Grandma who was a "residual orphan" May 7, 14:32

I've heard that my grandmother was a "residual orphan."

However, I never pondered why my grandmother was so called.

But the background that my grandmother told me for the first time was far beyond my imagination.

(International Department Reporter Kenji Ekuan)

"Residual orphans" who haven't thought deeply

“I thought my grandmother was Chinese,”

says Noboru Sato (31 years old), who lives in Tokyo.

Noboru's grandmother can only speak Chinese.

When I was a kid, I heard that my grandmother was a "residual orphan," but she never thought about what that word meant.

That's why Noboru thought of her grandmother as a “Chinese”.

As he grew up, he became more and more interested in his roots as he became aware that his grandmother was "Japanese."

Then, after learning Chinese, one day when I was over 20, I dared to ask my grandmother why she came to Japan.

My grandmother looked a little surprised, but slowly began to talk about her upbringing.

The story was so harsh that I couldn't imagine it from my grandmother, who was always cheerful and smiling.

I also learned that my roots were deeply related to the war between Japan and China.

Girl left behind in China

Grandmother Miwako was born in 1943 during the Sino-Japanese War to a father who was a Japanese soldier and a Japanese mother in the former Manchuria and now northeastern China.

However, when Miwako was one year old, Japan lost the war.

Many Japanese, including Miwako's family, headed for the coast to return to Japan by boat.

However, the distance to that point is more than 1000 kilometers.

Along the way, many are hungry, cold, sick and debilitated.

Some were killed by the former Soviet army and the Chinese.

Miwako's mother gives up taking her 1-year-old daughter.

After entrusting Miwako to her adoptive parents in China, she aimed to return to Japan, but she died of malnutrition.

In this way, Miwako was one year old and was separated from her family.

Hidden "Japanese"

As a child, Miwako never doubted that her adoptive parents were her true parents.

It was because I was brought up with love.

I am Chinese.

I didn't have any doubts about it.

However, when he was in elementary school, he was told by a child in the neighborhood.

"You are Japanese, right?"

Miwako couldn't understand what she was saying.

However, when I checked with my adoptive mother, it was revealed that I was Japanese.

At that time, Japan, which was a war partner in China, was regarded as an enemy, and there was a risk of being bullied or noticed by the authorities just because it was Japanese.

That's why Miwako desperately hid herself as a Japanese.

However, I was sometimes suddenly thrown a discriminatory word as "Japanese guizi" as to where it was known.

Miwako and her family had to move or change schools for fear of spreading to the surrounding area.

Thoughts on the homeland to be recruited

After that, Miwako married a Chinese man.

I was blessed with four children and was able to feel a little happiness while being poor "as a Chinese".

On the other hand, from the time I learned that I was "Japanese," Miwako began to think, "My true parents are in Japan. I want to meet and go back to Japan." went.

However, there was no diplomatic relations between Japan and China, and anti-Japanese sentiment persisted, so I could not express my true feelings.


said he couldn't even talk to the children, even though he wanted to say,




And to Japan

Nearly 30 years after the war, things started to move little by little.

In 1972, normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China was realized.

After that, people in the same situation as Miwako began to actively search for surviving relatives, and the existence of these people became known as "Chinese residual orphans."

Miwako, who knew about the activity, couldn't control her feelings for her country and wrote a letter to the Japanese embassy explaining her photo and circumstances.

Soon after, I received a news that my father found a newspaper article containing Miwako's information.

December 1983.

Miwako first landed in her homeland.

In front of me was a father and a sibling who had given up halfway when they couldn't meet anymore.

At first glance, I am convinced that it is a family with blood.

Miwako was crying like a child and hugging her forever.


"When I saw my dad's face, I was very happy that he looked like me. I really met a family with blood. I can't express my feelings at that time."

I want you to tell

After returning to Japan, Miwako worked in Japan despite struggling with the language barrier, and has watched over the growth of her grandson Noboru on behalf of her eldest daughter and her husband, who are busy with work.

And when Mr. Noboru asked me about Miwako's background in Chinese, it was said that she was so happy that she couldn't express it in words.

I felt that my grandchildren would be able to share the experiences of the remaining orphans.


"I can't speak Japanese even though I'm Japanese because of the war. It's the same with other orphans who remain. Most of the orphans can't communicate with their grandchildren.

I can tell

On the other hand, Noboru listened to his grandmother's story and realized for the first time that he was known as the "Chinese Residual Orphan III."

When he was a kid, Noboru once thought that his grandmother was "embarrassed" to speak Chinese and act as a gyoza to his friends.

At that time, "roots different from those around me" was not something I could be proud of, and I even felt inferior.

So, for a long time, I've been wondering if I'm Japanese or Chinese, but my grandmother's story seems to answer my question.

And last year, Noboru published a novel on the theme of Residual Orphan III based on his grandmother and his own experiences.

In the process, Noboru learned that while there were 2818 orphans remaining in China that had been identified so far, more than half were still unable to find relatives.

I also learned about the existence of a residual orphan II who returned to Japan together and hit a language wall, and a residual orphan III who grew up in Japan and lives with his roots hidden.

I want as many people as possible to know that there are still people who are still worried about their roots at the mercy of the war.

Noboru thinks so strongly now.


"In the next 20 or 30 years, there will be no one who has experienced war. Who will talk about it? We have to spin what our grandmothers have experienced. I think"

I can pass on the story

It has been exactly 40 years since the survey of residual orphans left behind in China to find relatives began in March.

Some people have returned to Japan but are still looking for relatives.

However, many of the remaining orphans are still unable to speak Japanese sufficiently, and in addition, the aging of the population is advancing, and the chances of hearing such stories directly are decreasing.

On the other hand, the experiences and memories of the remaining orphans who were at the mercy of the war between Japan and China can be passed on to younger generations like Noboru.

And if they can pass on, I think that experience and memory will never be weathered.

International Department Reporter

Kenji Ekuan

Joined in 2009

After working at the Matsuyama, Morioka, and Yokohama stations, he

was in charge of interviewing China.