The 14th Nichi-Doku Joint Lecture titled “Passport regulations and the cross-border mobility in the Japanese empire” was held at the Kyoto University Yoshida International Exchange Hall on March 28, 2019. It was delivered by Dr. Takahiro Yamamoto, who is currently teaching at the Chair for Cultural Economic History at the Cluster of Excellence „Asia and Europe (Heidelberg University) to an audience of over 30 people. Additional remarks were provided by the Dr. Lyle De Souza from the Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University.
Starting with the questing about how Japanese passports could become the most powerful ones in the world in 2018, Dr. Yamamoto explored the historical development of Japanese passport regulations from 1866 until the first half of the 20th century. Utilizing Japanese immigration history, he divided Japanese passport regulation politics into three phases: In 1866 Japan had nearly no control over border movements even though the movement abroad was highly restricted. In a transition phase, passport regulations were gradually introduced and the international passport system was adopted. Finally, passports became an effective tool for the government to regulate borders and migration of foreigners and Japanese alike. By using traveller’s notes, photos of passports, and other contemporary sources he was able to give a detailed and lively picture of the mobility of Japanese from the end of the Edo until the end of the Second World War.
After his presentation, Dr. Lyle De Souza, who researches Japanese diaspora, asked Dr. Yamamoto for details on the initial phase of passport regulation and the underlying intentions of the Japanese government. In addition, many questions were asked by the audience, e.g. about the relation between passports and the public image the Japanese government wants to promote.