Japanese people in Russia
form a small part of the
worldwide community of Nikkeijin
they count various notable political figures among their
Japanese person to settle in
Russia is believed to have been Dembei, a fisherman stranded on the Kamchatka
Peninsula in 1701 or 1702. Unable to return to
his native ÅŒsaka due to the Tokugawa Shogunate's sakoku policy, he was instead taken to Moscow and ordered
by Peter the Great to begin
teaching the language as soon as possible; he thus became the
father of Japanese
language education in Russia.
Japanese settlement in
Russia remained sporadic, confined to the Russian Far East
, and also of a largely
unofficial character, consisting of fishermen who, like Dembei,
landed there by accident and were unable to return to Japan.
Japanese trading post is known to have existed on the island of
claimed by the Qing
Dynasty, but controlled by neither Japan, China, nor
Russia) as early as 1790.
The opening of Japan
the opening of Japan,
Vladivostok would become the focus of settlement for Japanese
emigrating to Russia.
A branch of the was opened there in
1876. Their numbers grew to 80 people in 1877 and 392 in 1890;
women outnumbered men by a factor of 3:2, and many worked as
. However, their
community remained small compared to the more numerous Chinese and
Korean communities; a 1897 Russian
government survey showed 42,823 Chinese, 26,100 Koreans, but only
2,291 Japanese in the whole of the Primorye area.
portion of the migration came from villages in northern KyÅ«shÅ«.
The politics of Japanese-Russian relations
large influence on the Japanese community and the sources and
patterns of Japanese settlement in Russia. The was founded in 1892
to unite various Japanese professional unions; at that point, the
Japanese population of the city was estimated at 1,000. It would
later be renamed in 1895 as the and again in 1902 as the . They
were often suspected by the Russian government of being used as
intelligence-gathering tools for Japan, and having contributed to
Russia's defeat in the Russo-Japanese
. Though the Japanese residents' association in Vladivostok
was officially disbanded in 1912 under pressure from Russia,
Japanese government documents show it continued to operate
clandestinely until 1920, when most Japanese in Vladivostok
returned to Japan. The initial landing of Japanese forces in
Vladivostok after the October
was prompted by the April 4
murder of three Japanese living there, and
the Nikolayevsk Incident
occurred in 1920. After the establishment of the Soviet Union, some Japanese communists settled in Russia; for
example, Mutsuo Hakamada, the
brother of Japanese Communist
Party chairman Satomi Hakamada,
escaped from Japan in 1938 and went to Russia, where he married a
His daughter Irina
later went into politics after the
collapse of the Soviet Union.
The aftermath of World War II
end of the Russo-Japanese War in
1905 with the Treaty of
Portsmouth, the southern half of Sakhalin officially
became Japanese territory, and was renamed as Karafuto, prompting an influx of Japanese settlers
Japanese settled in the northern half of Karafuto;
after Japan agreed to hand this half back to the Soviet Union, some
may have chosen to remain north of the Soviet line of control.
However, the majority would remain in Japanese territory until the
closing days of World War II
, when the
whole of Sakhalin came under Soviet control as part of the USSR's invasion of Manchuria
most Japanese fled
the advancing Red Army
, or returned to Japan after the Soviet
takeover, but others, mainly military personnel, were taken to the
mainland of Russia and detained in work camps there. Furthermore,
roughly 40,000 Korean settlers, despite still holding Japanese
nationality, were denied permission to transit through Japan to
repatriate to their homes in the southern half of the Korean peninsula
. Known as Sakhalin Koreans
, they were trapped on the
island for almost four decades.
Prisoners of war
Japan's surrender, 575,000
Japanese prisoners of war captured by the Red
Army in Manchuria, Karafuto, and Korea were sent to
camps in Siberia and the rest
of the Soviet Union. According to figures of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and
Welfare, 473,000 were repatriated to Japan after the
normalisation of Japanese-Soviet relations; 55,000
died in Russia, and another 47,000 remained missing; a Russian
report released in 2005 listed the names of 27,000 who had been
sent to North Korea
to perform forced labour there. Rank was no guarantee
of repatriation; one Armenian interviewed
by the US Air Force in 1954
claims to have met a Japanese general while living in a camp at
Krai between May 1951 and June 1953.
continued to be repatriated as late as 2006.
Following the normalisation of Japanese-Soviet relations, a few
Japanese went to Russia for commercial, educational, or diplomatic
purposes; however, as Vladivostok was closed to foreign settlement
until the 1970s, they instead concentrated in Moscow. There is one
, the Japanese
School in Moscow, founded in 1965.
The 2002 Russian census
835 people claiming Japanese ethnicity (nationality).
- See section "Japanese Communities within the Russian Far East
and Their Economic Activities"
- (Pages 47-49)