Organized Panel Session
This paper examines how Japanese colonial migration to Hokkaido in the first two decades of the Meiji era laid the foundation for Japanese trans-Pacific migration to the United States in the 1880s. Japanese leaders in early Meiji embraced the discourse of overpopulation, a major justification for Anglo-Saxon colonial expansion in North America, to legitimize Japan's own settler colonialism in Hokkaido. Japan's imitation of Anglo-Saxon expansion in North America also inspired the Meiji expansionists to consider the American West an ideal destination for Japanese emigration in the late nineteenth century. This study thus challenges the territory-bound history of the Japanese empire by showing that Japan’s colonial expansion in Northeast Asia and Japanese trans-Pacific migration to North America were intertwined since the very beginning of the Meiji era.