Focusing on intersections of Asian area studies and U.S. ethnic studies, this article probes overlapping but hitherto neglected trajectories of Japanese colonialism and transpacific migrant experience and of modern Japanese history and Japanese American history. Constructed during the 1930s, expansionist orthodoxy of imperial Japan justified and idealized the agricultural colonization of Manchuria on the basis of historical precedence found in a contrived chronicle of Japanese “overseas development” in the American frontier. This study documents how Japanese intelligentsia, popular culture, and the state concertedly co-opted U.S. Japanese immigrant history in service of the policies of imperial expansion and national mobilization in Asia before the Pacific War. While involving conflicting agendas and interests between the colonial metropolis in imperial Japan and the expatriate society in the American West, the example of transnational history making elucidates borderless dimensions of prewar Japanese colonialism, which influenced, and was concurrently influenced by, the presence and practices of Japanese emigrants across the Pacific.

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