Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


The Influx of Japanese in Tsingtao during the Rule of Germany (1897–1914):
Focusing on Economic and Information-Gathering Activities

SHAN Hejun

Department of Japanese Studies
School of Cultural and Social Studies
SOKENDAI (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies)

Key words:

Tsingtao, German, Japanese community, economic activities, information-gathering activities

Imperial Japan invaded Tsingtao twice and was dominant there for sixteen years in total. After Shanghai and Manchuria, Tsingtao was the next important area for Japan’s foreign ‘investment’ in China. With Japan’s imperialistic expansion, thousands of Japanese moved into Tsingtao, and approximately forty thousand Japanese resided there until the Second World War ended. The influx of Japanese impacted on Tsingtao’s local society, for they brought with them capital and technology, and a different lifestyle and culture. However, previous studies have mainly focused on the German occupation and its policy, and little attention has been paid to the Japanese community in Tsingtao under German rule or to the relationships between German, Chinese, and Japanese during the period.

This paper explores the organization and the activities of the Japanese community, while examining economic as well as information gathering activities carried out by ordinary Japanese in Tsingtao. The first section reviews the number of Japanese residents, their backgrounds, such as hometown and occupation, their motivations for moving to Tsingtao, and the routes they took to travel to Tsingtao.

The second section investigates how the Japanese cooperated and competed with the Germans and Chinese, while also examining economic activities conducted by Japanese people such as petty traders, businessmen from large enterprises, and prostitutes called karayuki-san.

In the third section, I attempt to demonstrate the cooperative relationship between ordinary Japanese and the imperial Japanese government, through an examination of how Japanese engaged in information-gathering activities in Tsingtao. Finally, in the last section, I will discuss the transformation of the Japanese community after the First World War.