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Exhibition of Japanese immigrants in Philippines, second generations to open in Tokyo

A Japanese bazaar founded in the city of Baguio, Luzon, the Philippines, is seen in this photo believed to be taken around 1930. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Nikkei-jin Legal Support Center)

TOKYO -- Photos and other documents will go on display at an event about the history of Japanese communities in the Philippines, in the capital's Shinjuku Ward from May 17.

The exhibition will be held by groups including the Philippine Nikkei-jin Legal Support Center (PNLSC), a nonprofit organization that provides support for second-generation Japanese-Filipinos who were separated from their Japanese fathers and lost their Japanese nationality during World War II and the subsequent turmoil.

Many Japanese who migrated to the Philippines before World War II in hopes of finding a job engaged in farmland development or road construction work. Japanese communities were formed in various places, and some men got married and had children. However, many of them died in war or were deported as the Philippine islands experienced fierce battles during the Pacific War, and their Filipino wives and children of Japanese descent were left behind.

PNLSC provides assistance for some of these second-generation Japanese-Filipinos who are still trying to find out about their fathers. But these people are having difficulties searching for their family roots because such investigations were delayed due to the effects of anti-Japanese sentiment in the Philippines during the postwar era and some relevant materials were lost in the war.

A volunteer fighting corps of Japanese immigrants in the Calinan district, the city of Davao, the Philippines, is seen in this photo taken in 1943. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Nikkei-jin Legal Support Center)

"Japanese-Filipinos who have grown old still think of Japan, wishing to know about their family roots. We want as many people as possible to know about such history and the current situation," explained a PNLSC official.

Of the approximately 3,800 second-generation Japanese-Filipinos that were identified by PNLSC, about 1,900 have already passed away. Of these, more than 560 people never discovered their family roots in Japan.

Photos taken in areas in which many Japanese immigrants settled before World War II, including the city of Davao in Mindanao and the city of Baguio in Luzon, will be displayed. Visitors will be able to see lifestyles in hemp farms, local Japanese schools and other Japanese communities back then.

A documentary film on a Japanese nun that devoted her life to helping people of Japanese descent in poverty after the war will be screened among other films.

Admission to the exhibition is free. The event will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the first floor of Eco Gallery Shinjuku, inside Shinjuku Chuo Park. The event closes at noon on May 20, the final day.

(Japanese original by Nao Yamada, City News Department)

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