This article examines how Japanese colonial migration to Hokkaido in the first two decades of the Meiji era paved the way for Japanese trans-Pacific migration to the United States in the 1880s. It elaborates how Japanese leaders carefully emulated the Anglo-American settler colonialism in Japan's own expansion in Hokkaido by focusing on the emergence of the overpopulation discourse and its political impact in early Meiji. This colonial imitation also inspired the Japanese expansionists to consider the American West an ideal destination for Japanese emigration in the late nineteenth century. This study thus challenges the nation-centered and territory-bound history of the Japanese empire by showing that Japan's colonial expansion in Northeast Asia and Japanese trans-Pacific migration to North America were intertwined since the very beginning of the Meiji era.

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