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Mark Caprio on "Assimilation Policies in Colonial Korea"

Long on theory and opinion, short on policy and facts

First posted 20 September 2010
Last updated 10 July 2011

Book and author Introduction to review | Origin of book | Purpose of book | Quality of book | Dudden's review | Biographical note
Selected topics Blueprint | 36-year occupation | Map of Japan | World champions | Interior and Chosen | Subjects and nationals | Nation and race | Nationality laws | Family registers | Names | Rhetoric and policy | Counterplan proposal | Fraternization | Impartial humaneness | Kita Sadakichi | Kato Kiyomasa | Language lessons

Mark E. Caprio

Japanese Assimilation Policies in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945
[Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies]
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009
ix, 320 pages text (including notes, glossary, bibliography, index), 16 pages black-and-white photographs and other images, softcover

Book and Author


Mark Caprio has written an ambitious book that attempts to be both broad and narrow. The fruits of about 15 years of research, it focuses on some of the finer details of Japan's treatment of Korea when Korea was a territory of Japan called Chōsen, while looking at other examples in Japan and elsewhere of colonialization -- internal, peripheral, and external.

The book, heavy on "colonial theory" in a global perspective, is full of anecdotes and commentary related not only to Chosenese in the Empire of Japan but to people perceived as victims of assimilation policies in other imperial states. It is light, however, on content that would fulfill the promise of its title regarding "assimilation policy in colonial Korea".

The qualities of the book are its numerous anecdotes about what various people from diverse viewpoints thought of the prospects of Chosenese ever becoming sufficiently like Japanese in the Interior, to be able to integrate Chōsen into the Interior. These qualities are compromised by digressions into matters in other places and times that have no bearing on a consideration of the rights or wrongs of Japan's annexation of Korea and its rule of Chōsen.

The value of the book is also weakend by Caprio's capricious use and misreprentation of keywords, which muddles the political, legal, and social history he sets out to clarify. Some errors suggest that the manuscript was not closely vetted by readers knowing enough about the subject matter to flag problems and errors.

In the following review article, I have followed my usual formula of making general comments about the book and its author, then examining a number of paragraphs related to subjects of special interest to me. I have colored the book "C" to reflect that it is "a fair source with quite a few serious problems". By giving it a "C" rather than a "D" I am expressing my belief that it is worth heavily revising to raise it to the potential of its title.


Origin of book

Caprio starts his Acknowledgments "I began research for this project in 1994, as a doctoral student at the University of Washington" (page vii). If he mentioned his dissertation in his notes I missed it, and it is not included in his Bibliography. UMI lists it as follows.

Koreans into Japanese: Japan's assimilation policy
by Caprio, Mark Edward Ph.D., University of Washington, 2001, 709 pages; AAT 3022815


Purpose of book

Caprio states in his introduction that "little research has been conducted to analyze and evaluate Japanese assimilation as a policy in korea" and he intends to "fill this gap" three ways (page (page 17).

. . . It first considers the question of assimilation's place in modern colonial history by examining European and American examples. . . .

This study also traces the process of Japan choosing assimilation as its colonial policy, and the lessons it learned from its earlier acquisitions. . . .

A third dimension of this study traces policy evolution in Korea -- how Japan's assimilation policy developed over its thirty-six-year occupation of the Korean Peninsula. . . .

Actually, there has been an enormous amount of research on "assimilation" in the Empire of Japan, and Caprio draws from this work while contributing material from his own original studies.

The "third dimension" of the book is its most important, and Caprio completes the above paragraph with a brief description of the "policy evolution" over the "duration" -- which I will fully cite and examine in the "36-year occupation" section of this review.

"Black and Native American residents"

Related to the colonial history in Europe and America, Caprio gives as much if not more space to "Black and Native American residents in the United States" (page 10) -- and subjects of British, French, and other "colonizers" -- as he does to Ainu, Okinawans, and Taiwanese.

Caprio's effort to compare conditions in Japan with Europe and America is partly justified by the manner in which he attempts to show how some Japanese perceived questions of race and race relations in other countries and empires. His references to Irish, Scots, and Welsh in relation to the United Kingdom are signs of a creative mind at work. But the manner in which he stitches "Black Americans" and "Native Americans" into his quiltwork of assimilation experiences -- his tendency to refer to such "groups" as "communities" and more oddly as "residents in the United States" -- seems contrived to ensure that his book is regarded as "relevant" in today's thriving "multiculturalist" market.


To Caprio's credit, he refrains from mentioning "burakumin" in the main text. I say this as a genuine compliment, for so many other writers today are tempted to reflexively list this non-group, non-community along with Ainu and Okinawans when talking about Koreans in Japan.

However, in an end note to a remark about separate school curricula established in Hokkaido in 1901 -- "one for resettled Japanese and the other for the indigenous Ainu" (page 64) -- he states that "Noah McCormack discusses Japanese migration to Hokkaido, particularly that of the outcast Burakumin, in his "Buraku Emigration in the Meiji Era -- Other Ways to Become 'Japanese,'" East Asian Studies 23 (2002): 87-108" (page 234, note 63).

So-called "outcast" statuses were abrogated in 1871. None of the people of such statuses were called "Burakumin" -- a term that gained some favor for a few years in the 20th century. "Emigration" would refer to migration from Japan for the purpose of settling in another country. Ezo was colonized as Hokkaido in 1869, and Hokkaido Ainu have had family registers from their introduction in 1872, and all people in Japan's family registers have been Japanese.

"this future white historian"

Caprio ends his Acknowledgments like this (pages viii-ix, underscoring mine).

Lastly, it would be disingenuous for me to ignore the contribution that experiences gained at Northfield-Mt. Hermon School in north-central Massachusetts would eventually have on this research. It was here, while rooming with Daryl Floyd, that I was immersed in the kind of experience that I found lacking in Japanese-Korean relations during the period addressed in this study. I am forever indebted to the astute administrator who placed as roommates this future white historian and future black physical therapist. Since commencing this study, I have learned much from Daryl's thoughtful insight and input to my endless inquires and half-baked thoughts regarding the assimilation of peoples of different background and culture.

What puzzles me is why Caprio had to racialize himself and his roommate. What puzzles me more is the manner in which he links his gratitude to "the astute administrator" who placed a white and a black student in the same room, to "Japanese-Korean relations" during a period when the United States lacked far more than Japan when it came to questions of racial equality and freedom.

One of the central arguments in Caprio's book is that Japan "failed" in Korea because its "rhetoric" of integration was contradicted a "policy" of segregation. Is he implying, here, that a more astute Government-General of Chosen (GGC) -- rather than pursue a policy of gradualism, which might take a century -- should have forcibly mixed neighborhoods, schools, farms, and factories?

Bussing and affirmative action in colonial Korea? Arranged Korean-Japanese marriages?

If only Martin Luther King and Sun Myung Moon had been born in the same skin, in Korea, in the 1890s, and come to their calling on the side of "Japanese-Korean" integrationists. Japanese, made to fraternize with Koreans, would have learned from their thoughtful insights about assimilation.

I'm sure this is not what Caprio meant. At the same time, though, I'm not sure what he meant -- though he begins the penultimate paragraph of his conclusion like this (page 211, underscoring mine).

The American civil rights movement provides an example of assimilation in progress. Although blacks are by no means completely integrated into American society, the strides they have made since they began gaining admission to traditionally white institutions in the late 1940s instruct us in the kinds of actions that the assimilation process requires to reap success. From this history we learn that assimilation does not simply emerge passively; it must be actively nurtured by determined guidance and direction. . . .

Naruhodo (excuse my French). It appears that Caprio's thoughts about "the assimilation of peoples of different background and culture" remained half-baked. Not only does he not seem to understand the difference between "assimilation" and "integration" -- but he seems, alas, to suggest that "Japanese Assimilation Policites in Colonial Korea" from 1910 to 1945 would have succeeded if they had been inspired by examples of actions taken in the United States as a result of the American civil rights movement.

My understanding of social history in the United States appears to be very different from Caprio's.

1. Does "American society" not embrace all people within America's borders, regardless of the conditions they face as individuals? Is the question not one of equality of an individual is treatment in the public sphere with respect to one or another personal trait -- age, sex, education, occupation, race, religion, language, whatever?

2. Suggesting that "blacks" are not "completely integrated into American society" -- but have "made strides" at "gaining admission to white institutions" -- is tantamount to equating "American society" with "white institutions". But if "American society" includes the "institutions" of its all age, sex, race, language, and other cohorts -- wouldn't "assimilation in progress" have to be measured also by the strides made by "whites" to gain admission to "black institutions"?

3. "Integration" is about people mixing together socially with respect to age, sex, education, occupation, race, religion, language, whatever. Catholics go to Catholic churces, Jews to synagogues. Spanish speakers speak Spanish, Chinese speakers Chinese, English speakers speak English. Herbivores eat grass and carnivores eat meat. Japanese-speaking Muslims, Amharic-speaking Jews, animistic herbivores, and Christian carnivores -- making automobiles on an assembly line or picnicing together -- or marrying and having families together -- is "integration".

4. "Assimilation" is usually about X taking in Y, generally on X's terms. If Y is integrated into X, then Y assimilates to -- i.e., Y becomes enough like X to be able to hop, skip, and jump with X. Catholic churches may welcome non-Catholics as guests at masses, but non-Catholics will not be allowed to take Holy Communion. As a child of Protestant parents at a French convent school in San Fransicso, I was expected sing Frère Jacques and learn my Catechism, but I was administered unblessed wafers after confession without absoluton.

5. Never mind that the United States -- in the late 19th and early 20th centuries -- would have been a better place had it assimilated Japan's raceless laws. Never mind that the "civil rights movement" in the United States began a decade after Japan was forced to abandon Korea to the control and jurisdiction of the Allied Powers in 1945. Why should latterday American-style "integration" -- bussing, affirmative action, proliferation of race-boxes to micro-manage racial representation -- be regarded as models for what Japan might have done in Korea decades before such "policies" evolved in the United States?

Again, I'm fairly sure Caprio doesn't mean this. But again, I'm not sure what he meant.


Quality of book

Some parts of Caprio's book are well organized and written. Other parts stand out as awkward, disjointed, or illogical. Factually, there are a number of simple errors, and a few not-so-simple mistakes, that should not have been made.

A comparative and even theoretical approach to understanding "assimilation policy" in "colonial Korea" would be fine -- so long as the story illuminated what the policies actually were, and how they were carried out and with what effects. Caprio, however, does not clarify much actual policy. Moreover, he tends to confuse personal opinion and individual action for government policy and bureaucratic behavior.

At his best, Caprio invites the reader to recognize that "Japan" and "Japanese" and "Korea" and "Koreans" are complex entities and cohorts that cannot be reduced to "it did" and "they believed" stereotypes. Yet too often -- and at some of the most critical moments in his book -- Caprio speaks of "the Japanese" and "Japan" and "the government-general" as being of the same, unified, singular, monolithic mind or agency.

Caprio has surveyed a number of primary and secondary materials related to assimilation and selected a variety of anecdotes to make one or another point. While there may be issues with selection criteria and accuracy of representation, the anecdotes general qualify as evidence of the diversity of individual opinion and experience at the time Korea was part of Japan and Koreans were Japanese.

The manner in which Caprio equivocates about the legal status of Chosenese (Koreans) when they were subjects and nationals of the Empire of Japan, and therefore Japanese, suggests that he has not read the body of laws that determined subjecthood, nationality, and regionality within the Empire of Japan, and regulated private matters between subjects and nationals affiliated with different legal jurisdictions of Japan including the Interior, Taiwan, Karafuto (which joined the Interior in 1943), and Chōsen. Japan's policies regarding what can broadly be called "assimilation" -- in the Empire as a whole, and in its different legal jurisdictions -- both drove, and were driven by, its status laws since the start of the Meiji period in 1868.

I would have colored Caprio's book "B" if -- in his rush to characterize "integrationist" rhetoric as "segregationist" policy -- he had not so badly erred in his descriptions of the intent and operation of imperial laws and regional ordinances.

If the story of "assimilation policies in colonial Korea" is represented as being a quest for historical truth, then it must be told with an accurate understanding of the political, legal, and social background against which policies were conceived, developed, carried out, and modified or abandoned in the light of experience. No analytical framework can compensate for a faulty grasp of the facts. Truth suffers when an historian attempts to connect an insufficient number of dots, or dots put in the wrong places. Yet this is what Caprio sometimes does.


Dudden's review

Alexis Dudden concludes her review of this book as follows (The Journal of Asian Studies, Colume 69, Number 3, August 2010, pages 920-921, underscoring and [bracketed clarification] mine).

Should anyone have colleagues asking which book they should consider for a section on Japanese imperialism, there is none finer than Caprio's for its involvement in big conversations, as well as for its own richness of detail. Within the field, the book should generate far-ranging discussion among researchers and graduate students, and will also be useful to students in upper-level undergraduate courses and to those teaching introductory ones. To be sure, some will fault Caprio for steering around more immediately fashionable theories in the field of Asian Studies, but they would be forgetting that the study of empire itself is a theoretical approach, and that to be able to tell Japan and Korea's history within that approach -- and to tell it intelligently, and not in perpetual reference to or in rather hopeless segregation from [that approach] -- is in fact very good history.

Dudden does not explain why "very good history" should not, first and foremost, be based on "detail" that -- apart from its apparent "richness" -- is grounded on political, legal, and social facts -- apart from the "theoretical approach" the author might take when engaging in "big conversations" as to what the details could be construed to mean.

Dudden has written her own book on what, in her review of Caprio, she unifies as "Japan and Korea's history".

Alexis Dudden
Japan's Colonization of Korea
(Discourse and Power)
Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2005
x, 215 pages, hardcover
[A Study of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University]

I had occasion to examine Dudden's book in my overview of Korea becomes Chosen: The road to annexation and the first decade of nationalization. I found much of her commentary to be lucid and reasonable, though some of her claims or implications concerning legal status are not quite accurate. She is less immune to fashionable "discourse" than Caprio, but is a better organized and more careful writer.

In all the enthusiasm she shows for Caprio's book, however, Dudden fails to disclose that he lists her -- in his Acknowledgments -- among those to whom he was "particularly indebted . . . for comments on all or parts of the manuscript" (page viii). It was good of Caprio to take "unqualified responsibility for any shortcomings" that remain in his book despite all the editorial scrutiny. But if Dudden found any, she didn't mention them.


Biographical note

Mark E. Caprio is a professor of history and political science at the College of Intercultural Communication of Rikkyo University in Tokyo. He is also a fellow at the Rikkyo Institute for Peace and Community Studies, at which he is particularly interested in North Korea.


Selected topics


The "Japanese Expansion and Assimilation" section of the Introduction is a fairly succinct overview of the sweep of Japan's "colonial" history from the Tokugawa period to the annexation of Korea. It serves the purpose of setting the stage for Caprio's own story of "colonial Korea".

Though dynamic and generally smooth, the ride is sometimes jarred by awkward attempts to be scholarly. Names of researchers and allegations about their contributions get in the way. Whether "Arano Yasunori and Ronald Toby independently have challenged the image of an isolated Tokugawa Japan" belongs in the end notes where one finds descriptions of their work dated long after the "image" of isolation began to be "challenged".

Attempts at theoretical subtly also roughen the ride (page 13, underscoring mine).

On a number of occasions the Tokugawa, or individual domains, reached beyond its internal control to exert its influence on peripheral territories, namely northern Ryukyu and Ezo. [Note 27] The Tokugawa never incorported these territories as formal colonies; they better served its interests as sovereign territories, even if but as a fiction.

To suggest that "the Togukawa" had the capacity to "incorporate" any territory as a "colony" is odd -- given its character as a federation of semi-sovereign local domains. Assuming that "Ryukyu" and "Ezo" had the quality of "sovereign territories" -- even as a figment of political imagination -- were they, if not "formal colonies", therefore "informal colonies"? If so, given their loose teathering to the Shimazu and Matsumae domains, would they not have been "informal colonies" of these domains?

"colonial roots"

Caprio later says states that the Meiji government "incorporated territories with which Tokugawa Japan maintained suzerain relations but had never officially annexed into 'Japan' proper" -- cites "Ezo and the Ryukyu kingdom" as "two such territories" -- and claims that "Japan's subsequent success in assimilating these peoples has camouflaged camauflaged their colonial roots" (page 61).

But how could "Tokugawa Japan" have annexed territories that were under the loose suzerainty of local domains? How could any polity have "annexed" any territory other than "officially"? Is "'Japan' proper" a proper description of what constituted "Japan" defined? And what other "such territories" did Caprio have in mind?

"process of colonial expansion"

Caprio goes on to talk about a "process" of incorporation during the Tokugawa period that continues during the Meiji period. The "process" becomes the protagonist of several shakey sentences, such as -- "Some have argued this process as a revolutionary advancement. [Note 28] At the domestic level it adopted institutions built upon a new social, political, and economic foundation to forge within its internal subjects a sense of membership in a new (Japanese) ethos. [Note 28]" (page 13).

Suddenly one leaves the ruts and potholes and hits a stretch of smoother pavement -- "By the end of this period [Meiji era] Japan had completed the initial phase of this process [of internal and peripheral colonial expansion], and was prepared to embark on further expansion. [Note 30] The majority of its children had been enrolled in schools; its military had defeated two formidable enemies; and it had surrounded the archipelago with peripheral acquisitions now firmly under its control -- Okinawa and Taiwan to the south and Korea, Hokkaido, and southern Karafuto (Sakhalin)" (pages 13-14) -- before hitting a rougher part of the road.

The "southern Karafuto (Sakhalin)" should have been "Karafuto (southern Sakhalin)".

The "acquisitions" of Okinawa, Taiwan, Korea, Hokkaido, and Karafuto become -- in the very next sentence -- "these annexed territories" (page 14) -- which seems to conflate "annexation" with "acquisition" (see more about this problem below).

More importantly -- after declaring here that by the end of the Meiji period Japan had "completed the initial stage of this process" of expansion, including the acquisition of Korea, and "was prepared" to continue the process -- two pages later, Caprio states that "This study stops short of arguing that Meiji Japan followed a blueprint to absorb the Korean peninsula" (page 16). But if there was no "blueprint" for expansion -- and on this point he is correct -- then "completed the initial stage of this process" and "prepared to embark on further expansion" ring untrue.


36-year occupation

Here is the full paragraph I partly cited above regarding the "third dimension" of Caprio's study (page 17, underscoring mine).

A third dimension of this study traces policy evolution in Korea -- how Japan's assimilation policy developed over its thirty-six-year occupation of the Korea Peninsula. [Note 52] Japanese envisioned their policy as a gradual process. They argued that Koreans would require decades, and possibly as long as a century, of guidance before they could shed their traditional culture to absorb Japanese culture. This attitude continued into the 1930s, when the urgency of the wartime situation on the Asian continent forced the government-general to radically accelerate this process. Throughout the duration, the Japanese government used education and the media to instruct Koreans on their new status as Japanese subjects. Beyond this rhetoric, Japan's most important task was to dismantle the walls that separated colonized from colonizer to encourage Japanese to accept Koreans as their fellow imperial subjects.

[Note 52]  Dong Wonmo, "Japanese Colonial Policy and Practice in Korea, 1905-1945: A Study in Assimilation" (Ph.D. diss., Georgetown Univeristy, 1969); Dong Wonmo, "Assimilation and Social Mobilization in Korea," in Korea under Japanese Rule, edited by Andrew C. Nahm, 146-82 (Kalamazoo: Center for Korean Studies, Western Michigan University, 1973). Nagata Akifumi examines Japanese colonial policy up until the March first Movement in his Nihon no Chōsen tōchi to kokusai kankei [Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2005].

Caprio's "thirty-six-year occupation" is problematic for two reasons.

36 years

The status of "Korea" as a territory under Japan's rule began with the enforcement of the annexation treaty on 29 August 1910 and ended when Japan generally surrendered on 2 September 1945. Japan continued to be responsible for law and order on the Korean peninsula until officials of the Government-General of Chosen (GGC) formally surrendered to Soviet and American occupation officials shortly after the general surrender in Tokyo. Arithmetically, this is barely 35 years.

More importantly is the implication of the title of Dong Wongmo's dissertation, which suggests a period of 40 years, beginning from the start of Korea's status as a protectorate of Japan in 1905. Depending on how one defines "occupation" the period could be pushed back even earlier.


There are technical differences between occupation, annexation, acquisition, incorporation, control, jurisdiction and the like. Caprio's "acquisition of Taiwan" (page 12) is indexed as "Taiwan annexation of" (page 317). To repeat a line I cited above -- Japan's "peripheral acquisitions now [by the end of Meiji period] firmly under its control -- Okinawa and Taiwan to the south and Korea, Hokkaido and southern Karafuto (Sakhalin)" becomes, in the very next sentence, "these annexed territories" (pages 13-14).

A later reference to "the acquisition of Taiwan after its [Japan's] victory in the Sino-Japanese War in 1895" (page 49) is indexed as "Taiwan, annexation of, as start of Japanese colonial history" (page 317). Yet a few pages later the "acquisition" or "annexation" is qualified as an event in which "China ceded Taiwan, along with the Pescadore Islands and the Liaotung Peninsula, to Japan as part of the war reparations it paid" (page 70). The territories, however, were not "paid" as "part of the war reparations" -- rather "indemnities" were paid apart from the cessions, and the retrocession of Liaotung two a few months later involved the payment of an additional indemnity.

My point, though, is that one is never sure just what Caprio means by what, after all, are technical terms in political history -- which is his field. If "occupation" means the establishment of physical control of borders and extensive legal jurisdiction within those borders, then Japan had occupied the Empire of Korea from at least 1904 when Korea became a military protectorate of Japan. Japan began to proxy Korea's diplomatic affairs in 1905, and gained considerable control over Korea's domestic affairs in 1907.

Caprio effectively argues that "The rhetoric employed by assimilation practitioners suggests a need for a more nuanced definition of 'colonized'" (page 7). By the same token, the political and legal realities of Japan's engagements on the Korean peninsula from the later decades of the 19th century suggest a need for a more nuanced definition of "occupation" -- and more precise usage of terms related to the forms of territorial acquisition and nationalization.

My own view is that, by no later than the start of the Sino-Japanese War -- on the Korean peninsula in 1894, three years before the founding of the Empire of Korea -- Japan had gained a foothold that constituted a form of "occupation". Never mind the debates that raged in Japan and Korea, and in China, Russia, the United States and other countries, regarding the intent of Japan's foothold -- whether as a step toward establishing a truly independent and self-governing Korean state, or as a step toward further Japanese control. Regardless of Japan's motives at the time, it was so deeply involved in Korea's affairs that some Koreans, and others, wanted Japan to withdraw its foothold from the peninsula.

By 1910 -- when Japan, with help from some Koreans, opted to annex Korea -- Korea had become a Siamese twin that shared some critical anatomy and physiology with Japan. The alternatives were to continue the protectorship, or to phase it out and establish Korea as an independent state.

The object of surgical separation of Korea as a dependency would have been to leave it able to define and defend its own interests, and sustain itself through normal relations with other states, beginning with Japan, China, and Russia. To have done this in 1910, by 1920 or so, would undoubtedly have changed the course of history for greater East Asia and the Pacific.


Map of Japan

The black-and-white illustrations collected in the middle of the book include an image of most of the first page of 30 August 1910 morning edition the Asahi shinbun. Caprio captions the image like this (second page after page 118).

A map of "Japan" that appeared on the front page of Tokyo's Asahi shinbun, August 30, 1910

There are actually two maps. One is titled "Dai Nippon Teikoku no zenbanzu" (大日本帝國の全版圖) or "Complete-edition-map of the Great Empire of Japan". The other is called "Shinbanzu Chōsen" (or "New-editon-map of Chōsen".

A more faithful caption would have been "'Map of Japan' that . . . ." -- not "A map of 'Japan' that . . . ."

By bracketing "Japan", did Caprio intend to suggest that "Korea" should not have been included on the map of "Japan"? Apparantly so, for this is how he describes the map in a show-and-tell in the first paragraph of the third chapter, "Forming Korean Assimilation Policy" (page 81, underscoring mine).

The front page of the August 30, 1910, edition of the Tokyo Asahi shinbun introduced its readers to the expanded parameters of the Japanese empire. On this day the newspaper displayed Japan's sovereignty extending onto continental territory, suggesting that Korea, shaded in the same dark color as the Japanese archipelago, was now to be considered an integral part of Japan. This map also added lines that extended well into China and Manchuria to the west, and into the Pacific Ocean to the east, to articulate the extent to which the acquisition of the Korean Peninsula had extended Japan's lines of interest. Accompanying this graphic display of the Korean Peninsula as an internal colonial addition to Japan, the newspaper appended commentary that emphasized the people's peripheral status: Koreans had the potential to become Japanese over time.

This is a very odd description of the map -- considering the following facts.

1. Taiwan and Karafuto had been parts of Japan's sovereign territory since 1895 and 1905. Neither were part of "the Japanese archipelago".

2. Does Caprio not consider Manchuria to have been part of China at the time? China thought so. And Japan, too, must also have thought so at the time, since for many years it had been negotiating a number of legal issues involving its presence in Manchuria with China. And since 1905, Japan had been representing the Empire of Korea in its relations with China involving Manchuria. After its annexation of Korea as Chōsen, Japan continued to diplomatically battle China over issues concerning its activities in Manchuria -- and the legal status of Chosenese, which China did not wish to treat as Japanese.

3. The "added lines" also include part of Russia on the continent, and part of the Russian half of Sakhalin, as they embrace Karafuto, and then the Chishima islands, the northern stretch of which had been added to the southern stretch, which had already been part of Japan's sovereign territory, in 1875, in a swap with Russia for Japan's interests in Karafuto. The lines appear to have been drawn, not to mark Japan's "lines of interest" but merely to highlight the extent of its farflung Empire -- a common cartographic device.

4. More importantly, the text shown above, to the left, and below the maps consist of transcriptions of the annexation treaty, and imperial edicts, orinances, amnesties, and laws related to the effectuation of the treaty. Anyone reading the paper the day it came out would have known that on Monday, the day before, the Empire of Korea had been annexed to the Empire of Japan as Chōsen.

In other words, the Asahi was reporting the annexation as a fact. The map was "suggesting" nothing. It was showing the political and legal effects of the annexation -- which was recognized by all foreign states that mattered.

Caprio, at times throughout the book, seems unable to report historical events without suggesting that they should not be regarded as facts of political, legal, and social history. His sympathies with those who sufferred indignities or worse are understandable, but their stories would have been more compelling had he dramatized them against a realistic historical background. The map Caprio saw in the newspaper was real. "Korea" had actually become a part of Japan called "Chōsen".

Japan's move to annex Korea in 1910 -- rather than help it to the point that it could fend for itself, without Japan's formal participation in its defense (1904), its foreign affiars (1905), and its domestic affairs (1907) -- was arrogant and even evil. Japan's rationale for intruding in Korea's affairs were not without some validity, but there was no justification for the annexation, much less for the manner in which Japan set out to assimilate Chosenese into the Yamato fold.

Caprio recognizes that Korea's difficulty dealing with China, Russia, Japan, and other countries had a great deal to do with its own political pathology. He does not argue that, under the circumstances in the region, Japan had absolutely no business in Korea.

He would also, I'm sure, agree that Japan had been treated as a second-class state by Euroamerican powers until 1899, when extraterritoriality in Japan finally ended. And that, even during the early decades of the 20th century, Japan was treated with political and racial contempt by not a few major states, including the United States.

None of this is to excuse what Japan did in Korea. But Caprio could have saved at least 10,000 words, simply by cutting out repititons of his own radical rhetoric, and used them to tell a more objective and truer story. He feeds his obsession with talking about "Black and Native Americans" -- among other digressions that shed little light on "assimilation policies in colonial Korea" -- at the expense of placing both Japan and Korea more truthfully on the stages of Northeast, Central, and East Asia but also the Pacific, including Alaska, Hawaii, and the Philippines, among other models that both provoked and inspired Japan's expansionism.


World champions

Caprio "Japanizes" the Interior in his explanation of a poster, the caption of which reads as follows (eighth page of 16 pages of black and white images between pages 118 and 119).

A three-legged race with "nai" (Japan, right) and "sen" (Korea) "united in cooperation "as a "world of 100 million."

Caprio's "world of 100 million" is an error for "champions of the world".

The poster shows two boy running a race, side by side, their inside legs tied together, and their inside arms around each other. The shirt of the boy on the right reads 内 (Nai) and the shirt of the boy on the left reads 鮮 (Sen). Below them, across the bottom of the poster, reading right to left, are slogans. I have shown the graphs below to read from left to right. The romanizations and translations are mine.


Kyōryoku itchi
Sekai no yūsha △△

Cooperation [Teamwork] and Unity
Superiors [Champions] of the World

The △△ represent two kana arranged vertically and of the same smaller size and style as の. The first appears to be た but the second is not clear to my eye. Perhaps they represent "tachi" -- which, in a cute sort of way, would stress the purality of the victory when crossing the finishing line together.

The graph on the poster is clearly 優 (yō) as in "superior" and not 億 (oku) as in "100 million". Granted that graphically 優 might be confused for 億 at first glance -- since the slogan 一億一心 (ichioku isshin) or "100 million [people], one heart" (100 million hearts beating as one) was very common. But 億者 would make no sense -- either linguistically, or in relation to the story told by the picture.

The poster, in any event, is not calling on "Japan" and "Korea" to cooperate -- but on the "Interior" and "Chōsen" to cooperate as members of the same team -- so that their team, the Empire of Japan, i.e., Japan, will win the race.

Other captions

Most of the captions under the black-and-white images fail to illuminate the images. Some are misleading, and few are wrong in their details. There are no cross-references between the images and commentary in the text. And some of the commentary misrepresents the images.

For a good example, see the section toward the end on Katō Kiyomasa.


Interior and Chosen

Caprio represents "Naichi" and "gaichi" various ways. The term "Naichi" refers to a single "interior territory" which I generally translate as the "Interior". "Gaichi" however includes several "exterior territories" which I collectively call the "Exterior" as distinct from the "Interior".


On page 4, Caprio introduces the following three terms among several others.

"peninsular people" (hantōmin)
"heartland people" (Naichijin)
"Japanese people" (Nihonjin)

Naichi later becomes "homeland" as in "Koreans studying the Naeji (homeland; Japanese Naichi) language" (page 103). Here Caprio writes "Naeji" because the remark is related to an editorial in the 23 February 1911 issue of Maeil sinbo (page 247, note 64). Neither "Naichi" nor "Naeji" are listed in the Glossary.

Later still, "Naichi" becomes "Japan" -- as in "'the cultural rule of Japan extensionism' (Naichi enchōshugi no bunka seiji" (page 118). The italicized phrase is not in the Glossary. If Caprio has romanized 内地延長主義の文化政治, then the phrase would mean something closer to "the culture politics of Interior extensionism".

Caprio is citing a series of 1920 articles by Hosoi Hajime collectively titled "Chōsen no tōchi", which he says means "Administration of Korea" but is more like "Rule of Chōsen" (朝鮮の統治). In reference to a citation from the series, Caprio writes that "The Japanese would have to extend its [Japan's] prefecture system (fuken seido) to the peninsula" -- and all aspects of the system "would have to be extended to Koreans on a basis equal to that of the homeland" (page 118).

Two pages earlier, Caprio has remarked that Akagi Kameichi, in the same journal (see below), also in 1920, that "Korea" should not be made "an extension of the homeland" (page 116) -- in which "Korea" and "homeland" are undoubtedly Caprio's dub for "Chōsen" and "Naichi" -- the "Chōsen" and "Interior" jurisdictions of the Empire of Japan.

Neither Akagi nor Hosoi are contending that Chōsen is not part of Japan, much less are they equating Naichi with Japan. They are contending that Chōsen should not be an object of integration into the Interior, i.e., the prefectural system -- which would require that Chosenese be assimilated into Interior ways of life as governned by Interior laws and customs.

Caprio clearly understands the arguments against incorporation into the Interior system -- some of which doubted that Chosenese are capable of being ruled in the manner that Interiorites were being ruled, or doubted that Japan was up to the task of changing Chosenese to the point that Chōsen would be compatible with the Interior system. The problem is that Caprio misrpresents the "Interior" / "Chōsen divide as a "Japan" / "Korea" divide.


Caprio variously speaks of "'outer territories' (gaichi)" (page 143) and "'outer regions' (gaichi" (page 150). He does not otherwise clarify what entities are part of the Exterior, much less specify which Exterior entities are part of Japan's sovereign empire and hence considered integral parts of Japan (Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen), as opposed to parts of Japan's larger legal dominion (South Sea Islands, Kwantung Province), which were under Japan's control and jurisdiction but not part of the sovereign empire.


Japan as a sovereign territory -- during the period that Caprio differentiates "colonial Korea" from "Japan" -- consisted of the Interior (Naichi), Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen -- representing four different legal juristictions or what I call "subnational" polities. The Interior was the prefectural jurisdiction governed by through the Imperial Diet, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, and various ministries beginning with the Ministry of Interior [Home] Affairs.

Karafuto came to be governed under Interior laws years before it was formally integrated into the prefectural system in 1943. Taiwan and Chōsen, while increasingly ruled under territorial laws that were based on Interior laws, continued to be overseen by governor-generals. In 1942, when the Land Development [Colonial] Ministry was dissolved and the Greater East Asia Ministry (大東亜省 Dai-To-A-sho) created to oversee the territories beyond Japan's sovereign dominion, Karafuto, with Taiwan and Chōsen, were placed under the Home Affairs Ministry (内務省 Naimusho).

Taiwan and Chōsen and their governor-generals, were teathered to the Interior Ministry, but legally they remained outside the direct reach of most Interior laws.

Colonial theory

I have come to view the "gaichi" of Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen as being somewhat different than the "colonies" of Great Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, or the United States. They were, and they weren't, "colonies" of Japan. Their subjects were, and they weren't, "colonial subjects" of Japan.

When it comes to the push and shove of name calling, though, I would be the first to argue that it really doesn't matter what the team owners, coaches, players, umpires, cheerleaders, spectators, commentators, or Monday-morning quarterbacks thought or think. What matters is the game.

I want to know, foremost, what happened on the field. I want to see the game and to some extent be allowed to judge its plays and progress for myself. Only then do I want to hear whether others thought it was about "colonization" or "expansionism" internal or peripheral or external, or "militarism" or "nationalism" or "racism" or whatever.

One of the major flaws in Caprios representation of "colonial Korea" is to equate the Interior with "Japan" as though Chōsen was not part of Japan. As I see the game, the Interior and Chōsen, and Taiwan and Karafuto, were on the same team -- the Japan team. This does not mean that all Japanese -- all Interiorites, Chosenese, Taiwanese, and Karafutoans wanted to play on the same team, if even play in the game that Japan was playing. But the resistance of some Japanese subjects to subjectood did not change the fact of their subjecthood or otherwise stop the game from being played.


Subjects and nationals

Japan's first family register law, enforced from 1872, spoke of "people" (人民 jinmin), "nationals" (国民 kokumin), and "subjects" (臣民 shinmin) synonymously. An 1873 law referred to the status of being in a register as that of being "Japanese" (日本人 Nihonjin). The 1890 Constitution spoke of "subjects". The 1899 Nationality Law, which defined conditions for being subjects, spoke of being "Japanese"the "status of being Japanese".

During the imperial years, all people in all registers affiliated with the sovereign territory of the Empire of Japan -- embracing the Interior (Naichi) or prefectures, Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen -- were subjects and nationals of Japan, and as such they were Japanese. "Subject" referred to their status in relation to the sovereign emperor. "National" refered to their affiliation with state's demographic nation. "Japanese" referred to their status "people of Japan" defined by their subjecthood and nationality.

I will address what Caprio says about "Nationality" and "Family registers" in separate sections. Here I will discuss mainly what he says about "Subjects and nationals".

Japanese subjects

In a section headed "Taiwan Assimilation: Rhetoric and Practice" in the second chapter, "Japan's Development of Internal and Peripheral Assimilation", Caprio summarizes three "plans" that Japan could have applied to Taiwan and other Chinese territories ceded to it in the Treaty of Shimonoseki, then writes this (pages 72-73, underscoring mine).

The Japanese government managed to insert parts of all three plans into the colonial administrations it introduced to Taiwan (and later Korea). In both territories Japan declared its policy to be assimilation, yet it never recognized the Taiwanese or Koreans as Japanese subjects.

The historical and legal facts are somewhat different.


Article 5 of the Treaty of Shimonoseki states, in three languages no less, that "At the expiration of that period those of the inhabitants who shall not have left such territories shall, at the option of Japan, be deemed to be Japanese subjects."

Japan's first Nationality Law was promulgated on 16 March and enforced from 1 April 1899. The law was extended to Taiwan by Imperial Ordinance No. 289 of 1899, promulgated on and enforced from 21 June 1899. The Nationality Law could not have been extended to Taiwan, much less operated in the territory, had its affiliated inhabitants not already been regarded as Japanese subjects and nationals.

Japan's Nationality Law lacks provisions for defining who is already a Japanese national by virtue of being a member of a household register affiliated with a locality within Japan's national territory. It merely establishes rules for determining who qualifies for future enrollment in, or disenrollment from, such registers.

After Taiwan became part of Japan, Taiwanese were internationally recognized as Japanese subjects and nationals. In Japanese law, the constitutional term "shinmin" (subject) and the generally synonymous term "national" (kokumin) included them before the extension of the Nationality Law to the territory. "Nihonjin" (Japanese), the term used in the Nationality Law, of course included them, and they were classified as such in census and other such demographic counts of Japanese subjects and nationals.

After World War II, the Allied Powers recognized tha Taiwanese had been subjects and nationals of Japan. Subjecthood ended when the Allied Powers assumed control of the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China received Japan's surrender in Taiwan, but nationality legally continued until ROC laws and related procedures, in concert with later peace treaties and treaty-based actions, determined otherwise. Postwar Japanese courts, too, have consistently upheld that Taiwanese, during the period that Taiwan was part of Japan, were imperial subjects and nationals.

Koreans as Chosenese

Ordinances and declarations issued on 29 August 1910, concerning the union of Korea with Japan signed on 22 August, made very clear that from that day, as a result of the treaty's enforcement, "Kankoku" would become a part of the Empire of Japan and be called "Chōsen". Moreover, from that day, treaties which foreign powers had concluded with Kankoku would be null and void, and treaties they had concluded with the Empire of Japan would apply to their legations, trading companies, ships, and other entities in Chōsen. And "subjects and people" (shinmin to jinmin) of these powers residing in Chōsen would possess the rights they would have in the Interior of Japan, meaning the prefectures.

Since "foreigners in Chōsen" did not include the people who had been subjects of the Emperor of Korea, these people must, as former "Kanmin" (Koreans), now "Chōsenjin" (Chosenese), have been subjects of the Emperor of Japan. They did not have to be "declared" subjects, because the union treaty itself, and related ordinances, made their subjecthood obvious.

It is true that Japan did not extend its Nationality Law to the Chōsen peninsula. But the Empire of Korea had its own register laws and affiliation practices, the most important of which were put in place under Japan's direction. In March 1909, under the urging and guidance (insistance even) of Japan's Resident-General of Korea -- who since 1907 had been legally empowered to be concerned in Korea's domestic administration -- Korea promulgated the Population Register Law (Minsekihō).

The Population Register Law served Korea as a de facto nationality law. When Korea became Chōsen, the law served as a de facto regional affiliation law, which defined Chosenese by their Chōsen registers, just as the Interiory Nationality Law defined Interiorites by their Interior registers, and the Nationality Law as applied to Taiwan registers defined Taiwanese. Later migrations between Interior, Taiwan, and Chōsen registers were predicated on common subjecthood and nationality.

Caprio concludes the chapter like this (page 80, and note 131, page 240, underscoring mine).

Over the four decades that followed its rise to power,the Meiji regime administered its imperial territories under two separate policies -- internal colonialization for Japanese and peripheral colonization for incorporated peoples. While it recognized regional differences within the Japanese archipelago, all were required to assume an identity as Japanese subjects. Their loyalties would be honed by the newly institute compulsory education system and tested in times of national emergency, such as war. Residents of Japan's annexed peripheral territories required extended training before they could be given the status of Japanese subjecthood. The Meiji government rejected alternative approaches that envisioned Japan as a diplomatically savvy state that secured its borders by maintaining strong relations with global powers, or that imagined Japan forming a pan-Asian community with its Northeast Asian neighbors. By the end of the nineteenth century, Japan had clearly determined its interest in a third alternative, territorial expansion, as its eyes trained on the last peripheral territory that law well within its line of interest, but just beyond its line of soverginty -- the Korean Peninsula. [Note 131]. . . [last sentences of graph omitted.]

[Note 131] These formed the three discourses introduced by Nakae Chōmin in his A Disource by Three Drunkards on Government. Edward I-te Chen describes the military's desire to annex Korea after the Sino-Japanese War in his "Japan's decision to Annex Taiwan."

Caprio is imposing a non-historical, non-legal definition of "Japanese" and "subjecthood" on his subjects. The "internal colonization" he speaks of was also the result of a gradual expansion of political and social control of territories and populations within what came to be called "Naichi" or "Interior" -- referring to the prefectural polity of the Empire of Japan by the time the Meiji Constitution, enforced from 1890, formally called people who owed their allegiance to the sovereign emperior "shinmin" -- "loyal people [affiliates]" -- i.e., "subjects".

Caprio at times more accurately renders "shinmin" and "kokumin" as respectively "subjects" and "nationals". In relation to this distinction, he makes a number of statements which I cannot confirm but which don't quite make sense -- such as this one (page 84, underscoring mine).

The largest Japanese-language newspaper in Korea [Keijō nippō (Seoul Times)] urged that Koreans be incorporated as colonial subjects (shinmin) rather than as simply Japanese (Nihonjin). The newspaper lobbied for the maintenance of this distinction even if the Korean people were to be admitted into the Japanese Empire on a basis of equality, which was the case with Japan's other colonized peoples in Taiwan and Karafuto. . . . As a model, the editorial urged Japanese to consider the case of the United Kingdom. The English had assimilated the Welsh, Scots, and Irish not as English (Eijin) but as British subjects (Buriten eikoku no shinmin). [Note 10]

[Note 10]  "Nihonjin to Nihon shinmin to no kubetsu" [The Distinction between a Japanese National and a Japanese Subject], Keijō nippō) (September 13, 1910). . . .

Such anecdotes rescue Caprio's book from the "D" or "F" bin. But this anecdote, or rather the way in which Caprio presents it, deserves no more than a "C". Did he not perceive that "rather than as simply Japanese" does not make sense -- if the argument was that Koreans should be subjects of Japan but not Japanese?

Nor is it clear -- in Caprio's account of the editorial -- whether "as was the case with Japan's other colonized peoples in Taiwan and Karafuto" is his or the editor's voice. In any event, while the statuses of Taiwanese and Karafutoans as "subjects" and "nationals" of the Empire of Japan were equal to those of Interiorites, there was no equality between the jurisdictional statuses -- i.e., the statuses of being Interiorite, Taiwanese, or Karafutoan. Chōsenese, too, would be subjects and nationals with a different quality of territorial status.

The Common Law, which established rules for facilitating private matters between all of Japan's legal jurisdictions, was not promulgated until 1918. And Article 3 of this law, which facilitated migrations between corporate families in the respective territories, was not enforced until 1921. That the Common Law applied equally to all subjects and nationals testifies to the their common status as Japanese. That it differentiated Japanese subjects and nationals according to their territorial status reflected the differences in the legal systems of the territorial jurisdictions.

Shinmin and kokumin

Caprio, in his Conclusion, where one expects that he will sharpen his story about Japanese "assimilation policies in colonial Korea", does just the opposite (page 206, underscoring mine).

Japan's disparaging images of Koreans may also have kept Koreans away from Japanese neighborhood and schools. The Japanese stubbornly continued practices that accented Japanese-Korean difference even while making efforts to reduce these differences by unifying school systems and having Koreans adopt Japanese names. This was evident in the regulation that forced Japan-based Koreans to maintain their family registers on the peninsula. A subtler example was the semantic use of kokumin for Japanese and shinmin for Koreans. The two terms mean "subject," but while both Japanese and Korean were shinmin, kokumin appears to be a term more appropriate for Japanese. Official documents encouraged Korean adoption of a kokumin seishin (national spirit) that would unite both Japanese and Korean. But Koreans would gain this as kōkoku shinmin (imperial subjects) rather than as kokumin (national subjects), as the Chōsen oyobi Manshū argued in November 1911. [Note 15]

[Note 15]  "Chōsenjin no dōkaryoku" (Korean Assimilation Capacity), Chōsen oyobi Manshū (November 1911), 10, 13.

In this passage, Caprio shows his flare for scrambling and tangling vague and confusing detail, representing different periods and places, as though to attempt to weave a dynamic time-space tapestry. But the movements and images are chaotic and confusing.

"Japan's disparaging images of Koreans"
A subtler example was the semantic use of kokumin for Japanese and shinmin for Koreans.

In the immediately preceding paragraph, Caprio stated that "Segregation persisted even within the appearance of apparent integration, as seen in schools where Korean and Japanese students maintained segregated lifestyles even within the integrated campus" (page 206). But is the failure of different people to fraternize, even when given an opportunitity to sociall mix, necessarily the result of disparaging images?

As for disparaging images, are not "Korea's disparaging images of Japanese" not also keeping people from crossing the lines?

As for line crossing, how many Japanese were crossing the lines into Korean society? How many Koreans were crossing the lines into Japanese society? What amount of crossing, either way, would Caprio "expect" if people were left to decide for themselves, as opposed to being forcibly integrated?See the section on "Fraternization" for more about Caprio's views of how people crossed lines.

"having Koreans adopt Japanese names"

See the section on "Names" for more about what Caprio means by this statement.

"family registers on the peninsula"

See the section on "Family registers" for what Caprio means by this statement.

"semantic use"

Not only do "shinmin" and "kokumin" have different meanings, but there is no evidence that, in law, Chosenese were not both subjects and nationals of Japan and as such Japanese. Korea was annexed as Chōsen in August 1910. Caprio takes an opinion expressed in a popular magazine in November 1911, when the future of Chōsen as a part of Japan was being hotly debated, as the foundation for his implication that "kokumin" was reserved for "Japanese" whereas "Koreans" were only "subjects" -- during the entire period of his study.

History of "shinmin" and "kokumin" in Japanese law

In Chapter 2 -- "Development of Internal and Peripheral Assimilation" -- Caprio writes this about the use of "shinmin" and "kokumin" within Japan before it acquired Taiwan and annexed Korea (pages 55-56).

In spite of these [regional] differences [in behavior and speech] the central administration was motivated to include all residents of the archipelago first as shinmin (subject) and later as kokumin (national subject).

In fact, jinmin (人民) meaning "people" and kokumin (国民) meaning "national" appear in the Preample of the 1872 Family Register Law (Great Council of State Proclamation No. 170 of 1871), while shinmin meaning "subject" appears in the articles of this law.


Nation and race

Caprio uses "ethnicity" and "ethnic" in ways that are out of character with the period of his study. Such terms existed then but were rarely used, especially in the contexts of the materials which Caprio is dubbing from Japanese or Korean into English. Terms like "nation" and "national" were more common, for reasons that are important from the standpoint of understanding the extent to "nation" and "national" were conflated with "race" and "racial".


On page 4 Caprio writes "ethnic-self-determination (minzoku jiketsu)" -- which appears to be an improper morph of the principle of the "self-determination of peoples" or "national self-determination" which Woodrow Wilson is supposed to have proposed in January 1918 -- 7 years and 4 months after Japan annexed Korea in 1910, and 1 year and 3 months before the outbreak of Korean independence movements in 1919. If the independence movements were about anything, they were about Koreans as a "people" or "nation" and not about "ethnicity".

Elsewhere, he chides Akagi Kameichi for incorrectly equating Wilson's "idea of self-determination" with "racial equality" (page 116, underscoring mine).

Akagi addressed the U.S. president Woodrow Wilson's idea of self-determination, an idea he incorrectly equated with "racial equality"." If the Korean people's call for independence were effectuated throughout the world, he reasoned, we would have to devise a system of "racial determination" in which Negroes in the United States would be given their own state to govern, and Russia, England, and other states would have to be divided to allow different peoples their own sovereign territories. Racial self-determination presupposed that minorities were capable of taking advantage of this privilege. They were not, Akagi claimed, and the world would be thrown into chaos should they be given this right. For this simple reason he believed it impossible for Japan to grant Koreans the independence they demanded.

Caprio's comments refer to an article by Akagi, published in February 1920 about a year after the March 1919 independence movements, which followed by about a year Wilson's allusions to "free nations" that determined their own laws. An end note (Note 11, page 149) describes the article as Akagi Kameichi, "Taisen shigi: Dōka seisaku wo haisu" (A Personal Submission concerning Korea: Doing Away with Assimilation Policy), Nihon oyobi Nihonjin (February 1 and 15, 1920). If the title was 対鮮私議:同化政策を廃す then it means "Personal opinion concerning Chōsen: Abolish assimilation policy".

Caprio presents no linguistic or other grounds for his claim that Akagi "incorrectly equated" Wilson's principle with "racial equality". Wilson's remarks about "self-determination" were ambiguous to the point they set off a debate as to whether "nations" by whatever definition were to have the right to "autonomy" within a larger sovereign state, or the right to establish themselves as independent states? Wilson was addressing the problem of how to break up the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but his remarks had implications for all diverse states -- including the United States and of course Japan.

Of interest here is that, in Feburary 1919, at the Paris Peace Conference, Japan proposed an amendment of Article 21 of the Covenant of the Leage of Nations, to the effect that "The equality of nations being a basic principle of the League of Nations, the High Contracting Parties agree to accord as soon as possible to all alien nationals of states, members of the League, equal and just treatment in every respect making no distinction, either in law or in fact, on account of their race or nationality." In April 1919, a majority accepted the proposal -- but Wilson, who chaired the conference, vetoed it, on the grounds that opposition had been too strong, hence it would require a unanimous vote to pass.

Caprio goes on to clarify that Akagi argued for the rule of "Korea" within the empire -- but as "Korea" rather than as an "extension of the homeland" -- to use Caprio's terms. I have not seen Akagi's article, and Caprio does not reveal the terms Akagi used. And Caprio's English dubs of Japanese terms are too capricous for me to guess what Akagi actually wrote.

I suspect Akagi wrote "Chōsen" and "Naichi" -- not "Korea" or "homeland". Whether Akagi used "jinshu" or "minzoku" for what Caprio has dubbed "racial" does not, in any event, matter. The semantic ranges of such words overlapped. Contemporary ethnographic commentary in Japanese generally differentiated "jinshu" as a biological classification and "minzoku" as a classification for differences in language, religion, and customs. But the lines between genes and environment, nature and nurture, were not always clear. Equivalents in English and other languages also overlapped, and conflation of "nation" and "race" are common.

The term "minzoku" implied "nation" or "people" as an ethnic, racioethnic, and racial entity. The term "jinshu" implied "race" in the narrower biological sense of the term. The English term "nation" was highly racialized, especially in the United States, where "national origin" was synonymous with "race" when speaking of, say, "Chinese" or "Japanese" and other "Orientals".

Akagi was being provocative but for a reason. Many Japanese commentators at the time were sensitive to the hypocrisy of complaints concerning the treatment of people within the Empire of Japan, from people in states that legalized various forms of racial discrimination. The United States set the worst example of legalized racialism and racism -- not only race boxes but federal, state, and local laws that legalized racial discrimination -- whereas Japan's laws were raceless. Neither race nor ethnicity mattered in any Japanese status law.

Dictionary of Races and Peoples

The United States required racial classifications on passenger manifests of ships arriving at its ports of entry, and in 1911 the Immigration Commission published Dictionary of Races or Peoples to facilitate such classifications.

For a closer look at how the United States and a few other countries racialized aliens arriving at their ports of entry, see Race boxes at ports of entry.

"shuzoku" and "jinshu"

Caprio does not gloss the term "race" in his citation of a passage from Fukuzawa Yukichi's "Outline of a view of enlightenment/civilization" (文明論之概略 Bunmeiron no gairyaku), published in 1875, which he attributes to a 1973 translation by David A. Dilworth (page 56, underscoring mine).

A second major task involved determining state membership. Fukuzawa emphasized this in his 1975 Bunmeiron no gairaku (Outline on a Theory of Civilization). Japan's most important interpreter of Western civilization defined national polity formation as a process of

grouping together of a race of people of similar feelings, the creation of a distinction between fellow countrymen and foreigners, the fostering of more cordial and stronger bonds with one's countrymen than with foreigners. It is living under the same government, enjoying self-rule, and disliking the idea of being subject to foreign rule; it involves independence and responsibility for the welfare of one's own country. [Note 31].

[Note 31]  Fukuzawa Yukichi, An Outline on a Theory of Civilization, translated by David Dilworth (Tokyo: Sophia University, 1973), 23.

The book cited by Caprio was actually titled "An Outline of a Theory of Civilization". And it was translated by both David A. Dilworth and G. Cameron Hurst.

More significantly, Caprio omitted the last and most significant sentence of the cited passage, in which Fukuzawa was generally defining "national polity" (Fukuzawa 2009 [2008]: 30, underscoring mine).

In Western countries it is called nationality.

"kokutai" as "nationality"

The term "kokutai" (国体) -- literally "national body" -- means "the corporal manifestation of a nation" -- or, as it is commonly rendered in English, "national essense" or "national polity" (Caprio uses both in his book). In noting that the equivalent in the languages of western countries was "nationality".

The word Fukuzawa used for "nationality" was precisely ナシヨナリチ (nashiyonarichi > nashonarichi), which today would be written ナショナリティ (nashonariti). In otherwords, Fukuzawa was equating "kokutai" in Japanese with "nationality" in Euroamerican languages -- i.e., the qualify of being a nation. This was not "race" -- and, in the cited passage, Fukuzawa was not talking about "race".

I have cited the 2008 "retranslation" by Dilworth and Hurst of their 1973 translation, in which the passage cited by Caprio remains the same -- nothing has been retranslated. One the whole, the passage is rendered much too freely to qualify as more than part translation, part paraphrase, and part interpretation of what Fukuzawa actually wrote.

In particular, Dilworth and Hurst did not pay sufficient attention to Fukuzawa's differentiation of terms like "shuzoku" and "jinshu". The term they translated as "race" in the passage cited by Caprio was "shuzoku" -- which was closer to "ethnos" and "nation" than to biological "race" in the sense that Fukuzawa used "jinshu". Caprio takes the accuracy of his secondary sources for granted -- which is puzzling, since Fukuzawa's works are so easily confirmable.

For a closer look at how Fukuzawa differentiated shuzoku, jinshu, jinmin, and other labels for people in his 1875 work, Fukuzawa 1875 in the Race section of the Bibliographies feature of this website.


Caprio usually renders "minzoku" as "race" -- as in "Yamato race (Yamato minzoku) (page 67), which is "Yamato minzoku 大和民族" in the Glossary (page 273).

A few pages later, though, he writes of "the journal Minzoku to rekishi (Ethos and History) in which, in 1921, Kita Sadakichi is said to have "argued the Yamato people's origins to be a result of the 'fusion' (yūgo) of several lesser peoples" (page 82). In the end notes, however, all instances of "minzoku" in titles of articles and books are translated "race" (page 240, note 5).

I myself follow the practice of translating "minzoku" as "race" in its broader anthropological sense, especially to differentiate "minzoku" when used with reference to "racioethnic" or "ethnonational" traits of a "nation" -- as opposed to "nation" in its raceless, non-ethnic "civil" character. If a politician speaks of both "Nihon kokumin" and "Nihon minzoku", then the former is "Japanese nationals" or "Japanese people" or even "Japanese nation" -- while the later is "Japanese race".

Because "minzoku" has not been a legal term in Japanese status laws, I generally prefer "race" or "[racioethnic] nation" -- rather than just "nation" much less "people". I do this in order to ensure the civil integrity of non-ethnic, raceless legal terms like "jinmin" (people) and "kokumin" (national, nation).

However -- a distinction needs to be made between "minzoku" and "shuzoku" and "jinshu" -- especially when these terms are used together. Their semantic ranges overlap, but "jinshu" is more on the physical end of the spectrum, and "minzoku" is more on the social end, while "shuzoku" is somewhere between but closer to "minzoku" than "jinshu".

For a good example of usage of these three terms in the same sentence, with such nuances, see Murayama 1942.


Nationality laws

Both "shinmin" and "kokumin" were used in laws concerning people's rights and duties as subjects and nationals of the Empire of Japan. "Nihonjin" had currency in laws like the Nationality Law, which was promulgated in the Interior in 1899, applied to Taiwan a few months later the same year, and applied to Karafuto in 1924, but never applied to Chōsen.

The Nationality Law did not, however, define the nationality of persons in registers affiliated with territory in which the law applied. It merely governed who stood to acquire nationality at birth, or could acquire or lose nationality, or reacquire nationality when lost, later in life. The 1909 Population Registration Law of the Empire of Korea, and related customary laws regarding membership in Korea's population registers, continued to serve as affiliation laws after Korea was annexed as Chō in 1910. The effects of the 1909 law and related practices on status in Chōsen registers were similar to the effects of the Nationality Law on registers in the Interior, Taiwan, and Karafuto.

Caprio's Index lists "Nationality laws" and gives four page numbers 65, 128, 151, 190 (page 313). Only one of the four pages actually speaks of "nationality" and what it says is incorrect.

1st indexed reference to "Nationality laws"

"new Family Register Law (Kosekihō)"

On the 1st page indexed under "Nationality laws" Caprio states only that a certain Okinawan newspaper, from October to November 1898, "lectured on the new Family Register Law (Kosekihō)" (page 65). Caprio characterized the paper as having "assumed the capacity of a social education textook by providing commentaries on new legislation that pertained to Okinawa residents."

Nothing is said about "nationality". Nor could the paper have said anything abount nationality, for the Nationality Law would not be promulgated until March the following year. And when it came into effect in April 1899, it applied to the registers of all prefectures in the Interior -- all members of whom were assumed to already be Japanese.

All general newspapers in Japan, during the Meiji period, and still today, report new legislation and carry related commentary. The Family Register Law of 1898 was a major revision of the standing law, to bring it into compliance with the newly minted Civil Code. It applied to all registers affiliated with all municipal polities in the prefectures. It had effects on certain legacy practices in Okinawa registers, but did not itself "pertain" to Okinawa.

2nd indexed reference to "Nationality laws"

"nationality laws (minsekihō)

On the 2nd page indexed under "Nationality laws" Caprio refers to developments that relaxed "power symbols and language" as "barriers", states that "By revising the nationality laws (minsekihō) the administration also hoped to make it easier for Koreans and Japanese to intermarry" (page 128).

No "nationality laws" were called "minsekihō" -- and no nationality laws were revised to facilitate marriages. Chōsen had a Population Register Law (民籍法 Minsekihō) which governed status in Chōsen registers.

The Minsekihō had been promulgated in 1909 in what was then the Empire of Korea. Korea did not have a nationality law as such and did not need one. Japan had established a Nationality Law in 1899, but had gotten along well enough on the strength of its 1872 Family Register Law and related measures, including an 1873 proclamation that facilitated marriages and adoptions, and related status changes, between Japanese and aliens.

States do not need nationality laws to determine what would be recognized as "nationality" in international law. Nor does having a specific law of nationality necessarily solve problems related to statelessness or multiple nationality, which have been major concerns of international law. China promulgated its first nationality in 1909, heavily influenced by Japan's 1899 law, a few days after the Empire of Korea promulgated the Minsekihō. But "Chinese nationality" also continued to be determined through customary regard.

National affiliation in Japan had been based on territorial affiliation long before Japan began to enforce its first Nationality Law in 1899. A century later, as I write this, in 2010, Japanese nationality continues to be essentially a matter of affiliation with a polity that is part of Japan's sovereign dominion.

The Nationality Law of 1899 was predicated on the assumption that membership in a family register was tantamount with possessing the "status of a Japanese". Migration into or out of a family register had been the essential cause of gaining or losing the "status of a Japanese", and the Nationality Law merely codifies the conditions that were to determine gain and loss of status -- as a "Japanese" (Nihonjin) under the 1899 law, as a "national" (Kokumin) under the 1950 law.

When Korea joined Japan as Chōsen, its 1909 Minsekihō and customary laws continued to define demographic affiliation with the territory of Chōsen. Members of Chōsen registers were Chosenese on account of the territorial affiliation of the registers, not on account of race or ethnicity. And because Chōsen was territorially part of the dominion of the emperor of Japan, Chosenese owed the emperor their allegience. They were his "loyal people" or "subjects", and as such they were nationals of Japan and therefore Japanese.

The status of Chōsen as part of Japan, and of Chosenese as Japanese, was recognized in contemporary international law. The Allied Powers recognized the legal legacy of Japan's annexation of Korea in the manner in which it treated "Korea" and "Koreans" when Japan surrendered in 1945. During the Occupation of Japan, "Koreans" suspected of committing war crimes as Japanese nationals were subject to trial as war criminals. And "Koreans in Japan" were regarded as retaining their Japanese nationality until suitable treaties determined otherwise.

The Population Register Law (Minsekihō) of 1909 was under the jurisdiction of the Government-General of Chosen (GGC), not as a law of nationality but as a law of territorial affiliation. It was not necessary to revise territorial register laws to facilitate register migrations in private matters like marriage or adoption. All that was needed was a set of rules that determined which territory's laws applied to a particular case.

Obviously, migration from a Chōsen register to an Interior register, say, would require compliance with Interior law, and vice versa. Membership in more than one principle domicile register was then, and remains today, illegal. One could establish a legal residence in a locality other than that of one's primary domicile address (honseki). And, though not as easily as today, one could change one's honseki address within the same register system. But there were no provisions for changing honseki addresses between register systems within Japan -- meaning the Interior, Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen. There were some occasions of physically moving registers on the Kurile islands to the main island of Hokkaido (the Kuriles were part of Hokkaido prefecture), and Ogasawa registers were physically moved to Honshu (Ogasawa being part of Tokyo prefecture). But these movements were made in conjunction with the relocating the people in the registers.

Population registration had for centuries been the principle tool with which Japan attempted to administer any territory it regarded as subject to its control and jurisdiction, whether or not the territory was legally part of its sovereign dominion. Local register practices took into consideration local customs, and family laws became standardized throughout Japan only after the implementation of the 1872 Family Register Law.

After Korea's annexation as Chōsen, the 1909 Population Register Law was supplemented by measures intended to improve bureaucratic (including police) control through demographic records. During the 1910s, the Government-General of Chosen (GGC) issued various decrees that further developed Chōsen's family law within the parameters of customary Korean family law, while also incorporating some elements of Interior family law.

The Chōsen Family Register Decree (朝鮮戸籍令 Chōsen koseki rei) of 18 December 1922 (Government-General of Chosen Decree No. 154) added many elements of the Interior register system to the Chōsen system. From this point, the "minseki" (民籍) began to be referred to as "Chōsen koseki" (朝鮮戸籍). These revisions in register practices had nothing to do with subjecthood or nationality, but merely made the peninsula register system somewhat more compatible with the Interior system.

3rd indexed reference to "Nationality laws"

"family registration legislation (kosekihō)"

On the 3rd page indexed under "Nationality laws" Caprio mentions only "family registration legislation (kosekihō)" in the course of reporting opinion expressed in 1938 or so about conflicts between "Korean" and "Japanese" family laws (page 151).

By this point I am beginning to wonder if Caprio, or whoever created his index, saw "kōsekihō" (family register law) as "kokusekihō" (nationality law). Granted, family registers double as national registers. But the two laws are totally different. And issues involving differences in the family register rules that applied in Japan's different territorial jurisdictions were not nationality issues.

See the sections on "Family registers" and "Names" for more about incompatibilities in register rules.

4th indexed reference to "Nationality laws"

"family registration laws (kosekihō)"

The 4th and last indexed reference to "Nationality laws" that turns out to have nothing to do with "nationality" comes on page 190 in the final chapter, "Korean Critiques of Japanese Assimilation Policy". However, the relevant paragraph begins (and first refers to "family registration") on the previous page (pages 189-190, note 64, page 265, [bracketed remarks] and underscoring mine.

The "participants" are members of the "Korean central advisory committee (chūsūin sangi" which produced the circa September 1938 reports (see above, and comments below).

The most valuable comments made by the Korean participants [in the 1938 advisory committee] targeted not only the core problem of Japanese administrative practices, but of assimilation as a policy in general: the reluctance of the colonized to introduce practices that would actually integrate the colonized with the colonizer. Yi Sŭgu's comments attacked two such issues: family registration and marriage registration. He noted the problem of Koreans who migrated to Japan having to maintain their legal addresses (honseki) in Korea. This prevented them from gaining full status as Japanese subjects (kokumin), which required their being permitted to transfer their family register (koseki) to their place of residence. This would seriously affect Japan-based Koreans who wished to join Japan's volunteer corps, because to complete their applications they had to travel to their Korean hometowns to obtain copies of their family registrations. Also, Japanese law prevented Korean males married to Japanese females from forming a family register in Japan, but allowed Korean wives to be included on their Japanese husband's register. This legislation -- which served in Japan proper as well as throughout the empire -- characterized the Koreans as different and even foreign. It required amending to unify peninsula-archipelago family registration laws (kosekihō). [Note 64]

[Note 64] Ibid., 368. Japan amended this law in 1985 to permit foreign males married to Japanese to be included on the woman's family register.

The ibidem refers to note 61, which states that "The document's final version (dated the same as the Counterplan Proposal) is included in Sin, ed., Ilcheha chibae chŏngch'aek charyojip, vol. 16, 5-213." The date is September 1938.

I am unable to fully untangle Caprio's knots, but this is what he appears to be trying to say.

"the reluctance of the colonized"

It seems that Caprio means "the reluctance of the colonizer to introduce practices that would actually integrate the colonized with the colonizer". Variations of "colony" top his list of words to repeat as often as possible, and it appears his or an editor's wires crossed.

"legal addresses"

A "honseki" is the address in the local polity (municipality) that has jurisdiction over a "koseki" or family register. As such, it is one's primary legal address for purposes of determining one's primary territorial affiliation, which at the state level is linked with nationality.

The address at which one is domiciled -- i.e., where one is registered as a resident -- establishes a secondary affiliation for domicile purposes. Chosenese and Interiorities were Chosenese and Interiorites by virtue of their Chōsen and Interior honseki. Chosenese with domiciles in an Interior polity with an election district could, as Japanese nationals, vote if otherwise qualified by suffrage laws that applied to all imperial subjects. However, Interiorites domiciled in Chōsen could not vote because there were as yet no election districts in the territory.

Aliens were defined as those who did not possess Japanese nationality, because they did not possess a honseki in Japan (Interior, Taiwan, Karafuto, Chōsen). Aliens would write their country of nationality. This is still the practice today. Chosenese, Taiwanese, and Karafutoans were not aliens.

"full status as Japanese subjects"

Status as a "Japanese subject" (Nihon shinmin) -- defined by possession of Japanese nationality (Nihon kokuseki), making one a Japanese (Nihonjin) -- was an either-or attribute. There were no partial subjecthood. Caprio is confusing subjecthood with rights and duties, which vary according to personal attributes including nested affiliation statuses (nation, region, locality), domicile address, gender, age, tax status, and the like.

"transfer their family register"

Legal migration from one honseki to another entails transferring a koseki from the jurisdiction of one polity to another polity. At the time, changing one's honseki was a fairly uncommon practice even within the Interior.

For example, an Interior man from a village in Kagoshima might establish a domicile in a town in Chiba prefecture, or somewhere in Chōsen or Canada -- and marry and have children there -- while maintaining his honseki in the Kagoshima a village. And if Kagoshima were to be ceded to another state, he stood to lose his status as a Japanese subject and national, for such affiliation was primarily territorial.

"This would seriously affect . . ."

Caprio is worrying about ways to facilitate policies that did not exist. Only at which time a decision were made to either permit honseki transfers between regional jurisdictions -- either on applications, or upon notification and automatic operation of the law -- would it become necessary to talk about ways to facilitate bureaucratic procedures between concerned jurisdictions. Such records were not, in any case, easily confirmed, copied, or verifiable. Affecting jurisdictional transfers, beginning with the application and vetting of applications, involved not a little legwork and deskwork.

"prevented Korean males . . . but allowed Korean wives . . .

Interior and Chōsen laws were reciprocal in marriage. The merger of Korea's imperial nation into Japan's imperial nation meant the tranformation of Korean nationality into Chōsen subnationality, alongside Interior, Taiwan, and Karafuto subnationality. However, the principle of patrilocality which had caused a wife to migrate to her husband's nationality in an alliance of marriage between, say, a Korean national and a Japanese national of, say, Interior status, continued to operate in alliances of marriage between Chosenese and Interiorites after annexation.

Interior family law did not "prevent" the Chosenese husband of an Interior woman from "forming" a family register in the Interior, and did not "allow" the Chosenese wife to be "included" on her Interior husband's register. The Interior wife was obliged to migrate to her husband's Chōsen register, and the Chōsen wife was obliged to migrate to the husband's Interior register -- and, as a consequence of such register migration, they lost their original territorial (subnationality) status and gained their husband's status.

One exception was that Interior family law permitted an Interior family to adopt a child, or a man as a husband of a daughter who stood to become the head of the household. Some Chosenese men became Interiorites this way.

"Japanese law . . . This legislation . . . It . . . This law . . ."

What law is Cario referring to?

"Japanese law" is not "a" law but Japanese law in general.

"This legislation" has no antecedent but refers to "a" Japanese law that apparently applied throughout the empire. He could not t be talking about the Nationality Law, or the Civil Code, or the Family Register Law, because they were Interior laws. Nor could he have been referring to the 1918 Common Law -- for this law determined only which laws applied in private matters within Japan's several imperial jurisdictions, did not characterize Koreans as "different and even foreign", and could not have been used to revise other laws.

"It" appears to refer to "This Legislation".

Note 64 states that "this law" was amended in 1985 "to permit foreign males married to Japanese to be included on the woman's family register."

The problem is -- no law was amended in 1985 to permit a foreign male married to a Japanese woman to enter her family register. The Family Register Law permits entry into an existing family register -- or in some cases permits the creation of a new family register -- but only for persons who qualify for Japanese nationality under the Nationality Law. Aliens cannot be enrolled.

Caprio's statement is wrong even if by "included" he meant "recorded for purposes of information" -- for this has always been possible if a Japanese woman's marriage to an alien was recognized under Japanese law.

Today, any alien married to a Japanese, who desires to be enrolled in his or her spouse's register, must first be qualified to become a Japanese national.

For both alien males and females married to Japanese, Japanese status has been possible since 1873 -- that's right, Meiji 6. In 1873, it became possible for a foreign husband who qualified for adoption as the husband of a woman in a Japanese household that had no male heirs, upon application by the head of household. The 1873 law also facilitated the acquisition of Japanese nationality through register enrollment of a foreign woman married to a Japanese man. Japanese nationality derived through marriage continued to be possible until the 1950 Nationality Law did away with all forms of derivative nationality, in accordance with emerging international standards.

Naturalization has been possible since Japan's first Nationality Law of 1899 -- or Meiji 32. Since then, and down to the day I am writing this in 2010, a Japanese woman's foreign husband, if permitted to naturalize, has been enrollable -- in fact essentially has had to be enrolled -- in her register. Since 1950, the same has been true for an alien wife who naturalizes with regard to enrollment in her Japanese husband's register. For the Family Register Law requires that a married Japanese couple share the same register, and that people in the same register share the same family name.

In the meantime, the name, date and place of birth, and nationality of a Japanese national's alien spouse, have been entered in the Japanese nationals's register as remarks, with particulars that testify to the legality of the marriage.

"as one nationality"

In his discussion of "Early Meiji Peripheral Expansion" in Chapter 2 on "Development of Internal and Peripheral Assimination", Caprio speaks of "nationality" in a context having no relationship to either family register or nationality laws. In the course describing "Japanese attitudes towards both the Ainu and Ryukyu peoples" (page 66) he writes this (page 67).

Japanese also viewed the Ryukyuan as different, as the Okinawan-born instructor Tahara Rintoku noted in an 1886 issue of Dai Nihon kyōiku zasshi (The Greater Japan Education Magazine) titled "Ryukyu kyōiku ni tsuite" (Concerning Ryukyu Education). Tahara identified the Ryukyu people as members of the Yamato race (Yamato race), but a people not yet molded together with the Japanese as one nationality (ichi kokumin). The article stressed that the ultimate goal of Ryukyu education was to complete this unification process. [Note 80]

[Note 80]  Asano, Okinawa-ken no kyūikushi, 141. [Bibliography: Asano Makoto. Okinawa-ken no kyūikushi (The History of Education in Okinawa Prefecture). Kyoto: Shibunkaku shuppan, 1991.]

Not knowing what Tahara actually said, I cannot say what he meaning by "ichi kokumin". Caprio's Glossary gives the expected "ichi kokumin 一國民" (page 270). Ordinarily the expression would means "a nation" or "one nation" -- for "kokumin" (国民) is used in the collective sense of "nation" or "people" as affiliates of a country, as well as in the countable sense of "national" (singular) and "nationals" (plural). Both senses are implied in the 1947 Constitution, where "kokumin" means "the people" as well as "nationals".

The term "kokumin" means literally "people affiliated with the country [state]" as "members of the nation". It's semantic range -- its variety of formal and informal meanings -- was the same in the Meiji period as today. Formally it would have referred to an entity (nation) or a status (national). Informally, though, a person who was in fact a "kokumin" (national) but was perceived as having acted contrary to the interests of the "kokumin" (nation) could be accused of "not being a kokumin" (非国民 hi-kokumin). Or someone who was formally a "kokumin" but had not yet acquired the ability to function as a "kokumin" (national) could be regarded as not fully part of the "kokumin" (nation). It appears that Tahara was speaking of the latter situation.


Family registers

In 1938, Japan began mobilizing its demographic and material resources for the war China which had started in 1937. Since Chōsen was an important source of both, and also a vital link with Manchoukuo on China's northern border, the Government-General of Chosen (GGC) sought ways to improve the peninsula's contribution to the China mission.

Toward this end, GGC formed an investigation committee to suggest how it could accelerate the integration of Chōsen and the Interior, as had come to be expressed by the slogan "Nai-Sen ittai" (Interior-Chōsen one-body). The committee's members included both Naichijin (Interiorites) and Chōsenjin (Chosenese) of various backgrounds.

Caprio's review of one of the committee's reports includes this anecdote (page 151, and note 34, page 257, underscoring mine.

Few Japanese participants addressed the contradictions in Japan's administrative policy. Tagawa Jōjirō was exceptional when the president of Ryūsan Industrial limited (Ry&363 kōsaku kabushiki gaisha) questioned how Japanese could expect to strengthen Japanese-Korean ties while they maintained differences in such fundamental areas as family registration legislation (kosekihō) and writing scripts. Tagawa noted that the practice of Korean women maintaining their maiden name complicated the inclusion of Korean families in the Japanese family register system. Miayamoto Gen, who headed the Korean Government-general Justice Division (Chōsen Sōtoku Hōmu Kyoku), corrected Tagawa: this was a problem of the "family substantive legislation" (shinzoku jittaihō) rather than of the family registration law, and announced that his department was now looking into this very problem. [Note 34].

[Note 34] Ibid., 336-37.


The ibidem refers to note 30, which describes an item Caprio identifies as "Chōsen government-general, 'Chōsen sōtokufu jikyoku taisaku chōsakai gijiroku," in Ilcheha chibai chŏngch'aek charyojip, ed. Sin, vol. 16" (page 257). In other words, he is citing GGC's investigation committee meeting minutes.

The Family Register Law (Kosekihō) was an Interior law. The Chōsen equivalent was called the "Chōsen Family Register Decree". Not only were these laws territorially specific, but a common law (law of laws) determined which territory's laws applied in private matters such as birth, marriage, adoption and the like involving individuals affiliated with different legal jurisdictions.

Everyone present at the meeting would have been aware that, over the nearly three decades since Korea had joined Japan as Chōsen, the Government-General of Chosen (GGC) had been gradually Interiorizing Chōsen's legal standards, including those of civil matters. Some would also have understood that household register laws were based on principles of family law in civil law -- which is what Miyamato Gen meant by reference to the "substantive law of kinship".

In other words, household registration guildlines reflected rules in more fundamental legal codes, concepts, and customs. It had been the policy of GGC to respect customary Korean notions about kinship, but obviously accommodations had to made for situations where Chōsen and Interior concepts of kinship differed.

Since such differences constituted legal conflicts, the common law of the Empire of Japan determined, in cases of adoption, say, of a Chosenese into an Interior register, that Interior laws would apply, while Chōsen principles would apply to an Interiorite adopted into a Chōsen register. Ditto for alliances of marriage. In other words, common law (laws of law) already determined which territory's laws would apply in specific private matters.

The problem that remained to be solved was that if the Chōsen and Interior registration systems were to be sufficiently compatible to facilitate the incorporation of Chōsen into the Interior -- on the same legal footing as any local autonomous body, such as a prefecture -- then something would have to give. Either Interior laws would have to be revised toward a standard of flexibility that accommodated customary Korean kinship principles -- or Korean kinship principles would have to be revised toward Interior standards.

Whatever might have been possible in the more distant future would have to be determined by the Imperial Diet. For the time being, the GGC, using its legistative powers, decided to continue the Interiorization of Chōsen registers by mandating that each household be identified by a single family name that all members of the household would use in common, in legal public intercourse. In the meantime, the registers would continue to record individual surnames and related kinship information for personal reference, and Chosenese were free to use these surnames in private social intercourse.

Since Korea had joined Japan's sovereign dominion as Chōsen, its population registers (minseki) were taken as legally equivalent to Interior, Taiwan, and Karafuto family registers -- in so far as Japanese nationality was concerned. That is, Korea's Population Register Law continued to be taken as Chōsen's primary law of territorial affiliation, hence Chosenese were regarded as have become "Japanese" in terms of their national (i.e., state) affiliation. Territorially, though, they were "Chosenese", just as Interior (prefectural) affiliates were "Interiorites" and Taiwan affiliates were "Taiwanese".

Chōsen's register laws, including those introduced by the Government-General of Chosen (GGC), were modified at times throughout the period that Chōsen was part of Japan. But what the Empire of Japan needed was a domestic common law -- i.e., a law of laws that facilitated private matters between people affiliated with different imperial jurisdictions -- including the Interior, Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen, which were parts of the sovereign empire, but also . Marriages between Interiorites and Chosenese were marriages between two Japanese -- but Japanese whose status in family registers were subject to different family laws. Some of these differences constitute conflicts between, say, Chōsen family laws reflecting Chōsen customs, and Interior family laws reflecting Interior customs.

The essential problem of integration of two legal entities is their legal compatibility. One entity accepts the standards of the other, or both change to accommodate a common standard. Imagine an attempt to integrate Nevada and California, or Washington and Oregon, in the United States.

The alternative to integrating legally different territories is to continue to segregate them but establish rules for dealing with conflicts engendered by their different standards. Japan in fact adopted the latter approach fairly early in its efforts to encourage mobility between its various legal territories. There was, of course, a fundamental difference between the four territories of the sovereign empire (Interior, Taiwan, Karafuto, Chōsen), and the two territories of the larger legal empire (Kwantung Province, South Sea Islands), in that the former defined Japan's exclusive national territory, whereas Japan governed Kwantung Province through a lease and the South Sea Islands through a League of Nation's mandate.



Later in the same chapter on "Radical Assimilation Under Wartime Conditions", Caprio introduces a pamphlet which appears to date after 1940, when Government-General of Chosen (GGC) decrees concerning register names came into effect. The way he does this illustrates yet another manner in which much of the book is written (pages 160-161, and notes 64 and 65, page 259 underscoring mine).

This pamphlet also noted that differences in Korean and Japanese names had caused problems with the family register system. This was resolved when the government-general began permitting Koreans to adopt the Japanese uji (surname) system, a "gift to the people" presented to commemorate the 2600 anniversary of Japan's founding. Previously Koreans had been limited by the "inconvenient system" that prohibited them from marrying someone with the same last surname, particularly troublesome given that Kim and Yi constituted 21 and 15 percent of all Korean surnames. The pamphlet further stated that "the majority of the general public supported the establishment of a Japanese name (seimei) system." [Note 64] As typical of the period of colonial occupation, Japanese officials publicized statistics by their face value without explaining the reality behind the numbers. That more Koreans had obtained Japanese names, were visiting the local shrines, or enlisting their boys in the military, regardless of the reasoning that led them to cooperate, was proof enough that assimilation was taking hold in Korea. Left out were the stories of Korean resistance and Japanese opposition to Korean advancement. [Note 65]

[Note 64] Ibid., 703.

This refers to Volume 17 of a 17-volume work, published in Seoul in 1993, which Caprio calls "Compilation of Materials on Control Policy under Imperial Japan" in English, translating Ilcheha chibae chšngch'aek charyojip. I take the Korean romanization to be a transliteration of 일제하 지배정책 자료집, which translates "Collection [of] materials [on] control policy under [the] Jap[anese] Emp[ire]", which if published within a couple of decades after the war would probably have been titled 日帝下支配政策資料集.

[Note 65] Miyata Setsuko, Kim Yŏngjŭl, and Yang Taeho, in Sōshi kaimei (Name Changes) (Tokyo: Akashi shoten, 1994), review Korean and Japanese attitudes to name changing policies.

The Bibliography correctly gives "Kim Yŏngdal" but similarly mispresents the title in English translation. Sōshi kaimei reflects 創氏改名, which means "Create family name, change personal name" -- not simply "Name Changes".

Caprio presents an artifact -- in this case a pamphlet he has found in a collection of historical materials -- in the manner of a show-and-tell. He shows us just enough to then tell us something that apparently represents the opinion of someone who is an authority on the issue he raises.

The pamphlet is identified only by an English title -- "Korean Administration and the Advancement of Imperial Training". It is not dated, other than to associate it with "wartime conditions" -- by which Caprio appears to mean conditions following incidents in China that led Japan to invade and occupy parts of China in late 1937, as well as conditions after the start of the Pacific War in late 1941.

The above paragraph constitutes most of what Caprio says in his entire book about names. The subject is not even indexed. Yet practically all books in Japanese and Englsih, on the subject of Chosenese under Japanese rule and Koreans in Japan today, refer to the "sōshi kaimei" policy of 1939-1940 as the quintessential symbol of assimilation.

It is also one of the most misunderstood issues, among many issues involving Taiwan and Korea that have been reduced to radical soundbites in Japanese and English writing. Writers in English typically describe the policy as Erin Aeran Chung did twice -- "the forced adoption of Japanese names" (Chung 2010, pages 66, 84) -- and otherwise leave the impression that all Chosenese had to change their presumably "Korean names" to putatively "Japanese names" -- whatever either means.

Yet Caprio says practically nothing about this subject. He cites an important source, Miyata et al. 1994. My edition is the 3rd printing of January 1994, which states that the 1st printing was January 1992.

Caprio states at the very outset of his Acknowledgments that the book began as research undertaken when a doctoral student in 1994 (page vii). He does not give details, but this would have been January 1994 when he received his MA at the University of Washington. He received his PhD in history from the same college in January 1996.

The book, published in 2009, lists in its Bibliography only a few 21st-century sources, but some are dated as late as 2008. Since 1996, Caprio has been based in Japan, and one would think that he might have acquired Kim Yŏngdal's 1997 and 2002 books on sōshi kaimei, the later published after Kim was murder in 2000. Mizuno Naoki's 2008 book on the subject takes research and commentary on the 1940 name decrees to new levels.

"permitting Koreans to adopt the Japanese uji (surname) system"

Caprio's paragraph on names epitomizes the problems with his illumination of "assimilation policies in colonial Korea". He floods selected material peripheral to the the name policy with light. But the policy itself remains in the dark. The goals, development, administration, and consequences of the policy are also left unseen in the shadows of Caprio's vague and often misleading prose.

It is impossible to tell from Caprio's description whether the Government-General of Chosen "began permitting Koreans to adopt the Japanese uji (surname) system" -- according to the pamphlet, or according to Caprio. In any event, the statement is essentially wrong or misleading in several ways.

1. The Interior system involved "family names" not "surnames". The term for the Interior ("Japanese") name system was generally "shimei" (氏名), meaning "family name and personal name". The term for the Chōsen ("Korean") name system was generally "seimei" (姓名), meaning "surname and personal name".

2. "Sōshi kaimei" (創氏改名) decrees were not about "name changes" but specifically about (1) "creating a family name" (創氏 sōshi) and (2) "changing a personal name" (改名 kaimei). In the case of sōshi, the head of a Chosenese household register was required to adopt a single family name for the entire household, either by nofifying authorities of his choice of family name, or by doing nothing, in which case his surname would be become the family name. Either way, the different surnames of the household's members would continue to be recorded. In the case of kaimei, individuals were allowed to petition a court for permission to change their personal name.

See Soshi kaimei myths: Confusion then, misunderstanding now for more details on the .

Why, in any case, would a pamphlet that, according to Caprio's own description, publicized and promoted continuing advancement in Chōsen, introduce critical -- much less radically critical -- stories?


Rhetoric and policy

Caprio states at the start of one paragraph in the Conclusion that "We can only speculate as to why the Japanese failed to back their assimilation rhetoric with appropriate policy" (page 207). This is apropos three "fatal flaws" which he has characterized as "misconcpetions of colonial realities, conflict between rhetoric and practice, and Japan's failure to consider alternative approaches" (page 202).

Caprio then speculates that perceptions of cultural inferiority fed the notion that assimilation should be gradual and would take as long as a century. And he concludes that "History, rather than incompetence, robbed the Japanese of their chance to complete their mission" (page 207). This alludes to the contention at the beginning of this section of the Conclusion, that "One important factor that complicates our ability to evaluate Japanese assimilation policy in Korea was its short duration" (page 202).

But wait a minuite. If the mission was ultimately one of gradual assimilation -- and if the manner in which it was being carried out was competent -- and if assimilation would have been achieved except for the liberation of Korea from Japanese rule at the end of World War II, after barely 35 years of Japanization -- then it would appear that there was no conflict between rhetoric and policy -- that the rhetoric was a statement of the terminal objective of assimilation, and the policies were continually adjusted to the discovery of unforeseen realities and the understanding that it would take "from fifty to one hundred years to assimilate Koreans" (page 202).

If so, then how can "the Japanese" be accused of having "failed to back their assimilation rhetoric with appropriate policy"? I don't get the impression that Caprio is being facetious or cynical. He appears to believe his own rhetoric, which here requires that he practice linguistic alchemy to achieve his goal of turning policy "failure" into "competence" compromised only by "history".


Counterplan proposal

In his chapter on "Radical Assimilation Under Wartime Conditions", Caprio begins a section headed "The Movement to Strengthen Naisen ittai" with this paragraph (page 145, and notes 13 and 14, page 256). To the right is how he should have written the paragraph and notes.

In September 1938 the government-general issued two documents designed to guide revisions in its colonial administration, a 100-page "reference report" (sankōsho) [Note 13] and a 262-page proposed [sic = proposal] titled "Chōsen sōtokufu jikyoku taisaku chōsakai shimon tōshinan [sic = tōshin'an] shian" (Korean Government-General Investigative Meeting to Devise a Counterplan to Meet the Present Situation) (hereafter known as Counterplan Proposal). [Note 14]. Together the two documents outlined strategy for the administration to meet what Japanese euphemistically referred to as the "circumstances of the times" (jikyoku) presented by the military crisis that Japan faced on the Asian continent. The Japanese defined this crisis as "total" [sic] (sōryoku): total victory depended on Japan's ability to utilize the empire's total resources. Korea's strategic position between the homeland and the battlefields required the people's total participation and cooperation in the war efforts. These reports outlined, first, Japan's successes to date and, second, what needed to be accomplished from now to prepare the Korean people for their responsibilities.

[Note 13] Chōsen government-general, "Chōsen sōtokufu jikyoku taisaku chōsakai shimon'an sankōsho" (A Relevance Report for the Korean Government-General Investigative Meeting to Devise Counterplan to Meet the Present Situation), in Ilcheha chibai chŏngch'aek charyojip, ed. Sin, vol. 15, 5-329.

[Note 14] This document can also be found in Ilcheha chibai chŏngch'aek charyojip, ed. Sin, [sic = vol. 15], 331-671. See also Carter J. Eckert, Offspring of Empire: The Koch'ang Kims and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism, 1876-1945 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991), 235-39.

In September 1938, in response to a call from the Imperial Government in Tokyo for "total effort" throughout the empire in dealing with Japan's military intervention in China, the Government-General of Chōsen's Present-situation Counter-measures Invesigation Committee issued two documents designed to guide revisions in its administration -- a 100-page "Reference" [Note 13] and a 262-page "Draft Report" [Note 14]. Chōsen -- between the Interior and Manchuria, which was then part of Manchoukuo and dominated by Japan -- was vital not only for moving troops and supplies between the Empire of Japan and northern China, but also as a source of raw materials and products and labor. Military enlistment had begun but not yet conscription. The documents outlined, first, Japan's successes to date and, second, what needed to be done to prepare Chosenese for their responsibilities as Japanese subjects.

[Note 13] Chōsen sōtokufu Jikyoku taisaku chōsakai Shimon'an sankōsho [Chōsen Government-General, Present-situation counter-measures investigation-committee, Queries-draft reference-book], in Ilcheha chibai chŏngch'aek charyojip, Sin 1993, vol. 15, 5-329.

[Note 14] Chōsen sōtokufu Jikyoku taisaku chōsakai Shimon tōshin'an shian [Chōsen Government-General, Present-situation counter-measures investigation-committee, Queries report-draft provisonal-draft], Ilcheha chibai chŏngch'aek charyojip, Sin 1993, vol. 15, 331-671. See also Eckert 1991, 235-39.

Here we see several examples how not to write a concise and clear introduction. Bibliographic details that are odd or opaque when not erroneous get in the way of facts. Such as they are, the facts not only seem to be secondary to language lessons, but are garbled and incomplete, and qualified by the terminology of Caprio's "colonial critique".

Such problems, which characterize the book, could have been solved by adopting and adhering to clearer standards of description, citation, annotation, romanization, and translation.



Caprio then qualifies the image of segregation with the following observation about the mixing of the races despite all the negative images he claims "the Japanese" had of "Koreans" (pages 207-208, underscoring mine).

Negative portrayals of the Korean also contributed to Korean-Japanese divisions. Painting the Korean side of town as antiquated, filthy, and unhealthy, and the residents as lazy, mentally stagnated, and untrustworthy taught Japanese to honor lines of division. Those who crossed this divide risked being ostracized by their compatriots, as Tauchi Chizuko discovered after she married a Korean. [Note 16] This is not to say that these images were completely untrue -- there were lazy Koreans who lived in unsanitary quarters (just as there were Japanese). But to extend this image to characterize the entire Korean population is irresponsibly self-serving. Japanese and Koreans also fraternized; they intermarried probably at a level higher than official records indicate. Some relations blossomed into lifelong friendships that remain strong to this day. These occurrences appeared less frequently than one would expect given that Japan's stated goal aimed to assimilate Koreans and Japanese. [Note 17]

[Note 16]  Takasaki, Shokuminchi Ch#333;sen no Nihonjin, 178.

[Note 17]  Gregory Henderson estimates that the rate of Korean-Japanese intermarriage was probably lower than that between Koreans and Americans during the U.S. occupation of southern Korea (Korea: The Politics of the Vortex, 6). His estimates might be low given the number of couples who did not register their marriages. See also Aoki Atsuko, "Kikoku kigyō ni okeru 'Nihonjin zuma' wo megutte" (Regarding the Repatriation Operations of "Japanese wives"), in Kikoku undō to wa nan datta no ka, ed. Takasaki and Pak, 125-29).

Henderson, Gregory. Korea: The Politics of the Vortex. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968.

Takasaki Sōji. Shokuminchi Chōsen no Nihonjin (Japanese of Colonial Korea). Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 2002.

Takasaki Sōji and Pak Jonjin, eds. Kikoku undō to wa nan datta no ka (What Was the Repatriation Movement?). Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2005.


"Korean-Japanese impartial humaneness"

Caprio's uses various tags for a number of key expressions. His tags range from close metaphorical translations to extremely free renditions. The freer renditions, which are more common, are likely to vary in how they morph the metaphors of the original, and the morphing is likely to be slanted in the direction that facilitates Caprio's own view of history.

For example, he paraphrases a constructive critique Caprio writes this in the text (page 120, and note 24, page 250, (parentheic remarks) Caprio's, [bracketed remarks] and underscoring mine).

To correct these faults, the Review ["Chōsen kōron (Korean Review)"] said, the Japanese must research Korean needs and provide them a lifestyle of peace and comfort. Only after correcting its faults (the administration's most urgent task) can it expect Koreans to gain a capacity for self-rule. Only then could Japan expect to extend its prefecture system to Korea. Only then Only then could Japan realize its mission -- "Korean-Japanese impartial humaneness" (Naisenjin isshi dōnin). [Note 24]

[Note 34] "Chōsen no sōjō to sōtoku seiji no kaizen" (The Korean Disturbances and Government-General Administration Reforms), Chōsen kōron (April 1919): 2-6.

In the Glossary Caprio correctly writes "Naisenjin isshi dōjin 内鮮人一視同仁" (page 272). The English rendeition of this expression does not, however, quite make sense. Metaphorically it means that the Emperor will treat "Interiorite-Chōese [with] one-gaze and [the] same-benevolence" -- i.e., impartially and equally. As a "mission" to be achieved, the expression should have been rendered something like "equally benevolent treatment of Interiorites and Chosenese".

Not having seen the magazine article, I cannot comment on the accuracy of Caprio's paraphrasing. That is, I cannot verify the disconnect between the notion of not being able to "extend the prefectural system" to Chōsen until Chosenese "gain a capacity for self-rule".


Kita Sadakichi

Kita Sadakichi (喜田貞吉 1871-1939) was one of the more important contributors to the view that Japan's annexation of Korea as Chōsen in 1910 was justified on grounds that Japanese and Koreans shared common racioethnic origins, and that the "joining" of Korea with Japan was merely to facilitate a return of over-Sinified Koreans to their truer character.

Linguistic and bibliographic minutiae

Many of Caprio's digests of the views of the relationship between "Japanese" and "Koreans" are well enough written stylistically. His first reference to Kita Sadakichi gets a strong "B" for its readability -- but not for its accuracy which, not having seen Kita's text, I cannot determine. But he gets a "D" for the accuracy of his description of the source of Kita's text.

Caprio describes "Kita's most important work" as an article on "shared origins of the Japanese and Korean peoples" in the journal "Minzoku to rekishi (Ethos and History)" (page 83) -- which is odd because the title of the journal means "Race [Ethnos] and history" (民族と歴史 Minzoku to rekishi). The error is probably typographic, for in his Notes and Bibliography, and elsewhere in the book, he generally translates "minzoku" (民族) as "race".

Earlier in the book, Caprio had observed that Meiji Japan had "adopted institutions . . . to forge within its internal subjects a sense of membership in a new (Japanese) ethos" (page 13). So apparently he understands that "ethos" refers to the standards of belief or behavior that form character, disposition, and spirit. Whereas "ethnos" refers to a group of people who share "racial" or "cultural" (i.e., "ethnic" or "national") standards of belief and behavior, and "ethnology" (民族学 minzokugaku) and "ethnography" (民族誌 minzokushi) refer to studies and descriptions of such groups.

The journal Minzoku eisei (民族衛生) billed itself in English as "Japanese Journal of Race Hygiene" since its inagural issue in 1930, and this remained through 1982. One anthropological periodical, popular in the 1970s and 1980s, was titled えとのす (Etonosu) in Japanese and "Ethnos in Asia" in English.

For details about usage of "minzoku" (民族) in the names of ethnology and eugenics organizations and their journals, and popular anthropological publications, see The Native Worlds Building in the Race section of this website.

Kita's most important article

Caprio cites the particulars for one book and three articles by Kita Sadakichi in two end notes, and repeats the particulars in the Bibliography as follows (page 287).

Kita Sadakichi. "Kankoku no heigō to kokushi" (Natural History and Korean Annexation). Tokyo: Sanseidō, 1910.
------. "Chōsen minzoku to wa nan zoya" (What Is the Korean Race). Minzoku to rekishi (June 1919), 1-13.
------. "Nissen ryōminzoku dōgenron" (The Same Origin Theory of the Korean and Japanese Races). Minzoku to rekishi (January 1921), 3-39.
------. "Toshin Senman ryokō nisshi" (Travels through Korea and Manchuria). Minzoku to rekishi (January 1921), 271-82.

The particulars in the notes are the same except that "National History" in the notes becomes "Natural History" in the Bibliography. There are, however, more serious problems.

I have a couple of issues of Minzoku to rekishi, one of which happens to be the January 1921 issue. It is dedicated to gods and festivals and does not contain the two articles attributed to it by Caprio. They are in the July 1921 issue, which was dedicated to Chōsen studies.

Caprio seems to be referring to the following sources, to the extent that I have been able to reconstruct their particulars from other references. I have seen a high resolution scan of all pages of the 1910 book, including the colophon, but have seen only bibliographic references to the articles in Minzoku to rekishi. Here I have shown the particulars in present-day graphs and in the Gregorian equivalents of reign years.

喜田貞吉 (述者)
地図 (2)、緒言 (2)、例言三則 (2)、目次 (8)、本文 (182)、奥付 (1)、出版物広告 (6)
Nihon Rekishi Chiri Gakkai (editor)
[Japan historical geography society]
Kita Sadakichi (writer)
Kankoku no heigō to kokushi
[Annexation of Korea and national history]
Tokyo: Sanseidō Shoten
28 October 1910 (printed)
1 November 1910 (published)
Maps (2), Editor's foreword (2), Legend (2), Contents (8), Text (182), Colophon (1), book ads (6)

Chōsen minzoku to wa nan zo ya
[What is the Chōsen race?]
Minzoku to rekishi
[Race and history]
Volume 1, Number 6, June 1919

Nis-Sen ryō-minzoku dōgen ron
[Japan-Chōsen two-races same-origin theory]
Minzoku to rekishi
[Race and history]
Volume 6, Number 1, 1 July 1921

Kōshin Sen-Man ryokō nisshi
[1920 Chōsen-Manchuria travel journal]
Minzoku to rekishi
[Race and history]
Volume 6, Number 1, 1 July 1921

Kita's 1910 book was published two months after the annexation of Korea as Chōsen. That the book, while written by Kita, was edited by Nihon Rekishi Chiri Gakkai -- founded in 1899 as Nihon Rekishi Chiri Kenkyūkai -- was significant. Prominent historical geographers contributed to the momentum of the idea that geography and environment determined the history of nations, which nurtured the view that Japan was destined to lead if not rule neighboring northeast Asian countries.

The book properly speaks of "Korea" (韓国 Kankoku) as the object of annexation, but Kita's 1919 article just as properly refers to the principal inhabitants of the peninsula as being of the "Chōsen race". I would imagine he did so more out of recognition that "Korea" had been renamed "Chōsen", than out of regard for the historical fact that this had been the most familiar name of the country on the peninsula for about five centuries before it became the Empire of Korea in 1897.

Of interest here is that the inaugural issue of the journal, which came out in January 1919, led with an article similarly titled "What is the Yamato race?" (日本民族とは何ぞや Yamato minzoku to wa nan zo ya), the first of a series of articles on "Yamato minzoku" -- the reading Kita himself gave 日本民族, rather than "Nihon minzoku" or "Nippon minzoku".

Caprio 2003

I haven't seen Caprio's 2001 doctoral dissertation, but the following article includes parts that overlap with his comments about Kita Sadakichi -- who, in the article, he calls "Kita Teikichi", apparently following Peter Duus writing in 1995.

Mark Caprio
Japanese and American Images of Koreans: A Tale of Two Occupations
Capter 6 (pages 105-123) in
Richard Jensen, Jon Davidann, Yoneyuki Sugita (editors)
Trans-Pacific relations
(America, Europe, and Asia in the twentieth century)
[Perspectives on the Twentieth Century]
Westport (CT): Praeger Publishers, 2003

Caprio's article -- in part II, American Entrenchment in Asia: World War II, Occupation, and Neo-Colonialism -- covers the "occupation" of "Korea" by Japan from 1910 to 1945 and of "South Korea" by the United States after World War II.

Caprio gives a short paragraph to a description of Kita's view that Japanese and Koreans originated in Manchuria and "shared the same ethnic branch on the tree of nations", and hence Japan's assimilation policy represented a return to a common past rather than a new relationship (pages 108-109). He sources the paragraph with an end note that is very similar to the end note with which he sources his first mention of Kita in his book. I have shown both notes below for comparison.

Caprio 2003 (page 120, note 9)

Caprio 2009 (page 240, note 5)

Kita Teikichi wrote several articles on the origins of the Japanese and Korean people. See his "Chōsen minzoku to wa nani zoya" [What Is the Korean Race?], Minzoku to rekishi (June 1, 1919): 1-13; and "Nissen ryōminzoku dōgenron" (The Same Origin Theory of the Japanese and Korean Races), Minzoku to rekishi (January 6, 1921): 3-69. His comments on the Japanese Imperial roots are found on pp. 16-7 of the latter article. Duus, The Abacus and the Sword, offers an interesting account of Japanese preannexation views of Koreans. He summarizes parts of Kita's Kankoku no heigō to kokushi from p. 415.

Kita Sadakichi, "Kankoku no heigō to kokushi" (National History and Korean Annexation) (Tokyo: Sanseidō, 1910; "Chōsen minzoku to wa nan zoya" (What Is the Korean Race), Minzoku to rekishi (June 1919): 1-13; and "Nissen ryōminzoku dōgenron" (The Same Origin Theory of the Korean and Japanese Races), Minzoku to rekishi (January 1921): 3-39. See also Duus, The Abacas and the Sword, 415-17.

Caprio and Duus

In both the 2003 article and the 2009 book, Caprio lists Peter Duus, The Abacus and the Sword: The Japanese Penetration of Korea, 1895-1910, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. This is a reference to the hardcover edition. My copy of Duus is the 1998 softcover edition but the pagination appears to be the same.

Duus describes "Kita Teikichi" as "an influential historian employed by the Ministry of Education" (Duus 1998: 415). Caprio similar writes that "Kita Sadakichi" was "employed by the Education Ministry" (Caprio 2009, page 53). Kita had become a lecturer at Tokyo Imperial University, and was also working for the Ministry of Education, by the time he received his doctorate in 1909. He was working for the minister in 1910 when he wrote the book on the annexation of Korea which Duus cites.

However, in early 1911 Kita was dismissed from his ministerial position in connection with a controversy which had been broiling for a year or so over a primary school history textbook edited under his supervision. In 1913 he became a lecturer at Kyoto Imperial University, and by 1920 he was a professor. It was therefore as an academic, not as a government official, that Kita wrote the articles cited by Caprio.

Finger exercises

What Caprio calls Kita's "most important work" -- the title of which romanize as "Nis-Sen ryō-minzoku dōgen ron" (日鮮両民族同源論) and structurally translate "Japan-Chōsen two-races same-origin theory" -- was mostly a recycling of remarks he had made in a number of earlier articles. The phrase "Nis-Sen ryō-minzoku no dōgen" (日鮮両民族の同源) had become a cliche in his writing. He even worked it into a review in the January 1921 issue of Chōsen sōjō no shinsō (朝鮮騒擾の真相) -- "The truth about the Chōsen riots" -- by Keijō Nippō editor Katō Fusazō (加藤房蔵), published by the newspaper company (京城日報社 Keijō Nippō Sha) in November 1920. Kita regarded it as essential reading for both Chosenese and Interiorites (pages 111-112)

For details about Kita Sadakichi, his 1910 book on the annexation of Korea, the journal Minzoku to rekishi, John Dower's citations from Kita, and my own versions, see Kita 1910 in the Race section of the Bibliographies of this website.


Kato Kiyomasa

The first of the black-and-white images collected in the middle of the book shows a triptych -- or three-sheet woodblock print -- accompanied by the following caption (facing page 118).

The 1860 "Satō Masakiyo's tiger hunt," which depicted Hideoyoshi's protection of the Japanese islands from attack by Korea, as represented by the peninsula-shaped tiger. Tokyo Keizai University,

The URL is dead, but even if it were still alive, "" would not have worked. Even "" might not have worked with just "/korea" as access to the site was through "/korea/KOREA.html". More importantly, though, the print has nothing to do with protecting Japan from Korea.

Tiger hunting

Caprio's image of the print of "Satō Masakiyo's tiger hunt" is not referenced to the text, but Satō Masakiyo is listed in the index. And on the indexed page, Caprio writes this (page 87, underscoring mine).

"Revisionist" Japanese art suggested Hideyoshi's sixteenth-century invasion of the Korean Peninsula to have been a preemptive attack to a possible Korean threat. One 1860 woodblock print, titled Satō Masakiyo's Tiger Hunt, pictured a tiger molded to the shape of the peninsula with its left paw encroaching on Japanese territory. Midlevel Japanese samurai kept the intruder at bay with a long spear aimed at the animal's throat.

Caprio goes on to say this about another print (page 87, [bracketed] comment and romaji Caprio's, [sic] mine)

Katada Nagajirō's 1902 print titled Katō Kiyomasa [one of Hideyoshi's most trusted generals] taming the Wild Beast [mōjū] in Korea" which he says "displayed Kato [sic] cautiously advancing upon a tiger half hidden in deep snowdrifts. This suggested the need for Japan's direct (but cautious) intervention in the kingdom's state of affairs. In addition to suggesting Korea's subhuman quality, depicting the Korean as tiger hinted at the dangers of allowing the peninsula to remain wild and untamed. [Note 18]

The end note (page 242, note 18) states that both "pictures" are posted on a TKU web page at the same dead link with the same "" error. Caprio thanks Kenneth Robinson for introducing the site to him, describes Katō Kiyomasa as having "led the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592." Caprio seems to attribute this detail to a book by James Palais, which the Bibliography says was published in "19751" (page 292). Caprio studied under Palais and dedicated his own book to Palais.

Caprio, who also lists Katō Kiyomasa in the index, appears to be unaware that "Satō Masakiyo" was the name by which many woodblock publishers, especially during the 1850s and 1860s, referred to Katō Kiyomasa (加藤清正 1562-1611), who was of the one of the generals who led Hideyoshi's invasion of Chōsen (K. Chosŏ) between 1592 and 1598. By the middle of the 19th century, practically every master drawer and their disciples were doing prints of legendary exploits, and Katō's tiger hunt was probably the best known legacy of the 16th century campaigns on the peninsula.


Caprio's descriptions of the Satō and Katō prints are are examples of "seeing" what you want to see, as in a Rorshach inkblot test.

Sato Masakiyo print

Even if the tiger in Kunitsuna's 1860 print might appear to be "molded to the shape of the peninsula", in no way is its left paw "encroaching on Japanese territory." The hunters are encroaching on their prey's habitat. The tiger is entirely on its side of the cascading water. Most such prints in fact feature fast creeks or falls in rugged terrain, often in snow as in this print.

The large figure wielding the spear is Satō/Katō himself -- not a "midlevel samurai". Many prints show the warrior in similar battle dress. He is clearly the hunter, and the spear he has "aimed at the tiger's throat" is poised to kill the beast, not merely hold it at bay.

Kato Kiyomasa print

Caprio attributes the early 20th century print to "Katada Nagajirō". But the information on the print shows that it was drawn by Chinsai Rosetsu and published by Katada Chōjirō, a carver who became a print maker.

There is nothing sinister about the depiction of the tiger. The tiger is just a tiger doing what tigers do when hunted -- hide and, when flushed out, resist. The tigers in this print are of Koreans shown as "subhuman" but are merely the awesome beasts they are known to be in the folklore of human experience and imagination.

Related sources

One could fill a thick book with nothing but images of Japanese paintings and woodblock prints of tigers as objects of fascination, or of actual or imaginary hunts, some in Korea, a few in China. Here are some links to related sources.

The collection of prints Caprio viewed is now directly accessible from the Sakurai Bunko links on the main menu of Tokyo Keizai University Library / Digital Archive (東京経済大学図書館・デジタルアーカイブ). The collection includes seven Satō/Katō tiger hunt prints among numerous others that are known.

For scans and particulars of the two prints discussed in this review, and of other Tokugawa and Meiji era nishikie of tigers and tiger hunts, see Hunting tigers: Subjugating beasts and nations on the News Nishikie website of Yosha Bunko.

For a review of Kang Duksang's 2007 study of Korea and China in nishikie, see Nishikie no naka no Chōsen to Chūgoku, also on the News Nishikie website.

For scans of Yoshitoshi's 1876 depiction of the 1875 Kanghwa incident and a transcription and translation of the story on this print.And see Battle of Chosen, also on the News Nishikie website.


Language lessons

Caprio rightly attempts to tame the tangle of usage inevitably found in the natural linguistic jungle. Unfortunately, he creates a number of new jungles in which all but the most savvy readers are bound to get lost.

From the first page of the main text in the book -- page 3 of the Introduction -- Caprio peppers his English with mainly Japanese and a few Korean terms in italics. At first the italic terms appear in parentheses following English expressions. From page 5, he starts to mainline some italic words without English.

Caprio does not explain the purpose of his language lessons, and at times his standards of translation or paraphrasing seem capricious. Some English expressions are less than metaphorically faithful to the italicized term they are meant to represent. And some italicized terms are represented differently in different places for no apparent reason.

Among four expressions followed by italicized Japanese terms page 3 -- "[Cho] . . . offered (susumeta) his eldest son to the Japanese military" -- smells like something morphed into the service of the following phrase -- "By his sacrifice Cho demonstrated . . . ."

No less than twelve English terms are followed by parenthetical Japanese expressions on page 4. Several of them are metaphorically a bit out of focus. Only the linguistically and historically savvy reader will note that "pro-Japanese (shin-Nichiha" and "anti-Japanese (hai-Nichiha)" are rounded-off versions of "like-Japan faction (shin-Nichi ha)" and "expel-Japan faction" (hai-Nichi ha). Caprio's "translations" are not entirely wrong -- but neither do they capture their essential reference to sentiments of Koreans who welcomed, or resented, the attempts by the government of Japan to control Korea as a dependant buffer state.

On page 4 Caprio writes "ethnic-self-determination (minzoku jiketsu)" -- which is not quite what Woodrow Wilson said (see Race and nation above).

"heartland people"

Page 4 also introduces "heartland people (naichijin" is an odd characterization of "Interiorese" or "Interiorites" (Naichijin) -- meaning people affiliated with family registers in Japan's Interior (Naichi) or prefectural jurisdiction -- as opposed to affiliates of "Taiwan" or "Chōsen", who were called "Taiwanese" (Taiwanjin) and "Chosenese" (Chōsenjin).

Only one expression introduced on page 4 is explained at length, though in an odd way -- "'embodiment of naisen ittai' (literally, Japan-Korea, one body)". Even if one accepts Caprio's exclusion of "Chōsen" from "Japan" -- i.e., even if one believes that "Korea" and "Japan" were separate entities -- one would think that he would have written something like "Japan-Korea integration (Nai-Sen ittai, literally 'Interior-Chōsen one-body')".

On page 5, the reader encounters more italics -- "the Japan-owned newspaper Maeil sinbo (Daily Times)" and "'emotional inspiration' 'kangeki)". Then comes "a roundtable discussion on the topic of Naisen ittai" in 1939. Apparently Caprio assume that the reader either is already familier with Japanese -- or recognizes "Naisen ittai" as one of the dozen terms introduced in the blitz of italics on the previous page, and either remembers its meaning or is willing to go back and review the first lesson.

Glossary and Index

Caprio writes "incentive for national education" (kokumin kyōikuteki dōki)" (page 95). The Glossary oddly fragments this as "kyōikuteki dōki 民教育的動機" (page 271).

The text has the phrase "a Japanese name (seimei) system" (page 161) but the Glossary includes "seimei 姓名" and "seimei 生命" (page 272). Readers who already know the graphs will recognize that "seimei 姓名" relates to "names" while "seimei 生命" seimei" relates to "life". Graph-savvy readers won't need the Glossary, and the Glossary won't help readers who have to consult it to see the graphs. Moreover -- readers who know their "name" nomenclature will wonder why "Japanese name system" is not parenthetically glossed "shimei" -- reflecting 氏名 -- which is not in the Glossary -- since the Japanese "shimei" (氏名) system was intended to replace the Korean "seimei" (姓名) system.

As often as Caprio talks about "names" in the book, one would expect to find "Names" in the top hierarchy of the Index -- but no. One finds "names" only deep in the list of subtopics under "Korea/Koreans".


The "Glossary" consists of list of romanized terms, most Japanese, some Korean, and a few in Japanese and Korean. The Japanese terms are followed by Sino-Japanese graphs and kana. The Korean terms are followed by Sino-Korean graphs. A few terms are shown in both languages.

There are no translation tags and no page numbers as to where the romanized terms might be found in the text. There is no explanation of why some romanized words or elements of expressions are capitalized and others not.

And there are errors.

Among the more obvious are "banzai/manse 萬材" should be "banzai/manse 萬歳" and "zuii kamoku 髄科目" should be "zuii kamoku 随意科目". Here Japanese "banzai" and Korean "manse" share the same gloss. There is no listing for "manse" or "manse/banzai" -- which, in any event, don't explain the "mansei" in "mansei (long live [Korea])" in the text (page 111). Some other terms are listed separately according to language -- Korean "ch'in-Il-p'a 親日派" (page 270) and Japanese "shin-Nichi-ha 親日派" (page 272).

One finds terms like "gaichi 外地" and "Naichijin 内地人" -- but no translation tags, and no keys to pages where the terms are found in the text.

There is no description of the criteria used to compile the list. There is no explanation as to why so many romanized expressions in the text are not listed in the glossary. Why "the great Japanese Empire (Dai Nippon teikoku)" in the text (page 189) but "dai Nippon teikoku" in the Glossary? Why "Jiyūtō" but "Jijū"?

Why "Kyushujin" rather than "Ky?shūjin" -- and "Osaka jiken" rather than "Ūsaka jiken" -- since he is italicizing these terms? And why "daimyo" rather than "daimyō" -- which he italicizes but does not show in the Glossary)? Or were such problems created by an editor whose eyes got crossed in a style book?

Or why "Maiil sinbo 毎日申報" in the Glossary -- but, more correctly, "Maeil sinbo" in the Index? And why was the name of this newspaper not glossed "Maeil sinbo 毎日申報 / 毎日新報" to show that its graphic name changed during the period covered in the book? The paper was called "Mainichi Shinpō" in Japanese.