There were at most 800 Japanese residents living in South Africa during the era of apartheid. They were predominantly expatriate employees sent from Japan who were permitted to reside in white residential areas. The existence of this resident population group who would normally have been classified as “non-white” in terms of South Africa’s race categories under apartheid led to the Japanese being described as ‘honorary whites’. In this paper, the ‘honorary white’ status will be discussed, with a focus on what is called the ‘looping effect’ (Hacking), or interactions between a concept that classifies people and those who are classified. For this study, 15 Japanese people who had resided in South Africa under apartheid were interviewed, and documentary materials were also collected both in Japan and in South Africa. These data were used, first, to create a general history of the status of the Japanese in South Africa from the beginning of the 20th century. The study follows the genesis of the title ‘honorary white’ in the early 1960s, and considers the influence of the concept on the Japanese and Chinese communities at that time. Finally it describes the way in which the title ‘honorary white’ affected the identities and actions of the Japanese residents in South Africa, and at the same time how their actions in turn constructed the image of ‘honorary whites’.