Yearbook Japan, 2019, vol. 48, pp. 272–286

DOI: 10.24411/0235-8182-2019-10012

Japan’s governorate Karafuto (1905–1945): History and social memory

S.V. Grishachev

Abstract. History of colonies under the rule of Japanese Empire in the first half of the 20th century has not been explored well enough so far. For example, history of Karafuto governorate “(1905-1945), which existed in the southern part of Sakhalin, is barely covered while some aspects of its history are not known at all. This article focuses on history of formation and socio-economic structure of Karafuto governorate — such as territorial development after the Russo-Japanese war, its role and status in the colonial system of Japan, the use of the main economic resources of the island and creation of socio-cultural space along with the memorialization of the colonial past of the northern borders of Japanese Empire. Besides that, in this article author highlights the process of liquidation of the governorate (it started after accession of the southern part of Sakhalin to the USSR territory after the Second World War) followed by passing the governance on to the soviet administration, co-residence of Soviet and Japanese people on the same territory during 1945–1948, along with deportation of Japanese people and fate of Korean population of the island. The article gives the examples of preservation of memory of Japanese presence on Sakhalin Island in both modern Japan and Russia.

Keywords: Karafuto governorate, colonization, Japanese Empire, Toyohara, the Second World War, Public memory.

Author: Grishachev Sergey V., Ph.D. (History), Associate professor, Department of Modern East, Russian State University for the Humanities; Researcher, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Support: This work was supported by Russian Science Foundation (Grant No. 19-18-00017 “Problems of the historical past in Japan's relations with the countries of East Asia and Russia. Lessons for Russia”).

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Contents of the issue: Yearbook Japan, 2019, Vol. 48.