A Basic Guide to Resources on Japanese Colonialism

by Sayaka Chatani
Last Updated: 2012.02.26
Links Checked: 2012.02.26

This page offers bibliographical resources useful to those who are doing research on Japanese colonialism. It incorporates some of the contents of Henry Smith's homepage, especially the information compiled by Ethan Mark on Colonial History, and by Nicole Cohen on Japanese Periodicals in Colonial Korea. It has been significantly easier for historians to conduct research in this field as more materials (both primary and bibliographical sources) have been reprinted, and/or have become available online. This guide is mostly limited to the English and Japanese language materials for now, and targets those studying at American institutions. As an on-going project, it will hopefully expand to include resources in Korean, Chinese and other languages in the future. I would appreciate your comments and suggestions. The ones with asterisks (*) are highly recommended.


  1. How to Find Secondary Sources

  2. How to Find Primary Sources

  3. Chronological Tables, Dictionaries, People and Places

  4. Colonial Literature and Film

  5. Photographs and Other Visual Materials

1. How to Find Secondary Sources

In order to find studies on specific topics, you can usually go quite far with a general search in online databases such as Worldcat, BAS [Bibliography of Asian Studies], 雑誌記事索引 (available at the NDL search page). If you need to browse comprehensive lists of works in order to compile oral reading lists, to find assignments for class, or to get a general idea about history writings in the field for other purposes, bibliographies are useful resources. The problem in finding bibliographies on Japanese colonialism is that they are divided into national or regional histories (Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean, Southeast Asian etc) so you need to consult multiple bibliographies and look for colonialism-related works by yourself. There are a number of useful bibliographies available online now.

* John Dower and Timothy George, Japanese History and Culture From Ancient to Modern Times: Seven Basic Bibliographies, Markus Wiener Publishers, 1995. [Call No. (Ref) Z3306.D69 1995]
You need to use very general guides and bibliographies on modern Japanese history and find their sections on colonialism and imperialism. The number of English publications on Japan is enormous, and it is hard to narrow down and to find up-to-date bibliographies. This book is a little old, but very well organized and easy to browse through. A part of Ch. 2 (Early Modern and Modern), and the entire contents of Ch.3 (Japan Abroad, from Meiji to 1945) are useful.
* 佐藤能丸 (Sato Yoshimaru), 文献リサーチ日本近現代史 (Bunken risachi Nihon kingendaishi), 芙蓉書房出版 (Fuyo shobo shuppan), 2000. [Call No. Ref DS 881.9. A12 S257 2000]
Many 講座 and 叢書 series on modern Japanese history often include one volume or a number of articles dedicated to the issue of Japanese colonialism. This book gives the titles and authors of all the articles in those series, and is relatively easy to find colonialism-related articles by browsing through the pages. Check out 岩波講座, 近代日本と植民地 in particular. The book also lists reprints of primary sources compiled as 資料集.
日本植民地研究会: The Society of Japanese Colonial Studies
They publish a journal only once a year, but you can get a sense of who is writing on what just by looking at past issues.
** Korean History: A Bibliography compiled by Kenneth Robinson and maintained by the Center for Korean Studies, University of Hawaii.
A very comprehensive up-to-date list of English publications on Korean history. The section "Late 19th Century through 1945" includes a huge number of works on Japanese colonialism. It is worth taking a look at the "General Studies" section as well since it includes historiographical analyses (in which "colonialism" is a major theme), primary sources, and other bibliographical materials.
** 戦後朝鮮史文献目録
The scholarship on Korean history in Japanese academia is highly developed, and you can access good quality research by reading Japanese secondary materials. This is an amazing database compiled by the 朝鮮史研究会 and hosted by Mizuno Naoki (水野直樹), the leading scholar of modern Korean history at the University of Kyoto. The database consists of "単行本 (monographs)" section and "論文 (articles)" section, both of which cover Japanese publications between 1945 and 2010 (as of February 2012). The search function works great. It is updated every year to add the previous year's publications.
Han-Kyo Kim. Studies on Korea: A Scholar's Guide. University of Hawaii Press, 1980.
[Call no: Ref. Z 3316 .S78]
A very useful source for basic Western-language scholarly works on Korea, with a 10-page annotated section of works on the Japanese Colonial Period (pp. 103-113). Includes sections on politics and society, Korean nationalism, The March 1st Movement, communism, economy, society, Koreans in Japan, religion, education, international relations, and biographies.
Wei-chen Lee. Taiwan (World Bibliographical Series) vol.113, Clio Press, 1990. [Call No. (Ref) Z3116. L34 1990g]
This offers a good collection of (mostly) articles although it is a little old. The prewar modern history section is pp. 20-31.
J. Bruce Jacobs, Jean Hagger, Anne Sedgley ed. Taiwan : a comprehensive bibliography of English-language publications. Columbia University [Call No. (Ref) Z3116 .J33 1984]
Taiwan Documents Project -- Bibliography page
This has not been updated since 2002 and it is not comprehensive, especially since it unfortunately does not include chapters in edited volumes. But this is one of rare online bibliographies focusing specifically on Taiwan. It is divided into Anthropology, History and Politics, International Relations, Legal Issues and Treaty Collections.
* 台湾史関係文献目録
This is probably the most thorough list of Japanese publications on Taiwan, created by 宇井 隆 (Utsui Takashi), who compiled 台湾総督府文献目録, and hosted by 中京大学社会科学研究所 台湾史研究センター . It covers from 1874 to 2001, and compiled year by year. The webpage looks a little messy, but it is an impressive list.
This is a database of Japanese publications on Taiwan published since 1982, created and managed by 日本台湾学会. Browsing the list by year or by author seems to have bugs but the search function works better.
滋賀大学経済経営研究所 旧植民地関係資料検索
The economics department of Shiga University, because of the research institute that was affiliated to it since 1923, possesses a great collection of materials related to Japanese colonialism. You can search bibliographical information, and when the search results say “画像X,” digital images of the original copies are available there, too.
Iwasaki Ikuo, ed.. Japan and Southeast Asia: A bibliography of historical, economic, and political relations. Institute of the Developing Economies, 1983. [Call No: REF Z 3306 .J33]
This work is outdated, but still worth taking a look at since it includes many journal articles that are hard to find otherwise. It is organized thematically, and has an author index in the back.

2. How to Find Primary Sources

When you settle upon a research interest, it is usually a good idea to start with secondary sources and then try to identify which primary sources you need to look at. But in many cases, for example when you need to write a research paper while you are in the US, the accessibility of primary sources is the first and critical concern. Knowing the primary source materials available in the US also helps you save time when you do archival research in Asia. Fortunately, there are a lot of sources available online or in the format of reprints in libraries in the US. You can do a fair amount of research outside of Asia if you know how and where you can find primary sources.

Libraries often have original copies of the publications from the colonial period, so browsing through bibliographies and searching the titles in Worldcat is not a bad idea.
** John Dower and Timothy George, Japanese History and Culture From Ancient to Modern Times: Seven Basic Bibliographies, Markus Wiener Publishers, 1995.
Ch.4 (Japan and The Crisis in Asia, 1931-1945: 'Primary' Materials in English) offers a comprehensive overview of English-language primary sources. It does not give details but this is an excellent place to start from in order to hunt down English materials in the libraries and archives in the US.
John Young, The Research Activities of the South Manchurian Railway Company, 1907-1945: A History and Bibliography. Columbia University., 1966. [Call no: Z 7165 .M3 Y85]
It has a quite comprehensive bibliography, listing over 6,000 titles published under SMRC auspices between 1907 and 1945, on a wide range of subjects. Titles are arranged alphabetically by title within subject areas, and listings include brief (one- or two-sentence) descriptions of contents as well as library locations in the U.S. and Japan. If you prefer reading the titles in Japanese, refer to アジア経済研究所編, 『旧植民地関係機関刊行物総合目録』満州国・関東州編、満鉄編, and 満鉄編補遺 volumes.
** 近代朝鮮関係書籍データベース 
This is a database that covers all the existing Japanese monographs (including magazines) on Korea published between 1868 and 1945. It is based on 朝鮮研究文献目録1868-1945 単行書篇, which was published by 東洋学研究センター (University of Tokyo) in 1980. The database does not cover 論文・記事編 (articles and theses). The search function works fantastic. Refer to 末松保和 (Suematsu Yasukazu), 朝鮮研究文献目録1868-1945 論文・記事編 [Call No: (Ref) Z3316 .S54 1980 v.2] to see the complete bibliography of Japanese articles and theses on Korea published in 1868-1945.
* 台湾史関係文献目録
中京大学台湾史研究センターused to provide the most useful excel sheet database but they put it away. The list is still very useful, however.
Supervised by Mizuno Naoki of University of Kyoto. This database allows you to search newspaper articles regarding Korean people living in Japan before WWII.
アジア経済研究所編 (Ajia Keizai Kenkyujo), 旧植民地関係機関刊行物総合目録 (Kyu shokuminchi kankei kikan kankobutsu sogo mokuroku), vol.1 (Taiwan), vol.2 (Korea), vol.3 (Manchuria, Kanto shu), vol.4 (Mantetsu), vol. 5 (Mantetsu Appendix), and Index. 1975. [Call no. Z 3305. K97 1975]
The databases introduced above cover most of the contents of these bibliographies, but in case you want to browse them in hardcopy, these bibliographies are extremely useful.

There are a large number of documents and books available online. The best way to find the items you are looking for is to know the titles of the materials in advance by looking at the bibliographies above, but you can jump into these databases and directly search with key words, too.
Japan Center for Asian Historical Records: アジア歴史資料センター
Some of the official documents (not all of them) on Japan's historical relationships with Asia in the National Institute for Defense Studies (防衛研究所), The Diplomatic Record Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (外務省外交史料館), and National Archives of Japan (国立公文書館) are available online through this website.
The National Diet Library of Japan: 近代デジタルライブラリー
A great place to find Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa Japanese publications. It is quite easy to use, and does not require an installation of a software to view the documents.
The National Library of Korea
This website is a fantastic online source for pre-1945 Japanese language publications. But they recently started limiting the search to Korean language, so ideally you type in Korean (or ask your friend). When it shows the list of hits, if you see “전자저널”or a brown envelop without "w", that means you can view the digitized source. Depending on the internet service provider (or something), access is denied in the US. In that case, try using the university network.
**Korean History On-line
Since it started to function well on Mac computers, this became a lot more useful than the National Library of Korea recently. You can search (in Japanese) many publications and newspapers.
*Media Gaon Old Newspapers
Again, you need to know the Korean language to navigate but their digitized images are sometimes a lot clearer than the ones available at the National Library of Korea.
Seoul National University Library
They sometimes offer rare local newspaper articles from someone's scrapbooks. Requires Windows OS.
A number of publishers have been publishing a large number of reprints of colonialism-related documents as 資料集. That means that some American university libraries probably own them. The problem in finding those reprints in library catalogues is that they are scattered around under many different subject headings, and it is hard to know the existence of those 資料集 unless you already know the title. Ethan Mark and Nicole Cohen listed some of them that they found in the library. A large number of the 資料集 contents published before 2000 are listed in:
佐藤能丸 (Sato Yoshimaru), 文献リサーチ日本近現代史 (Bunken risachi Nihon kingendaishi), 芙蓉書房出版 (Fuyo shobo shuppan), 2000. [Call No. Ref DS 881.9. A12 S257 2000]
But there are constantly new 資料集 being published, and you would probably like to find a way to systematically get to know about the latest reprints, especially if you are doing field research and deciding which documents you have to photocopy.
One strategy I recommend is to know about the publishers that often publish colonialism-related 資料集. I have learned that the following ones have published major 資料集 or 復刻版 (reprints) of colonial journals. Ask the librarian (especially if your library has one specializing in Japanese materials) if she/he receives any publisher brochures on 資料集 from Japan. Another way, especially if these publishers do not have a comprehensive list of their new publications online, is to search in Worldcat or ジュンク堂書店 databases with several limits including the publisher's name, region (e.g. 台湾), publishing year, etc. (I tried a number of Japanese bookstore databases but I found ジュンク堂書店 's the most comprehensive and easiest to use.)
Check Frequently:
** 不二出版 : One of the most prominent publishers famous for lots of important reprints. You can see the complete list of their publications here.
** ゆまに書房It has published many kinds of reprints, including a digital version of 台湾日々新報. Their website does not have the complete list of 復刻版. Use Worldcat or ジュンク堂.
Worth Exploring Every Once in a While:
* 緑蔭書房 : I cannot find their website. They have reprinted 近代朝鮮文学日本語作品集、日本統治期台湾文学集成, and many other interesting journals from the colonial period.
* 龍渓書舎 : It has lots of reprints of single volume publications from the colonial period, as well as massive 資料集 such as 日本植民地教育政策史料集成.
* 南天書局 (in Taiwan): This is a Taiwanese publisher specializing in academic publications. It often reprints Japanese books (not necessarily colonialism-related). Use Worldcat to search.
Just in Case (since they are not as committed to the studies of colonialism itself as the publishers listed above, you should be extra careful about their rationale for compiling the 資料集):
近現代資料刊行会It mainly publishes reprints of social welfare related documents and journals. 朝鮮社会事業 etc.. Their website is great because their website gives all the contents of each volume of massive reprints.
みすず書房 : There are many colony-related materials in 現代史資料, and some in 続現代史資料.
晧星社 : Published reprints of "朝鮮及満州" and some colony-related documents in 日本人物情報体系. Their website is hard to navigate, so jump to their list of publications and browse, rather than search within their website.
三一書房 : Not that many offerings on Japanese colonialism but it has lots of reprints on modern Japan. Their 資料集 titles are here.
日本図書センター : Their decision on which materials to reprint seems to be a bit random, but it's worth browsing what they have in the 近現代史section.
東方文化書局 : Another Taiwanese publisher which has reprinted the journal 台湾, 台湾青年and 台湾新民報. Check in Worldcat.
Introduced above: this book has a quite comprehensive bibliography, listing over 6,000 titles published under SMRC auspices between 1907 and 1945, on a wide range of subjects. Titles are arranged alphabetically by title within subject areas, and listings include brief (one- or two-sentence) descriptions of contents as well as library locations in the U.S. and Japan.
An annotated listing of the holdings of the Library of Congress on Manchuria up dating up to 1950. Includes sections on General Indexes & Bibliographies, Environment, Political History and Government, Economics, and Social Conditions, in all languages (including Chinese, Russian, Dutch, English, Japanese, etc.), with library of Congress call numbers. Young incorporated this in his later compilation (see above), so this is only useful if you are journeying specifically to the Library of Congress. アジア経済研究所編, 『旧植民地関係機関刊行物総合目録』 満鉄編補遺 basically covers the same content. I found the latter one easier to browse.

The Gordon W. Prange Collection

A collection of publications in Japan between 1945 and 1949. The archive is affiliated to University of Maryland. The open database to search within the newspapers and magazines is here.

Japan Center for Asian Historical Records: アジア歴史資料センター委託調査 神田外語大学異文化コミュニケーション研究所編「日本所在の主要アジア歴史資料
It does not cover the entire country but is a great source of information on where you can find what kinds of materials. Worth browsing the previous version, and waiting for the next update here.
National Archives of Japan 国立公文書館
The Diplomatic Record Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs外務省外交史料館

Defense Ministry, Military Archives 防衛研究所史料閲覧室

National Showa Memorial Museum  昭和館

Yasukuni Shrine Kaiko Bunko Archives 靖国偕行文庫

Despite its affiliation to Yasukuni Shrine, this archive is more academics-friendly.

学習院大学東洋文化研究所 友邦文庫

They have a wide range of materials, particularly related to colonial Korea. Oral interviews conducted with influential figures are also available.



They have a good number of reprinted documents published both in Japan and Taiwan, and a lot of books and journals related to Taiwan.


Some of the materials overlap with those in the 日台交流協会, but some of the materials are original. Check out the list of their holdings online.

3. Chronological Tables, and People Dictionaries

芳賀 登 (Haga Noboru), 日本人物情報体系 Nihon jinbutsu joho taikei. 晧星社 (Koseisha) [Call no. CT1833. N45 1999],
勝田 一 (Katsuta, Hajime), 帝国大学出身名鑑 Teikoku daigaku shusshin meikan. 日本図書センター (Nihon tosho senta) [Call no. (Ref) LG254.A2 K38 2003]
田中 正剛 (Tanaka Seigo), 朝鮮人名資料事典, Chosen jinmei shiryo jiten. 日本図書センター (Nihon tosho senta) [Call no. (Ref) DS916.57 .T36 2002]
外務省編 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), 日本外交年表 並 主要文書 1890-1945 上下(Nihon gaiko nenpyo narabi shuyo bunsho I, II), 1965. [Call No. (Ref) DS 881.9. A498 1965]
These volumes have a limited use for the purpose of studying colonial affairs but give a sense of the international relations surrounding the colonization of Asia. They include all the major treaties and international agreements.
Ishii Masatoshi and Kawagoe Yasuhiro, 日中日朝関係研究文献目録 (Nitchu nitcho kankei kenkyu bunken mokuroku), 国書刊行会 (Kokusho kankokai) 1976. [Call No: REF Z 3308 .R4 I83 1976]
This is a comprehensive listing of scholarly books and articles on Sino-Japan, Korea-Japan relationships, published between 1868 and 1972. I would use this as a dictionary of authors to find out what else they published during the colonial rule, since it is organized by author's name and only includes a very weak theme-based index.

4. On Colonial Literature

中島利郎 (Nakajima Toshiro), 日本統治期台湾文学小事典 (Nihon tochiki Taiwan bungaku sho jiten), 緑蔭書房 (Ryokuin shobo) , 2005 [Call No. Ref PL 889. T28 N35 2005]
This serves as an introductory reading to colonial literature in Taiwan. The dictionary portion is very short, but comes handy when you need to quickly look up backgrounds of literary works, authors, literary activities, magazines and so on. It gives an introductory survey history on major issues (great for teaching purposes), and include lots of pictures.
中島利郎 (Nakajima Toshiro) and others eds, 日本統治期台湾文学研究文献目録 (Nihon tochiki Taiwan bungaku kenkyu bunken mokuroku), 緑蔭書房 (Ryokuin shobo) , 2000. [Call No. Ref Z 3308. L5 N4948 2000]
This is only useful to those who already have extensive knowledge on colonial literature in Taiwan. It gives comprehensive lists of works by and about 8 representative authors (楊逵, 張文環, 龍瑛宗, 呂赫若, 西川満, 濱田隼雄, 坂口れい子, 中山侑), a bibliography of postwar Japanese publications on Taiwanese literature, and finally a comprehensive list of the contents of major literary journals released during the colonial period in Taiwan.
日本統治期台湾文学集成 (Nihon tochiki Taiwan bungaku shusei), 緑蔭書房 (Ryokuin Shobo), 2002.
<外地>の日本語文学選 (Gaichi no nihongo bungakusen) 1. Nanyo, Taiwan, 2. Manchuria, Mongolia, Sakhalin, 3. Korea, 新宿書房 (Shinjuku Shobo), 1996.
大村 益夫(Omura Masuo), 布袋 敏博(Hotei Toshihiro) 編、近代朝鮮文学日本語作品集 (Kindai Chosen bungaku nihongo sakuhinshu). 緑蔭書房 (Ryokuin shobo) , 2001-2004. [Call no. PL984.J1 K56 2001]

5. Images Available Online