective 10 January 1920)

As a law that bridged Japan's legal territories, all of which were administered under different legal systems, Law No. 39 of 1918 was a "law of laws" -- i.e., a law that facilitates the operation of laws in matters where the laws of two or more legal systems might apply. As such, it provided for ways to minimize conflict between laws and ordinances in Japan's different territories or regions, referred to in the law as ’nˆæ (chiiki).


Land Development Ministry


Variously dubbed the "Ministry of Overseas Affairs" and the "Colonial Department" in English, ‘ñ–±È (Takumusho) means something closer to "ministry of land development affairs". The appelation signifies the exploitation and settlement of agricultural and other lands outside the prefectures but under Japan's control. Officially, this was not "colonialization" but coordination of economic and industrial development and emigration.

While it would be easy to sweep such distinctions aside as semantic hair-splitting, in fact there were serious divisions of opinion within the Japanese government about Japan's intentions in the regions concerned. On a linguistic note, Japanese terminology was very concise and consistent, whereas the English renderings of keywords in English yearbooks and other literature are notoriously arbitrary and misleading.

In any event, the Land Development Ministry originated on 22 June 1910 as a bureau (‘ñ–±‹Ç Takumukyoku) directly attached to the Imperial Cabinet (’鍑“àŠt Teikoku Naikaku). It underwent several metaphorpheses, including a death and resurrection, until on 10 June 1929 it was upgraded to a ministry.

The new ministry was created to consolidate the administration of, and coordinate emigration and settlement in, all exterior territories, including some of the non-sovereign territories in China and the South Pacific. The new ministry had supervisory responsibility for the following non-prefectural governments.

Government-General of Chosen (’©‘N‘“•{ Chōsen Sōtoku Fu)
Government-General of Taiwan (‘ä˜p‘“•{ Taiwan Sōtoku Fu)
Karafuto Government (Š’‘¾’¡ Karafutochō)
South Seas [Islands] Government (“ì—m’¡ Nan'yochō)
Kwantung Government, ŠÖ“Œ’¡ (Kantochō)

The new ministry also oversaw operations of the South Manchuria Railway Company and other business operations and emigration in Greater East Asia and the Pacific. However, at the time its authority did not extend to Manchuria. And though in principle its authority extended to Chōsen, in practice the new ministry failed to gain direct control over the Government-General of Chōsen .

The creation of the Land Development Ministry had little affect on the governor of Karafuto, who was already at the mercy of the central government in Tokyo. The governor-general of Taiwan, who had been closely supervised by Tokyo, readily submitted to the new ministry's reigns. However, the Governor-General of Chosen, who was accustomed to virtually autocratic powers, rejected the new ministry's control and continued to administer Chōsen with little interference.

The Land Development Ministry was abolished in 1942. Its operations were divided between other ministries, including the Home Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and the Greater East Asia Ministry which had been newly created to oversee the entire Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (‘å“ŒˆŸ‹¤‰hŒ— Dai-To-A Kyoei Ken).


Greater East Asia Ministry


The Greater East Asia Ministry (‘å“ŒˆŸÈ Dai-To-A Sho) was Established on 1 November 1942 and abolished by SCAP on 26 August 1945. The minister included the following regional bureaus.

Bureau of Manchurian Affairs (–žBŽ––±‹Ç Manshu Jimu Kyoku)
Bureau of China Affairs (Žx“ߎ––±‹Ç Shina Jimu Kyoku)
Bureau of Southern Affairs (“ì•ûŽ––±‹Ç Nanpo Jimu Kyoku)

In 1942, Togo Shigenori (“Œ‹½–Γ¿ 1882-1950), the Minister of Foreign Affairs at both the start and end of the Pacific War, resigned his post in protest of the creation of the Greater East Asia Ministry. Togo argued that the existence of this new ministry, along with his ministry, would result in a dual diplomacy, one dealing with the Allies and other countries outside Greater East Asia, and the other dealing with East Asian and Pacific countries Japan was then occupying with the intent of liberating them from Euroamerican control.

Such a dual diplomacy would create the impression, contrary to the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that Japan intended to colonize Greater East Asia and was already excluding the region from the scope of its foreign policy. Togo's protest was effective to the extent that, with the exception of the first head of the new ministry, the post was filled by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In fact, Togo himself headed both ministries during the final months of the war. He was prosecuted as a Class A war criminal and was senteced to 20 years, rather than death. He known to oppose the war, its spread, and prolongation.

With the creation in 1942 of the Greater East Asia Ministry, the Land Development Bureau created in 1929, and the Manchurian Affairs Bureau (‘ΖžŽ––±‹Ç Taiman Jimu Kyoku) set up in 1934 to oversee Japan's Chinese territories, were disbanded. Some of their functions were taken over by the new ministry, others by the Home Affairs Ministry


Home Affairs Ministry


The governors-general of Taiwan and Chōsen, and the governor of Karafuto, were made answerable to the powerful Home Affairs Ministry, which now had jurisdiction in the three exterior subnations as well as the interior. The governors of the unincorporated territories in China and the South Pacific were placed under the new Greater East Asia Ministry.

The Home Affairs Ministry (“à–±È Naimusho) -- literally the ministry of interior affairs -- oversaw every aspect of interior government, from the prefectures and municipalities, to the police, construction, labor, and health. It was in fact tantamount to the interior government in that it had total control over the interior. Extending its jurisdiction to the exterior subnations virtually sealed their fate as eventual candidates for total integration and assimilation into the interior. There were numerous political and legal hurdles, but they would be jumped.

Home Affairs Ministry and Karafuto

The Karafuto Government (Š’‘¾’¡ Karafutocho) formally came into existence from 1 April 1907. The governors-general of Karafuto reported directly to the Minister of Home Affairs from 1907-1910 and 1912-1917, the Prime Minister from 1910-1912 and 1917-1929), and the Minister of Land Development from 1929-1942).

Karafuto began to be legally treated as an exterior territory from 3 May 1920 (Law No. 124). In 1930, there was a proposal in the Cabinet Secretariat to incorporate Karafuto into the interior because it did not quite have the character of the other two exterior territories. The proposal called for (1) the abolishment of Karafutocho (Š’‘¾’¡) and the creation of (Š’‘¾Œ§), (2) the adminstration of Karafuto prefecture by the central government, and in time its recognition as a self-governing entity (Ž©Ž¡‘Ì jichitai), and (3) the abolishment of special accounting for the territory (Miki Masafumi, 1930”N‘ã‚ÌŠ’‘¾‚É‚¨‚¯‚éÎ’Y‹Æ [1930 nendai no Karafuto ni okeru sekitangyo (The coal inudstry in Karafuto during the 1930s)], Ajia keizai [Asian Economics], Vol. 46, No. 5, May 2005, page 4).

On 1 November 1942, Karafuto was brought under the wing of the Home Ministry. Steps were immediately taken to govern it under interior laws. It was incorporated into the interior when the 1920 law was abrogated on 26 March 1943 (Law No. 85).

The war ended, and Karafuto was lost to Russia, before it could make the full transition to a prefecture. It it not have a governor-general (’·Š¯ chokan) rather than a governor (’mŽ– chiji), and the fifteen and last governor-general, Otsu Toshio (‘å’Õq’j 1893-1958), served from 1 July 1943 through 17 November 1947. On 30 December 1945, the Soviet's ordered him to dissolve his government, then arrested him and other Japanese civil servants. Otsu was tried and interned, and apparently he did not repatriated to Japan until 1950. I do not yet know the significance of the 17 November 1947 date.

Statistically, Karafuto was treated as a semi-interior entity long before it was formally incorporated into the interior. The Home Affairs Ministry had been appending Karafuto's vital statistics to interior statistics from the late 1920s.

Some statistics published after its formal incorporation show Karafuto to be Japan's 48th prefecture. The Home Ministry's 1943 birth, death, marriage, and divorce statistics for interior subjects show Karafuto ahead of Hokkaido at the top of the north-to-south prefectural list. The interior total at the top includes Karafuto. At the bottom is a subtotal labeled "former interior excluding Karafuto" for comparison with earlier data. The statistics were published in December 1945 -- three months after Karafuto was invaded and occupied by the Soviet Union. Similarly, Okinawa began to be included in postwar prefectural statistics only from 1972 -- having not been part of Japan again until 15 May that year.

In 1948, the Home Affairs Ministry was broken up into several ministries and agencies. The new Ministry of Home Affairs (Ž©Ž¡È Jichisho) -- literally "ministry of self-government" -- coordinated only local governments, meaning prefectures and their municipal polities. In 2001, this ministry was merged with another ministry and an agency into the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications (‘–±È Somusho) -- literally "ministry of general affairs".







Subjection and affiliation with or without consent

Let us begin with a list of "nationality principles" set forth about the time Japan annexed Korea as Chōsen, by Estanislao Severo Zeballos, an internationally acclaimed legalist and stateman, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Argentina at times during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The following list is from Seckler-Hudson 1934 (Appendix A, page 273).


Prefectures in Japan, like states in the United States, are similar to the extent that both are enfranchised as semi-autonomous entities within a larger state entity. Prefecturization in Japan is the counterpart of achieving statehood in the United States. An entity begins as a territory and, though a legal process of enfranchisement in the larger state, becomes a prefecture or state.

Prefecturization began during the first years of the Meiji period (1868-1912) with the conversion of territories called domains (”Ë han), owned and ruled by lords with the sanction of the Tokugawa shogunate, into prefectures overseen by governors serving the imperial state.

Domain registers transferred to emperor

Since the Meiji restorationists sought to create a state based on imperial sovereignty, they had to persuade domain lords to transfer their territorial sovereignty to the emperor. This was achieved in 1869 when domain lords "returned" to the emperor the registers of land and people that defined their territories (”ŐЕòŠÒ hanseki hokan) -- "hanseki" meaning the registers of land and people, and "hokan" being a respectful term for "return" to an authority.

Domains restructed as prefectures

The next step came in 1871 with an imperial edict (Meiji 4-7-14, 29 August 1871) that abolished the domains and established prefectures (”p”Ë’uŒ§ haihan chiken). There were initially seventy-five prefectures (•{Œ§ fuken), consisting of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka "fu" (•{) and seventy-two "ken" (Œ§), in addition to Hokkaido, then just a territory slated for development and settlement.

While some domains became prefectures with little or no change in borders, others were merged into or divided between prefectures. During the early years of the Meiji period, there many border changes as the total number of prefectures was reduced through break up and merger. The Seinan War of 1877, in Kyushu, was partly over prefecturalization disputes.

Prefecturization was slower for newer territories which had not been domains under the Tokugawa shogunate -- first Ezo, Ryukyu, and Ogasawara -- then Karafuto, Taiwan, and Chōsen. In all cases, prefecturization began with a period of territorization.

Ezo, Ryukyu, Ogasawara

Ezo had been teathered to the Matsumae domain, and at times directly to the Tokugawa shogunate, since the 17th century. Japan annexed the island as Hokkaido in 1869. Hokkaido territory became Hakodate, Sapporo, and Nemuro prefectures in 1882, and these three prefectures were merged into Hokkaido prefecture in 1886.

Ryukyu, a kingdom, had been a tributary state of China and, since the 17th century, a suzerainty of the Shimazu clan in Kyushu. Japan annexed Ryukyu as a domain (—®‹…”Ë Ryūkyūhan) in 1872, then made it Okinawa prefecture (‰«“ꌧ Okinawaken) in 1879, thus forcing an end to the kingdom and its tributary relationship with China.

The Ogasawaras were not internationally recognized as part of Japan's sovereign dominion until 1875. Japan foramlly attached the islands to Tokyo prefecture in 1880.

Despite the long involvement of Japanese domains with Ezo and Ryukyu before the Meiji period, neither was immediately or easily enfranchised as a prefecture. Both contined to be partly controlled by the central government. Even today they have less autonomy than prefectures which originated from Tokugawa domains. The Ogasawaras, too, have been treated somewhat exceptionally on account of their more recent, and diplomatically more complex, origins as parts of Japan.

Taiwan, Karafuto, Chosen

Taiwan became an object of Japanese diplomatic and military action in 1874, when Saigo Tsugumichi (1843-1902) led an expedition to Taiwan to punish and civilize a southern tribe which had killed over 50 shipwrecked Ryukyuan fishermen in 1871. In the settlement to the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, which had nothing to do with Taiwan, China ceded Taiwan (Formosa) and the associated Pescardores (Penghu islands) to Japan.

Both Russia and Japan (Tokugawa shogunate) had outposts on Sakhalin (Saghalien, J. Karafuto) in the early 19th century. Both also claimed the Kuril (Kurile, J. Chishima) islands. In 1875, the two countries agreed that Russia would have Sakhalin and Japan would own Chishima. As part of the settlement to the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, which had nothing to do with Sakhalin, Russia ceded to Japan the southern half of the island below the 50th parallel.

Japan and Korea have had several conflicts during their mutual history of nearly two millennia. In the time frame of prefecturalization, the Kanghwado (]‰Ø“‡ J. Kokato) incident of 1875 signified the role that Korea was destined to play in Japan's relations with China then and with both China and Russia latter. Korea was a battleground in both the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars. During the latter, Korea became a protectorate of Japan, and afterward Japan acted as Korea's proxy in diplomatic matters. Then In 1910, the Emperor of Korea ceded his sovereignty to the Emperor of Japan, and Japan annexed Korea as Chōsen.

Taiwan, Karafuto, and Korea -- unlike Ezo, Ryukyu, and the Ogasawaras -- were ceded to Japan in formal treaties by the states that had previously possessed them. Among them only Karafuto -- somewhat like Ezo and Ryukyu -- had been significantly influenced by intimate contact with Japan. Taiwan and Chōsen (as Korea was renamed after annexation), in particular, would take more time to Japanize not only legally but also socially and culturally.

Subnations more than colonies

While fashionable to classify Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen as Japanese colonies, from the very beginning they were enfranchised into the sovereign empire as subnations. Their affiliated populations were Japanese nationals, and though each of their legal systems was different, all were tethered to laws derived in part from those that operated in the prefectural subnation.

The three exterior entites (ŠO’n gaichi) were not, at first, considered likely to become prefectures and thereby qualify as members of the interior entity (“à’n naichi). However, as more provisions of naichi laws were extended to gaichi jurisdictions, and as Japanization in social and cultural matters also continued, the idea of eventually integrating all three gaichi into the naichi began to gather support.

The impetus for the prefecturization (or gaichiization) of Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen was partly ideological and partly rational. The notion of all imperial subjects integrated under a single system, sharing the same laws and sociocultural conventions, was highly romantic to racioethnic assimilationists. For those interested in efficiency, coordinating four different legal systems within the empire was proving to be a political and bureaucratic nightmare -- long before the limited war with China, then the total war with the United States and other allies, began to seriously strain the imperial government's resources.


Interiorization (Assimilation)


Bureaucratic portents of the future

It is fashionable, in today's intellectual climate, to deploy elaborate arguments -- usually in the service of present-day victimhood politics -- to deconstruct and otherwise discredit the hard realities of the past. Take for instance the legitimacy of the treaties that ceded Japan Taiwan and Korea. Like them or not, they were legal in the climate of international law that prevailed when they were concluded. And their legal effects have not suddenly stopped because the nationalistic ambitions that fostered their conclusion seem more reprehensible today than then.

Legacy of legitimacy

The legitimacy of the earlier treaties is acknowleged in the later treaties that nullified them -- nullification being an act of termination, not denial, of their effectiveness. The newer treaties permit courts all over the world to continue to view the earlier treaties as binding during the periods they were in effect -- as is seen in numerous rulings on nationality issues involving Taiwanese and Koreans (ROK nationals and Chosenese) in Japan.

In other words, Taiwan and Korea (as Chōsen) became parts of Japan, and their inhabitants became Japanese -- and they did not cease to be Japanese until 28 April 1952. These facts cannot be changed simply by wishing them away with arguments which insist that Japan had no right to Taiwan or Korea to begin with -- that Japan unfairly if not illegally forced China to cede Taiwan and Korea to cede itself.

Accepting the harsh legal realities of the Empire of Japan may not be easy, but acceptance is the first step to a better understanding of the legacies of the imperial past that continue to effect the present.

Future intentions

Another aspect of the legal status of Taiwan and Chōsen as integral parts of Japan's sovereign empire concerns the extent to which these two subnations -- as they were at the time -- were candidates for integration, like Karafuto, into the prefectural subnation. At issue is whether moving Taiwan and Chōsen under the Ministry of Home Affairs, in 1942, constituted a genuine effort at prefecturization.

Viewed statically -- in terms of just the two years or so that passed before the end of the war -- the answer is no: the bureaucratic reshuffle amounted to mostly linguistic rather than policy changes.

However, viewed dynamically -- as a shift in a process that had been going on for three or four decades, and would have to continue for several more years if not decades -- the language change has to be seen as the beginning of an intention to eventually integrate all subnations -- each of which had had its own legal system -- into a single nation under a uniform set of laws.



Racial assimilation policies were also in full swing by the end of the war. Racial assimilation meant, basically, the Yamatoization of language, names, and all manner of customs, including religious practices. Let's look very briefly at what happened in Chōsen in terms of family registration, since that is what leads to the problems of some Koreans (ROK nationals and Chosenese) in Japan today.

Racially (biologically), differences were never codified or otherwise labeled in law. While people may have racialized each other as a matter of how they viewed descent or lineage, all that mattered in law was regional affiliation, which was not itself a matter of biology.

Ethnically (socially), Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen were subjected to assimilation policies that began with the introduction of the language and customs of the Interior in government affairs as well as in schools and other public affairs. The effects of such assimilation, which tends to feed on itself, naturally accelerated with time and experience.

The object of linguistic assimilation was to make Japanese, the dominant language of the Interior, the lingua franca of the Empire. The aim was not to eliminate the use of local langauges, such as Ainu, Ryukyuan, Chinese, Korean, and several others in the daily lives of Interiorites, Taiwanese, Karafutoans, and Chosenese, though in some instances the use of languages other than a dialect of Japanese (which did not then include Ryukyuan, much less Ainu) was banned.

The Interiorization of customs outside the Interior partly depended on developments within the Interior. For the Interior itself was undergoing rapid change as a result of nationalization, industrialization, and urbanization of local and regional.

Legal assimilation could be called a form of ethnic assimilation to the extent that it had an impact on language and customs. But the overall impact of legal assimilation transcended ethnic considerations.

Though Interior laws were introduced in the exterior subnations in different ways, their effect was the same as the effort which had been made in the Interior, during the early years of the Meiji period, to implement uniform codes through the prefectures. The introduction of Interior laws, though at different rates, in the exterior subnations, had the same effect of placing all people within the reach of imperial authority under a common set of laws and enforcement, which facilitated equal treatment under the law, and in turn social mobility, throughout the Empire.

Members of population registers principally affiliated with Japan are Japanese because the registers are affiliated with municipalities -- local polities -- that are incoporated within Japan's sovereign territory. In other words, being Japanese is a matter of being formally affiliated with the population that constitutes Japan's demographic territory or nation.

Acquisition of status as a member a register affiliated with Japan at time of birth can be through parental lineage (jus sanguinis) or place of birth (jus soli), depending on the circumstances of birth. These and other avenues to national register status, including naturalization, are entirely free of racioethnic restrictions. Anyone, regardless of their putative race or ethnicity, can be a member of a principle Japanese register, hence Japanese.

The most common criterion for membership is lineal descent from another member, but racioethnic ancestry is not an issue. Nor is race or ethnicity a requisite for any category of naturalization. In the past, but not since revisions reflected in the 1950 Nationality Law, it was possible to become Japanese through marriage or adoption -- again, without regard to racioethnic ancestry.

Mononational state

Japan, unlike the United States and the People's Republic of China, has never defined racioethnic entities within its state nationality. Japan emerged into statehood during the Meiji period to be, like most states in the world, a mononational country. Everyone who is a member of a Japanese register is Japanese.

Even during its imperial period, Japan had only one nationality. At its peak, though, it had four territorial subnations -- the Interior (prefectures), Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen. Each of these four entities constituted a subnation whose registered populations were Japanese of Interior (prefectural), Taiwanese, Karafutoan, or Chosenese subnationality.

Territorial (regional) subnationality fundamentally differs from racioethnic subnationality in that it is based on where one is legally registered. A Japanese subject was affiliated with the Interior entity (prefectures), or with an Exterior entity (Taiwan, Karafuto, or Chōsen), according the regional affiliation of the municipality in which the subject was principly registered. Aliens, by definition, were persons who were not principly registered in a Japanese locality -- again, without regard to the person's putative race or ethnicity.

Interior and Exterior subjects were one and all Japanese, legally differentiated only by their subnationality (territoriality, regionality) as a matter of municipal registration.

While most Interior (prefectural) subjects were descendants of many generations of Japanese, most Taiwanese and Chosenese subjects were not of Japanese ancestry but became Japanese when Taiwan and Korea (as Chōsen) were legally embraced by as part of Japan's sovereign dominion in 1895 and 1910. They and their descendants ceased being Japanese when Taiwan and Chōsen were formally separated Japan from in 1952.


Mizuno on "Interiorization"


On 1 November 1942, when the Greater East Asia Ministry was created to oversee all territories beyond Japan's sovereign empire, the Karafuto Government (Š’‘¾’¡ Karafutocho) was transferred from the defunct Overseas Affairs Ministry to the Home Affairs Ministry.

The governments-general of Taiwan and Chōsen were also brought under the wing of the Home Ministry. The intent was to curtail the special authority excercised by the Governor-General of Chosen. However, he protested and continued to oversee Chōsen's affairs as before.

Mizuno Naoki's argument

Mizuno Naoki (…–ì’¼Ž÷), a specialist on Chōsen (Korea) under Japan's control, at the Institute for Research in Humanities (l•¶‰ÈŠwŒ¤‹†Š Jinbun Kagaku Kenkyujo) at Kyoto University, argues that the problem of the assimilation of gaichi into naichi ŠO’n‚Ì“à’n‰» (gaichi no naichika) needs to be examined at three levels (Mizuno's homepage, 1997, translation mine).

  1. The problem of how central administration organs treat colony administration (integration of Development Affairs Ministry with Home Affairs Ministry in central government)
  2. The problem of the relationship between central administration organs and colony control organs (disbandment of the [Chōsen and Taiwan] governments-general as general administration organs)
  3. The problem of unification of legal jurisdictions (dissolution of differentiation and discrimination between "naichijin" and "gaichijin").

…–ì’¼Ž÷ Mizuno Naoki
Senjiki no shokuminchi shihai to "naigaichi gyōsei ichigenka" [War-time colony control and "unification of administration of naichi and gaichi"]
l•¶Šw•ñ Jinbun gakuhō [Zinbun gakuho]
[Journal of humanistic studies]
‘æ79†i1997”N3ŒŽjDai 79 go (1997-nen 3-gatsu)
[Number 79, March 1997]

Mizuno's statement is the most succinct I have seen of issues that have been well-known to students of Japan's administration of Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen. One of the best early overviews in English, which covers similar grounds, is I-te Chen's doctoral dissertation, Japanese Colonialism in Korea and Formosa: A Comparison of its effects upon the development of nationalism, Political Science, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, 1968.

Mizuno argues that the integration of Taiwan and Chōsen into Home Affairs was mostly a bureucratic shuffle that had little consquence on how these subnations were overseen. In otherwords, the process of integration into the prefectural system pretty much ended at level (1) in Mizuno's scheme.

Mizuno therefore rejects the view that these two gaichi were treated as "semi naichi" (€“à’n junnaichi) or otherwise constitute convincing examples of genuine "naichiization of gaichi" (ŠO’n‚Ì“à’n‰» gaichi no naichika).

Weakness of Mizuno's argument

Mizuno's argument is valid as a static analysis. The facts, as he aligns them, refute the claim that Taiwan or Chōsen were being treated as "semi prefectures" at the time the war ended.

Karafuto, of course, was a different matter. For many reasons, after becoming part of Japan in 1905, it was more easily Japanized and otherwise groomed for integration into the prefectural polity than other exterior territories. However, after joining the interior in 1943, Karafuto continued to be tethered to the central government, much as were Hokkaido and Okinawa.

Taiwan and Chōsen were not easily Japanized. As of 1942, Taiwan had been under Japanese rule for over forty-five years and Chōsen for over thirty years. They were just beginning to yield to the forces of Japanization, brought about by slow legal and sociocultural assimilation. Even under the best circumstances -- a truce with the Allied Powers allowed the treaties which had ceded Taiwan, Karafuto, and Korea to Japan to stand -- it would have taken many more years, possibly two, even three more decades, for complete legal integration to occur.

As it was, the war went so badly that the governments of Taiwan and Chōsen began to prepare for the contingency of eventually losing these territories. Under such circumstances, one hardly expects to see progress in the direction of "prefecturalization". Rather one sees movements -- in several parts of the sovereign and legal empire, and in countries which Japan had occupied during the war -- in the direction of passing the reigns of Japanese authority to local bodies Japan hoped would continue to function as independent governments.


Alternative history

Would Taiwan and Chōsen, too, eventually have become prefectures? Probably. An ordinance that would have made their governors-general accountable to the Cabinet and Diet, on a par with prefectural governors, who were appointed by the Interior Minister subject to the Emperor's approval, was never fully implemented. More legal restructuring was needed to bring Taiwan and Chōsen under interior laws so that they could be administrated as prefectures.

The political circumstances were constantly changing, and the list of obstacles to assimilation and integration was long, but the wheels were in motion. Had Japan not lost Taiwan and Chōsen, and continued to contain resistance to its domination in these territories, it would probably now have fifty prefectures -- or, who knows, be a federal republic.

Arguing this way inferiorates Chinese and Korean nationalists, who have no patience with the realities of actual and potential histories. The world is full of states that are what they are today, precisely because of the awesome forces of nationalization that I have described.

The People's Republic of China would not be the size it is today had China, during its recent history, not resorted to means similar to those Japan did in the process of expanding its national territory and population. The United States would not be a fraction of its present size had its expansionist toolbox not also contained the basic instruments of nationalization -- meaning legal incorporation, governmental integration, and sociocultural assimilation.



Losing Japanese nationality with or without consent

Lost de facto on 15 August 1945 when Japan surrendered
Lost de jure on 28 April 1952 when SF treaty came into effect

Formally, Japanese subjects affiliated with Taiwan and Chōsen lost their Japanese nationality when the Treaty of San Francisco and the came into effect on 28 April 1952. The treaty is taken as the instrument of retrocession, in which Japan formally cedes Taiwan and Chōsen back to the states (in both cases, successors of the states) that ceded them to Japan through earlier treaties.

However, former Japanese subjects of Taiwan and Chōsen virtually lost their Japanese nationality when Japan surrendered on 14 August 1945, in accordance with the terms of the unconditional surrender. The terms included the provisions of agreements among the Allied Powers for instant retrocecession.

In any case, it is clear that the Allied Powers left the legal status of residents affiliated with Taiwan and Chōsen, who remained in Japan, in limbo. Their status was something Japan would have to sort out as it negotiated treaty settlements with China (ROC) and Korea (ROK).

In the meantime, Japan chose to treat its Taiwan- and Chōsen- affiliated residents according to a policy of what I would call "alienation" -- namely, on a par with aliens. While this caused considerable unease and ill will among those who wished to be treated as Japanese -- and even among those who did not wish to be Japanese but also didn't want to be treated as aliens -- the alienation ordinances were not illegal.

Complicating matters

However, arguments run the gamut.

1. Koreans never became Chosenese, much less acquired Japanese nationality, because the Annexation of 1910 was illegal.

2. Koreans became Chosenese but not Japanese because, though the Annexation of 1910 was legal, unlike the Treaty of Shimonoseki of 1895 and the Treaty of Portsmouth of 1905 there were no stipulations about nationality changes, and Japan never formally extended its Nationality Law to the territory it renamed Chōsen.

3. Taiwanese and Chosenese lost Japanese nationality when Japan accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration (14 August 1945).

3. Taiwanese and Chosenese lost Japanese nationality when Emperor Hirohito broadcast his acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration (15 August 1945).

This day is officially celebrated in Japan as the "End-of-war memorial day" (Ií‹L”O“ú shūsen kinenbi). In both the Republic of Korea (ROK) and in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) it is celebrated as "glorious recovery day". It is also most likely celebrated as "V-J Day" (Victory over Japan Day) in the United States (but see No. 5) and "V-P Day" (Victory in the Pacific Day) in Australia.

4. Taiwanese and Chosenese lost Japanese nationality when Japan's Imperial General Headquarters began issuing ceasefire orders (16 August 1945).

At about 4:00 on the morning of 16 August 1945, the Imperial Japanese Army issued Continental Order No. 1382 (‘å—¤—ß‘æ1382†), and the Imperial Japanese Navy issued Ocean Order No. 48" (‘åŠC—ß‘æ48†), which commanded Japanese military units to cease all military action except in self-defense.

5. Taiwanese and Chosenese lost Japanese nationality when Japan signed the Surrender Agreement (2 September 1945).

Declared by President Truman to be "V-J Day" but most street celebrations in the United States took place on 15 August, which some localities still celebrate as V-J Day (see No. 3).

6. Taiwanese lost Japanese nationality when ROC seized Taiwan from Japan (25 October 1945).

On 25 October 1945, a body of ROC military officers and government officials received Japan's surrender of Taiwan in Taihoku, which instantly became Taipei (Taibei). The day was declared Taiwan Restoration Day [Taiwan Guangfujie]. It continues to be celebrated, but with less enthusiasm and no longer as a national holiday. Taiwanese who have opposed ROC's rule of Taiwan do not recognize the term "restoration" [guangfu].

On 22 June 1946, ROC promulgated a regulation which restored Chinese nationality to those with Taiwan registers retroactive to 25 October 1945, the date of ROC's "seizure" of Taiwan -- meaning the date ROC had accepted Japan's surrender of the territory. However, Japan's loss of sovereignty over Taiwan was not confirmed until 28 April 1952, the date the terms of the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into force, as well as the date ROC and Japan signed their own peace treaty.

7. Chosenese in the Republic of Korea nationals lost Japanese nationality when the ROK was founded (15 August 1948).

8. Chosenese in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea lost their Japanese nationality when DPRK was founded (9 September 1948).

9. Taiwanese and Chosenese lost Japanese nationality when the Treaty of San Francisco came into effect (28 April 1952), as provisioned by Civil Affairs A No. 438 notification (19 April 1952).

10. Taiwanese and Chosenese who were residing in the prefectures when Japan surrendered and remained continue to possess residual Japanese nationality because not allowing them to choose to keep their Japanese nationality was illegal.

11. Even if depriving all Taiwanese and Chosenese of their Japanese nationality was not illegal, the Japan-born offpsring of those who remained in the prefectures should be considered as de-facto Japanese because Japan's postwar Nationality Law should have adopted a jus soli (right-of-soil, place-of-birth) principle for acquisition of nationality in Japan.