Identity Despite having adapted to Chinese language and culture, some Japanese in China have stubbornly retained their ethnic identity and have longed to return to their homeland. Yu Kita Otosaka, a mother of four who returned to Japan in 1974, said, "I must not forget how well the Chinese people treated me, though I had fleas and lice all over but I always wanted to come back to this homeland."
All displaced Japanese were forced to learn Mandarin in order to survive in China. Consequently, many of their children are now unable to speak Japanese.
History As a result of the hakkio-ichiu (the whole world under one roof) policy, 300,000 Japanese troops invaded northeast China in 1932. Until 1945 they occupied a vast territory, which they renamed Manchkuo. Their rule was a reign of terror. "Undisciplined soldiers looted, raped and killed as they desired. Thousands of Chinese girls were gang raped, then killed for sport. The only safe place was with foreigners. When soldiers were about, mission schools, hospitals and homes were jammed with Chinese women and girls." Due to the sudden defeat and withdrawal of the Japanese forces, many orphans and women were left behind in China.
Customs After the war ended, most of the Japanese women who were left behind married Chinese men and settled down to raise children, with many of their traditional Japanese customs being abandoned.
Religion The belief of most Japanese in China is a mixture of Mahayana Buddhism and ancestor worship. Many others, because of the influence of Communism, are now atheists.
Christianity There are no known Christians among the Japanese in China, although the recent revival among the Han Chinese in Heilongjiang Province may have touched the lives of some displaced Japanese. Living in Chinese communities for several decades, at least one-fourth of the Japanese in China are estimated to have heard the gospel. The Japanese Bible is unavailable in China, but most can no longer read the Japanese script anyway.
There is no single cohesive Japanese community or village in China. They are scattered throughout towns and villages in what was formerly called Manchuria, now the northeastern Chinese provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning. (Source: Operation China, 2000)