From the 1920s to the eve of the Pacific War in 1941, more than 50,000 young second-generation Japanese Americans (Nisei) embarked on transpacific journeys to the Japanese Empire, putting an ocean between themselves and pervasive anti-Asian racism in the American West. Born U.S. citizens but treated as unwelcome aliens, this contingent of Japanese Americans-one in four U.S.-born Nisei-came in search of better lives but instead encountered a world shaped by increasingly volatile relations between the U.S. and Japan.
Based on transnational and bilingual research in the United States and Japan, Michael R. Jin recuperates the stories of this unique group of American emigrants at the crossroads of U.S. and Japanese empire. From the Jim Crow American West to the Japanese colonial frontiers in Asia, and from internment camps in America to Hiroshima on the eve of the atomic bombing, these individuals redefined ideas about home, identity, citizenship, and belonging as they encountered multiple social realities on both sides of the Pacific. Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless examines the deeply intertwined histories of Asian exclusion in the United States, Japanese colonialism in Asia, and volatile geopolitical changes in the Pacific world that converged in the lives of Japanese American migrants.