Soshi kaimei myths

Confusion then, misunderstanding now

By William Wetherall

First posted 25 June 2007
Last updated 14 October 2023

Setting the stage In brief Nationalization Chosen registers Governors-general Legal integration Racial assimilaltion Timing
Name-change policy Intentions Operation Resistance Compliance Legacy On Korean time
1939 decrees and ordinances Sources Translations Decree 19 Decree 20 Ordinance 221 Ordinance 222
1940 handbill urging establishment of family name
Fiction as history Yuasa Katsue (1946) Yuasa Orokko (1944) Kajiyama Toshiyuki (1963) Richard Kim (1970) Soh on Richard Kim (2008)
History as fiction Robinson 2007

Hata 2015

Click on article to enlarge
Wednesday, 6 March 1940 article from
Ōsaka Asahi -- Central Chōsen edition

Image copped from
Yamada Hiroshi Official Homepage
The yellow highlighting is Yamada's
Posted 28 October 2019, copied 14 October 2023
See commentary on content to left

Many images of this article -- and of other contemporary name-related reports in Japanese- and Chosenese-language newspapers -- have been clipped by researchers who have published them in books or posted them on blogs -- as Yamada did -- to present, as he says, "immoveable evidence" (ugokan shōko 動かぬ証拠) that many present-day accounts of the name-change ordinances and their enforcement are incorrect. This copy of the article is unique in that the poster, former House of Representatives member Yamada Hiroshi (山田宏 b1958), also showed the newspaper's masthead -- as he did with the name-related reports he clipped from the 3 August 1940 North Ch!sen edition (北鮮版) and the 16 August 1940 West Chōsen edition (西鮮版), among others. Yamada ticks many of the boxes that qualify him as a "rightist" and "revisionist" in the eyes of those who would critize his attempt to set the historical record straight.


Name change policy by any name

Most people contend that Imperial Japan forced Chosenese to change their "Korean" names to "Japanese" names. The Government-General of Chosen mandated the adoption of a family name that everyone in a Chōsen household register would share, in accordance with Interior family law. Japanization of family or personal names was allowed, not required.

The 1939 name-change rules enforced from 1940 had two parts. The first part mandated the creation of a "family name" by designating an existing Chōsen-style clan name, or by adopting an Interior-style family name, as a family name. The second part was an entirely optional provision that had been part of Korean family law before Japan annexed Korea as Chōsen in 1910, for adopting a new personal name, which from 1940 (unlike earlier) could be an Interior-style name.

Some Chosenese wanted Japanized names, or the greater flexibility of Interior marriage and adoption laws. Most ignored the ordinances, and some, contrary to GGC policy, were pressured to Japanize their names. Many, however, maintained their Chōsen-style lineage names and openly used these names in both Chōsen and the prefectural Interior.

Newspaper reports

Numerous reports GGC's name decrees and ordinances and their enforcement were published in Japanese and Chosenese language newspapers. The larger, nationwide Interior newspapers published regional editions not only for regions within the Interior, for for regions within Chōsen and elsewhere outside the Interior.

The newspaper article to the right was published in the Wednesday, 6 March 1940 (Shōwa 15-3-6) issue of the "Central Chōsen edition" (Chūsen-ban 中鮮版) of Ōsaka Asahi (大阪朝日).

The main headline reads as follows (structural translation and [bracketed clarifications] mine).

氏の創設は自由 / 強制と誤解するな

Shi no sōsetsu wa jiyū / Kyōsei to gokai suru na

Establishment of family name free [choice of head-of-household] /
Don't misunderstand that [filing a notification
to establish a (new) name] is compulsory

Heads-of-households were obliged to choose a name to be used as the family name for all members of the household. They had two choices -- (1) not file a notification, which meant that the head-of-household's surname would become the family name -- or (2) file a notification, to declare (a) which surname in the household register would become the family name, or (b) declare a new name, even an Interior style name (previously forbidden), to be used as the family name.

The smaller subhead reads "Sōtoku ga chūi o unagasu" (総督が注意を促す) or "Government-General urges caution" -- meaning that heads-of-households should be wary of attempts force them adopt Interior style family names, and people generally should not believe rumors to the contrary.

All manner of evidence shows -- and all researchers who have done their homework have shown -- that not a few Chosenese adopted a Chōsen-style surname for use as a family name, whether by notification or default. Moreover, not adopting an Interior-style family name did not stop Chosenese from becoming police or military officers -- or even members of the Interior government's National Diet, since Chosenese males living in Interior election districts, who satisfied age and residence requirements, and paid taxes, could vote and run for public offices.


Note on nomenclature

In this article, as in all more recently written articles on Yosha Bunko websites, I have romanized 朝鮮 as "Chōsen" but used "Chosen" (or later "Tyosen") when citing contempary official English sources which refer the territory as such. People in Chōsen household registers were called 朝鮮人, which I romanize "Chōsenjin" except when citing official and other wources that have "Chosenese" (or later "Tyosenese").

"Japan" includes the Interior, Chōsen, Taiwan, and Karafuto. "Japanese" include Interiorites, Chosenese, Taiwanese, and Karafutoans.

These are the legal realities of history, and calling Chōsen and Chosenese "Korea" and "Koreans". Excluding them from "Japan" and "Japanese" make it impossible to understand contemporary and post-empire primary documents that objectively refer to them as such -- and, more importantly, distinguish "Chōsen" and "Chōsenjin" from say "Kankoku" (Korea) and "Kankokujin" (Koreans), which refer to at least two different things.

Here I will always cite and transliterate 朝鮮 and 朝鮮人 from Japanese texts as Chōsen and Chonenese. I will also use these terms when speaking in my own voice of 朝鮮 and 朝鮮人, but will write "Chosen" when used in received English texts, such as those published by the Government-General of Chosen. And of course I will faithfully cite texts that speak of "Korea" and "Koreans" but, when necessary, will bracket these terms with [Chōsen] or [Chosenese].


Setting the stage for name-change policy

In 1939 the Government-General of Chosen issued two GGC decrees and two related ordinances that concerned two entirely different "name" policies that would enter into force from 1940. The first was "create a family name" (sōshi 創氏) and the second was "change a personal name" (kaimei 改名).

The aims of these policies were complex but involved the following considerations.

  1. The name-change policies were not an end unto themselves. They were part of a more general objective of making Chōsen family law conform to the standards of Interior family law. This would facilitate compatibility in inter-territorial private matters, such as adoption and marriage between Chōsen and Interior families, in which the choices and effects of marriage and adoption in the two territories would be on a par.
  2. In matters of marriage and adoption, Interior law was far more liberal than Chōsen law. Some Chosenese were known to want an Interior-style law because it would liberate them from the traditional restrictions of Chōsen law. Liberalization of Chōsen standards, while giving households more freedom of choice, would not have prevented traditionalist households from observing the more restrictive standards.
  3. The name-change policies were not essential to the liberalization of marriage and adoption standards, but had more to do with "packaging" of the household system from the "bloodline" system of Chōsen (which mandated that individuals preserve their bloodline identities in lieu of a household identity) to the "non-bloodline" or "corporate family" system of the Interior (which mandated that individuals adopt the name of the family regardless of their bloodline).
  4. A number of Chosenese wanted the freedom to adopt Interior-style (Japanese-style, Yamato-style) names. Again, this freedom did not restrict the freedom of Chosenese to maintain Chōsen-style names. Reasons for coveting an Interior-style name were personal or familial. Some Chosenese saw the adoption of Interior-style names as symoblic of their assimilation. Their territorial status would not have changed, but they might feel that much closer to Interior neighbors if living in the Interior or fraternizing with Interior subjects in Chōsen, or if (as was also not uncommonly the case) they had Interior relatives through marraige or adoption. Outside Japan (i.e., outside the Interior, Chōsen, Taiwan, and Karafuto), such as in China or Manchoukuo, an Interior-style name might be socially more adventageous. In any event, such matters were "private" and the name-change policies merely facilitated choices not before available under Chōsen laws. In this regard, note that Interior law was also very restrictive on name choices, in that there were no provisions for adopting, say, a Chōsen-style name should one prefer such a name.

The "create a family name" (sōshi 創氏) policy required that heads of Chōsen households adopt a single "family name" (shi 氏) to serve as the family name of all members in the register. Conventionally, each member of a Chōsen household had the surname (sŏn 姓 J sei) they acquired through birth, and the surname was associated with a clan name, place of origin, or lineage name (pon'gwan 本貫), which identified the individual's patrilineal bloodline, and this would never change.

When adopting a family name, the head of household could choose any of the "surnames" in the register, such as his own, to serve as the uniform "family name". Or he could create an entirely new "Interior" or "Japanese" style family name. Or the head of household could do nothing, and by default his "surname" would automatically become the common "family name" for the household.

(1) The first part required the head of every Chōsen household to "create a family name" (sōshi 創氏). The head of household could do this by filing a notification declaring his own clan surname or the clan surname of someone else in the houehold, or adopting an Interior-stye ("Japanese") family name, as the common family name of everyone in the houshold register. If he did not declare a choice, then by default his own clan name would become the family name. No matter what name became the common family name, individual clan surnames would continue to be recorded in the register.

(2) The second part concerned "changing a personal name" (kaimei 改名). Individuals were free to adopt a new personal name if they wished. This was not a new procedure but one established before Japan's annexation of Korea as Chōsen in 1910. It had been, and would remain, entirely optional. And as before, it would require a petition for permission to change one's personal name and the payment of a nominal fee (the family name notification was free).

Unlike before these name-change rules, Chosenese would henceforth be able to adopt Interior-style ("Japanese-style") family names and/or personal names. There was no "compulsion" to "Japanize" names on the part of the Government-General of Chosen. There was some such compulsion on the part of people, including Chosenese, who coveted and favored the adoption of "Japanese" names. In the end only about 80 percent of Chosenese household heads adopted "Japanese" names. Chosenese clan names continued to be recorded in Chōsen household registers and could be used by households that wished to continue to observe traditional restrictions on marriage and adoption based on concerns about clan bloodlines. The family name could be any name the head of household chose, including his own Chosenese clan name. If no choice was declared, the head of household's clan name would automatically become the household's family name. have a single "family name" tChōsen family laws were revised to accommodate Interior (prefectural) family laws. Chōsen's family laws stressed clan bloodlines and households in which personal identities were based on clan bloodlines, and placed bloodline limitations on marriage and adoption. Interior family laws stressed a corporate rather than bloodline family standard and corporate family and corporate family rather than bloodline family standard, and permitted " clanPrefectural (Interior) Chōsen family law


1939-1940 "Soshi kaimei" policy in brief

The so-called "sōshi kaimei" (創氏改名) or "create family name, change personal name" policy sought to bring Chōsen family law into line with family law in the prefectural Interior of the Empire of Japan, by mandating the adoption of a common family name (氏 shi, uji) among members with different surnames in the same household register.

Individual surnames (姓) and their clan affiliations (本貫 본관 pon'gwan, or simply 本 본 pon) would continue to be recorded in accordance with Chōsen customs and could be used in private intercourse including marriage and adoption. Legally, however, all members of a household would share the same family name and be free to marry someone with the same family name or surname, while households would be free to adopt someone with the family name or surname -- subject only to other provisions of marriage and adoption laws.

The object was mainly to accommodate the "corporate family" standard of the Interior Civil Code, most of which had by then been applied to Chōsen, and to give individuals and families more flexibility when it came to marriage and adoption. The adoption of Interior standards of family law also facilitated private matters -- such as marriage and adoption -- between Interior and Chōsen individuals and households. In otherwords, the determination of applicable territorial laws would be easier if the territories shared a similar standard.

Many Chosenese considered Interior family law standards to be incestuous, and were upset by the notion that only personal names would legally differentiate members of the same household. Some Chosenese, however, welcomed the flexibility.

The change in Chōsen family law was also intended to facilitate assimilation, should Chosenese households or individuals wish to adopt Interior-style family and personal names -- Suzuki rather than Kim, or Tarō rather than Chŏgi, say. Some Chosenese wanted to formally adopt Interior style names to facilitate their personal goals, while others thought the very idea of abandoning their native Chōsen names a betrayal of their racioethnic identity.

Family names

The head of each Chōsen household register was required to declare a common "family name" or passively accept that, by default, his surname would be taken to be the family name. He -- the head of household usually was usually a male -- could declare any surname in the present register to be the family name -- Kim, Nam, Yi, whatever. Or, he could adopt a new family name, like Watanabe or Yamada, by a certain date. Should he fail to file a notification by this date, his surname -- Kim, say -- would be taken as the family name to be legally shared by everyone in his register.

Family names and their clan affiliations were continue to be recorded for each member in household. Members of the household could continue to invest whatever meanings they wished to such names in private social intercourse, but the restrictions on marriage and adoption that such names had imposed on private actions like marriage and adoption would have no longer be sanctioned by even customary law.

Personal names

While households were required to create a single family name to replace the multiple surnames in a register, individuals were free to continue to use their personal names as they were. Whereas family-name creation was mandatory and free, personal-name change required application and payment of a nominal fee.

After filing an application, one had to wait for a grant of permission from a court -- as was the practice in the Interior under the Family Register Law -- as is the practice in Japan today.


The Interiorization of Chosen

A decree issued by the Government-General of Chosen in 1939 mandated the establishment of family names on Chōsen household registers by 10 August 1940. The family name policy was part of a more general movement to introduce Interior (prefectural) family, family registration, and civil law to Chōsen, which had been part of Japan's sovereign territory since 1910.

The introduction and enforcement of the name-change decree makes sense only as a means to facilitate the legal integration of Chōsen into the Interior, or prefectural, subnation. And changing names makes sense only in terms of how Japan had used family registers to nationalize its own prefectures and territories which became prefectures or parts of prefectures.


Chosen household registers

Japan nationalized all territories that became part of its sovereign dominion through household registration. By "all" I mean literally all -- the prefectures, then territories like Ezo (Hokkaido) and Ryukyu (Okinawa) which became prefectures, islands grounps like Chishima and Ogasawara, which became affiliated with prefectures, treaty-ceded territories like Taiwan and Karafuto, and finally the treaty-annexed territory of Chōsen.

Not only were the populations of non-prefectural territories nationalized through household registration, but as the territories became legally assimilated through decress based on prefectural laws, the more their populations were subjected to prefectural-style family law -- including the Family Registration Law and related articles of the Civil Code.

1909 People's Register Law

Japan was involved in the improvement of household registration in Korea before it was annexed as Chōsen. It was mainly through Japanese urging and guidance that the Empire of Korea adopted its first comprehensive household registation law (民籍法 민적법 Minjŏkpŏp J. Minsekihō) in 1909 (see Affiliation and status in Korea: 1909 People's Register Law and enforcement regulations for details).

In 1909, a year before formal annexation, and based on fresh Japanese studies of Korean family customs and registration practices, the Resident-General of Korea directed the barely sovereign Korean government to enact the People's Register Law. This law, one of the last laws of the short-lived Korean Empire, was based on Korean customary law, and was intended to make family registration more efficient and controllable.

Resident-General of Korea   The People's Register Law was promulgated by the Emperor of the Empire of Korea (大韓帝國 대한제국 Tae-Han cheguk J. Dai-Kan teikoku), which was founded in 1894. In 1905, when Korea become a protectorate of Japan, Japan established the Residency-General of Korea or "Office of the Resident-General of Korea" ((韓国統監府 Kankoku tōkan fu) in Seoul. This became the Government-General of Chosen or "Office of the Governor-General of Chosen" (朝鮮総督府 Chōsen sōtoku fu) in 1910, when Japan annexed the Empire of Korea and changed its name to Chōsen.

Post-annexation registration decrees

In 1912, after Korea had become Chōsen, a part of Japan's sovereign empire, the governor-general proclaimed the Chōsen Civil Matters Ordinance (朝鮮民事令 Chōsen minji rei, Meiji 45 Ordinance No. 7). This ordinance was mostly an effort to codify customary Korean civil law, including family law.

The Interior revised its Family Registration Law in 1914, and the People's Register Law was partly revised in 1915 to incorporate some features of the new Interior law. The Civil Matters Ordinance was heavily revised in 1922. The revisions, which came into effect the following year, included a section on family registration, and this occasioned a Family Registration Decree (朝鮮戸籍令 Chōsen koseki rei) which made Chōsen registers more like those in the Interior.

Naichijin and other status distinctions

The new civil and family registration decrees differentiated "Interior persons" (内地人 Naichijin) as those with Japanese nationality whose principal register (本籍 honseki) was in the Interior (内地 Naichi) -- in a prefecture. The revisions enabled changes in the registers of the four subnations because of marriage, adoption, or recognition.

Some sources (which I have not yet confirmed) state that the new registration rules also provided for recording two former outcaste statuses -- paekchŏng (白丁 백정 J. hakucho), who engaged in leatherwork or other occupation regarded as unclean -- and tohan (屠漢 도한 J. tokan), literally "men who slaughtered" or butchers. Both statuses had been abolished in 1894 toward the end of the Yi Dynasty. I would guess that the object of resurrecting them in registers was to help police suppress proletearian movements in Chōsen like those of the Suiheisha (Levelers Association) and other "buraku liberation" organizations in Japan.

Accommodating inter-subnational marriages

The register regulations were revised to accommodate a 1921 provision (Article 3) in the 1918 Common Law, which made it possible for Chōsen subjects to marry Interior and other Japanese subjects. Article 3 meant that status actions involving the registers of two territories (subnations) would be treated the same as status actions between two Interior registers -- except that movements between the registers of two subnations would effect a change in subnationality -- just as international marriages and adoptions at the time usually involved a change in nationality.

In other words, a Chōsen woman (a Japanese woman of Chōsen subnationality) who married an Interior man (a Japanese man of Interior subnationality) -- or a Chōsen subject adopted into the household of an Interior subject -- would become an Interior subject. Similarly, an Interior woman who married a Chōsen subject, or an Interior subject adopted into a Chōsen household, would become a Chōsen subject.


Chosen governors-general

In 1939, when a number of name-change decrees and ordinances were issued in Chōsen, The Government-General of Chosen (Chōsen sotoku fu 朝鮮総督府) was formally overseen by the "Land Development Ministry" (拓務省 Takumusho), which was variously called "Ministry of Overseas Affairs" and "Colonial Department" in English. This ministry also oversaw the Taiwan Government-General and the Karafuto Government.

The powers of the ministry over the governors-general of Taiwan and Chōsen, however, were limited. The governors-general were appointed directly by the Emperor and held ranks which, in terms of protocol, make them equivalent to a Imperial Cabinet minister or premier. The Governor-General of Chosen (Chōsen sotoku 朝鮮総督) in particular had practically unlmited authority over the territory.

All seven of the governors-general of Taiwan who served from 1895-1919 were military officers of admiral or general rank. Of the twelve who served from 1919-1945, all but the last three were civilians. Most served compartively short terms, were not politically prominent, and hence were subject to closer control by the Imperial Cabinet.

In sharp contrast, all ten of Chōsen's governors-general were higher ranking military officers of political prominence. Practically all had been, or became, an Imperial Cabinet minister. Four of the six who served after the 1 March 1919 movement had been, or became, prime ministers.

Source   For the above analysis of Taiwan's and Chōsen's governors general, I am particularly indebted to I-te Chen's doctoral dissertation, Japanese Colonialism in Korea and Formosa: A Comparison of its effects upon the development of nationalism, Political Science, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, 1968, pages 92-98.

The last three governors-general of Chosen

General Minami Jirō (南次郎 1874-1955), Chōsen's governor-general from 1936-1942, had commanded the Japanese military in Chōsen from 1929-1930 before serving as Minister of the Army in 1931. General Koiso Kuniaki (小磯国昭 1880-1950), who had commanded Japanese troops in Chōsen during Minami's term as governor-general, replaced him as governor-general from 1942-1944, then went on to be the prime minister of Japan from 1944-1945. General Abe Nobuyuki (阿部信行 (1875-1953), who replaced Koiso as governor-general from 1944-1945, had been the prime minister from 1939-1940.

Minami and Koiso were tried, convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment as Class-A war criminals. Koiso died in Sugamo prison. Minami was released a year before his death for reasons of poor health. Abe was purged from public office, and arrested but later released without charges.

The legal authority of governors-general

There was some debate about how to govern Chōsen. Japan's lawmakers had disagreed over whether the Constitution, and laws passed by the Imperial Diet for the prefectures, could apply to new territories.

Those who argued that Chōsen required independent overseeing until it was ready for legal integration prevailed. Consequently, Chōsen was governed by decree legislation rather than through the Imperial Diet.

Legal authority took many forms. The three most important in Chōsen were as follows.

Laws (法律 hōritsu)   Laws were enacted by the Imperial Diet, as provided by the Meiji Consitution. Laws passed by the Diet were effective only in prefectures unless, at time of their enactment, they included provisions that specifically extended them, in part or in whole, to one or another non-prefectural territory within Japan's sovereign domain. The Diet could also extend parts of all of a prefectural law to a territory.

Decrees (制令 seirei)   Decrees proclaimed by a governor-general in Chōsen were equivalent to laws in the Interior. They required sanction by the emperor before promulgation, but in emergencies the governor-general had the authority to promulgate a decree before obtaining imperial sanction.

Ordinances (府令 furei)   Ordinances -- or more fully Government-General ordinances (朝鮮総督府令 Chōsen-sōtoku furei) did not require imperial sanction. They were issued and enforced entirely under the executive authority of the Governor-General. They usually concerned minor issues, including issues related to the enforcement of ordinances.


Undercurrents of legal integration

While Chōsen's governors-general were inclined to rule the territory as they saw fit, there movements to centralize power in Tokyo. Already at war in 1939, the Japanese government was looking for ways to consolidate its ministries and bring its sovereign empire -- consisting of four subnations, each then under its own legal system -- beneath a common legal umbrella.

This meant integration, which meant embracing the Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen in the legal arms of the prefectural Interior subnation. They would then under interiorization (内地化 naichika) and eventually achieve prefecturehood. First, though, they would have to be put under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

Interior Ministry placed in charge of Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chosen

In 1942, the Land Development Ministry, which had overseen both all territories outside the prefectures, was disbanded and the Greater East Asia Ministry (大東亜省 Dai-To-A Sho) was created. The new ministry took over supervision of the territories that were not part of Japan's sovereign empire. Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen were brought under the "Home Affairs Ministry" (内務省 Naimusho), which is better understood as the Interior Affairs Ministry.

Karafuto, long groomed as a de facto Interior entity, was legally incorporated into the Interior in 1943. How long it would have taken to fully assimilate Taiwan and Chōsen into the prefectural system is speculative, given the turn of events and inevitable defeat. However, bringing Taiwan and Chōsen under the Home Affairs Ministry meant that they, too, were bound to fully integrated into the prefectural system.

See Legal integration with Interior for an account of the interiorization of Karafuto preluding Taiwan and Chōsen.

Would Taiwan and Chōsen, too, eventually have become prefectures? Probably.

An ordinance that would have made their governors-general as accountable to the Imperial Cabinet and Diet as prefectural governors was never fully implemented. More legal restructuring was needed to bring Taiwan and Chōsen under Interior laws so that they could be administrated as prefectures. But the wheels of total legal integration were in motion. Had Japan won the war and contained Chosenese resistance to its domination of the peninsula, Taiwan and Chōsen would eventually have become integral parts of the prefectural Interior, as had Karafuto -- just as, later, Alaska and Hawaii gained statehood in the United States.

This does not mean that Chōsen and Taiwan, given their geographical size and complexity, would have been prefectures -- but merely that they would have been administered along with the prefectures under common civil and penal codes, among other such general laws. They would have retained their regional names, and in the manner of prefectures had a certain degree of local autonomy in the governance of local matters. Election districts would have been established, with suffrage rules similar to those for Interior districts. There would have been local assemblies and representation in the Imperial Diet. Presumably, also, there would have been more opportunity for changes of status both within and between family register systems.


Racioethnic assimilation

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

By the late 1930s, the Governor-General of Chosen had issued all manner of ordinances and decrees intended to Yamatoize the thought and behavior of Chōsen subjects. In 1937, Japan had taken advantage of clashes in China to start what had developed into a new Sino-Japanese War. Legal integration and racial assimilation were being accelerated not only in Chōsen but throughout the sovereign empire, including the Interior, in anticipation of having to mobilize all subjects for military service and labor. Interior ordinances, too, made it easier for Chōsen subjects to settle in the prefectures, to facilitate the need for labor.

Then in 1939, the third revision of the Civil Matters Ordinance included certain provisions concerning names in family registers. The name-change provisions are commonly dubbed "Create family name and change personal name" [Soshi kaimei]. They were not, however, standalone provisions but part of the general revisions. The revisions were enforced from 11 February 1940 and Chōsen subjects were given six months to comply with the name-change provisions.

The most significant name provision concerned the creation of a "family name" [shi]. Japanese families were corporate. They were not based on lineage per se. Everyone in a family, including those who married or were adopted in, assumed the same family name. There was no keeping track of ancestral lineage other than to record the previous family name of someone who had entered a register through marriage or adoption. Cousins could marry, though few actually did. People totally unrelated by blood could be adopted into the family for the purpose of carrying on the family name.

Chosenese did not have initially have family names. They had surnames which were passed down from father to child and never changed. They represented an individuals patrilineal descent from an ancestral progenitor. They were, in essence, a clan name, and no one from the same clan could marry. Any Kim could marry any Pak, and a Kim of the X Kims could marry a Kim of the Y Kims, but not another Kim of the X Kims. If there was no male heir, then an second or third son of another family from the same clan would be adopted. Women kept their surnames after marriage, so the married women in an extended family might all have different surnames. And registers kept track of the individual surnames and clan names.

The object of the provision to create a family name was to facilitate total legal integration of Chōsen into the Interior polity. It was also, of course, to hasten the adoption of Yamato-style names, which in fact some Chosenese had already begun doing. It was not simply a matter of every Chosenese being opposed to the changes that were being imposed by Japanese rule.

Nor was it a matter of obliterating Chōsen family customs as such. Though Chosenese would be appear to have a Interior-style family structure, their surnames and clan names would still be recorded. Chosenese who wanted to continue to follow the strictly sanguilineal patriarchal traditions were perfectly free to do so. In the meantime, the Interior-style laws enabled certain reform-minded Chosenese to marry or adopt whomever they wanted. In any case, the governor-general's mission was to ease, tease, nudge, and otherwise pressure Chosenese into an Interior frame of mind about everything -- including the ever-important family registers, which epitomized the empire's priority on bureaucratic conformity and order.


Timing of name-change decrees

The enforcement date marked the 2600th anniversary of the founding of Yamato by Jinmu, its first emperor, according to accounts of the genesis of the country in the Nihon shoki (日本書紀 720).

Significance of 1940

11 February 1940 was the first day of the year 2600 on the Yamato calendar. It marked the Genesis of the Realm [Kigensetsu], when Jinmu is supposed to have started the putatively unbroken succession of the priestly heads of the imperial household. This date is now called National Founding Day [Kenkoku kinenbi], and it continues to be the most important national holiday for true Yamatoists.

1940 was also the year Japan was to have hosted the Olympics. After Japan invaded China, the International Olympics Committee canceled Tokyo as the site of the games, and the war in Europe prevented the 1940 games from being held anywhere. Five years later, the empire itself had been canceled, and with it the dream of integration and assimilation.

Register development after annexation

After the annexation treaty came into effect, and Korea became Chōsen, Japan went about nationalizing Chōsen's population registers, as it had the registers of all territories it had incorporated into its sovereign empire -- from Ezo (Hokkaidō) and Ryūkyū (Okinawa), to Formosa (Taiwan) and Karafuto. Not only did Korea's household register laws continue to be used as Chōsen laws, but they were revised in 1915 to require heads of households to make notifications of changes in registration matters.

In 1922, the 1912 Chōsen Civil Matters Ordinance (朝鮮民事令 Chōsen minji rei), which had extended parts of the prefectural Civil Code to Chōsen, was revised. The Chōsen Family Register Ordinance (朝鮮戸籍令 Chōsen koseki rei), which introduced many elements of prefectural family register practices, was also promulgated (Governor-General Ordinance No. 154) that year.

Pon'gwan names retained

By 1923, Chōsen family registers had come to be almost the same as prefectural registers. One major difference was that Chōsen registers continued to have a box for the ever important 本貫 (본관 pon'gwan J. honkan) -- the ancestral clan or lineage name of each member of a household. As on prefectural registers, Chōsen registers also bore the 氏名 (씨명 ssimyŏng J. shimei) or "family name and personal name" of each member.

The lineage name is generally the name of the locality from where the clan is supposed to have originated in antiquity. The practice of keeping track of such names continues among some Chinese. The practice, though adopted from China through Korea by some people in early Japan, did not take root in Japan, where there has been much less concern about marriage between close relatives.

Under traditional Korean family law, and under ROK law until very recently, a man and woman with the same family name (e.g., Kim) could not marry unless they were from different Kim clans -- i.e., unless their lineage name was different. Korean wives would join their husband's household register after marriage, but not adopt his family name. And no one's lineage name would change. Children would usually take their father's family name -- and its lineage name.


Name-change policies



Intentions of name-change policy

The name-change policy had two objectives: (1) impose a single family name on all household registers, and (2) permit changes in personal names.

Impose a single family name on all households

The principle object of the name-change policy was to force Chōsen subjects within the same household register to use only one name as their legal family name. Their surnames and surname origins would continue to be recorded in the register, and people would be free to use them in private affairs, including marriage.

The policy itself did not force any head of household to adopt an Interior style family name. Heads of household were free to simply wait until the 6-month compliance period ran out -- in which case their own surname would be taken as the family name of the register, hence of all its members -- with no change in their surnames.

That in the end many household heads did create an Interior-style family name for their register means only that they submitted to extralegal pressure to do so -- or they accepted the argument, ardently made by family-name advocates, that adopting a distinct name unlike any surname in the register would create less confusion among people who wanted, in their private life, to continue to make the customary surname distinctions.

Permit changes of personal name

There seems to have been no real interest in forcing Interior-style personal names on Chōsen subjects. Not only were such changes entirely voluntary, but they required application to a court and payment of a fee -- just as they did then in the prefectures, and just as they still do in Japan today.


How name-change policy operated

Family names were easily created and cost nothing -- except, for some, a chunk of racioethnic pride. Personal names cost 50 sen, and arguably no lost pride since they were strictly voluntary.

Surname becomes family name by default

If a head of household did nothing within the six-month compliance period, by default his own surname would become the family name of his register. Everyone in the register, regardless of their surname, would assume this single family name.

If the head of household's surname was Nam, and his wife's surname was Hwangbo, and his first son's wife's surname was Sama, and his third son's wife's surname was Pak -- all would assume the name Kim as their legal family name -- while continuing to be Kim, Hwangbo, Sama, and Pak in their private life.

Creation of family name

Heads of households who did not wish their own surname to be the family name of the register -- for whatever reason -- had to file a notification of creation of family name with the local registrar. "Creation" meant exactly that -- adopting a name that was not already a surname in the register -- and, to complicate matters, a name that qualified as an "Interior-style" family name.

A head of household named Kim, who wished to incorporate his surname in the family name, was expected to adopt a name like Kaneda or Kanemoto. However, Kim could also adopt a name like Yamada or Tokuyama.

If Kim did not wish to embed his surname in a Yamatoized family name, he could create an entirely new "Interior-style" name -- meaning one that did not exist anywhere -- drawing from the numerous morphemic elements of the Japanese language that have enabled the huge variety of family names in Japan. The new name did not have to be an unambiguously Yamato name, and in fact many of the adopted names were easily recognizable as Korean hybrids.


Resistance to name-changing

The family-name provided that, if a head of household hadn't filed a choice by the end of the period, his surname would, by default, become the family name for every man, woman, and child in his household register. Hence all Chōsen subjects now had family names, whether or not they had been fully or quasi Yamatoized. And everyone was expected to use their family names in all official intercourse.

The "change personal name" part of the provision was entirely optional. One could not just declare a choice of a new personal name by filing a form. A decree by the governor-general even clarified that name-change applications had to be approved by his office. The application procedure even involved a small fee, as do petitions to family courts today. In any event, only about ten (10) percent of all Chōsen subjects went to the trouble to change their personal names.

Moreover, there was really nothing new about the "change personal name" provision -- as it facilitated a customary choice which had been codified in Korean family law as early as 1909 (see Affiliation and status in Korea: 1909 People's Register Law and enforcement regulations for further details).

Some family names, and even personal names, could be read in Yamato without having to be changed. And not a few Chosenese had given their children personal names that could be taken as Yamato names if someone cared to see them that way. Practically all of the people who had been born and raised since 1910 spoke Yamato. Nearly thirty years had passed since the annexation. All Ainu, and most other non-Yamato people in the sovereign empire, had long since been pressured into adopted Yamato names, through the same process of family registration under Interior laws. As we shall see later, this is essentially what continues to happen when aliens naturalize in Japan today.

To be continued.


Compliance with name-change policy

By the middle of the six month period, not many heads of household had declared a choice of family name. Apparently officials and others began putting pressure on more people to file, for by the 10 August 1940 deadline about eighty percent of the households had complied.

The governor-general is said to have issued three orders to stop the coercion. Apparently most of the pressure to comply came from pro-Japan Chosenese.

None of this excuses the essentially coercive of the name-change policy to begin with. Imposing a single surname on a household of people accustomed to going by different surnames is in itself coercive. Forcing them to adopt a single family name of an essentially alien style is destruction of both personal and family identity.

Kim So-un aka Tetsu Jinpei

The poet Kim Soun (金素雲)

Kim has greatly inspired his granddaughter, the singer/song-writer Sawa Tomoe (b1971). In 1998, Sawa became the first Japanese singer to be permitted to perform a concert in the Republic of Korea, which until then had been closed to Japanese language media and popular culture.

To be continued.


Legacy of naivete


For many poignant anecdotes of Chosenese reactions to the deprivation of their ethnic names, see Richard Kim, Lost names: Scenes From a Korean Boyhood (New York: Praeger, 1970); and Kim Il Myŏn, "Chōsenjin no 'Nihonmei': Nihon tōchika no Nihonmei shiyō no yūrai to 'Sōshi kaimei"' [The "Japan names" of Chosenese: The origin of the use of Japan names under Japan's rule and "Sōshi kaimei"], Tenbō, No. 208 (April 1976): 34-54.

Kim's article gives an account of Korean poet Kim So Un (金素雲 1907-1981, who responded to the Sōshi kaimei [Create family name, change personal name] order by adopting the name Tetsu Jinpei. He intended the name to mean something like "I don't give a damn that I've lost my gold!" The Chinese character for Tetsu [iron] consists of two parts which mean "gold lost" -- i.e., iron is metal without gold -- alluding to the fact that Kim had lost his ethnic name Kim [gold].


On Korean time

Chōsen subjects who adopted Interior-style names, for whatever reason, had only five years to get used to their new names. On 15 August 1945, they were suddenly "liberated" of Japanese rule. "Chōsen" was supposed to become "Korea" again. But as of this writing -- over 60 years later -- it has yet to return to statehood.

Something happened on Chōsen's way back to being Korea. The territory was divided at the 38th parallel, and it took three years for the southern and northern sectors to become the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Chosenese" who remained in the prefectures did not immediately become "Koreans" either except in English documents issued by the Allied Powers and Occupation Authorities. They had to wait for the emergence of the new political entities on the peninsula, and for the formal settlements between these entities and Japan. In the meantime, their legal status in Japan remained in limbo.

Japan and ROK settled in 1965. Japan and DPRK have yet to settle, and ROK and DPRK remain divided.

The San Francisco Peace Treaty left Chosenese without Japanese nationality. Most Chosenese in Japan have became ROK nationals. A few have become nationals of countries other than ROK or DPRK. The rest remain Chosenese in Japan's eyes, including those who have become nationals of DPRK in the eyes of DPRK, PRC, and other states that recognize DPRK.

To be continued.

While many people throughout the empire must have sensed that the war was coming to an end, the abruptness and manner of its ending must have caught most off guard. Long before the end of the war, governments throughout the empire had begun making plans for all manner of administrative and demobilization contingencies, but none was prepared for the problems they faced by Hirohito's announcement that Japan had unconditionally surrendered and agreed to abandon its territories, including Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chōsen.

The Government-General of Chosen, like the Residency-General of Korea before it, had always relied on the participation of many Chōsen subjects. Though its higher posts were dominated by Interior subjects, the closer its offices came into contact with the people, the more likely they were staffed if not also led by Chosenese.

The Government-General of Chosen planned for a number of contingencies, including the orderly transfer of all its powers to Chosenese. Such plans obviously had to involve the Chosenese who would step into the posts held by Interior subjects. These plans were disrupted by the sudden end of the war and the equally sudden division of Chōsen into two military occupation zones under the control of two foreign states.

The military line drawn at the 38th parallel by the United States and the Soviet Union was contrived as a way to divide the labor of accepting Japan's surrender, receiving control of the Government-General of Chosen and its properties, and carrying out demobilization and repatriation. The US and USSR had discussed the possiblity of a multilateral trusteeship over the entire peninsula, but this idea never materialized.

Throughout the period of Japanese rule, there were many Korean independence movements, each with its own designs on the country's reigns. When the moment came to take them back, Koreans in both occupation zones found themselves faced with new occupiers who had their own agendas.

Koreans in the southern zone had to contend with the United States Army Military Government in Korea. USAMGIK was under SCAP in Japan, which in some sense meant that the southern zone of Korea was still being linked with Japan. Not until the summer of 1946 did USAMGIK became an independent command directly teathered to the US government in Washington, D.C.

USAMGIK preferred to work more closely with Japanese authorities -- namely, the Government-General of Chosen -- than with the provisional government of Syngman Rhee, which claimed the right to rule. Several Korean independence factions ended up fighting each other while the United States worked embraced Japanese and Koreans who had worked closely with Japanese to effect a smooth transition of authority and deal with the repatriation of over a million people both ways, from Korea to Japan and from Japan to Korea.

USAMGIK began to systematically replace Japanese with Koreans in Government-General of Chosen posts, beginning with the higher posts. Most, but not all Japanese, had been replaced in government posts by the spring of 1946.

The United States, failing attempts to negotiate with USSR a reunification of the peninsula, agreed to allow Syngman Rhee's provisional government to establish the Republic of Korea. The United Nations sanctioned the founding of ROK on 15 August 1948 and recognized it as a state on 12 December. The UN did not recognize the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which the USSR had allowed to be founded on 9 September.

ROK inherits Government-General

Shortly after its founding, USAMGIK transferred to ROK all of the properties which USAMGIK had taken over from the Government-General of Chosen and other Japanese entities. When replacing USAMGIK, ROK also inherited all that was left of the Government-General of Chosen -- meaning most of its civil offices and legal system, and even a few Japanese who USAMGIK had left in old posts or installed in new ones.

Shortly after its occupation of the southern zone of Korea began, USAMGIK quickly abrogated Government-General of Chosen decrees and ordinances which had limited freedoms of speech and religion, or engendered discrimination because of "race, nationality, faith, or political thoughT" (but not gender). However, decrees and ordinances that facilitated essential administrative functions -- including the population registration system -- were allowed to remain in force. (Kim Yŏngdal 2002: 99, 141)

1946 order concerning restoration of Korean names

On 23 October 1946, USAMGIK issued a law, which was immediately effective, called "Chōsen surname and personal name restoration ordinance" (朝鮮姓名復舊[旧]令 조선 성명 복구령 Chosŏn sŏngmyŏng pok'ku ryŏng J. Chōsen seimei fukkyū rei). Article 1 of the law, Order No. 122, stated that its purpose was to make it easy to restore Japanese-style names to Korean-style names. (Kim 2002: 142)

Article 2 nullified Japanese-style family names retroactive to their day of establishment. However, it gave those who wished to keep such names sixteen days within which to notify the registrar of their intent. Otherwise, the registrar would restore all surnames in the registers. (Kim 2002: 142-143)

Article 3 gave those who had changed their Korean-style personal names to Japanese-style personal names six months within which to notify the registrar of their wishes. After this period, they would have to submit a name-change petition to a court with jurisdiction -- the standard procedure for changing names. (Kim 2002: 143)

Article 4 nullified all laws inconsistent with the order, from their day of origin -- referring to all Government-General of Chosen decrees and ordinances concerning adoption of Japanese-style names. (Kim 2002: 143)

In other words, USAMGIK accepted the legal infrastructure built by the Government-General of Chosen, during its thirty-five years of rule, as something to be selectively reconstructed in a legal manner. On 1 November, USAMGIK issued detailed procedural provisions concerning name restoration, which Koreanized terminology in standing laws related to household registration. Hence 氏名 became 姓名, and 姓及本 or 姓及本貫 became simply 本 or 本貫 (Ibid. 144).

In the USSR-controlled north, Japanese institutions were shown no patience. The north more aggressively dismantled Japan's legal infrastructure. Ordinances nullified any articles of law which went against the grain of Korean sentiments. Corrective measures were taken to reverse all Japanizations of household registers. Adoptions of husbands, and adoptions of heirs with different surnames, were also nullified earlier than in the south. (Kim 2002: 99-100, 145-149).

1949 nullification of husband adoption in ROK

In 1949, a year after ROK declared itself a state, its Supreme Court (大法院 대법원 Taebŏbwon) retroactively nullified an instance of husband adoption (婿養子 J. muko yōshi) for the reason that such a practice "is contrary to public order and good morals" (Kojima Takeshi, Han Sangbŏm, and Yun Ryongt'aek, 1993).

1999 abrogation of of same-clan marriage restriction

Fifty years later, In 1999, a year after it degenderized its nationality, ROK finally liberalized its marriage law to permit unions between people who had same-clan surnames.


1939 name-change decrees and ordinances

In 1939, the Governor-General issued an order promoting the adoption of a "family name" in addition to the usual "surname" and "clan name" most Chosenese had. The order also permitted Chosenese to change their personal names. People were given until 1940 to adopt a family name but could change their personal name anytime.

To be continued.

The Government-General of Chosen issues three short decrees related to sōshi kaimei. The texts of all three decrees are presented and translated here.

The creation of a family name was a family matter because the name chosen would apply to everyone in the same household register -- as in the prefectures. Family law in the prefectures required that everyone in the same register go by the same family name. There were no surnames and no clan names.

Chosense were generally not permitted to adopt prefectural style family names. Hence the continuation of customary Chosenese name practices in Chō registers under Japanese control -- until the 1939 decrees concerning the creation of family names and changing of personal names -- when suddenly people were being encouraged to adopt prefectural naming conventions.

Though Chosenese in the same household register were required to adopt a single name for use as their family name -- to comply with the prefecturalized registration rules -- the registers continued to provide boxes for the pon'gwan (本貫) place of origin or lineage name. In other words, Chosenese were not prohibited from keeping track of lineage names, or from using such names in determining who could marry whom.

In 1944, a bill was introduced which would have permitted Chōsen and Taiwan subjects to move to prefectural registers under certain conditions. It was not, however, enacted, apparently out of fear that it would give rise to problems between Interior people and migrants from Chōsen and Taiwan (my translation).


This will engender serious mixing and confusion between Interior and Chōsen people and Interior and Taiwan people, and engender various difficult problems in terms of guidance and control.

To be continued.


Image Miyata Setsuko, Kim Yŏngdal,
and Yang T'aeho
Sōshi kaimei
[Create (family) name,
change (personal) name]
Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, 1992
From Miyata's epilogue
"It's generally said that Japan did the terrible thing of forcibly making [Chosenese] change their names. However, the object [of the "create a family name, change personal name" policy] was was clearly to "create a family name", that is, "establish a corporate family". This "establish a corporate family" sense was difficult to obtain in comparison with the "change (personal) name" phenomenon that [more] directly struck people's eyes" (page 261)
Image Mizuno Naoki
Sōshi kaimei:
Nihon no Chōsen shihai no naka de

[Sōshi kaimei: In the midst of Japan's Chōsen control]
Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2008
From Mizuno's introduction
"In the information and views [about sōshi kaimei] that can be obtained through books, magazines, and the Internet . . . there are many errors" (page i)


Soshi kaimei sources are extremely abundant. Most presentations on the Internet and in books represent degraded versions of the original ordinances and decrees. I have tried to represent the original texts as closely as I can determine them to have been.

The texts of most of the relevant ordinances and decrees related to Chōsen are reproduced in the back of the 1992 study by Miyata, Kim, and Yong. The texts of most of the Meiji proclamations can be found at the National Diet Library Digital Archive Portal [Kokuritsu Kokkai Toshokan Jijitaru Aakaibu Pootaru (NDL DAP)] (retrieved December 2006). Versions of several of the laws of interest can be found at 中野文庫法令集 (Nakano Bunko / "The Nakano Library")

Different versions different transcription conventions. There is considerable variation in marking of sentence and paragraph greaks and in showing voicing of katakana. In general I have followed Miyata et al 1992 in matters of the text itself. In adapting its vertical presentation to the horizonal one of this webpage, I have numbered articles and paragraphs with Arabic rather than Sino-Japanese numbers.

The texts of older laws today are usually reproduced with simplified Sino-Japanese characters. I have shown traditional characters only when citing a source that uses them. However, other features of older texts have been preserved -- including the absence or sparcity of puncutation, the use of katakana rather than hiragana, older kana orthography, and a tendency not to show voicing.

Works cited

I have very liberally used the following sources, all of which are reviewed under "Names" in the "Population registers" section of the "Bibliography" feature of this website. See also the biographical note on the naturalization and untimely death of Kim Yŏngdal, whose legal name was Ōno Eitatsu.

Miyata Setsuko, Kim Yŏngdal, and Yang T'aeho 1992
Kim Yŏngdal 1997
Kim Yŏngdal 2002
Tsuboi et al 2003
Mizuno Naoki 2008
Nakayama Nariaki 2013

Another interesting source, which compares the very different approaches taken in Taiwan and Chōsen regarding opportunities to adopt Japan-esque names, is the section on "The Name-Changing Campaign" in the following article (pages 55-61).

Wan-yao Chou
The Kōminka Movement in Taiwan and Korea: Comparisons and Interpretations
In Peter Duus, Ramon H. Myers, and Mark R. Peattie (editors)
The Japanese Wartime Empire, 1931-1945
Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press, 1996
Pages 40-68 (Chapter 2)

There are a number of problems in Chou's comparisons of "name changing" in Taiwan and Korea (Chōsen), with regard both to particulars and generalities. I will comment here only on generalities.

Chou concludes that the differences in name-change policies in Taiwan and Korea "substantiate the commonly held view that Japanese rule in Korea was harsher, whereas in Taiwan it was more benign" -- and show that "the Taiwanese relationship with the colonizers was more conciliatory, while the Korean one was more confrontational" (page 61). The notion that the implementation of policies if not al the policies themselves were "harsher" and "more confrontational" in Chōen is so common as to be a cliché. However, Chou's generation is a much too simple and static understanding of differences in the family law issues that the government-generals of Taiwan and Chōsen were independently addressing in 1940.

Japan's incorporation of Taiwan in 1895 began and developed very differently than its annexation of Korea as Chōsen in 1910. The differences are such that conditions and experiences in one territory have practically no relevance to those in the other territory. Chou cites a number of significant differences in both conditions and experiences, but they too are among the more steretypic "commonly held" views.

She might have observed that Chōsen was much closer to the Interior geographically, and territorially it had been intimately involved in Japan's economic and political ventures in Manchuria. More importantly, though, Chōsen's fairly homogeneous population was regarded as being racioethnically very close to that of the prefectural Interior. Apart from the intimacy of contacts in earlier times, the rate of migration between Chōsen and the Interior had been increasing, and the populations of the two territories had begun to socially mix and even intermarry -- whereas, in contrast, Taiwan remained geographically and demographically more remote.

In the late 1930s, there was much more potential for the integration of Chōsen, than of Taiwan, into the Interior legal system, for the purpose of facilitating social and demographic mobility and amalgamation. There was therefore more interest in putting Chōsen family registers on a legal par with Interior registers -- hence the introduction in Chōsen of the Interior standard of one family name per household.

Chou's descriptions of "The Name-Changing Campaign" in Chōsen are better than most. But she does not very accurately describe the actual workings of related ordinances, as opposed to the extralegal manner in which some local authorities persuaded some people to declare name changes that the ordinances did not require.



All of the translations are mine, and they are structural. By this I mean that they attempt to reflect the phrasing and terminology as precisely as possible. This means that all key words and like phrases will be rendered the same. It also means retaining the viewpoint of the original text -- whether "legal" or otherwise.

See Linguistic discrepancies in the "Legal terminology" section of the "Glossaries" feature of this website for a closer look at point-of-view issues in writing generally and translation in particular.


Decree No. 19 of 1939

In 1939, the Governor-General of Chosen issued Decree No. 19 concerning "revision in Chōsen Civil Matters Ordinance".

1939 Decree No. 19
Matters for revision in Chōsen Civil Matters Ordinance

朝鮮総督 南 治朗
10 November 1939

Governor-General of Chosen Minami Jir#ō
This decree was promulgated on 10 November 1939 and enforced from 11 February 1940.
Purpose of decree
朝鮮民事令中左ノ通改正ス [This decree] revises [matters] in the Civil Matters Ordinance as [specified] to the left [below]
Family name provision


In Article 11 Paragraph 1 add "family names," beneath "However" and "a judicial dissolution, an annulment of an alliance or a marriage when in the event of an adopted son-in-law alliance a marriage or an alliance becomes null and void or when it has been annulled,"; and in the same article add the paragraph [shown] to the left [below].

As for the family name, the head of houshold (when there is a legal representative, the legal representative) will determine this.

Adopted-son provisions added





Make Article 11-2 Article 11-3 and below this to Article 11-8 move down one article each in turn.

Article 11-2

In adopted-son alliances of Chosenese, as for the adopted son, [the surname of the adopted son] need not be the same as the surname of the adoptive parent. However, in the event of a posthumous adopted son [this stipulation] will not apply.

As for an adopted-son-in-law alliance, its effects will be borne by making a tendering of marriage at the same time as submitting the notification of an adopted-son alliance.

The adopted son-in-law will enter the family of the wife.

As for dissolutions of an adopted-son-in-law [alliance], although on account of an annulment of the alliance [the man] will leave the family, a lineal descendant of a family woman will not leave the family and at which time a fetus is born [it] will enter that family.

adopted sons and adopted sons-in-law

Families that had no sons, or which had a son who was not capable of becoming the the head of the household, could adopt a son who stood to be the principle male heir. In Korea, such sons were supposed to be, if not a close relative with the same clan surname, then someone else with the same clan surname. In Japan, families without sons also adopted relatives, but they were free to adopt any one -- even aliens -- to succeed a head of household, before or after his death.

In Korea, the idea of keeping the male line within the clan was to ensure the lineal integrity of the family. Future generations of a family would always be lineal descendants of its earlier generations. Blood was everything.

In Japan, however, the name of the family was more important than blood ties when it came to survival of a family as a corporate entity. A son adopted as a child from an unrelated family might later marry someone outside the family. In which case future generations would have no lineal ties with past generations. Yet the family would survive in name and tradition.

Adopted husbands

In some cases, a son was adopted as part of an alliance to marry a daughter, thus keeping the blood-line going. An adopted son-in-law is usually referred to as an "adopted husband" -- a term that became better known through "An Adopted Husband" -- the English title of the translation of Sono omokage (其面影) by Futabatei Shimei (二葉亭四迷 1864-1909). The novel, published in 1906 after newspaper serialization, appeared in translation in 1919.

Futabatei's story involves the Ono family, which has a daughter but no son. The head of the household adopts a university student and pays for his schooling, in return for which the young man agrees to marry Ono's daughter and carry on the family name. Ono Tetsuya, however, falls in love with his adoptive wife's younger sister.

De facto husband adoption today

Adopted-son alliances are no longer possible under Japanese family law. However, the civil code mandates that a married couple to register in either the man's or woman's register. And this permits a family with no male heirs to effectively "adopt" a son-in-law who agrees to its egister.

A marriage is recognized in Japan only when a couple are recorded as husband and wife in the same family register. Since everyone in the same register bears the same family name, unless a man and woman happen to have the same family name before they marry, one will have to assume the other's family name.

Most women chose to enter the man's register, thus assuming his family name. In a small percentage of all marriages, the man enters the woman's register and assumes her name. Most cases in which the man enters the woman's register probably reflect a de facto "adopted husband" marriage, whether or not it was arranged as such.

family woman

A "family woman" (家女 kajo) was a woman who had been born into a family as opposed to one who had married into a family. The term was used in articles of Japan's 1896 Civil Code concerning the adoption of a son as an heir, sometimes involivng an alliance with a daughter in the family. The term and its concept vanished when the code was revised after World War II to eliminated privileges of gender and sibling status within families.

The term "family" (家 ie) as a legal (corporate) entity was also abolished. In other words, Japanese law no longer recognizes a "family system" (家制度 ie seido). It recognizes only "households" (戸 ko) consisting of members who may be related to each other through lineage, marriage, or adoption. The "household" no longer constitutes a "corporation". Default inheritance, in the evenet there is no will, continues to be based on lineage and marriage, but no longer favors gender or sibling status.

The 1948 Civil Code uses the character (家) in only two expressions -- "family court" (家庭裁判 katei saiban) and "family matter proceedings law" (家事審判法 kaji shinpan hō).

Other revisions
第11条ノ9ヲ第11条ノ10トシ同条中「第11条ノ3及第11条ノ4」ヲ「第11条ノ4及第11条ノ5」ニ改ム Make Article 11-9 Article 11-10, and in the same article revise "Article 11-3 and Article 11-4" to "Article 11-4 and Article 11-5".
附則 Supplementary provisions


The Governor-General of Chosen will determine the day of enforcement of this decree.

[This decree] requires a Chosenese head of household (when there is a legal representative, the legal representative) to newly determine a family name within six months after the enforcement of this decree, and to submit notification of this to the mayor of a city head or headman of a township.

When [a head of household] does not make a submission of notification in accordance with the preceding item, [the registrar] will take as the family name the surname of the head of household at the time of this decree's enforcement. However, when a female head of household has not established a family, or when the successor to the head of household is not clear, [the registrar] will take as the family name the surname of previous male head of household.


Decree No. 20 of 1939

In 1939, the Government-General of Chosen issued Decree No. 20 concerning "family and personal names of Chosenese".

1939 Decree No. 20 on family and personal names of Chosenese
This decree was promulgated on 24 November 1939 and enforced from 11 February 1940.

Matters concerning family and personal names of Chosenese
Showa 14 (1939)
Government-General of Chosen Decree No. 20


2 自己ノ姓以外ノ姓ハ氏トシテ之ヲ用フルコトヲ得ズ但シ一家創立ノ場合ニ於テハ此ノ限ニ在ラズ
Article 1

As for the (honorable) posthumous names and (honorable) personal names of (honorable) historical generations [i.e., successions] [of emperors and empresses], [this decree] does not enable [one] to use these as a family name or a personal name.

2. As for a surname other than one's own surname, [this decree] does not enable [one] to use it as a family name. However, in the event of the founding of a [new] family, [this stipulation] will not apply. [ == Provided, however, that this will not apply in the event of establishing a new family.]

Lese majesty

The Nakano Bunko text has 得ス (enables), which seems to be a transcription or scanning error. I am following a thesis which has 得ズ (does not enable) and remarks that "This [Decree No. 20] indicates a restriction with respect to family name establishment, in that it prohibits disrespectful (不敬 fukei) family names and personal names and other surnames and family names " (I Hohyon 2005).

Source   Page 134 of Part 2 of a doctoral thesis apparently submitted by I Hohyon (李 [ホ] 鉉) (sic) in 2005 to the Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences at Waseda University. The title of the thesis is 植民地朝鮮の社会教化と文化変容に関する研究 : 戦時ファシズム期の庶民の生活実情を中心に (Shokuminchi Chōsen no shakai kyōka to bunka hen'yō ni kan suru kenkyū: Senji fashizumu-ki no shomin no seikatsu jitsujō o chūshin ni) or "A study concerning the social enlightenment and cultural change in colony Chōsen: Centering on the conditions of life of the common people in the war-time facist period". The thesis is posted on Waseda's DSpace site, which accommodates faculty and staff publications.

This is consistent with other lese majesty (不敬罪 fukeizai) laws in Japan at the time.

Names of emperors and empresses

However, Paragraph 1 is structured much like a proclamation issued by the Great Council of State shortly after the start of the Meiji period -- which permitted commoners to use the characters of imperial names. The proclamation, made in 1873 on the heels of the enforcement of the 1871 Family Registration Law, addressed the attempts of few people, among the masses who had not had family names, to adopt the names of historical dignitaries, particarly emperors and empresses (text from Nakano Bunko, translation mine).


Meiji 6 (1873)
Dajokan Proclamation No. 118
People need not be reticient about bearing a name [which uses] a character of the [honorable] posthumous names and [honorable] personal names of the [honorable] historical succession [of emperors and empresses].

This proclamation was abrogated by Article 138 of the Family Registration Law promulgated on 22 December 1947 (Law No. 224). This law, enforced from 1 January 1948, replaced the 1871 law.

It is not clear whether the Meiji proclamation is permitting use of imperial names themselves, or only characters that have been used in such names.


Article 2

As for family names and personal names, [this decree] does not enable [one] to change them. However, when [one] has received permision [to change a name] in accordance with a determination of the Governor-General in the event there is justifiable cause [reason], [this stipulation] will not apply.

Name-change petitions

The provision prohibiting name changes, except as permitted through petition, arcs back to the early Meiji period, when the Great Council of State had to deal with name problems that emerged after the enforcement of the 1871 Family Registration Law.


Meiji 5-8-24 (26 September 1872)
Dajokan Proclamation No. 235
[This proclamation] prohibits changing names, both family names and shop names, [among all statuses of people] from peers to commoners. Those who are hindered by same-family/same-personal names will submit a request [for permission to change their name].

This proclamation was abrogated by Article 138 of the Family Registration Law promulgated on 22 December 1947 (Law No. 224). This law, enforced from 1 January 1948, replaced the 1871 law.

附則 Supplementary provisions
本令施行ノ期日ハ朝鮮総督之ヲ定ム The Governor-General of Chosen will determine the day of enforcement of this decree.


Ordinance No. 221 of 1939

In 1939, the Government-General of Chosen issued Ordinance No. 221 concerning "procedures for submission of notices and records in household registers concomitant with the establishment of family names of Chosenese".

1939 Ordinance No. 221 on name change notifications and register entries

This ordinance was promulgated on 26 December 1939 and came into force on 11 February 1940.


Matters concerning procedures for submission of notices
and records in household registers concomitant with
the establishment of family names of Chosenese
Showa 14 (1939)
Government-General of Chosen Decree No. 221

Article 1

With respect to procedures for submission of notifications and records in household registers concomittant with the establishment of a family name, they will be in accordance with, other than what is determined by this ordinance, provisions in the Chōsen Family Register Decree.


2 届書ニハ左ノ事項ヲ記載スベシ

 一 戸主ノ姓名、出生ノ年月日、本籍及職業
 二 氏
Article 2

As for the submission of a notification of family name, [one] must do this with a document.

2. On the document, [one] must record the particulars to the left [below].

   (1) the head of household's surname; year, month, and day of birth; [place] of principal register; and occupation
   (2) family name


2 戸籍ノ記載事項中家ヲ異ニスル者ノ氏定マリタルトキ亦前項ニ同ジ
Article 3

When taking for the family name the surname of the head of household or the previous male head of household in accordance with the provision of Paragraph 3 of the Supplementary Provisions of Decree No. 19 of Showa 14 (1939), the record of the household register will be viewed as something which has been corrected. However, [this ordinance] will not prevent rectifying [the record].

2. When [one has determined] the family name of someone who differs from the family in the record particulars of the household register, [the matter will be treated] the same as in the preceding paragraph.
附則 Supplementary provisions
本令ハ昭和十四年制令第十九号施行ノ日ヨリ之ヲ施行ス This ordinance will be enforced from the day of enforcement of Decree No. 19 of Showa 14 (1939).


Ordinance No. 222 of 1939

In 1939, the Government-General of Chosen issued Ordinance No. 222 concerning "changes of family names and personal names of Chosenese".

1939 Ordinance No. 222 on name changes
This ordinance was promulgated on 26 December 1939 and enforced from 11 February 1940.

Matters concerning changes of family names and personal names of Chosenese
Showa 14 (1939)
Government-General of Chosen Decree No. 222


2 不許可ノ裁判ニ対シテハ不服ヲ申立ツルコトヲ得ズ
Article 1

As for those who would effect a change of [their] family name [and or] personal name, [one] must receive permission by applying to the court which has jurisdiction over one's place of principal register or place of residence.

2. [This ordinance] does not enable [one] to file a complaint against a judgment of non-permission.


2 申請書ニハ左ノ事項ヲ記載シ戸籍謄本ヲ添附スベシ

 一 本籍、住所、氏名、出生ノ年月日及職業
 二 変更セントスル氏名
 三 変更ノ理由
Article 2

As for the application for permission, [one] must do this with a document.

2. On the document, [one] must record the particulars to the left [below] and attach a copy of [one's] household register.

   (1) [place of] principal register; address; family name and personal name; year, month, and day of birth; and occupation
   (2) the family name [and or] personal name [one] would change
   (3) the cause [reason] for the change


2 前項ノ手数料ハ収入印紙ヲ以テ之ヲ納ムベシ
Article 3

In making an application for permission, [this ordinance] requires the payment of 50 sen as a service fee.

2. [The applicant] will pay the service fee of the preceding paragraph with a revenue stamp.

Changing names in Japan today

The above procedure was then -- and is still now -- the standard procedure for changing names on a family register. The only difference is that, today, name-change petitions are made to a family court with jurisdiction, and the petitioner can appeal to a higher court if dissatisfied with the response of the family court. Now, as then, the filing procedure is simple and the filing fee is nominal.

Justifiable causes today include social confusion with other people who bear the same family and personal names, sexually ambiguous personal names, and personal names that invite teasing or other forms of unwanted attention.

Family courts have also permitted naturalized persons to reinstate a name they had been using before naturalizing. Precedents include the reinstatement of Vietnamese and Korean names.

There have never been legal restrictions on the putative "ethnicity" of a name on a Japanese register. Practically any name is possible, so long as it conforms to form and script limitations -- i.e., it consists of a family name followed by a personal name, both written with standard or otherwise authorized characters or kana.

附則 Supplementary provisions
1 本令ハ昭和十四年制令第二十号施行ノ日ヨリ之ヲ施行ス

2 明治四十四年朝鮮総督府令第百二十四号ハ之ヲ廃止ス

3 本令施行前前項ノ朝鮮総督府令ニ依リ為シタル名ノ改称ニ関スル願出ニ付テハ仍従前ノ例ニ依ル
1. [The Governor-General] will enforce this ordinance from the day of enforcement of Decree No. 20 of Showa 14 (1939).

2. [This ordinance] abrogates Decree No. 124 of Meiji 44 (1911).

3. With respect to petitions [i.e., submissions of requests] concerning renaming of personal names made in accordance with the Government-General of Chosen decree in the preceding paragraph prior to the enforcement of this ordinance, consequently they will be according to examples hitherto [i.e., prior to effectuation].


1940 handbill urging establishment of family name

The Internet is contributing to a better understanding of what "create family name, change personal name" measures in Chōsen really meant. Someone introduced a scan of a handbill, published by the Taegu Regional Legal Affairs Bureau, urging people to comply with the decree to create a family name and notify authorities by the 10 August 1940 deadline.

The scan has been posted on numerous Korean-language and Japanese-language websites, and on some websites in English and other languages. Some transcriptions maintain the integrity of the original in all respects except that they use present-day Sino-Japanese characters -- which in no way corrupts the text. Many transcriptions replace the kana with hiragana, character numbers with arabic numbers, and add puncutation. Most transcriptions I have seen, however, corrupt a couple of characters or other elements of the text.

Image Handbill urging establishment of family name
Issued by Taegu Regional Court in 1940
Click on image for full-screen view

The original text is in both Japanese and Korean. The principle text is Japanese. Korean is shown in slighly smaller script alongside the Japanese text. Hangul and sometimes also characters are shown to the right of all kana and characters that are intended to be read in Japanese rather than Sino-Japanese. Unmarked characters are intended to be read in either Sino-Japanese or Sino-Korean.

Since most readers of Japanese would have difficulty quickly comprehending the original text, many websites have attempted to translate the text into present-day Japanese. Most of these translations seriously degrade the formal texture and tone of the original. A few English translations of the simplified Japanese versions further corrupt the structural integrity of the original.

In the following table, I have shown a vetted transcription of the Japanese text as shown on the scanned image, followed by a close English translation and glosses of technical terms. Commentary on the object of the handbill, and the thinking that was probably behind the manner in which the handbill was composed, follows the table.


1940 Create Family Name Notification handbill
With commentary on terminology

Japanese text

The Japanese text is a full transcription of the handbill as shown on the image, identical in every respect but two: (1) present-day (simplified) Sino-Japanese characters have been used instead of contemporary (traditional) characters, and (2) the Korean translation beside the Japanese text has been omitted (but it can be read off the image).

The areas of text on the handbill are presented in the following order -- top, middle from right to left, and bottom -- to refect the layout of the handbill.

Top margin
Right margin
Handbill title
Seven items
Issuing authority
Left margin
Bottom margin

English translation

The structural English translation is mine.


Some terms have been highlighted in color to facilitate glosses or commentary.

Such terms are highlighted in bold blue, unless they are parts of text printed on the handbill in red, in which case they are highlighted in bold red.

期限ハ刻々ニ迫ル 八月十日限リ 今熟慮断行ノ時
Time limit is fast approaching  By 10 August  Now is time for serious thought and action

△ 好機ヲ逸サヌヤウ
△ Do not miss good opportunity

Cautions about family name establishment


1. Submission of a Create Family Name Notification is to be by 10 August. Thereafter a Create Family Name Notification will not be possible. As for changes of personal name, there is no time limit.

10 August 1940, a Saturday, fell exactly six (6) months after 11 February 1940, a Sunday, the day the name decree began to operate. While 11 February marked the 2600th anniverasy of the founding of the Empire of Japan, the formal banquet celebrating the anniversary took place on 1 November 1940, a Friday.


2. As for those who do not make a notification of a family name by 10 August, in consequence of the conventional surname of the head of a household becoming the family name, should the surname of the head of a household be Kim, Kim will become the family name, [his] wife Yun Chŏng Hŭi in keeping with the family name of the head of the household will become Kim Chŏng Hŭi, [his] son's wife Pak Nam Jo will become Kim Nam Jo, and there is concern that [this] will be confusing.
In consequence of this, it is thought that not establishing an Interior territory style [Interior-style] family name will all the more become something to regret.

This warning comes before clarifications of how Interior-style family names and Chōsen-style surnames function. Nowhere in the handbill are there any clarifications of Interior-style family names and Chōsen-style surnames differ in form.

Assuming that "Interior-style family name" implies a name like "Suzuki" rather than "Kim", this warning would appear to mean something like this. I have read the graphs for the Korean surnames in Sino-Korean, though they could just as well have been read in Sino-Japanese. Pronunciations were not generally recorded on registers.

Use of Chōsen-style surname as family name on Chōsen register may be cause for confusion and regret


Adoption of Interior-style family name for use as family name on Chōsen register will avoid confusion and regret


Family names


Family names

Yun Chŏng Hŭi
Pak Nam Jo

Kim Chŏng Hŭi
Kim Nam Jo

Head's wife
Head's son
Son's wife
Son's son

Yun Chŏng Hŭi
Pak Nam Jo

Suzuki Chŏng Hŭi
Suzuki Nam Jo

The "confusion" appears to be this. Under the present system, Pak Nam Jo is publicly known as "Pak", and people clearly understand that Pak is her surname and treat her accordingly. If, under the new system, she becomes publicly known as Kim Nam Jo, even though "Kim" will represent a family name, people will reflexively still think of it as a surname and treat her as a "Kim", not knowing she is a "Pak". Whereas if she were publicly known as Suzuki Nam Jo, people would know that "Suzuki" was not her surname, and not prejudge her according to customary sentiments about surnames.

It is tempting to claim that the "logic" of this warning is characteristic of ways that people are persuaded to conform in Japan today. Appeals to cooperate so as to avoid "confusion" by any name are certainly common. Such appeals usually imply that "confusion" will lead to some sort of "trouble" that will be a cause for "regret". Yet this is a universal argument for doing as one is expected to do.


3. There appears to be an inclination to confuse surname with family name, but, as the family name is the appelation of the family and the surname is something which expresses the blood lineage of the male line, the qualities of the two are entirely different.

This is perhaps the most important statement in the handbill. Ironically, present-day critics of the name decree are still confusing "family name" and "surname". By this I do not mean to excuse the decree.

The name decree was what it was -- an attempt to encourage Chosenese to abandon their native names in order to enter the Yamato fold. Still, historians of the period are obliged to recognize that the decree did not deprive Chosenese of their surnames, and even accepted Chōsen-style surnames as legal family names.


4. There appears to be a misunderstanding that, when establishing a family name, the conventional surname will be lost, but, because even after establishment of the family name the surname and [the locality of its] original register will as they are be retained in the houshold register, there are no worries.

This clarification, too, is intended to persuade Chosenese to accept the imposition of Interior-style family law on Chōsen.


5. There are people who think that kin groups and ancestor groups have to establish the same family name but this is a big misunderstanding. For the reason that a family name is the appelation of a family, establishing a different family name for each family is natural.

This is one of the more perverse statements on the handbill. The logic of "natural" epitomizes the banality of "more like us" arrogance.

Attaching importance to a "family name" had of course been "natural" in Japan but not in Korea. The "naturalness" of establishing a common "family name" for each "family" was at the time predicated on favoring the "nature" of the "corporate family" as defined in the Interior Civil Code. That what seemed "natural" in the Interior should also be regarded as "natural" in Chōsen was predicated on the sentiment that what was good for the Interior was good for Chōsen, that Chōsen should be like the Interior. Such "more like us" expectations border on arrogance.


6. It appears that [people] are in the midst of thinking seriously about family name selection, but, because there is concern that if [one] thinks too much [one] will all the more waver, swiftly deciding on something concise [simple and clear] is most ideal.

In other words -- stop procrastinating and get with the program! The phrasing, though, creates the impression that people are not so much confused by the meaning of the options, as torn between them. Those responsible for administering the decree must have understood, though, that much of the lack of response was less about deliberating too much, and more about reluctance to acknowledge the matter, out of a sense of passive aggression is not just fatalism.


7. As for points of uncertainty pressed by the time limit, please quickly inquire at a city, town, or township, or at a court.

city, town, or township

府面邑 (pu-myŏn-ŭp) is usually written 府邑面 (pu-ŭp-myŏn) as in the title of the book 朝鮮各道府邑面間里程表 (Chōsen kakudo fuyūmen kan ritei hyō) or "Table of distances between the cities, townships, and towns of each province of Chōsen" (1942). The expression is structurally similar to 市町村 (shi-chō-son) or "cities, towns, and villages" in Japanese.

Why the the handbill reverses the usual order of 面 and 邑 is not clear. Perhaps it was because there there were more 邑 (villages, small towns) than 面 (larger towns, townships).

As of 1910

13 do [provinces]
11 fu [cities]
317 kun [counties]

3 provices had 2 fu
6 provices had 1 fu
4 provices had 0 fu

do 道 -- province
chiji 知事 -- governor of province

fu 府 -- city, municipality
fuin 府尹 -- mayor of city

kun 郡 -- county

yu 邑 -- township, town
yucho 邑長 -- headman of township

men 面 --town, village
mencho 面長 -- town, village chief, headman

Taegu Regional Court         

Taegu Regional Court

Taegu (大邱) was the capital city (府) of Kyŏngsangpugdo (慶尚北道), a province. It addition to its municipal seat, the province had a number of counties (群). Most of the counties were divided into only towns (面), one of which was the county seat. Five counties had a single township (邑), in addition to several towns. All townships were county seats, and four shared the name of its county.

The highest court in Kyŏngsangpugdo was the Taegu Appellate Court (大邱覆審法院). The principle court of first instance in the province was the Taegu Regional Court (大邱地方法院). The Taegu Regional Court had five brances in addition to the main branch in Taegu. Four of the branch courts were in the township (邑) seats of district (群) seats, and one was in the town (面) seat of a district that did not have a township (邑).

△ 即刻届出シマセウ
△ Promptly submit notification

Do not leave regret to your descendants by erring in your perception

This, of course, underscores the warning in the second item, that failure of a head of household to adopt an Interior-style family would cause his descendants to regret his action or inaction, as the case may be.


Fiction as history

Good fiction is by definition a lie that rings true. The best fiction is a credible mix of truth and falsehood in which even readers who think they know the difference become lost in the maze between the poles of fact and fabrication.

The problem of differentiating fact from fabrication is compounded by translation. Translators or editors may change the phrasing and metaphorical texture of a story in order to accommodate all manner of demands external to the story as originally told. Among these external demands are (1) the real and imaginary characteristics of the language into which the original is being translated, (2) writing and editorial standards that gravitate against fidelity, and (3) ideological notions that compel alteration in the form of filtering out unpalatable detail from the translated version, rephrasing the details to make them palatable, or seeding the translation with commentary that imposes interpretations on the story.

Fiction featuring "soshi kaimei"

A lot of fiction in Japanese, and some in English, has featured anecdotes about name-change policies and practices in Chōsen and other territories of the Empire of Japan. Some short stories have been devoted to the implementation of, and response to, the Sōshi-kaimei or "Create family name, change personal name" ordinanes issued in Chōsen toward the end of 1939, and enforced between 11 February and 10 August 1940.

Yuasa's novel "Ōrokkō" (1944) includes a scene portraying the different attitudes of two Chosenese, a man and a woman, toward their changed names, when they meet again in Manchuria under their new names.

Kajiyama's "Zokufu" or "Clan records" (1961) is a first-person reminisence by a low-ranking Interiorite official in the Government-General of Chosen, who had been ordered to achieve 100 percent compliance with the name ordinances in the counties he had been assigned.

A counterpart to Kagiyama's story is Richard Kim's "Lost Names", the title story of Lost Names (1970), an anthology of first-person fictional "Scenes from a Korean Boyhood". In "Lost Names", the boy recalls how his father had been pressued to accept a Japanese name.

Two anthologies of translations of Japanese stories have been published in English by university presses in the United States. One is The Clan Records (1995), Yoshiko Dykstra's translations of "Five Stories of Korea" by Kajiyama including the title story. The other is Kannani (2005), Mark Driscoll's translations of two of Yuasa's novellas, including the title story, about the friendship, in Chōsen, between Ryūji, an Interiorite boy and Kannani, a Chosenese girl.

Fictional history and fictional fiction

Two problems need to be dealt with when considering the original and translated versions of a work of historical fiction. The first concerns the manner in which and original has intentionally or unwittingly fictionalized history. The second involves ways in which the translation has purposely or incidentally fictionalized the original.

Take the follwoing few examples (fuller contexts are shown in longer extracts in subsequent sections of this article).

Kajiyama, writing several years after the Empire of Japan had ceased to exist except in history, had a bit of a problem setting a story in Korea at a time when it was a part of Japan called Chōsen. He also had trouble using Japanese to refer to people who at the time would have been called Interiorites, since technically Japanese included Chosenese.

Kajiyama wanted to be to some extent authentic, but he knew that authenticity would offend people who did not wish to be reminded of past but still very recent realities, much less be confronted with such realities as though they might have been true or, worse, still true.

So to have his cake and eat it too -- to be "contemporary" in reference both to the time of the story, and to the time he is writing -- Kajiyama, at one point early in "Zokufu", parenthetically qualifies Nihonjin with the remark that "in Chōsen [people] used the word Naichijin" (page 171).

He does not further explain what he means by this. He does not, for example, state who in Chōsen used Naichijin to mean Nihonjin. He does not say whether people in Naichi used the term. He does not say whether the word Naichi was a synonym for Nihon. In fact, his usage does not reveal how he understood these words to have generally been used at the time of the story.

To make things more confusing, he uses Naichi and Naichijin places where apparently he feels authenticity requires it -- "apparently" because there is no foundation for assuming that he has definite criteria for differentiation usage. He also uses Senjin (Senese) and Hantōjin (Peninsularites) to refer to Chōsenjin (Chosenese) -- again, where it seems that he is trying to create an illusion of witnessing what might actually have been said.

Whatever Kajiyama actually wrote -- regardless of what reasons he might have had for writing as he wrote -- it is clear that Dykstra conflates most of his variations into her words of choice -- "Japan" and "Japanese" exclusive of "Korea" and "Koreans". She seems not to be believe in fidelity or consistency. Kajiyama's "minzoku shugi sha" (民族主義者 176), "minzoku no kanjō" (民族の感情 177), and "minzoku no chi / kanjō)" (民族の血 / 感情) 177) come out "Korean patriotism" (15), "feelings of a people" (16), and "the Koreans' blood and emotions" (16).

To be continued.


Image Mark Driscoll's versions of Yuasa's
"Kannani" and "Document of Flames"
with critical commentary fore and aft

Yuasa Katsue

Yuasa Katsuei [sic = Katsue]
Kannani and Document of Flames
(Two Japanese Colonial Novels)
[translated and with an introduction and critical afterword by Mark Driscoll]
Durham: Duke University Press, 2005
xi, 193, papercover

The Introduction is as "critical" as the Afterword. Driscoll admits as much partway throught it -- "Before I go on to fulfill the genre requirements of a critical introduction . . ." (page 20).


What puzzles me most about Driscoll's book is why he calls Yuasa "Katsuei". Did he not examine contemporary editions of Yuasa's work, in which his personal name was marked to be read "Katsuwe" -- which, in present-day orthography, would be "Katsue"? It is not that the graphs for the name could not be read "Katsuei" -- but that, according to Yuasa's publishers -- and even his biographers -- he called himself "Katsue".


Driscoll does a decent job translating the two novellas -- considering some of the misinformation in his commentary, and his non-literary attitude toward the phrasing and metaphors of the original texts. Also unfortunately for readers interested in fidelity, Driscoll adopted external "critical" metaphors for some of the key words -- such as "Naichi" and "Chōsen". These terms refer to "Interior" and "Chōsen", both parts of Japan at the time of the stories. Driscoll morphs these key words into "Japan" and "Korea", partly because he does accept the historical fact that Korea had been incorporated into "Japan" as "Chōsen" in 1910 -- but for other reasons too (note 3, pages 28-29, italics Driscoll's, underscoring) mine).

[Note 3] I put scare [sic] quotes around "Korean" to flag the fact that it was not yet a nation-state, but only became one through the process of colonialism and decolinization. The same should be done for "Japan," because the "Japanese" nation-state did not preexist imperial extension that began in the 1870s in Okinawa (then went on to take "Taiwan" as a colony in 1985 [sic = 1895] and then "Korea" as a colony in 1910), but was an affer-effect generated in and through the process of colonial imperialism itself. . . . all names of countries are best placed in quotation marks. . . .

There are many things wrong with Driscoll's "nation-state" history, but the most glaring is his view that the Korea did not have a history of being a "state" (the "nation" does nothing to alter this formal status) at the time it ceded itself to Japan and became Chōsen. Yi dynasty Chosŏn and its 1897 successor, the Empire of Korea, were were sovereign state entities with which Japan and numerous other countries had signed treaties as sovereign states. Not to recognize this legal fact is absurd -- notwithstanding Driscoll's radical "colonial" and "postcolonial" critique.

Driscoll's "critical" views of the political and social history of the period compel him to refuse to recognize that Korea had become a part of Japan called Chōsen, and that Koreans had become Japanese of Chōsen territoriality called Chosenese. Even without such views, however, he would probably choose to take the "Japan" out of "Chōsen" and call it "Korea" -- simply because academic and popular conventions in English-language writing about the Empire of Japan strongly favor speaking of "Japan" and "Korea" as separate entities, while sometimes referring to the prefectural Interior as "Japan proper" -- or "metropole" in the argot of post-modern and post-colonial critique.

"Japan proper" and its reduction to "Japan" are practices that began shortly after the coinage of "Naichi" in the late 19th century. The preference for "Korea" is partly due to the fact that it had become the most familiar term for the peninsula in English.

Never mind that Yi Dynasty Chosŭn is "Chosen" in the English versions of the earliest treaties between Chosŏn and Japan, and Chosŏ and the United States in the late 19th century. And never mind that the Empire of Korea, which Yi Dynasty Chosŏn become in 1897, was renamed "Chōsen" after integration to into Japan as part of Japan's sovereign dominion. Not only is the territory "Chōsen" (Chosen) and its registered affiliates "Chōsenjin" (Chosenese) on in Japanese laws, official documents, and mass media. But it is "Chosen" on visas and related immigration documents issued by American consuls in Chōsen to Chosenese migrating to the United States as Japanese in the 1930s.

The Allied Powers, in the terms under which they obtained Japan's unconditional surrender, regarded "Korea" as a liberated entity. However, some Allied documents before the start of the Occupation of Japan, and a few earlier drafts of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, wrote "Korea (Chosen)" in order to clarify that "Korea" referred to the entity of "Chosen".

All Japanese versions of postwar laws and treaties referring to the peninsula as a legacy territory of Japan have called the entity "Chōsen" -- and it remains a "deemed entity" in the determination of the legal status in Japan of several thousand former Japanese who lost Japan's nationality in 1952 but have not yet, in Japan's eyes, acquired another nationality. They are not legall stateless but possess the nationality of the state that "Chōsen" was supposed to become in the process of reversing the effects of the 1910 "union" of the empires of Korea and Japan -- "annexation of Korea" if you wish.

Moreover, some Chosenese in Japan, and some Koreans (nationals of the Republic of Korea), consider themselves originally (or by descent) "former Japanese" of Chosenese territoriality. In other words, they take their "Chōsen" (not "Korean") roots seriously.

Add the this the fact that American novels about "Korea" and "Koreans" during the annexation, when translated into Chinese, Korean, or Japanese, have to be reworded as being about "Chōsen" and "Chosenese" -- for the simple reason that this is what they were -- and such distinctions are the very "stuff" of accurate social (including legal, political, economic, and cultural) history.


Driscoll's book contains the following parts. I have added some details, including the graphs, romanizations, and other particulars concerning the two novellas.

Acknowledgments, ix-xi

Introduction, 1-35

Kannani (1934) [sic], 37-98
カンナニ (Kannani) [1946]
(Yuasa does not seem to have written the version Driscoll translates until after World War II. See more about this below.)

Documents of Flames (1935), 99-159
焔の記録 (Homura no kiroku)

Conclusion: Postcoloniality in Reverse, 161-193

Driscoll writes his long Introduction and nearly as long Conclusion with a passion that clearly shows the depth of his academic interest and ideological dedication to the subject of this book -- which has little to do with literature. By this I mean that Driscoll is less interested in Yusasa's works as literature than in what he thinks they reflect about Yusasa's view of the period. This is evident in two choices: (1) his choice to sandwich the English versions of the two novellas he chose to translate between such long critiques, and (2) his choice to write the critiques in a manner that is often extremly radical and convoluted in its terminology and phrasing.

In the following sections, I will show and discuss Driscoll's comments on names, then review the manner in which he has translated the novella "Kannani" (in his book), and the part of the novel Ōryokkō (Yalu river) he cites in his main comment on names.

Driscoll on names

Driscoll's commentary is somewhat less that accurate. In his Introduction, for example, he writes this about names, in reference to Yuasa's 1942-1944 novel Ōryokkō (鴨緑江) or "Yalu river" (page 5, and note 9, page 30; the italics are Driscoll's, the underscoring is mine). I have shown what he should have written to the right.

The main character's given name is Yang Tae-gi, but he has changed his name to the Japanese Ōyama Eiji; throughout the novel the references to him and his family are as Ōyama. [Note 9] We find this out early on when a Korean woman whom Ōyama encounters at Yalu River notices another Korean wearing a Japanese army uniform and says to him, "Hey, that's Kang. Mr. Kang's here! Go take a look; isn't it him, Yang?" Ōyama answers peevishly, "Yeah, I saw him. But my name's not Yang. I officially changed it [sōshi shite] and I'm now Ōyama Eiji" (31). Soon to become his financée, the young Korean woman proceeds to address him for the rest of the novel as Ōyama.

[Note 9] The 1939 colonial policy of kaimei legally required all Koreans to take on Japanese names, but some Koreans adopted the practice earlier.

The main character's name is Ōyama Eiji. He was born Yang Tae-gi but changed his name, and throughout the novel he and his family are called Ōyama -- except in one place. We first learn he had once been Yang after he encounters a woman he knows at the Yalu river. She notices a man wearing a Japanese army uniform and says to him, "Hey, that's Kang. Mr. Kang's here! Go take a look; isn't it him, Yang?" Ōyama answers, "Yeah, I saw him. But my name's not Yang. I changed it and I'm now Ōyama Eiji" (31). Soon to become his financée, she proceeds to address him for the rest of the novel as Ōyama. [Note 9]

[Note 9] Ōyama uses the term "sōshi" (創氏) to tell the woman he has changed his name. The term means "create [establish] family name" and would refer only to "Yang", a Chōsen-style clan surname, becoming "Ōyama", an Interior-style family name. 1939 Chōsen decrees, effective in 1940, required that all members of a Chōsen household use a single family name legally, in lieu of their different clan surnames, which would still be recorded and could still be used socially. This was called "sōshi". Additionally, individuals were allowed to apply for permission to change the personal name on the register. This was called "kaimei". Sōshi (by declaration or default) was mandatory. Kaimei was optional. Some Chosenese had sought, and been allowed, to adopt Interior style family and personal names before this.

Driscoll's commentary on names does not get better (page 6, and note 11, page 30).

The partly volitional kaimei (shift from Korean to Japanese names) represents only the beginning. [Note 11]

[Note 11] The Japanese colonial authorities, under the program of naisen ittai (the unification of Japan and Korea), pursued a policy of forced assimilation from 1934: eliminating the use of the Korean language in school instruction (1934), requiring attendance at Shinto ceremonies (1935), and the kaimei or forced adoption of Japanese surnames (1939). These edicts intended to assimilate colonized Koreans to the Japanese language would not have been applied with quite the same force in Manchuria, where Ōyama grew up. For example, none of the other colonized Korean residents of Manchuria in Blue Jumper appear to have changed to Japanese names. It is worth pointing out that despite these edicts, the Korean vernacular language continued to be used in newspapers and other mass media right up until the end of World War II.

Driscoll speaks of "edicts" but the actions were "decrees" -- regulations -- issued by the Government-General of Chosen. As such, they had efficacy only n Chōsen. The decrees related to language and names were not intended to be nearly as as comprehensive or forceful as Driscoll implies.

Regarding names, Driscoll does not seem to know exactly what he would like to imply. Note 9 alleges that "The 1939 colonial policy of kaimei legally required all Koreans to take on Japanese names." The text then qualifies "kaimei" as "partially volitional" and glosses it as a "shift from Korean to Japanese names". Yet note 11 glosses "kaimei" as "forced adoption of Japanese surnames".

Again, "kaimei" had nothing to do with surnames, but referred to an optional application-based, fee-incurring change of personal name, in accordance with standing personal-name-change procedures. Whereas "sōshi" was a mandatory adoption of a single family name, to be shared by all members of the household, in lieu of the Chōsen practice of individual clan surnames. The default family name was the surname of the head of the household, should he not file a notification of choice by the deadline. And whatever the family name, by choice or default, the household register would continue to each family member's clan surname.

Under the "sōshi kaimei" policy, implemented between 11 February and 10 August 1940, the graph of the surname "Yang" could have rolled over as a family name of a household whose head was "Yang". Most readers of Japanese, including some Chosenese, might have read the graph "Yō" -- but it would still have been seen and heard as a Chōsen-style "surname" while also serving as an Interior-style "family name".

Notice that Yuasa -- writing in 1942, three years after 1939, when the "sōshi kaimei" decrees were issued to go into effect in Chōsen for a six-month period in 1940 -- put "sōshi" into the mouth of a character speaking in Manchuria the same year as the story, i.e., 1942. Also notice that Driscoll, when describing and paraphrasing the name scene, misrepresents both the scene in the flow of the story, and Ōeyama's and the woman's attitudes.

See fuller account of the name scene below.


Driscoll's Yuasa Katsue translations

Unlike Yoshiko Dykstra, who appears to have had no respect for the integrity of the texts of Kajiyama Toshiyuki's stories (see below), Mark Driscoll has obviously made an effort to take the details in Yusasa Katsue's stories seriously. The main problem with Driscoll's versions are that he is not nearly as good a writer in English as Yuasa was in Japanese.

This is a common missmatch in literary translation -- and, I would add, in the peer vetting and edition of literary translations. To wit -- translators and those who check translations, of Japanese fiction into English, do not necessarily "see" and "hear" the literary qualities of Japanese in English of similar quality.

Driscoll claims to have based his translations of both the novellas in his book on versions published in Yuasa Katsuei [sic], Kannani: Yuasa Katsuei [sic] shokuminchi shōsetsushū, ed. Ikeda Hiroshi (Inpacuto Shuppan [sic], 1995) (pages 8 and 10, and pages 31-32, notes 14 and 19). The reference is to 池田浩士 (Ikeda Hiroshi), カンナニ 湯浅克衛植民地小説集 (Kannani: Yuasa Katsue shokuminchi shōsetsushū), インパクト出版会 (Inpakuto Shuppan Kai).

Ikeda Hiroshi, a specialist in German literature, has dedicated much of his academic life to the translation and critique of literature that reflects on Naziism, and also to the the anthologizing of Japanese literature connected with colonialism and Tennōsei ideology -- from a markedly leftist viewpoint. Impakuto Shuppan Kai, one of his main publishers, puts out the "Impaction", a bimonthly journal dedicated to the favorite historical, political, and social issues of the intellectual left.

Driscoll states this about his representation of Kannani (page 8, and note 14, page 31)

The translation of Kannani here is about three times as long as that version [the "highly censored Literary Review version" of April 1935], as I worked from a post-World War II novel that Yuasa restored from his notes when he was repatriated to Japan in September 1945 with his family, after thirty years of living in Korea. The reader will notice a number of cuts in the English translation. Even in the restored version a great deal of material was excised, this time not owing to censorship restrictions but because Yuasa could not remember what was in the original; the full version was lost years before. In offering to English-language readers what Yuasa felt to be closest to his original version of Kannani I wanted to demonstrate some of the textual production of a liberal -- not communist or radical -- critic of Japanese colonialism. [Note 14 = Yuasa 1995 as edited by Ikeda (see above)]

I have no idea how any reader would know, from Driscoll's version, any "cuts in the English translation" -- without comparing Driscoll's version with the text he used. In any event, how could any material could have "excised" from the "restored version" on account of Yuasa's inability to "remember what was in the original"?

One thing is clear from Driscoll's commentary, though: he himself is is not "a liberal . . . critic of Japanese colonialism." Of all the "critical" work I have seen in English or Japanese on the Chōsen years, Driscoll's commentary in this book rank with the most "radical" criticism of the times.


Image 1946 edition of Kannani anthology
Designed by Ihara Usaburo
Yosha Bunko copy

Yuasa Katsue's "Kannani"

In the following sampling of Driscoll's translation of "Kannani" I have used the version in my copy of the 1946 anthology.

湯浅克衛 (ゆあさかつゑ) [Yuasa Katsuwe < Yuasa Katsue]
カンナニ Kannani
東京:大日本雄辨會講談社 Tokyo: Dai Nippon Yūbenkai Kōdansha
昭和二十一年十一月二十日 印刷 [Printed 20 November 1946]
昭和二十一年十一月二十五日 發行 [Published 25 November 1946]
240 pages, stiff board softcover
装幀 伊原宇三郎 [Designed by Ihara Usaburō]
定價 十三圓 [Price 20 yen]

This edition has a title page, the back of which attributes the designs (on the cover and title page) to Ihara Usaburō. The next page is the title page of "Kannani", the first of the three novellas in the volume. The volume ends with commentaries by Yuasa on each of the stories.

カンナニ (1-101) Kannani [Kannani] (girl's name)
(Yuasa states in his comments that he wrote "Kannani" in November of his 24th year

棗 (103-148)
Natsume [Jujube] (kind of tree)

松葉牡丹 (149-227)
Matsuba botan [Matsuba peonies]

作品解説と思い出 (228-240)
Sakuhin kaisetsu to omide [Explanations and recollections]
Signed "Author" (著者 Chosha) and dated 15 September 1946, at Beppu-mura, Ōsato-gun, Saitama-ken

Ihara Usaburō (1894-1976) was one of Japan's most traveled painters. He painted and exhibited in Manchuria in the early 1920s, and in the mid 1920s he France, where he became drawn to Picasso. During the war, attached to the Imperial Army as a painter, he was sent to Taiwan, Hongkong, Burma, China, and Siam.

The cover Ihara drew for this book shows, right and left, "Tenka Taishōgun" (天下大将軍 천하 대장군 ch'ŏnha daejanggun) meaning "Great general of the earth [under heaven]", and "Tenka Me" (天下女 천하 여 ch'ŏnha yŏ) or "Woman of the earth". The latter is a somewhat playful morphing of what is usually "Chika Meshōgun" (地下女将軍 지하 여장군 chiha yŏjanggun), or "Woman of the underground". Such wooden totems are commonly found in Korea, usually in such gendered pairs, at the entrances of Buddhist temples, villages, and other locales that require protection from evil spirits.

Guardian deities of this kind are most commonly called 장승 (changsŭn) in hangul, which is usually graphed 長丞 or 長承 (J. 장승), among other variations.

Driscoll's translation of "Kannani"

Driscoll's translation of "Kannani" is rather clunky. He does a much better job than Dykstra in capturing the elements of the original, but he rearranges them into different molecules, which lack the elegant fragrance of Yusasa's narratives. Take, for example, the first and last passages of Kannani.

The beginning, middle, and end of Yuasa Katsue's "Kannani"





  真黄色の凧、赤と紫で半分づつ仕切った凧、白地に緑の丸を画いた凧、色紙を撒き散らしたやうに空一面に夥しい凧が強い風に吹きまくられながら、浮んでは沈んでゐた。空は秋の日のやうに青く高い。ちぎれ雲が二つ三つ。その周りを凧は漂々と泳いで廻り、互に高さを競ひ合つた。(Yuasa 1946; 3).

  A kite of pure yellow, a kite divided in red halves of red and purple, a kite with green circles drawn on a white ground, across the sky as though [someone] had scattered colored paper a profusion of kites, blown by the strong wind, were floating then sinking. The sky was blue and high like a day in autumn. Broken clouds, two, three. The kites were swimming lightly around them, and were vying with each other for height.

  An all-yellow kite, a half-red and half-purple kite, another with a green circle against a white background -- numerous kits, like colored paper strewn every which way, were alternately ascending and sinking all through the sky as they were blown by a strong wind. The sky was big and blue with only two or three scattered clouds, like a typical fall day. The kites swarm around freely in the clouds while competing for height with one another. (Yuasa 2005: 37).





  それで今度は喧嘩の場が、四ッ角から市場の方へ移動して行つたので、四ッ角は急に人波がひいて、広くなつた。(Yuasa 1946: 58)


  Then the one wearing the black coat, from a point near the market called out.
  "I should have killed you! You little miscreant, born of a mother rutting with a pig!"
  When [he] said this, the man who had started for the South Gate, saying "Whaaat?"turned back.
  Now the site of the fight moved from the crossroad toward the market, so the crossroad suddenly, the human wave ebbing [the mob retreating], became spacious [opened up].

  Next, the black-coated man from near the market raised his voice.
  "Hey, I wish I'd fucking killed you. Your mother is no better than a pig in shit, a real loser." When the man who was walking toward South Gate heard that, he asked, "What the . . .?" and turned to go back. This time the fighting ring moved from Four Roads to the marketplace, so the waves of people quickly pulled away from Four Roads and spread out into the marketplace itself. (Yuasa 2005: 72)





  もう春近いさはれば融けさうな雪であつた。(Yuasa 1946: 100-101)

 "The nut who killed such a cute girl isn't around either. She was probably molested by a Korean youngster."
  Ryūji, hearing this, was assaulted by a powerful passion, and madly began looking around, [shouting]
  (The nuts who killed Kannani had to have been the men who had been brandishing the military swords.)
  The snow kept falling. As though to forever bury Kannani's beautiful corpse.
  Matabee too, watching with pity the figure of his son madly looking around, was [running] around after him, [shouting]
  The heavy snow, full of moisture, kept falling on the two.
  Spring being already near, it was snow that seemed to be melting.

  Ryūji's father said, "The jerk who killed that poor little girl isn't around either, huh. It was probably a young Korean kid having himself a little fun." When Ryū heard this, he was overwhelmed by attacks of pain and remorse. "Kannani! Kannani!" He screamed out her name like a mandman and began looking around for her furiously. Ryōji thought to himself, "The guys who killed Kannani were definitely those crazy Japanese swinging their swords around like lunatics."
  The snow had continued to fall, as if to bury Kannani's beautiful corpse for eternity. Matabe, feeling terrible for his son, searched around for her like he was a madman: "Kan-ran-eeeee!"
  The thick snow was now mixed with some moisture and it continued to fall on the two of them. As spring was already approaching, the snow seemed to be melting. (Yuasa 2005: 97)

From Driscoll's acknowledgments, you'd think so many people helped with the translations that he might have made a few less mistakes, and been more faithful to Yuasa's Japanese -- which is much better than Driscoll's English. Yuasa's narrative is elegant in its simplicity, smooth as fine silk in its minimalism. Driscoll gets too few of Yuasa's metaphors, and too little of his poetic phrasing, right.


Image 1944 edition of Oryokko (Yalu river)
designed by Iwasaki Hangoro
Yosha Bunko copy

Yuasa Katsue's "Oryokko"

Driscoll writes that Ōryokkō first "appeared in ten monthly installments in the Manchukuo propaganda organ Kaitaku (Colonial development) and was issued as a book a year later in February 1943." An endnote to this remark gives the name of the publisher and year of publication as "Seinansha, 1943" (page 29, note 5). I cannot confirm that he has not seen such a copy. But my copy -- a stated "first edition" (初版) -- was published in February 1944. The colphon contains the following information.

湯浅克衛 (ゆあさかつゑ) [Yuasa Katsuwe < Yuasa Katsue]
鴨緑江 Afuryokukau < Ōryokukō
装幀 磐前半五郎 [Designed by Iwasaki Hangorō]
東京:晴南社 Tokyo: Seinansha
昭和十九年二月十五日 初版印刷
[First edition printed 15 February 1944]
昭和十九年二月二十日 初版出版
[First edition published 20 February 1944]
定価 (○停) 一円八十銭 [Standard price: 1-yen 80-sen]
特別行為税相当額 六銭 [Special action tax: 6-sen]
合計金一円八十六銭 [Total: 1-yen 86-sen]
初版 一0,000部印行
[First edition: 10,000 copies published]

The book has 302 pages, excluding the title page and colophon, and free end papers. The front endpapers show a map of Chōsen. The back endpapers show a map of Manchoukuo.

Why would a book like this be published in such numbers at the time? When paper shortages and rationing were forcing cutbacks in commercial printed matter? And a 3 percent special war tax was added to the standard price? One need only read the title page.

長篇小説 [ Long novel]
鴨緑江 [ Amnok kang ] [ Yalu river ]
湯浅克衛著 [ Yuasa Katsue author ]
大東亜省 / 朝鮮総督府 / 推薦
[ Recommended by
/ Greater East Asia Ministry
/ (and) Government-General of Chōsen ]
晴南社刊 [ Published by Seinansha ]

The Greater East Asia Ministry (大東亜省 Daitōashō) had been established on 1 November 1942 to oversee Japan's legal jurisdictions (e.g. the Kwantung Leased Territory and the South Sea Islands) and other state interests beyond its sovereign dominion (e.g., in Manchoukuo).

At the same time, the Land Development Ministry (拓務省 Takumusho) -- variously dubbed the "Ministry of Overseas Affairs" and the "Colonial Department" in English -- was abolished, and its operations were divided between other ministries, including the Home Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and the Greater East Asia Ministry.

At this time, Karafuto, Taiwan, and Chōsen -- as part of Japan's sovereign dominion -- were formally tethered to the Home [Interior] Affairs Ministry (内務省 Naimushō). Karafuto, which had been treated as a quasi-Interior entity since the Common Law of 1918, was fully incorporated into the Interior as Japan's 48th prefecture in 1943.

The Governor-General of Taiwan had always been more closely accountable to the imperial government in Tokyo, whereas the Governor-General of Chōsen enjoyed more formal autonomy. Even after the assignment of the government-generals of Taiwan and Chōsen to the Home Affairs Ministry, though, Chōsen's governor-general continued to insist on doing things his own way. And Home Ministry bureaucrats, to say nothing of the politicians in the Imperial Diet, were either unwilling or unable to reign him in -- besides which, they were too busy prosecuting the war with the Allies.


1963 first edition of Richo zan'ei anthology
Jacket design by Yamane Takashi representing title story
Yosha Bunko copy
Richo zan'ei (2002)
Yosha Bunko copy
Zokufu・Richo zan'ei (2007)
Yosha Bunko copy
Image Image
Kajiyama Toshiyuki (1975)
Yosha Bunko copy

Kajiyama Toshiyuki

Kajiyama Toshiyuki (1930-1975) was the most prolific, and remains the best known, of postwar writers who, as Interiorites, had spent their formative years, if not also born as he had been, in Chōsen, when Chōsen and Taiwan were parts of Japan along with the prefectural territory or Interior of the empire. His death, at only 45, came when he was at the height of his career, having become a novelist after studying literature and flirting with the idea of becoming a journalist.

The best known of his Korean stories, "Zokufu" (Clan records) and "Richō zan'ei" (Vestige of Yi dynasty), were collected with three non-Korean stories in a 1963 anthology called Richō zan'ei, so titled because "Richō zan'ei" had been nominated earlier that year for the 49th Naoki Prize.

カバー装幀 山根隆

Kajiyama Toshiyuki
Richō zan'ei
[Vestige of Yi dynasty]
Tokyo: Bungei Shunjō Shinsha, 10 August 1963, publication of first edition
309 pages, hardcover
Jacket design by Yamane Takashi

This collection came in the second year of Kajiyama's transition from journalism to literature. It includes five stories which first appeared in periodicals from 1958 to 1963.

In 1961, the year before the publication of his first novel, he showed symptoms for tuberculosis and spent three months in the Kitazato sanatorium. He was never to recover his full health, and his lifestyle contributed to his early death.


The contents page shows the title of each story and the page from which it starts. No other particulars or comments on the stories appear in the book.

In the following story list, I have numbered the stories and shown romanizations, title translations, and what publishing particulars I was able to find in the 1975 "Bessatsu Shinpyō" tribute to his life, among other ready sources.

  1. ある復讐 Aru fukushū [A certain vengeance] (5-56)
    Private investigation office.
  2. 地面師 Jimenshi [Land fraudster] (57-101)
    1958 (Shinchō)
    Land-sale scam involving a bank.
  3. 歪んだ栄光 Yuganda kōei [Warped glory] (103-160)
    Suicide of civil servant.
  4. 族譜 Zokufu [Clan records (genealogy)] (161-231)
    February 1961 (Bungakukai)
    An Interiorite official in Chōsen has trouble persuading a pro-Japan Chosenese head of household to create an Interior-style family name to replace the clan surname which defines his genealogy.
    The first version of "Zokufu" was published in 1952 in Hiroshima bungaku [Hiroshima literature] while Kajiyama was in college. This version was included in an anthology of short fiction he privately published later the same year with Sakata Minoru (坂田稔), a friend from his school days in Keijō (now Seoul). The version in the 1963 anthology and in later collections is an version Kajiyama expanded and reworked for publication in Bungakukai [Literature world] in 1961.
  5. 李朝残影 Richō zan'ei [Vestige of Yi dynasty] (233-309)
    1963 (Bessatsu Bungei shunjū, No. 83)
    Candidate for 49th Naoki Prize
    A prize-winning painting of a kisang -- who in the eyes of the artist represented what little remained of the beauty of the old country in Chōsen of the early 1940s -- gets him in trouble with authorities, and he finally learns why the object of his fascination ran off while he was painting her and refused to see him again.
Later Chosen story anthologies

The following Kajiyama anthologies also center on the "Yi dynasty vestige" story.

講談社、講談社文庫 (January 1978)

梶山季之(著)、川村湊 (編・解説)、李朝残影 (梶山季之朝鮮小説集)、インパクト出版会 (August 2002, 363 pages)

梶山季之、族譜・李朝残影、岩波書店、岩波現代文庫 (August 2007, 232 pages).

The 2002 anthology compiled by Kawamura Minato (川村湊), published by Inpakuto Shuppan Kai, is the most comprehensive. Kawamura once visited my home with Tei Taikin (鄭大均), with whom he had just teamed in a 1985 book on images of Japan and Japanese in the Republic of Korea. See my translation of his review of Kim Sok Bom's "Kazanto" on this website. See my reviews of Tei Taikin's work, including his collaboration with Kawamura, at Tei Taikin on nationalism and Koreans in Japan.

The 2007 anthology includes -- in addition to the title stories "Zokufu" (Clan records) and "Richō zan'ei" (Yi dynasty vesitage) -- "Seiyoku no aru fūkei" (性欲のある風景) or "Landscape of sexual desire]", in which a the protagonist reminisces how he greeted 15 August 1945, the day the war ended, as an adolescent in Chōsen. Regarded as a fictional account of Kajiyama's own experiences as a 15-year-old boy attending a school in Keiō at the time, this story first appeared in the February 1958 issue of Shin Shichō [New thought].

"Seiyoku no aru fōkei" was also chosen for inclusion in the 1975 tribute issue of Bessatsu Shinpyō [Supplementary Shinpyo] (228-248) with a commentary by Miura Shumon (249).

Bessatsu Shinpyo memorial issue

The seasonal supplement to the monthly journal Shinpyō published the following tribute to Kajiyama a month after his death in Hong Kong in May 1975.

梶山利之の世界 (追悼号)
Kajiyama Toshiyuki no sekai (Tsutō gō
[The world of Kajiyama Toshiyuki (Memorial edition)]
別冊新評 Bessatsu shinpyō
第8巻第2号通巻33号 (Volume 8, Number 2, Issue 33)
Summer 1975 (printed June, published July)
東京:新評社 (Tokyo: Shinpyōsha)

English adaptations of "Zokufu", "Richō no zan'ei", and "Seiyoku no fōkei" are included in The Clan Records, Yoshiko Dykstra's collection of "Five Stories of Korea" by Kajiyama (see next).


Image The Clan Records (1995)
Yosha Bunko copy

Dykstra's Kajiyama translations

Five of Kajiyama's "Stories of Korea" were adapted into English by Yoshiko Dykstra in the following 1995 anthology.

Kajiyama Toshiyuki
The Clan Records
(Five Stories of Korea)
Translated by Yoshiko [Kurata] Dykstra
with an introduction by
George Akita and Yong-ho Choe
Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1995
186 pages, hardcover


In the following list, I have shown graphs, romanizations, and title translations, based in part on information in the aforementioned sources (see above descriptions for further details).

Introduction, 1-6

The Clan Records, 7-46
族譜 Zokufu [Clan records (genealogy)]
February 1961 (Bungakukai)
Shorter version first published in 1952 (see above)

Seeking Life amidst Death: The Last Day of the War, 47-72
性欲のある風景 Seiyoku no aru fōkei [Landscape of sexual desire]
February 1958 (Shin Shichō)
Summer 1975 (Bessatsu Shinpyō, Vol. 8, No. 2)

When the Hibiscus Blooms, 73-110

The Remembered Shadow of the Yi Dynasty, 111-160
李朝残影 Richō zan'ei [Vestige of Yi dynasty]
1963 (Bessatsu Bungei shunjū, No. 83)
Candidate for 49th Naoki Prize

A Crane on a Dunghill: Seoul in 1936, 161-186

One wonders why Dykstra attempted to raise the ghostly metaphors of "zan'ei" (残影) to "remembered shadow" -- but suppressed the "sexual desire" or "sexual urges" and "landscape" or "scenes" or whatever of "Seiyoku no aru fūkei" in favor of an explanatory title. "Zan'ei" does not, in any event, mean a "remembered shadow" but only a "left shadow" -- a shadow that has been left -- a "remnant" or "visage" of something or someone no longer present except as a shadow or sihouette.

Introductory remarks on names

The Introduction by George Akita and Yong-ho Choe lists the following examples of Japan's "heavy-handed rule" in the name of "naisen ittai (unity of Japan and Korea)" (pages 5-6, underscoring mine).

. . . all Koreans were required to recite daily the Oath of Imperial Subjects, every Korean was compelled to bow before a Shinto shrine, many Korean youths were forced into the Japanese army, the use of Korean language was prohibited, and every Korean was required to adopt a Japanese name (as described in The Clan Records). In addition, to aid the Japanese war cause, about one and a half million Korean laborers were forced to work in mines, munitions factories, and military installations under extreme hardship. A large number of Korean women -- perhaps as many as three hundred thousand -- many still in their early teens, were mobilized to serve as prostitutes under the name of "comfort women."

There is some truth and fiction in all of the above statements.

While generally adequate, the Introduction leans toward the expected "critique" of Japan's annexation of Korea as Chōsen.

An interesting revelation for me -- and an explanation for the publication of the book by the University of Hawai'i Press -- is the fact that a substantial part of Kajiyama's library was donated to the university in 1977, two years after his death, and is now in "the Kajiyama Toshiyuki Collection of Hamilton Library" (page 3).

I had known, from the 1975 Bessatsu Shinpyō tribute to Kajiyama's life (see above), that Kajiyama's mother was born in Hawaii and spent the first several years of her life there. The tribute volume leads manuscripts and articles related to the "lifework" he had planned and begun writing by the time of his death, which called for stories set in especially in Hawaii, Chōsen, Hiroshima. I had not, however, realized that the materials he had been collecting in preparation for this work had ended up in Hawaii.

"historical terminology"

The penultimate graph of the Introduction states that the stories in The Clan Records "ring true true" in that "Kajiyama's narrative is laced with local expressions, historical terminology, and accurate descriptions of Korean culture" -- but, unfortunately, Yoshiko Dykstra has practically destroyed all evidence of Kajiyama's "historical terminology".

Akita and Choe end by pointing out the "irony" that "most sympathetic introductions to korea's rich cultural heritage came from the pen of a Japanese author illuminating a period during which his own government was attempting to eradicate that heritage" (page 6).

It is also ironic, I would add, that Kajiyama's translator, in the name of sharing his "basic sympathy and love for Korea and the Koreans", has eradicated much of the historical texture of his stories in the service of latterday gods that have no sympathy or love for Kajiyama's "historical terminology".


Kajiyama Toshiyuki's "Zokufu"

"Zokufu" (族譜) is in fact an interesting story and well told -- in Kajiyama's voice. Dykstra's translation as "The Clan Records" turns out to be seriously adulterated. Every paragraph of her version would show the sort of problems evident in the following examples.

To be continued.

It is clear when closely examining Dykstra's version of Kajiyama's narrative that she simply does not respect his voice. She significantly simplifies his narrative, turns some of his show into her tell, and prefers her labels to his for people and entities. English readers will understand the story as Dykstra's wants them to understand it, rather than as Kajiyama chose to tell it.

Selected scenes from Kajiyama Toshiyuki's "Zokufu"

War situation on Chinese continent




  支那大陸での戦局、どうやら膠着状態であった。その退屈な戦況に苛立つように、京城の街も、なぜか次第に、騒然とした空気に包まれはじめていた。防空演習、国民服制定、志願兵制度......。その移り変わりの音は、さまざまな生活断片にも聞きとれるのだ。(Kajiyama 1963: 167)

  The war situation on the Chinese continent was stagnant. As though irritated by the boring state of the war, the streets of Keijō somehow slowly began to be wrapped in a troubled atmosphere. Air-raid drills, the national uniform ordinance, the military enlistment system . . . . The sounds of these changes could were audible in the various fragments of life.

  The war in China was deadlocked. Reflecting the frustration of the war, Seoul was restless. There were air-raid drills, people wore the drab national uniform, and the "volunteer soldier system" was imposed. Every phase in our daily life was affected. (Dykstra 1995: 9-10)

Working translation

The structural translation shown above is a more polished version of the following working translation, which shows more construction lines.

The war situation on the China continent, clearly was [in] a state of being stuck [stagnation, stalemate]. As though irritated at the boring war condition, the streets of Keijō, for some reason gradually, began to be wrapped [enveloped, shrouded] by a turbulent [tumultuous, agitated, troubled] atmosphere [air]. Air-defense drills, national uniform establishment, volunteer soldier system . . . . The sounds of these transitions and changes, could be heard [were audible] also in various life fragments.

The pride of the Government-General of Chosen




  ― 創氏改名というのは、承知の人も多い。日本のとった植民地対策の一つで、朝鮮人や台湾人の姓名を、日本風に改めさせ、日本人になりきらせようという政策である。もちろん、内鮮一体の政策から、派生的に生れたものであった。しかも朝鮮総督府自慢の政策の一つだったのである。(Kajiyama 1963: 170)

  -- Many people know of "Create family name, Change personal name". One of the colonial measures adopted by Japan, it is a policy to make Chosenese and Taiwanese change their surnames and personal names to Japan-style, and make them completely Japanese. Of course, it was something that was born derivatively from [something that derived from, i.e., a spinoff of] the policy of "Interior-Chōsen One-body". Moreover it is one of the policies that was the pride of the Government-General of Chosen.

  As many of you already know, name conversion was a policy of assimilation that the Japanese imposed in the colonies of Korea and Taiwan. It was an attempt to make Japanese out of their populations by forcing them to take Japanese names. It was part of the scheme heralded under the slogan "Japan and Korea Unified." It was one of the most arrogant measures carried out in Korea. (Dykstra 1995: 11).

Point of pride, not arrogance

Kajiyama marks the above paragraph as the start of a new scene. He starts the scene with an explanation of "soshi kaimei", a policy he has already referred to but now wants to explore in greater detail. Dykstra turns "one of the policies that was the pride of the Government-General of Chosen" into "one of the most arrogant measures carried out in Korea" -- and otherwise puts phrases and metaphors into Kajiyama's mouth that have no foundation in his.

An irksome privilage




  という何気ない言葉にも、はっきり示されていた。この言葉、当時の朝鮮ではオール・マイゲィだったのである。その言葉の裏には、<鮮人の癖に日本人に口答えするな> とか、<生意気をいうな> というった意味がこめられている。ヨボというのは、「もしもし」という、元来が呼びかけの朝鮮語である。が、日本人は、それを鮮人または奴隷というような意味で使っていたようだ。
  だから、彼等を創氏改名させて日本名で呼び、対等な口を利いて交際する・・・・・・という政策は、古くから朝鮮に住んでいた日本人にとっては、何かいまいましいような恩典というのが、共通した考え方であり、感情でもあったわけである。この蔑視感は、この風土に三十年にわたって培われてきた。植民地のこのような感情は、なかなか拭い切れるものではない。(Kajiyama 1963: 171)

  Though the slogan "Interior-Chōsen One-body" was being slung, among Japanese (in Chōsen [people] used the word "Interiorite"), contempt toward Senese had been deeply planted. This was clearly shown also in the casual words
  "A mere yobo!"
  that children shouted while pouting toward Senese. This word, in Chōsen at the time, was almighty. Behind the word, meanings like "A mere Senese! Don't talk back to a Japanese" and "Don't get smart" were included. "Yobo" was originally a Chosenese term of address meaning "Hello". But it appeared that Japanese had been using it with the meanings like Senese and slave.
  Therefore, making them do "Create family name, Change personal name" and calling them by a Japanese name, and associating [with them] by effecting an equal [manner of] speech [address] -- as for this policy, for Japanese who had been living in Chōsen from of old, calling it [the adoption of new names] a somehow irksome privilege was a common way of thinking, and was also an emotion. This contempt had come to be cultivated in this climate over the span of thirty years. This kind of emotion of the colony was not something [that such Japanese] could just wipe away.

Despite the slogan "Japan and Korea Unified," the Japanese scorned the Koreans. Even Japanese children showed contempt, using expressions like yobo, which the Koreans deeply resented. A Korean word, yobo originally meant "hello," but in the mouths of the Japanese it implied "you slave." By taking Japanese names the Koreans could speak and be spoken to as equals, and longtime Japanese residents of Korea did not welcome this: they would not so easily shed the contempt they had cultivated for thirty years. (Dykstra 1995: 12)

Extreme simplification and distortion

This is one of many examples of the extremes to which Dykstra has sometimes digested and rephrased, rather than attempt to closely translate, Kajiyama's story. In the process, she suppressed the more complex ways in which he qualifies the behaviors he is describing -- and misrepresents his characterization of attitudes.

Interiorites in Chōsen apper to have had misgivings about the name-change policy, but Kajiyama does not say that they "resented" it. He says, rather, that they called it a "somehow irksome privilege" -- a "privilege" (恩典 onten) -- a merciful, charitable, benevolent disposition, measure, arrangement -- that was "somehow irksome" (何かいまいましいような nanka imaimashii yō-na) -- annoying, vexing, galling, despicable, detestable, loathsome, abominable -- whatever.

Promotional blurb




 「いまや世界に冠たる日本国民として、肩を張って歩きたいというのが朝鮮民衆の、切なる願いである。また内鮮一体は、日本人の誰しもが、心から期待していることである。しかもその名前をみると、半島人であることが判り、肩身の狭い思いをすることになる。祖先も同じであり、顔立ちもよく似ている内地人と半島人の、ただ違っているのは、その姓名だけなのだ。いままで、日本に帰化するには、むずかしい資格と手続きが必要だったが、このたび総督府は、大英断をもって半島人各位の、切なる要望に応じ、創氏改名を実施する。これにより、内鮮間に横たわる最大の障壁はとりのぞかれ、いままでの差別待遇もなくなり、・・・・・・云々」 (Kajiyama 1963: 172-173)

  For example, in [regard to the] "Create family name, Change family name" [policy], promotional blurbs like the following were used.
  "Desiring to walk stiffening [straigthening, broadening] their shoulders [in pride], as Japan[ese] nationals who now are crowns [on top] of the world, is the earnest wish of the Chōsen people [masses]. And as for Interior-Chōsen One-body, it is something all Japanese are expecting [anticipating, looking forward to] from [the bottom of] [their] hearts. However when [by] looking at a name, that [a person] is a Peninsularite is understood, and [this] becomes the making of [creates a] narrow-shouldered feeling [this becomes a cause of shame]. All that differs, of [between] Interiorites and Peninsularites whose ancestors are the same and whose facial features are similar, is the names. Until now, to naturalize in Japan, difficult qualifications and procedures were necessary, but at this time the Government-General, with great resolution responds to the earnest desires of all Peninsularites, and implements [the] Create family name, Change personal name [policy]. Because of this [Herewith], The greatest barrier that stretches between the Interior and Chōsen will be removed, and the discriminatory treatment [we have seen] until [up to] now will also vanish, . . . blah blah."

. . . In the conversion of names, for example, this was typical of our propaganda: "The Korean people have strong aspirations to work side by side with the citizens of Japan, who today lead the world. And every Japanese hopes that Korea will be united with Japan. However, the Koreans have suffered discrimination because they are judged by their names. The Japanese and the Koreans share the same ancestors and physical features; the only difference between them lies in their names. Until now, complicated qualifications and procedures have made it very difficult for Koreans to become naturalized Japanese. But now, in response to urgent requests from the Korean people, the governor-general has made the momentous decision to implement the conversion of names in order to solve burdensome problems for Koreans, including discrimination." (Dykstra 1995: 13)

"Nationals of Japan" and "naturalization"

This is an extremely interesting example of Kajiyama's own fictionalization of legal history. Dykstra compounded the fictional elements of the passage by failing to translate its ambiguity regarding the status of Chosenese as Japanese nationals, mistranslated "nationals" as "citizens", and otherwise distoring what Kajiyama has put in the mouth of a propagandist.

Kajiyama does not exclude Chosenese from the status of Japanese nationals. Nor does he in any way portrary Chosenese as wanting to "work side by side with the citizens of Japan" -- as though they were not already nationals.

At the time of Kajiyama's story, Interiorites, Taiwanese, and Chosenese are Japanese subjects and nationals -- not citizens. Today, too, Japanese nationals are not "citizens" under Japanese law -- but nationals. And Kajiyama uses the standard legal term for "Japanese nationals" in use then and now.

To be continued.

Kajiyama / Tani / Dykstra

Dykstra's version is clealy different from Kajiyama's -- or, strictly speaking, Tani's -- since what Kajiyama has Tani say is not necessarily what Kajiyama himself believes. Most certainly, though, Dykstra has chosen not to translate Tani's story as Kajiyama wrote it.

At the time I am writing this, in 2010, Dykstra's version would probably ring true in the ears of the vast majority -- I would hazzard well over 90 percent -- of readers of English who consider themselves students if not experts of Chōsen under Japanese rule. However, anyone who perceives the extent to which Kajiyama has described entities and status in the language of the early 1940s, will recognize the degree to which Dykstra's version violates the letter and spirit of Kajiyama's story -- and ends up fictionalizing his fictional views of history.

Readers of Kajiyama's stories in Japanese would have to keep in mind that he writing in real time. Even if he had wanted to be as authentic as possible, his hands were tied by popular perceptions of entities and statuses.

Presumably Kajiyama understood that Chōsen was a part of "Japan" and that Chosenese were both subjects and nationals of Japan, and hence "Japanese". Tani, his protagonist, first-person protagonist, is looking back in time. And Kajiyama's problem, in putting words into Tani's mouth and into the mouths of other characters, has problems because he needs to tell a story about the early 1940s in terms that people would understand in the early 1960s.

As created by Kajiyama, Tani sometimes steps out of the time of his story to remind readers that terminology was somewhat different -- which explains the extent to which Kajiyama, as Tani, mixes 1940s and 1960s metaphors. Dykstra does her best to obliterate Tani's terminological confusion by reducing everything to 1990s English metaphors. She shows no interest in replicating the quality of Tani's voice.

In the main body of the story, Kajiyama is somewhat inconsistent in his attempt at historical fidelity. Many ordinary people, and at times bureaucrats, were inclined to speak of "Chōsenjin" (Chosenese) and "Nihonjin" (Japanese) as contrasting statuses, but administrators would acquired the habit of speaking only of "Chōsenjin" and "Naichijin" (Interiorites) within the larger category of "Teikoku shinmin" (imperial subjects) or "Nihon kokumin" (Japanese nationals).

"Chōsen" was a much a part of "Japan" as the "Interior", and the object of "Interior-Chōsen One-body" was to qualify Chōsen and the Interior for legal integration. The integraton involved essentially, but not exclusively, the Interiorization of Chōsen law, hence the name-change policies, which mandated members of a Chōsen household register to use a common family (Interior standard) rather than different surnames (Chōsen standard). There was also, as Kajiyama's story skillfully dramatizes, considerable extralegal pressure to adopt Interior-style family names -- meaning so-called "Japan-style" names -- understood as "Yamato-style" names.

By the time Kajiyama is writing, however, "Japan" and "Japanese", and "Chōsen" and "Chosenese", have come to refer to postwar entities and statuses. "Chōsen" is no longer part of "Japan", and "Chōsenjin" are no longer "Chosenese". "Chōsen" and "Chosenese" are then still very contested entities, as Japan and ROK would not agree to entity and status terms until 1965, to say nothing of the agreements that Japan has yet, as of this writing in 2010, made with DPRK.

Kajiyama's character Tani, reminiscing about the past, could not have talked about "Chōsen" and "Chosenese" as though there had been no changes. He could safely explore the highly controversial name issue only by adopting the viewpoints that Chōsen was not fully part of Japan, and that Chosenese were not fully Japanese. Such viewpoints were not the legal understandings of the 1940s, but the ideological judgments of ethnonationals in the 1940s and 1960s.

It is difficult to tell how well Kajiyama understood the legal conditions of the period in which his story takes place, or whether he is intentionally putting somewhat vague and at times inaccurate comments in Tani's mouth. I suspect that Kajiyama himself was not quite clear on matters related to nationality and naturalization, and probably accepted the usual misconceptions, which continue to define popular notions of naturalization today.

Regarding the "naturalization" remark, it does not appear that Kajiyama's propagandist is referring to the period before the annexation of Korea as Chōsen. It was not possible to naturalize in Japan until the implementation of the 1899 Nationality Law, but from this time it would appear that subjects of the Empire of Korea, as aliens, would have been able to seek to become Japanese subjects. Naturalization became impossible the moment Korea joined Japan as Chōsen, for Korean aliens became Chōsen Japanese.

More likely Kajiyama himself is under the impression that it was actually possible for Chosenese to naturalize. In point of fact, their status as Japanese subjects and nationals meant that they were already Japanese. Only aliens could have naturalized, but they were not aliens.


Kajiyama Toshiyuki's "Richo no zan'ei"

"Richō zan'ei" (李朝残影) begins with four simple declarative sentences in three graphs

  ― 野口良吉が、京城の花柳界で変り者扱いされていた、金英順という女性を知ったのは、昭和十五年の夏のことであった。
金英順は、いわゆる妓生キーサンであった。日本でいうところの芸者である。(Kajiyama 1963: 235)


-- Noguchi Ryōkichi got to know a woman called Kim Yŏsun, who was treated as an oddity in the flower-and-willow world of Keijō, in the summer of 1940.
  He recalls it as having likely been a steamy hot, mosquito-infested rainy night.
  Kim Yŏsun was a so-called kisaeng. This would be a geisha as called in Japan.


On a hot and rainy night in the summer of 1940, made even more miserable by hordes of mosquitoes, Noguchi Ryōkichi met an extraordinary young woman in the pleasure quarter of Seoul. Kim Yŏ-sun was a kisaeng, the Korean equivalent of a Japanese geisha. . . .(Dykstra 1995:111)

Kajiyama's paragraphing, too, is superior. Not only does Dykstra have no respect for his lean and direct style, but she breaks up and reorganizes his longer graphs to suit her own very different feelings about how the story should be told. Moreover, like too many translators of Japanese fiction into English, she surrenders to the little tour guide inside her who insists on intruding in the story.

Kajiyama has marked 妓生 to be read キーサン (kiisan), which would would be pronounced "kiisaŋ" and reflects 기생 (kisaeng).

Kajiyama does not provide for names like 金英順. While Noguchi might have been motivated to pronounce her name in Korean, the police officer that interrogates him at the end of the story would probably have called her Kin Yōjun.

Tellingly, all the putatively "Korean" characters in the story have "Korean" names -- after presumably all Koreans were "forced" to adopt "Japanese" names.

To be continued.



Yoshiko Dykstra was a lecturer in the Department of Oriental Languages at the University of California at Berkeley at the time I was there as a graduate student in 1972-1975. A major in the department in my junior year in 1967-1968, I was at the time ensconced in the Group in Asian Studies with a focus on Northeast Asia, with one foot in anthropology but the other still in classical and modern Japanese language and literature. I had already finished my undergraduate language training, though, so had no cause to cross paths with Dykstra, who was helping Haruo Aoki teach undergraduate Japanese. I did, however, frequently see her in the halls of Durant, and especially in the East Asiatic Library, where I had a carrel near hers and spent most of my time when not in a classroom. In 1974 her husband, Andrew H. Dykstra, published Sexy Laughing Stories of Old Japan, and of course I had to have it. The Dykstras have coauthored a number of books and monographs, but most publications under only her name are translations and commentary about classical Japanese Buddhist tales. Call it reflected glory -- it was and still is. Berkeley was a place where one could breathe the same air with many interesting scholars -- grownups, teens and infants, and hopefuls still in the womb.


Richard Kim

Richard Kim's Lost Names has long been one of my favorite novels, not for its subject but because of the way it is written. It is an example of literature at its best -- powerful in the simplicity and grace of its first-person voice. There is none of the jarring, non-literary critical angst that characterizes some of today's fiction, much of its written by authors armed with an MFA and victimhood agendas.

I first read Richard Kim's Lost Names in the 1970 Praeger edition, in the late 1970s, while doing research for Public Figures in Popular Culture: Identity Problems of Minority Heroes (1981). In this article, I referred to both the novel and an article and a book by Kim Il Myŏn (notes 16 and 27). Kim Il Myŏn's article was my source for the anecdote about the writer Kim So Un, who changed his name to Tetsu Jinpei, punning on the fact that the short form of "Tetsu" (鐵), meaning "iron", was 鉄, which graphically consists of "gold" (金) and "lose" (失) (note 16).

By the time I wrote If Ito can be American, why can't Pak be Japanese? (1983), I had acquired other works on name issues in Japan, past and present, including the Japanese translation of Lost Names as published under its first title, Na o ubawarete.

By the time I got around to buying my first copy of an English edition, it had been republished with a different subtitle by Universe Books (1988). By then the Japanese edition had been reissued with a new title, Na o ushinatte (1985). I have since also acquired a copy of the Sisayongo-Sa edition (1970), the Andre Deutsch edition (1971), and the University of California Press edition (1998) -- the latter of which includes Kim's comments on the titling of the Korean and Japanese translations.

Richard E. Kim

Richard E. Kim (1932-2009) was Kim Eun Kook (金恩國 김은국 Kim Ŭn'guk) before naturalizing in the United States. The back flap of the 1988 Universe Books edition of Lost Names sketches his journey from Korea to America like this.

RICHARD E. KIM was born in Hamheung, Korea, in 1932 and served as an officer in the Republic of Korea Marines and Army, 1950-54. A graduate of Harvard University and the recipient of many academic and literary fellowships and awards, he was a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. More recently he has translated books by Saul Bellow, Jacob Bronowski, and Ernest Himingway into Korean and has produced and narrated television programs for KBS-TV, Seoul. Among his books are two highly acclaimed novels, The Martyred and The Innocent

To be continued.


Image 1970 Sisayongo-Sa edition
Image 1971 Andre Deutsch edition
Image 1988 Universe Books edition
Image 1998 UC Press edition
Image 2011 UC Press edition
English editions
1970 Sisayongo-Sa edition

Richard Kim
Lost Names
(Scenes from a Korean Boyhood)
Seoul: Sisayongo-Sa Publishing Co., 1970
226 pages, hardcover

1970 Praeger edition

Richard Kim
Lost Names
(Scenes from a Korean Boyhood)
New York: Praeger, 1970
195 pages, hardcover

1971 Andre Deutsch edition

Richard Kim
Lost Names
(Scenes from a Korean Boyhood)
London: Andre Deutsch, 1971
195 pages, hardcover

1988 Universe Books edition

Richard Kim
Lost Names
(Scenes from a Boyhood in Japanese-Occupied Korea)
New York: Universe Books, 1988
[Distributed to the trade by St. Martin's Press]
195 pages, hardcover

1998 University of California Press edition

Lost Names
(Scenes from a Korean Boyhood)
University of California Press, 1998
198 pages, paper cover (first paperback printing)
[Memorial reissue due for release in October 2010]

1998 University of California Press edition

Lost Names
(Scenes from a Korean Boyhood)
University of California Press, 1998
198 pages, paperback

2011 University of California Press edition

Lost Names
(Scenes from a Korean Boyhood)
[40th Anniversary Edition With a New Preface]
University of California Press, 2011
224 pages, hardcover, paperback


Lost Names consists of seven stories, each a scene from the narrator's boyhood, centering on the title story. I have shown the settings and dates of the scenes in [brackets].

Crossing [Manchuria, 1933]
Homecoming [Korea, elementary school]
Once upon a Time, on a Sunday [Korea, summer 1939]
Lost Names [Korea, 11 February 1940]
An Empire for Rubber Balls [Korea, late 1942]
"Is Someone Dying?" [Korea, summer 1945]
In the Making of History -- Together [Korea, mid August 1945]

Pearl Buck plugged the 1970 Sisayongo-Sa edition like this.

I think it is his best book. He writes of a Period in Korean history which I know very well from my own research, and it is remarkable that through the scope of one family he conveys the feelings of a nation when it is captured by alien military force, suffers, and is freed. lt is the best piece of creative writing I have read about Korea. If this young man continues to do as well as this, he will some day be worthy of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Buck is referring to the background research she did for The Living Reed (New York: John Day, 1963; Pocket Books, 1964). The novel, in three parts, narrates the saga of four generations of a Korean family about seven deacdes.

Part I begins "The year was 4214 after Tangun of Korea, and 1881 after Jesus of Judea." The patriarch of the family, "Il-han, surnamed Kim, of the clan of Andong, sat in his library waiting for the birth of his second child to be announced." This part is mainly about Il-han, who as a boy had played chess with the young King Kojong while delivering messages between rebels and Queen Min. Part II begins "The year was 4243 after Tangun of Korea and 1910 after Jesus of Judea" a few months after Korea had been annexed by Japan. This part is mainly about Il-han's second son, Yul-han, who became a Christian and believed in Americans.

Part III opens differently, shortly after what Buck calls "the Mansei Demonstration" -- referring to the 1 March 1919 uprising, which gave Il-han's first son, Kim Yul-chun, a revolutionary leader, the cover he needed to break out of a Seoul jail and flee to Manchuria, to continue his pro-liberation activities as the Living Reed. This last part ends a few months after American military forces arrived south of the 38th parallel, following Japan's surrender on 2 September 1945, not to encourage Koreans to take their country back from its Japanese rulers, but to accept the surrender of Japan's government in Korea and to declare that its officials were to keep their posts until a military government could be formed (1st Pocket Book printing, page 449).

Buck's novel, thematically complex, and embracing four generations and three continents, is inevitably told in a distant omniscient third-person voice. Whereas Kim's stories, told in the intimate first-person voice of a growing boy, are more finely textured literary portraits of specific events in his life, over the span of dozen years, partly in Manchuria but mostly in Korea.

Kim on Korean and Japanese titles

The cover of the 1998 UC Press edition shows the following Korean and Japanese titles (romanization in [brackets] mine).

잃어버린 이름 [Ilhŏbŏrin ilum]
名を喪って [Na o ushinatte]

These are the new, not the original, titles of the Korean and Japanese editions.

The 1998 UC Press edition includes an "Author's note" Kim wrote especially for this edition. In this note, Kim reports that he was dissasisfied with the titles of the first editions of the Korean and Japanese translations of Lost Names, and asked their publishers, in future editions, to retranslate the titles "without the haunting shadows of victims and victimizers" (page 197).

Perhaps also reflecting Kim's desire Lost Names be read as literature rather than criticism, the 1998 UC Press edition restored the original subtitle -- "Korean Boyhood" -- rather than use the more provocative 1988 Praeger title -- "Boyhood in Japanese-Occupied Korea".

Author's note in 1998 UC Press edition

Richard Kim's "Author's Note" in the 1998 UC Press edition (pages 197-198) is a short, sparse, and extremely cogent statement that deserves reading by all students and writers who would differentiate fiction from political or historical criticism. I take the liberty of fully citing it here -- in the belief that it invites purchase of this book -- more powerfully than all the publicity blurbs on this or early editions, including Pearl Buck's remark when plugging the 1970 Sisayongo-Sa edition (see above).

Author's note

When Lost Names was translated and published in Korea and also, to my pleasant surprise, in Japan, the title word lost was translated in both languages as "violently, forcibly taken away." The Korean version implied that "someone took my name away violently," whereas the Japanese one suggested -- passively it seemed to me -- that "I had my name violently taken away." Neither rendition pleased me.

If anything, I had wanted lost to mean, simply, lost. To be sure, an adjective derived from a past tense verb in English is difficult to translate into Korean and Japanese. What displeased me, though, was that the Korean title bristled with condemnation that was nevertheless aflutter with pathos, while the Japanese translation shrouded the title with benign sympathy. Neither would do.

For the second editions in both Korea and Japan, I therefore asked my publishers to retranslate lost without the haunting shadows of victims and victimizers. The Korean title came out fine, despite vigorous protest from the publisher. The new Japanese title, enthusiastically endorsed by the publisher, used a Chinese character, with a uniquely Japanese pronunciation, that echoed with almost funereal overtones, nearly dirge-like.

Now years later, whenever I think of the lost in Lost Names, I find myself drawn, more than anything else in the book, to the image of the boy-narrator who, while gazing up at the dark heavens swirling with millions of stars, is suddenly afraid of the awesome immensity of the celestial world and the omnipresent dark shadows on earth -- once upon a time, on a Sunday . . .

And that leads me to another problem I have had with the book -- the question of its genre -- which I have had to deal with ever since it was first published. I wrote the book as a work of fiction -- and there is no question that it is fiction if one examines its literary techniques. But most readers seem to view it as an autobiography, a memoir. In short, they seem to accept that the young boy, the first-person narrator, is the author himself and that Lost Names is therefore a "real" story. Perhaps I should have included a disclaimer: all the characters events described in this book are real, but everything else is fiction . . .

It is, for me, a happy predicament. On the one hand, a book I created as fiction is not accepted as such; on the other hand, I have realized the dream of every fiction writer, that is, to render a fictional work as "real" as possible.

However, in the last analysis, I do believe there is neither pure "nonfiction" autobiography or memoir, nor pure "fiction" fiction. Let readers, then, take Lost Names for whatever they would like it to be. After all, it is for them that the book was first born . . . and is here reborn.

Richard E. Kim
Shutesbury, Mass.
October 1997


Image Old Japanese title
1972 Simul Press edition
Image New Japanese title
1985 Simul Press edition

Japanese titles and editions

The received original and new translation titles, and my romanizations and structural English translations, are as follows.

Old Japanese title

Na o ubawarete
Being deprived (stripped, robbed) of (one's) name [thus seized (expropriated, taken) by intimidation or force]

The て at the end of this expression passive phrase is a continuing (i.e., neither terminal nor attributive) form. As such, it would usually precede, and adverbally qualify, another verb or verbal phrase in a longer statement.

1972 Simul Press edition

4 (translator's preface), 1 (contents), 226 (text)
Translator's foreword dated August 1972

New Japanese title

Na o ushinatte
Losing (one's) name [for some reason (phonetically) <and> with sense of grief and mourning (graphically)]

The Japanese verb "ushinau" (うしなう) will be graphed differently depending on what is "lost". 失う (ushinau) is used for loss of practically anything -- pen, confidence, right, way, mind, gravity, parent, child, friend (by death), whereas 喪う (ushinau) is limited to loss by death. A similar distinction is made between 無くす (nakusu) and 亡くす (nakusu). As metaphors, both expressions are most essentially written in only kana, i.e., うしなう (ushinau) and なかす (nakasu). The passive form 失われた (ushinawareta) is commonly used attributively with an object of loss, hence "Lost Horizon" (失われた平地線 Ushinawareta heichisen) and "lost generation" (失われた世代 ushinawareta sedai).

1985 Simul Press edition

リチャード・キム Richard E. Kim
名を喪って Lost Names
(少年の目に映った朝鮮・冬の季節) Scene [sic] from a Korean Boyhood
[「名を奪われた」新版 ] 東京:サイマル出版、1985年1月 (新版)
4 (author's foreword), 3 (contents), 274 (text, including translator's afterword, 269-274)
Author's foreword dated 15 August 1984, Shutesbury, Massachusetts
Translator's afterword dated December 1984

This retitled Japanese edition shows Kim's alphabatized name, and the English title and subtitle, on the front and back of the jacket, and on the title page and colophon (copyright page behind title page). What should have been "scenes" is written "scene" in all four places.

The title page has a photograph of Kim signed in hangul (김은국). The front of the jacket shows Kim's hanja name printed in brackets, and a photograph on the back of the jacket is signed in hanja (金恩國).

The front of the jacket includes the following blurb (structural translation mine).

[1] 日本統治下
[2] <創氏改名> の屈辱を描く、
[3] 韓国人作家の回想

[3] Reminiscences of an ROK Korean writer
[2] portraying the shame of "Create family name, change personal name"
[1] under Japan's rule

The new edition begins with a preface by Richard E. Kim dated 15 August 1984, Shutesbury, Massachusetts (pages 1-4).


Image New Korean title
2002 edition
Copped and cropped from Korean website

Korean titles and editions

Old Korean title

Not yet discovered.

New Korean title

잃어버린 이름
Ilhŏbŏrin ilum
Name (that one has) lost [for some reason]

The 린 (rin) in the expression 잃어버린 (ilhŏbŏrin) is the attributive form of 리다 (rida). The expression is a compound of 잃다 (ilhta) meaning "lose" and 버리다 (pŏrida) meaning "discard". Together they imply a completed action of having lost something concrete or abstract -- a purse, job, confidence, way. By comparision, 잊다 (ichta) or "forget" is compounded with 버리다 (pŏrida) to form 잊어버린 (ichŏbŏrida), which similarly means "have completely forgotten".

The above Korean expressions would usually be translated 失われた (ushinawareta) and 忘れられた (wasurerareta) in Japanese, which can be used either terminally or attributively to mean that an object "has been lost" or "has been forgotten" by someone. Note that the Korean and Japanese titles of James Hilton's 1933 novel Lost Horizon are respectively 잃어버린 지평선" (Ilhŏbŏrin chip'yŏsŏn) and 失われた地平線 (Ushinawareta chiheisen).


Image C. Sarah Soh
The Comfort Women
(Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan)
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008

C. Sarah Soh on Richard Kim and "Lost Names"

Richard Kim remarks in the "Author's note" he wrote for the 1998 UC Press edition of Lost Names -- to the effect that he did not intend the stories to be about victims and victimizers -- have attracted quite a bit of attention, including commentary by C. Sarah Soh in her 2008 book on comfort women.

C. Sarah Soh
The Comfort Women
(Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan)
[Worlds of Desire: The Chicago Series on Sexuality, Gender, and Culture]
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, February 2008 (8th printing)
xviii, map, 352 pages (including halftones, maps, line drawings, and tables)

In the introduction to this book, Soh refers to Lost Names as "a fictional account of a Korean family's life under Japanese colonial rule" (page 16). She notes that Kim, in response to how publishers of the Korean and Japanese translations, found acceptable "neither the South Korean condemnation nor the Japanese sympathy" toward his use of the word "lost", then states that "A vast majority of the Korean population today, however, may not share his calmly detached attitude" (page 16).

"Nevertheless," Soh continues, "in the non-fictional world of colonial Korea, some Koreans did adopt Japanese names" for a variety of reasons -- and gives a number of examples (page 16) -- before remarking that she has also found "multiple examples of Koreans with Japanese-style names in the published testimonial narratives of Korean comfort women survivors" (page 17).

Soh's understanding of Kim's "attitude"

Soh is entirely right to suggest, as she does, that the issue of "Japanese names" or "Japanese-style names" -- expressions she does not define -- was more complex than most critics recognize. Yet I do not get the impression -- either from the voice of the first-person protagonist of Lost Names, or from the author's note in the 1998 UC Press edition -- that Kim's "attitude" was "calmly detached". I get only the impression that, as a novelist, he felt his duty was to remain in character -- the character of a man taking himself and the reader back to his boyhood. The boy was capable only of telling his own story.

In order to craft the story as he did, Kim's attitude had to have been very passionately attached to the lives and experiences of his characters. It is precisely this attached passion that makes Lost Names so powerful. To read the stories as being about "victims and victimizers" would have been a betrayal of the art of fiction, in addition to being historically dishonest. Soh's attitude toward Lost Names is comparabile to those of many other researchers today, who value literature only if they can "contextualize" it within, or otherwise press it into the service of, one or another critical "paradigm".

Significantly, Soh begins her "Note to the Reader" with this comment.

IN THIS BOOK, unless otherwise specified, "Korea" refers interchangeably to the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and to the one ethnic nation that existed prior to its postcolonial division into two political entities during the cold war.

Soh thought of her graduate-school work in the United States in the 1980s, published as The Chosen Women in Korean Politics under the name Chung-Hee Soh (Praeger, 1991), as a work of "native anthropology". But having lived as long as she had in the United States, she describes The Comfort Women as a work of "expatriot anthropology" (Appendix, Doing "Expatriot Anthropology", page 246).

"Native" or "expatriot", there is nothing "calmly detached" about Soh's "attitude". She clearly states, and the tone of her writing continually declares, what side she's on -- or not on, as the case may be -- for she has found it difficult to side with the extremists at either end of the ideological spectrum, and has caught flak from gunners on both flanks.

While "a supporter of the transnational feminist movement for women's human rights and as an expatriot", she seeks "to transcend the ethnonationalist politics of 'partial truths' by presenting a complicated picture that may disrupt the currently internationalized normative -- though partial and partisan -- understandings of the Korean comfort women's horrific experience" (page xvii). Though her book aims to both silence and excite radical voices on all sides of the "comfort women" issue, her tent is securely pitched in the feminist quarters of the colonial critique camp.

Soh's version of name decree and ordinance

More problematic is Soh's own representation of the 1940 name decree and ordinances. Immediately before citing and discussing Kim's misgivings about the titles of the first editions of the Korean and Japanese translations of Lost Names, Soh described the 1940 sōshi kaimei ordinances like this (page 15, underscoring mine).

The colonial government then enacted a law that required Koreans to "create [Japanese-style] surnames and revise given names" (sōshi kaimei, in Japanese; ch'angssi kaemyŏng, in Korean). The law went into effect on February 22, 1940. [Note 75] Many Koreans even today feel the pang of humiliation for having been forced to adopt Japanese-style names during colonial rule. The memory of colonial occupation hurts Koreans deeply, especially because they had long prided themselves on being a neighboring nation that played the role of "big brother" to Japan in the premodern history of the latter's colonial development.

There are a number of problems with this statement.

"required Koreans to . . . revise given names"

No law ever required Chosenese to "revise their given names". The name decree and related ordinances mandated the adoption of a single surname for use as the common family name of a single household -- by declaration of the head of the household, whose surname would become the common name by default if no declaration of choice was made. The notion that all members of a household register share the same "family name" was in accordance with family law in Japan's prefectural Interior, and seriously conflicted with Chōsen family law. But there was no requirement that the name be "Japanese" or "Japanese-style".

Not only was changing a personal (given) name entirely optional, but such a change could be made only by filing a petition for permission to change and paying a small petition fee. Morever, the provision for changing a personal name, including the term 改名 (J. kaimei, K. kaemyŏng), had a long history in Korean family law. See, for example, Affiliation and status in Korea: 1909 People's Register Law and enforcement regulations.

"February 22, 1940"

Perhaps "February 22, 1940" is a simple mistake. For on the following page, she cites the final lines of the "Lost Names" story -- "Today, I lost my name. Today, we all lost our names. [ / ] February 11, 1940." (Page 16, bracketed line break mine.).

11 February 1940 marked the 2600th anniversary of the legendary founding of Yamato by Jinmu. Kim's placement of this date at the end of the story, as a dateline or time stamp, can only be symbolic, since it is merely the date from which the name decree and related ordinances began to operate. Such name changes as were actually declared or otherwise made took place over a period of several months.

Simple error or not, Soh's source for her statement about the law and when it came into effect is "Ha 1998: 324" (Notes, page 256), the Korean title of which she translates "Korean History Seen through Chronological Tables and Pictures" (Bibliography, page 300). Her translation of the title is accurate. But it does not inspire confidence that she attempted to confirm what the name-change decree and ordinacnes, and their enforcement, were actually about.

"the role of 'big brother' to Japan"

If, as Soh claims, some Koreans feel hurt because they take pride in having been a "big brother" to Japan in the "premodern history" of its "colonial development" -- then shouldn't some Koreans feel partly responsible for the manner in which Korea came to be engulfed by this colonial development?

C. Sarah Soh

Chunghee Sarah Soh has been a professor of anthropology at San Francisco State University since 1994. She received a BA from Sogang University in Seoul in 1971, and an MA and a PhD from the University of Hawaii in 1983 and 1987.

I have a vague memory of meeting her at the 1975 Annual Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, in San Franciso, when we were both graduate students. As I recall, I attended a panel discussion at which she was a panelist. I asked a question from the floor, and Wagatsuma Hiroshi introduced me to her.

I also have an even foggier memory of one of Soh's students, if not Soh herself, asking me to share some clipping files I had on Nikkeijin in Southeast Asia with the student, who was studying this subject. I sent the files to the student, who did not return them.


Fiction as history

It is one thing to read fictional accounts like Lost Names as literary representations of historical events. What happens when historical accounts are embellished by fictional elements?


Image Michael E. Robinson
Korea's Twentieth-century Odyssey
Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2007

Michael Robinson on "soshi kaimei"

Michael Robinson, a Korea specialist, has written a compact history of "Korea's Twentiekth-century Odyssey" which, in the title of its Introduction, he characterizes as "Korea's Turbulent Twentieth Century".

Michael E. Robinson
Korea's Twentieth-century Odyssey
(A Short History)
Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2007
x, 220, paperback

The main attraction of Robinson's book is its brevity and general readability. It would have been a better book if he had respected facts and paid more attention to descriptive accuracy. It would have been a few pages shorter and sweeter had he supressed his own judgments about whether this or that policy or program or incident among "the many cruelties" was "galling" or "appalling" or whether the Koreans who "suffered" them were "unfortunate" or whether their stories about them were "shocking". Why does he feel he has to tell readers how to feel?

"colonial state"

Robinson describes the "Government General of Korea (GGK)" as the name of "the new colonial state" that Japan set up to replace the "Chosŏn state" (page 36). Following his own description of the transformation of "Chosŏn" into the "Empire of the Great Han" in 1897 (page 23), he should have been speaking of the "Han state" after this time.

Robinson acknowledges that "Korea" had become a protectorate of Japan in 1905 (page 28). But he does not write that, when it became a protectorate , the Empire of Korea lost its full capacity as a state. And when it was annexed by Japan in 1910, it ceased being a state of any kind. It became, instead, a territory of Japan, which Japan called renamed "Chōsen".

"Korea" became "Chosen" in alphabetic naming as well. The "Bank of Korea" became the "Bank of Chosen". The "Residence-General of Korea" -- which had overseen Korea's military and diplomatic affairs, and some civil affairs as well -- became the "Government-General of Chosen" (GGC) -- "Chōsen" being a distinct legal jurisdiction within the sovereign dominion of the Empire of Japan, aong with the prefectural Interior (Naichi), Taiwan, and Karafuto.

Robinson's description of "Korea" under Japanese rule as a "colonial state" makes no sense in any understanding of the concept of "state" as a sovereign (or semi-sovereign) entity in the world of flag states. Chōsen was neither.

"concept of nation"

Robinson makes the following observation about "minjok" as an expression of the "concept of nation" (page 27, underscoring mine).

In East Asia the neologism used to represent the concept of nation -- minjok in Korean -- had been in use for at least thirty years before Koreans actually began to think and write about their society in such particularistic terms. The Chinese charcters for minjok -- min (people) and jok (family) -- lend a unique quality to the term itself; so combined, these characters carry strong racial/ethnic and geneological connotations. To this day, because of American stress on legal citizenship, an identity potentially open to all races and ethnicities because the United States is a nation of immigrants, Americans are surprised by the racial/familial emphasis carried within Korean national identity. In the period between 1905 and 1910, the first explorations of the evolution and character of the Korean minkoku began to appear in calls for the rethinking of Korea's history.

"To this day" Americans what? To many "Americans" in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the idea of "citizenship" for "Asiatics" -- even those born in the United States -- was both "galling" and "appalling". Immigrants from Asian "nations" were legally barred from "citizenship" through naturalization specifically because of their "Oriental" race or "national origin". Moreover, the "citizenship" of their American-born descendants was not infrequently compromised by constraints in racist laws. And in early 21st multiculturalist America, "heritage" has replaced "national origin" as the mark of racioethnic identity among people who choose to regard each other as "members" of the same "group" or "community" within the American population.

The significance of "minzoku" (Japanese) and "minjok" (Korean) and "minzu" (Chinese) in East Asian history is mainly one of recognizing rights of "national self-determination" (minzoku jiketsu 民族自決) for "nations" (minzoku 民族) understood as "racioethnic" populations that wish to be politically independent.

"change family names"

In Chapter 4 -- "Colonial Modernity, Assimilation, 1930-1945" -- in a section called "The End of Colonial Rule: Forced Assimilation and War Mobilization" -- Robinson says this about names (pages 95-96, underscoring mine.

Perhaps the most galling program was the notorious decision to change Korean names that [GGK] Minami [Jirō] announced on February 11, 1940. The formal term for the process was sōshi kaimei (to change family names). The ostensible reason was reform of the Household Registration Law, for the new regulation would bring colonial practice in line with Japanese norms with regard to head of household, registration of births and deaths, and family law in general. Noting that Korean names were based on lineage (sei), not family (shi), as in Japan, the GGK announced that the emperor had graciously allowed his Korean subjects to bring their names into accord with the system in Japan. Within the six-month deadline established by the February order, over 3.17 million households or 75 percent of the population had registered new names.

The policy struct at the most personal and perhaps the most cherished source of Korean identity. The heartrending spectacle of family heads abandoning ancient names became a daily event at the local registry offices, and the memory has been recorded in novels, short stories, and memoirs. Richard Kim's well-known novella Lost Names offers a vivid account of the psychological trauma and cruelty of the campaign; more of the insensitivity and hypocrisy inherent in the preposterous policy is eloquently traced from the point of view of a Japanese protagonist in Kajiyama Yoshiyuki's short story, "The Clan Records" (Richard Kim, 1998; Kajiyama, 1995). And in spite of their changed names, Koreans continued to carry identity cards that signified their ethnicity (Chōsenjin), lest the established colonial ethnic heirarchy be challenged.

Other than his strident emotionalism, what is wrong with Robinson's description?

Decrees and ordinances

Decrees conerning matters to be revised in the Chōsen Civil Matters Ordinance, and other matters concering "family names and personal names" (氏名 shimei), were promulgated on 11 November 1939. Ordinances concerning procedures for making notifications regarding changes of names were promulgated on 26 December 1939. The decrees and the ordinances came into effect for a six-month period beginning 11 February 1940.

"lineage" and "family"

The distinction Robinson makes between "lineage" (姓 J. sei, K. sŏng) and "family" (氏 J. shi, K. chi) is not exactly transparent. What he means is that "Korean" names were "surnames" based on patrilineal "clan" descent, whereas "Japanese" family names were shared by all members of the same household whether or not they were lineally related to the male (usually) or female (occasionally) head of the household. Imposing the "Japanese" system on "Korean" registers meant that members of a Korean household would legally have to share a common "family name" in lieu of their different natal "surnames".

However, the Interiorization of Chōsen registers did not end Chosenese clan names. Heads of households had the option of using any clan name, including his own, as the common family name. If he did nothing, his clan name would become the common family name by default. Adopting an Interior-style family name was optional.

Moreover, no matter what name became the common family name, the clan names of all individuals in a household register would continue to be recorded in the register, and Chosenese were free to continue to marry and adopt in accordance with Chosenese traditions, which took lineage into serious account.

It is fine to criticize the name-change rules as examples of systematic assimilation policy. And if assimilation policies were wrong or unjust, it is fine to argue why they were wrong or unjuset. But first one has to accuractely describe the rules and policies.

It is also fine to criticize the occasionally coercive ways in which assimilation policies were carried out. But here, too, one is obliged to clarify who initiated or countenanced the coercion.

Meaning of "soshi kaimei"

Robinson's gloss of "sōshi kaimei" as meaning "to change family names" does not make sense in the light of his own explanation of the difference between "lineage" and "family" names. Chosenese had no "family names" (shi) to change. They had only "surnames" (sei).

This is reminiscent of something I read, and am now trying to confirm, which cited a statement made by former prime minister Hosokawa Morihiro (細川護熙 b1938) about Japan's rule of Chōsen, in which he paraphrased "sōshi kaimei" (創氏改名) as meaning "sōshi o kaimei suru" (創氏を改名する) -- which caused me to shake my head. It was obviously an attempt to parse the expression as kanbun, but it violated its obvious "V1-O2, V2-O2" structure. The parsing was possible only if one didn't take the kanbun structure seriously. But taking it seriously would have required understanding what "create family name, change personal name" meant.

Only the "create family name" provision was mandatory, either through notification during the six-month period or default if no notification had been filed by the end of the period. Not only was "change personal name" not mandatory, but the provision followed the established practice for changing a personal name through petition for permission.

The "sōshi kaimei" policy required the heads of Chōsen households -- not individuals -- to "create family names". The surnames of the individual members of the household would not change. Chosenese would keep their surnames. The surnames would continue to be recorded on registers. Chosenese could continue to be use their surnames in private intercourse in keeping with customary Korean family law. But the "family name" created on their household register would become the common legal name for all people in the register.

Nothing in the name ordinances required Chosenese to adopt a so-called "Japanese-style" name as either a family or personal name. The head of household could designate his own surname (and apparently any surname already on the register) for use as a family name. The default rule provided that, if the head of household chose not to designate a name, his own surname would become the common family name. Personal names would remain unchanged unless individuals petitioned, for a fee, to adopt a new personal name.

Names which could be mistaken for Interior-style ("Japanese-style") family names, which had generally not been acceptable, were now possible -- so long as they were not the names of deceased or living emperors or empresses. Chosenese were of course encouraged, and in many cases pressured and in some cases even forced, to adopt Interior-style names. But the fact that the family names of about 25 percent of the registers defaulted to the surname of the head of household means that at least this percentage of Chosenese on the peninsula did not adopt so-called "Japanese-style" family names.

75 percent notification rate

Numerous studies have been made of the numbers of cases of family-name notifications (many) and personal name petitions (few). The figure cited by Robinson is one of the more common figures cited in contemporary reports.

For example, an article published in November 1942, Murayama Michio observed that, by 10 August 1940, the end of the six-month notification period, some 3.17 million households had filed noticies indicating their choice of a family names, which came to about 75 percent of all households (see, for example, Murayama 1942).

All detailed studies suggest that filing rates in the early part of the filing period, at which point some local officials -- including Chosenese -- began pressuring people not only to file notifications, but to choose Japanese-style names. Apparently, though, the Government-General of Chosen itself had no objections to people either choosing an existing surname for use as a family name, or allowing the surname of the head of household to become the family name by default.

Of greater interest is that filing rates outside Chōsen were much lower -- on the order of the filing rates on the peninsula before the start of pressure to file. Mizuno Naoki, for example, shows that the rate was 14.3 percent "Japan 'Interior'" (日本「内地」Nihon 'Naichi'), 18.8 percent in "'Manchoukuo'" (満州国 Manshūkoku), and 14.5 percent in "China" (中国). Note that Mizuno follows the common practice today of referring to the Interior as "Japan" -- while bracketing "Naichi" and "Manshūkoku" as historical names (see Mizuno 2008 for details).

During the six-month period from 11 February through 10 August 1940, about 1.2 million petitions for permission to change personal names had been filed. The petition system, which had already been established, continued, and by the end of 1941 another 1.1 million petitions had been filed, for a total of about 2.3 million during the roughly two-year period. The petition rate, however, rapidly fell after September 1940. (Mizuno 2008, page 165.)

No ethnic classifications

Contrary to Robinson's claim, there were no "ethnicity" classifications on identity documents in Japan, and none on household registers in either the Interior or Chōsen. Personal identity specified particulars such as name, sex, birth date, and the locality of one's primary register affiliation. Register affiliation was a purely civil status. When people migrated between territorial registers, such as between an Interior and a Chōsen register, their territorial status changed.