Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless
A Japanese American Diaspora in the Pacific
Michael R. Jin



The Making of a Japanese American Diaspora in the Pacific

THE TOKYO METRO SECTION of the Japanese national daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun on April 7, 1939, featured a story about a wedding held in the capital the previous evening. The report celebrated the international marriage between Tashima Yukiko, a gifted graduate of Keisen Girls’ School and Oyu Academy in Tokyo, and Zheng Zihan, a resident scholar at Tokyo’s Keio University. Zheng was a son of the then mayor of Mukden, the industrial center of Manchuria in northeast China. The groom’s late grandfather, Zheng Xaoxu, had been the first prime minister of the Japanese puppet state Manchukuo when Manchuria had become an integral part of Japan’s colonial empire in Asia in the early 1930s. The Asahi Shimbun depicted the matrimony as a symbol of “intra-Asian co-prosperity and friendship” and proclaimed Tokyo as the continent’s reigning cosmopolitan center that allowed a modern Japanese woman and a young Manchurian aristocrat to pursue a romantic relationship across national borders.1

The celebratory article on Tashima’s wedding was part of the efforts made by the Japanese press, under the watchful eye of the militarist government that had seized the country’s political power by the late 1930s, to curtail the negative international publicity brought on by Japan’s aggressive expansionist policy. Less than two years before Tashima and Zheng’s wedding, the Japanese armed forces had launched a full-scale invasion of the Chinese subcontinent, marking the beginning of World War II in Asia. While the international community turned more and more critical of the brutal massacre committed by the Japanese Imperial Army in Nanjing in 1937 and the subsequent Japanese military campaigns elsewhere in the subcontinent, the Tashima wedding in Tokyo provided the domestic audience with a positive picture of Japan’s cultural influence as a pan-Asian empire.2

The story of Tashima’s marriage to Zheng illustrated another complex aspect of international relations in the broader transpacific world. A daughter of Japanese emigrants from Hiroshima Prefecture, Tashima had been born and raised in California’s Central Valley. In 1933, six years before her wedding, she had relocated to Japan with her mother and three siblings amid the widespread anti-Japanese xenophobia in the United States and the Great Depression, which in tandem had worked to bankrupt their family farm. Born Yukiko Tashima and nicknamed Lucille, this bright modern Japanese woman was actually a young immigrant from the United States.3

There was much more to Tashima’s transpacific life than the fairy tale wedding depicted in the Asahi Shimbun. A few months after their wedding ceremony in Tokyo, Tashima and Zheng moved to Mukden in Manchuria and then to Beijing, China, where the newlyweds started their family and sat out the Pacific War. There, Tashima went by her newly adopted Chinese name, Su Chung. After the Japanese defeat in World War II followed by the Chinese Civil War and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Zheng family became enemies of the communist state and were subject to political purge because of their service to the former Japanese puppet state in Manchuria. In 1950 Tashima used her American citizenship to leave China, but her husband and young daughter, both citizens of the new People’s Republic, which had reclaimed sovereignty over Manchuria, remained stranded in Beijing. Within five years of her repatriation to Japan under the U.S. occupation, Tashima married an American navy officer named Kenneth F. Davis, with whom she resettled in her country of birth in February 1956. For the rest of her life, she would live with all three of her names—Yukiko Tashima, Su Chung, and Lucille Davis—which were products of her complex diasporic life.4

This book follows the transpacific journeys of U.S.-born Japanese Americans like Tashima who found themselves mired in a series of unpredictable, bizarre, and often tragic events at the crossroads of the U.S. and Japanese empires. However, this is not a book that simply uncovers these stories as though they were history’s unintended accidents. Tashima was far from alone in her unique position as an American citizen living abroad before World War II. She was one of more than 50,000 second-generation Japanese Americans (Nisei) who migrated to the rising Japanese colonial empire to escape anti-Asian racism throughout the U.S. West Coast.5 As workers, students, travelers, and survivors of war and state violence between two empires, these transnational individuals have left traces of their journeys in archives and historical memories on both sides of the Pacific. By recuperating these scattered stories, Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless examines the deeply intertwined histories of Asian exclusion in the American West, Japanese colonialism in Asia, and volatile geopolitical changes in Asia-Pacific that converged in the lives of American migrants like Tashima.

FIGURE 1 The announcement of Yukiko Tashima and Zheng Zihan’s marriage in Tokyo, April 6, 1939.
Asahi Shimbun.

All in all, at least one in four U.S.-born Nisei left the United States during the first half of the twentieth century.6 Despite the transnational experiences that are remarkably common among Japanese Americans, scholars have written little about Nisei migrants’ displacement across national and colonial borders in the Pacific—a set of global movements that does much to shatter the narrative of the United States as a country of immigrants. How, then, do we reconcile nation-centered narratives’ silence about the Japanese American migrants who drew the American West with larger histories of nations and empires in the Pacific world? Instead of writing the history of Japanese Americans as a minoritized ethnic community that is geographically and socially rooted in the United States, I reconsider the emergence of Japanese America in the twentieth century as a highly mobile transpacific diaspora. Nisei migrants encountered multiple cultural and linguistic worlds, gender and racial ideologies, legal and social institutions, and geopolitical upheavals, and these encounters help us creatively push the conceptual and spatial boundaries of Asian and Asian American histories.

What does it mean to write a history of a Japanese American diaspora? First, such a project means rethinking the role of the United States as a national space and destabilizing the positionality of Japanese Americans as national subjects.7 The displacement of U.S.-born Nisei emigrants in various corners of the former Japanese Empire in Asia disrupts the linear and predictable notions about “sending” and “receiving” nations prevalent in the U.S. immigration narrative. A re-placement of them within a larger diaspora also defies the subjectivities of Japanese Americans—as a race, as an ethnic group, and as citizens—predicated on the successful Americanization of the second-generation immigrants in the U.S.-centered ethnic studies model. Grounded in sources from both sides of the Pacific, the stories of human migration and racial formation in this book thus push the spatial and linguistic boundaries of the second-generation Asian American experience far beyond U.S. national borders.

Second, in Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless I use an interimperial approach to reconstruct a borderland space in which Japanese American migrants moved back and forth between North America and the former Japanese Empire in Asia. In so doing, I add to the emerging Pacific historical scholarship that has brought to the fore the experiences of marginalized peoples that national histories have long overlooked, such as emigrants from Asia in transnational and transoceanic diasporas, indigenous peoples of the Island world, and colonized subjects in the United States and other settler colonial empires in the Pacific. These perspectives illuminate the contradictions and theoretical limits of nationalist ideologies by exposing how gender and racial capitalism, state violence, war, and colonialism have operated in diverse transnational and imperial contexts.8 In this book I offer a new perspective on these historical issues by illuminating how a distressingly understudied group of U.S.-born citizens, displaced in the transpacific borderlands, navigated the geopolitical, social, and ideological exigencies of the two empires.

Third, rewriting the history of Japanese Americans from the perspective of Nisei migrants challenges the dominant framework of loyalty and citizenship that has shaped both the academic and popular public narratives of the Japanese American experience. The legacies of the World War II mass incarceration of Japanese Americans in the United States and the question of Nisei’s loyalty to their country of birth have driven the postwar Japanese American scholarship that has pushed the transnational experiences of Nisei migrants to the margins of history. There is no question that the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans was a watershed moment in U.S. history that continues to dominate the Japanese American community’s historical memory. However, the complex life experiences of Nisei who had migrated to Japan in large numbers to escape early-twentieth-century racism reveal that the promise of American citizenship for Japanese Americans had been denied well before the World War II internment. Also, as Tashima’s experiences demonstrate, Nisei migrants and their families during and after the war found themselves in a fluctuating landscape of the colonial world that redefined their legal and cultural citizenship. Here, I center the fragility of Nisei’s citizenship on both sides of the Pacific that forced Japanese American migrants to grapple with the shifting meanings of loyalty and nationalism at a variety of moments of diasporic upheaval.

Written against the predominant orientation of “diaspora” as fixated on diasporic subjects’ belonging to a timeless, ethnicized, and often romanticized ancestral home (Japan), in this book I deploy a diasporic framework as a conceptual strategy to examine how Japanese American migrants redefined their relationship to both the United States and Japan on their own terms. Historically associated with forced dispersal of Jewish, African, and other globally displaced peoples, the term diaspora over the last few decades has been used much more liberally in many studies of human migration as a framework to examine meanings of home and belonging in contexts beyond parochial national narratives.9 In Asian American studies, diaspora has emerged as an important framework for analyzing Asian immigrants’ transnationalism and their enduring ties to their “homelands” vis-à-vis their systemic exclusion from U.S. citizenry. Critics of the diasporic turn have cautioned that diaspora’s “essentialist” “global sweep” could diminish Asian Americans’ shared historical struggle for agency in the United States by diverting scholars’ focus away from the local structures of race, class, and gender oppression.10 In contrast, I argue that an interimperial approach to the Japanese American diasporic experience exposes rather than obscures the critical transnational implications of those oppressions on the lives of U.S.-born Nisei migrants. Their history reminds us that the politics of exclusion and xenophobia was a powerful force that sustained the institutions of the United States, shaped the country’s geopolitical exigencies, and altered individual lives, families, and communities inside and outside the nation’s borders. American citizens of Japanese ancestry used transpacific migration as a powerful way to overcome what A. Naomi Paik has termed their rightlessness and exposed the contradictions inherent in America’s celebrated identity as a liberty-loving country of immigrants.11

Because Japanese American history is rooted so strongly in U.S.-born Nisei’s historical agency and belonging in the U.S. national context, it has been quite difficult to imagine Japanese America as a diasporic community driven by the frequent transnational mobility that shaped other Asian groups, such as Chinese Americans.12 However, as demonstrated in the ensuing chapters, Japanese Americans’ engagement with the Japanese Empire was a norm rather than the exception, as the movements of Japanese American migrants across the Pacific were common throughout the first half of the twentieth century. In fact, second-generation Japanese Americans were far more likely to have experienced transnational mobility than other U.S.-born Asian Americans. Ultimately, I offer a concept of Nisei’s diasporic engagement with both the United States and Japan as a set of complex, varied, and historically grounded lived experiences rather than as a metaphorical reference to their Japanese heritage. To borrow Stuart Hall’s assertion about the interdependence between diasporic identity and lived experience, a Japanese American diaspora emerged “out of very specific historical formations, out of very specific histories and cultural repertoires of enunciation.”13 Individuals like Tashima, who experienced transpacific migrations and spent various amounts of time in Japan and former Japanese colonies, are a group of second-generation Americans whose diasporic experiences were shaped by their physical presence on both sides of the Pacific. Their identities were both socially constructed and self-defined through their interactions with diverse groups of people in the U.S. and Japanese empires. Tracing their movements and experiences offers a unique analytical lens that sheds light on the embeddedness of Nisei’s diasporic lives in multiple transnational sociopolitical fields, as they engaged in complex legal, political, and social transformations in both the United States and Japan that shaped their lives as migrants.

Japanese American migrants embarked on their transpacific journeys at a critical moment when the histories of Asia and Asian America intersected. The prewar U.S. West, where the vast majority of second-generation Japanese Americans lived, was intimately shaped by the history of Asian exclusion, dating from the anti-Chinese violence in the mid-nineteenth century.14 By the 1920s, amid Japan’s rise as a colonial power in Asia rivaling Western empires, the anti-immigrant campaign used the rhetoric of yellow peril to target the Japanese immigrant community in the United States as a cultural and socioeconomic threat to white America. The aggressive nativist movement led by anti-Japanese agitators throughout the United States had culminated in a series of legal and judicial enactments that excluded Japanese immigrants from American citizenry, such as restrictive alien land laws that had stripped Tashima’s parents of the right to keep their farm. Exclusionary U.S. immigration and naturalization policies, such as the 1924 Immigration Act, which effectively blocked Asian immigrants, manifested the racialization of Asians as unassimilable aliens.15 Moreover, U.S.-born Japanese Americans throughout the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s routinely faced school segregation, job discrimination, anti-miscegenation laws, and other forms of legal discrimination and everyday racism that made them citizens in name only.16

If the regime of racial exclusion in the American West compelled many Nisei to look elsewhere to build their future and overcome their rightlessness, the rise of the modern Japanese state and its colonial empire in Asia facilitated their transpacific migration. By 1920 Japan had annexed Okinawa, Taiwan, Korea, and the former German Micronesia (Nanyo, or “the South Seas”), among other colonies; these colonies provided resources that expedited an unprecedented industrial boom that Japan had undergone since World War I. Although the global Great Depression slowed Japan’s economic growth, the aggressive colonial expansion into northeast Asia and the Chinese subcontinent throughout the 1930s made Japan look like a formidable power in Asia.17 Many young Nisei children, such as Tashima, accompanied their Japanese immigrant parents (Issei) when they left the United States to resettle in Japan and Japan’s colonial frontiers. Other Nisei young adults relocated to the Japanese Empire on their own to seek opportunities for employment or higher education unavailable to them in the United States because of systematic racial discrimination. Also, many Issei parents sent their U.S.-born children to Japan so that they could receive a Japanese education and acquire business or farming skills, with the goal of one day returning to the United States to help sustain their immigrant families.

Born as citizens of the United States but treated like unwelcome aliens in their putative homeland, these Japanese Americans came of age as immigrants in their parents’ homeland. Many of these young migrants spent their formative years studying in public schools and institutes of higher learning throughout Japan. Some worked in industrial centers such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, joining the workforce from all across the Japanese archipelago and Japan’s Asian colonies. Others tended potato farms and rice fields in their parents’ hometowns in agricultural regions such as rural Hiroshima, the prefecture that had sent the largest number of Japanese emigrants to North America since the 1880s. Some Nisei migrants even became agents of brutal Japanese imperialism, as they found employment in Japanese firms, agricultural settlements, government agencies, and media outlets in Japan’s colonial outposts in Asia throughout the 1930s up to the eve of the Pacific War.

Yet this book is more than a linear immigrant narrative about Japanese Americans’ exodus from the United States in search of better lives on the other side of the Pacific. Nisei migrants found themselves mired in the rapidly deteriorating diplomatic relations in the Pacific world that forced them to negotiate shifting ideologies of race, gender, and citizenship. Many Nisei in various corners of the transpacific world continued to navigate myriad new social and legal constraints that further destabilized their status as citizens, immigrants, and the stateless. For instance, the anti-Japanese movement and restrictive U.S. nationality and immigration laws designed to exclude Asian immigrants from American citizenry from the 1920s to the 1940s wielded unexpected power to take Nisei migrants’ citizenship away and separate them permanently from their families in the United States. This development had an especially devastating impact on many Nisei women in Japan, as their marriages to Japanese men cost them their U.S. citizenship because of the U.S. government’s discriminatory policy that forced American women who married noncitizen Asian men to forfeit their U.S. citizenship. Once they were stripped of their U.S. citizenship and rendered stateless, these Nisei women were prohibited from setting foot on U.S. soil again when the Immigration Act of 1924 permanently blocked legal entry of immigrants from Asia.18 Japanese American migrants’ extended stay away from home in this volatile moment of tension thus threatened the integrity of their legal citizenship, as the politics of exclusion that sustained the United States as a gatekeeping nation caught up even with Japanese Americans living abroad.

Moreover, the social realities that U.S.-born Japanese Americans faced in the Japanese Empire often defied their hopeful imagination about their ancestral home. Many Nisei migrants who relocated to their parents’ homeland with a romantic idea that the Japanese would welcome them with open arms would soon realize that, despite their purported diasporic identity as Japanese, they were, after all, immigrants from the United States living in an unfamiliar and frequently unwelcoming territory. Although those with means and abilities indeed capitalized on the opportunities abroad, the kind of upward social mobility envisioned by many Nisei in the Japanese Empire proved to be as difficult as getting ahead in America. In addition to language and cultural barriers, they faced myriad challenges of living in a liminal space as migrants who had moved from one metropole to another. Furthermore, those Nisei who relocated to Japan to escape racism in the United States found themselves in a world with its own complex racial ideology and hierarchy. Many Nisei in Japan witnessed firsthand the vicious social discrimination endured by colonial subjects from Korea, Taiwan, and elsewhere in the Japanese Empire who were forced to work in factories and mines throughout the archipelago. Those Nisei who journeyed through Japan’s colonial frontiers in Asia saw how the settler colonial regimes exploited those territories. The “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere,” the euphemistic moniker for Japan’s colonial empire in Asia, proved to be far from the sanctuary that many Nisei had envisioned. Even though most of the Nisei who migrated to Japan remained there through the Pacific War, those disillusioned by less than ideal socioeconomic realities in Japan joined the well over 10,000 returnees who resettled in the United States before the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941.19 These Japanese American migrants brought with them diverse perspectives of the Japanese Empire that added to the linguistic and cultural dynamics of the Japanese American community in the United States on the eve of the war.

MAP 1 Transpacific migrations of U.S.- born Japanese Americans.
Map by Bill Nelson.

The stories of former Nisei migrants who returned to the United States before World War II after spending their formative years in Japan help us rethink the meanings of loyalty, nationalism, and identity central to Japanese American history. The existence of these Nisei returnees in the United States—known as Kibei (one who returned to America)—shaped U.S. policy on the incarceration of Japanese Americans from 1942 to 1946.20 After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the U.S. Department of War justified its “military necessity” for mass incarceration of Japanese Americans based on the existing white nationalist argument that the U.S.-born Nisei were essentially Japanese and indistinguishable from their foreign-born parents. Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt of the U.S. Army’s Western Defense Command, who spearheaded the mass removal of Japanese Americans from the U.S. West Coast in 1942, infamously stated, “It makes no difference whether [a Nisei] is an American citizen; he is still a Japanese.”21

The wholesale characterization of U.S.-born Nisei as Japanese aliens engendered a profound social burden for Japanese Americans to prove their loyalty and Americanization, even as they endured mass incarceration. Throughout the war U.S. government authorities suspected Kibei of being pro-Japan elements and treated them like a dangerous fifth column among Japanese Americans. Japanese American community leaders identified and policed the Kibei as a group that could damage the image of loyal Japanese Americans, because their education and upbringing in Japan made them stand out as potential Japan sympathizers. As a result, the Kibei became ostracized throughout the internment years. Their voices were then continuously silenced after the war, as Japanese American community leaders actively promoted the image of patriotic, Americanized Nisei to gain public support for an official government apology and reparations, often citing the wartime heroism of Japanese American servicemen who had joined the U.S. Armed Forces out of internment camps to fight the Axis powers.

Such polarizing notions about the “Americanized” Nisei and the “Japanized” Kibei during the war have compounded the marginalization of Nisei migrants in Japanese American scholarship. Few postwar scholars have been willing to come to grips with the transnational experiences of Japanese Americans because of the negative public perception that saw Kibei as predominantly Japanese in their cultural and political orientation, contradicting the image of “Nisei as Americans first.”22 As Eiichiro Azuma has noted, the war between the United States and Japan from 1941 to 1945 “culminated in a complete polarization between things Japanese and things American.” For the Japanese American community in the United States, it became no longer possible “to openly fancy” Nisei’s “mediating roles in the Pacific.”23 Postwar scholars have understandably grappled with the need to challenge and complicate the meanings and implications of history centered on Nisei Americanism, predominantly in the context of the World War II internment.24 Today we must also reimagine the conceptual and political boundaries of Japanese American history beyond the wartime mass incarceration and its dominant domestic framework. This book makes such a contribution.

Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless offers an alternative history of the Japanese American experience before, during, and after World War II on both sides of the Pacific as a series of diasporic ruptures. Japanese American migrants in the Japanese Empire were forced to negotiate ways to survive the war in unfamiliar territories, from the firebombed city of Tokyo to the battlefronts of the Pacific. Also, many U.S.-born Nisei in Japan during the Pacific War found themselves caught between the two empires, as they came under enormous social pressure to sever their ties to America and fulfill their loyalty to the country of their ancestors by serving Japanese war efforts against the United States. Thousands of Nisei male dual citizens were conscripted into the Japanese military and took arms, generally under duress, against their country of birth. After the war the U.S. government punished these men for their service to the Japanese emperor by enforcing the Nationality Act to strip their American citizenship. The war also rendered many Nisei men and women victims and survivors of atrocities throughout the Pacific Theater, including the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima, a city with a heavy concentration of U.S.-born Japanese American residents. Unrecognized by both the U.S. and Japanese governments, the Nisei atomic bomb survivors became essentially stateless in the postwar regime of redress and reparations. The U.S.-centered liberation narrative of “the Good War” further silenced these A-bomb victims and other Americans of Japanese ancestry who survived the conflict. In this book I reclaim these Nisei survivors’ place in the postwar debates about wartime violence, compensatory justice, and the Japanese American politics of redress.

The chapters that follow move between the spaces and times in Nisei’s transpacific world in the U.S.-Japan borderlands. I have no illusions that what this book delivers is a definitive reconstruction of Japanese American transpacific history in its entirety. Instead, I work closely with case studies—for example, that of Yukiko Tashima—that best represent Japanese Americans’ diasporic engagement long overlooked by dominant national narratives on both sides of the Pacific.25 This book breaks the long silence imposed on the voices of those who negotiated the legacies of brutal Japanese colonialism, xenophobia in the United States, and the politics of race, citizenship, and historical memory at the crossroads of Asian and Asian American studies. Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless reclaims these shattered yet deeply connected histories in the making of a Japanese American diaspora.


1. “Ko-a no shinzen kekkonpu,” Asahi Shimbun, April 7, 1939.

2. Michael Jin, “The Japanese American Transnational Generation: Rethinking the Spatial and Conceptual Boundaries of Asian America,” in The Routledge Handbook of Asian American Studies, ed. Cindy I-Fen Cheng (New York: Routledge, 2017), 246. Several newspapers in the Anglophone world reported on the Japanese brutality in Nanjing throughout late 1937 and 1938 based on accounts submitted by their Shanghai-based correspondents. See, for example, “Terror in Nanking,” The Times (London), December 18, 1937; “Butchery Marked Capture of Nanking,” New York Times, December 18, 1937; “Japanese Troops Kill Thousands: ‘Four Days of Hell’ in Captured City Told by Eyewitness,” Chicago Daily News, December 15, 1937; “Survivor Tells of Nanking Fall,” Seattle Daily Times, December 16, 1937; “Witness Tells Nanking Horror as Chinese Flee,” Chicago Daily Tribune, December 17, 1937; “Japanese Atrocities Marked Fall of Nanking After Chinese Command Fled,” New York Times, January 9, 1938; and “Nanking’s Fall to Be Told,” Los Angeles Times, March 18, 1938.

3. Jin, “Japanese American Transnational Generation,” 246–47; “Ko-a no shinzen kekkonpu.” See also Chapter 1.

4. Su Chung (Lucille Davis), Court Dishes of China: The Cuisine of the Ch’ing Dynasty (Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle, 1966), 11–12; Fuyuko Kamisaka, Mitsu no sokoku: Manshu ni totsuida nikkei amerikajin (Tokyo: Chuo Koronsha, 1996); U.S. Air Force Passenger Manifest TYO-56–0708, Travis Air Force Base, Fairfield, California, February 25, 1956, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandra, VA: National Technical Information Service).

5. The Japanese Consulates General in the United States counted 40,000 U.S.-born Nisei from the contiguous United States and Hawaii who had gone to Japan by the mid-1930s. This number represented one-fourth of the total Japanese American population, based on the 1930 U.S. Census, and one-fifth based on the number of Nisei counted by the Japanese Foreign Ministry in 1935. Although other unofficial sources, such as the vernacular Japanese American newspapers in Hawaii, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, throughout the 1930s and 1940s suggested an even larger number of U.S.-born Nisei in the Japanese Empire, I use the Japanese government’s figures and the total number of U.S.-born Japanese Americans based on the 1940 U.S. census to estimate that about one-fourth (50,000) of Nisei (200,194) had gone to the Japanese Empire by the eve of Pearl Harbor to work, study, join their parents’ return migration to Japan, or for other reasons, such as short-term study tours and personal visits that turned into long-term stays. See Teruko Kumei, “1930 nendai no kibei undo: Amerika kokusekiho to kanren ni oite,” Imin kenkyu 30 (1993); and Paul R. Spickard, Japanese Americans: The Formation and Transformations of an Ethnic Group (New York: Twayne, 1996), 89, 167. See also Robert Lee’s introduction to Mary Kimoto Tomita, Dear Miye: Letters Home from Japan, 1939–1946, ed. Robert Lee (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995), 18–19; and Yuji Ichioka, “Introduction,” in Karl G. Yoneda, Ganbatte: Sixty-Year Struggle of a Kibei Worker (Los Angeles: Asian American Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles, 1983), xii.

6. Kumei, “1930 nendai no kibei undo”; U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943).

7. Manu Karuka, Empire’s Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2019), xii.

8. See Moon-Ho Jung, “Seditious Subjects: Race, State Violence, and the U.S. Empire,” Journal of Asian American Studies 14, no. 2 (June 2011): 221–47; and Paul A. Kramer, “A Complex of Seas: Passages Between Pacific Histories,” Amerasia Journal 42, no. 3 (2016): 32–41.

9. Shelly Chan, Diaspora’s Homeland: Modern China in the Age of Global Migration (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018), 8. See also Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” in Identity: Community, Culture, Difference, ed. Jonathan Rutherford (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990); and Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993).

10. The most notable Asian American theorist who has articulated the potential pitfalls of “denationalization” is Sau-ling C. Wong. See Saul-ling C. Wong, “Denationalization Reconsidered: Asian American Cultural Criticism at a Theoretical Crossroads,” Amerasia Journal 21, no. 1–2 (1995): 16–17. See also Rhacel Salazar Parrenas and Lok C. D. Siu, “Introduction: Asian Diasporas—New Conceptions, New Frameworks,” in Asian Diasporas: New Formations, New Conceptions, ed. Rhacel Salazar Parrenas and Lok C. D. Siu (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 1–28.

11. A. Naomi Paik, Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps since World War II (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

12. See, for example, Madeline Y. Hsu, Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home: Transnationalism and Migration Between the United States and South China, 1882–1943 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000); and Charlotte Brooks, American Exodus: Second-Generation Chinese Americans in China, 1901–1949 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2019). Brooks’s work examines the migration of a significant number of U.S.-born Chinese Americans to southeast China during the first half of the twentieth century.

13. “The Formation of a Diasporic Intellectual: An Interview with Stuart Hall by Kuan-Hsing Chen,” in Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies, ed. David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen (London: Routledge, 1996), 504.

14. As discussed in Chapter 1, by the first decade of the twentieth century, the widespread nineteenth-century xenophobic violence against Asians in the United States, manifested in race riots, lynching, and expulsion of the Chinese and South Asian immigrant communities, had evolved into well-organized political campaigns at local, state, and national levels, with Japanese immigrants as the primary targets of Asian exclusion. Built on the earlier Asian exclusion movement that had resulted in the Chinese Exclusion Acts, the new legislative and judicial campaigns mobilized nativist and anti-immigrant groups across class lines to effect the enactments of laws systematically aimed at complete exclusion of the Japanese and other Asian groups from American citizenry. For the manifestation of anti-Chinese violence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and its influence on other xenophobic movements, see, for example, Beth Lew-Williams, Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018); and Erika Lee, At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration During the Exclusion Era, 1882–1943 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

15. Mae M. Ngai, “The Architecture of Race in American Immigration Law: A Reexamination of the Immigration Act of 1924,” Journal of American History 86, no. 1 (June 1999): 70–71.

16. For contemporary accounts documenting the legal and socioeconomic discrimination that affected second-generation Japanese Americans’ socioeconomic outlook in the western United States, see Junichi Takeda, Zaibei hiroshima kenjinshi (Los Angeles: Zaibei Hiroshima Kenjinshi Hakkojo, 1929); and Isamu Nodera, “A Survey of the Vocational Activities of the Japanese in the City of Los Angeles,” Master’s thesis, University of Southern California, 1936).

17. Mikiso Hane, Modern Japan: A Historical Survey (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1986).

18. See Chapter 2 for a detailed examination of case studies. See also Michael Jin, “Americans in the Pacific: Rethinking Race, Gender, Citizenship, and Diaspora at the Crossroads of Asian and Asian American Studies,” Critical Ethnic Studies 2, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 128–47.

19. See the accounts of Frank Hirahata, Sen Nishiyama, Kay Tateishi, and Nobuyo Yamane in Amerasia Journal 23, no. 3 (1997): Frank Hirahata, “Fifty Years After the Pacific War: ‘Molded to Conform, But . . .” (pp. 145–63); Sen Nishiyama, “Unexpected Encounters” (pp. 125–42); Kay Tateishi, “An Atypical Nisei” (pp. 199–216); and Nobuyo Yamane, “A Nisei Woman in Rural Japan” (pp. 183–96). Although the Japanese American transnational experience remains heavily understudied, a number of memoirs and autobiographies written by individual Nisei migrants emerged in the mid-1990s. Examples include Tomita, Dear Miye; Minoru Kiyota, Beyond Loyalty: The Story of a Kibei, trans. Linda Klepinger Keenan (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1997); and Iwao Peter Sano, One Thousand Days in Siberia: The Odyssey of a Japanese American POW (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997).

20. See Jin, “Japanese American Transnational Generation,” 246–47. See also Zaibei Nihonjinkai, Zaibei Nihonjinshi (History of Japanese in America), which in 1940 reported that 10,000 Nisei had returned to the United States from Japan, which left the number of Nisei remaining Japan at 20,000; see Zaibei Nihonjinkai, Zaibei Nihonjinshi (San Francisco: Zaibei Nihonjinkai, 1940), 1117–18. Brian Masaru Hayashi notes that figures suggested by contemporary estimates were probably too low; see Brian Masaru Hayashi, Democratizing the Enemy: The Japanese American Internment (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), 44–45, 238n11. Despite their diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, ages, and life experiences on both sides of the Pacific, Nisei migrants are predominantly viewed as those who had gone to Japan as infants or young children for educational purposes. During World War II, these Kibei were ostracized for their education in prewar Japan and their alleged Japanese cultural orientation. In this book I focus on the multiplicity and complexity in Nisei migrants’ transpacific experiences beyond this simple formulation of their collective identity.

21. Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1982), 66.

22. Naoko Shibusawa, “The Artist Belongs to the People: The Odyssey of Taro Yashima,” Journal of Asian American Studies 9, no. 3 (October 2005): 259.

23. Eiichiro Azuma, Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2005), 209.

24. For a discussion on the production of multiple scholarly, popular, and artistic representations of the history of the Japanese American internment, see Alice Yang Murray, Historical Memories of the Japanese American Internment and the Struggle for Redress (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008).

25. These multiple perspectives of transnational individuals illuminate the interconnections between historical memory and the role of the nation-state in perpetuating representations of the past that emphasize dominant institutions, values, and identities. In light of the present-day war on terror and its historical parallel to the anti-Japanese movement in the first half of the twentieth century, I build on the recent work of A. Naomi Paik, who examines the ways in which “rightless” subjects have been systematically excluded from national narratives and the state regime of legal, civil, and human rights. Paik argues that rightlessness has been rendered external to the dominant narrative of the United States as a champion of rights home and abroad. See Paik, Rightlessness.