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Japan’s “War Orphans”: Identification and State Responsibility


In the chaotic aftermath of Japan’s loss in the Asia-Pacific War, thousands of Japanese infants and children were stranded in northeast China and remained there for decades as the foster children of Chinese households. Subsequently, more than two thousand of these “war orphans” have belatedly returned with their families to Japan, where they have faced tremendous difficulties adjusting to Japanese society. This article critically examines the reasons for the Japanese government’s failure to expeditiously repatriate and successfully resettle the war orphans in Japan and considers the war orphans’ grievances in light of their recent compensation lawsuits against the government.