- 歴史と経済 (ISSN:13479660)
- vol.47, no.3, pp.1-11, 2005-04-30 (Released:2017-08-30)
Recently, globalization of labor migration has been an important issue worldwide, as well as in Japan, where many researchers and policy makers argue over the future acceptance of foreign workers from developing countries. However, the acceptance of foreign workers is by no means new in Japan. Historically, Japan experienced a labor inflow from Korea under colonialism, and until now Korean immigrants and their offspring have been characterized as an "invisible' part of a multi-ethnic Japanese society. This paper analyzes the immigration of Korean workers during the pre-war period as the first stage of the globalization of labor in Japan. I focus on Osaka-city, the most populous destination for Korean immigrants. Through this historical analysis, I attempt to clarify the socioeconomic roles of Korean immigrants in Japanese capitalist development. The major implications derived from this study are as follows: first, Koreans were the most displaced ethnic group during the pre-war period, and about half of all displaced Koreans emigrated to Japan, with Osaka becoming the most populous destination for Koreans after the 1920s. Such "diasporas" brought about tremendous effects for both Japan and Korea. Second, the massive inflow of Korean workers was strongly influenced by the urban development of Osaka. In Osaka, industrial production and international trade/investment developed dramatically, and Osaka had become the largest city in Japan by the 1920s. This urbanization process created a labor demand, with urban socioeconomic and spatial restructuring, and Koreans were incorporated as the core of the labor force. As a result, Osaka developed into a multi-ethnic metropolis. Third, this immigration inflow had a significant impact on the urban structure. Korean workers were mainly absorbed into three sectors: (1) the labor-intensive industrial sector, (2) the construction sector, and (3) the urban informal sector. Moreover, this process brought about a polarization of the labor market and spatial segregation within Osaka. Fourth, under this process, Korean immigrants stayed longer and established themselves in society as a permanent labor force in Osaka. Koreans gradually established and managed households, formed mutual help networks, and built immigrant communities in the urban periphery. Furthermore, Korean managers also began to appear, and they created capital-labor relationships among Koreans. Such a process became the prototype of the postwar society of ethnic Korean residents in Japan.