Americans in Japan


Americans in Japan
Total population
55,713 (2017)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, Sendai, Nagoya, Yokohama, Fukuoka

Americans in Japan (在日アメリカ人/在日米国人, Zainichi Amerikajin/Zainichi Beikokujin) comprise people from the United States residing in Japan and their descendants. Larger numbers of Americans began going to Japan after the 1854 Convention of Kanagawa, under which Commodore Matthew C. Perry pressured Japan to open to international trade.[2] As of 2012, Americans formed 2.4% of the total population of registered foreigners in Japan, with 51,321 American citizens residing there, according to the statistics of Japan's Ministry of Justice.[3] This made them the sixth-largest group of foreigners; they had formerly been the fifth-largest, but were surpassed by Peruvians in 2000.[4]


The first Americans to come to Japan actually predated Perry by nearly six decades. In 1791, two merchant vessels from Massachusetts, the Lady Washington and the Grace, landed at Kushimoto, near Osaka, under the pretense that they were taking refuge from a storm. They began negotiations with Japanese authorities there about the potential of opening trade, but made no headway, and departed after eleven days.[2] Another early American resident of Japan who predated Perry's arrival was Ranald MacDonald (1824–1894), a man of Scottish and Chinook descent, and the first to teach the English language in Japan.

Especially prior to Great Depression and World War II, it was a common practice for issei Japanese Americans to send their nisei children to Japan for education. Known as Kibei (帰米), they often found themselves the subject of discrimination from their classmates in Japan during their studies; upon their return to the United States, their Japanese American peers also derided them as "too Japanesey" for their alleged authoritarian mindset and pro-Japanese militarist sympathies.[5][6]

Health issues

Americans in Japan overall had a similar pattern of mortality to Americans at large, according to one 1986 study; however, American women in Japan showed a somewhat elevated propensity toward strokes.[7]


American international schools in Japan:

Schools for dependents of U.S. military personnel:

Notable people

This is a list of current and former American citizens whose notability is related to their connection with the Japanese people and culture.

  • Tarō Akebono (born Chad Haakeo Rowan), the first foreign-born sumo wrestler ever to reach the rank of Yokozuna rank[8]
  • Billy Blanks, fitness guru and martial artist
  • Bradford Smith, author and educator, researcher of Buddhism, and author of numerous novels and other books"Bradford Smith's years in Japan influenced his writing career".
  • Thane Camus, television personality
  • Dante Carver, actor
  • Kent Derricott, television personality. First learned Japanese while working as a Mormon missionary in Japan when he was 19 years old.[9][10]
  • Leah Dizon, singer and model
  • William Gorham, early-to-mid 20th century engineer[11]
  • Patrick Harlan, television personality, better known as "Pakkun"
  • Daniel Kahl, television personality, famous for speaking fluent Yamagata-ben
  • Donald Keene (1922–2019), Japanologist, scholar, teacher, writer, translator and interpreter of Japanese literature and culture, who became a naturalized citizen of Japan
  • Carolyn Kawasaki, model and television personality
  • Konishiki Yasokichi (born Saleva'a Fuauli Atisano'e), former sumo wrestler and the first foreign-born wrestler to reach ozeki rank
  • Tony László, freelance journalist, activist, and leading character of My Darling is a Foreigner manga series and movie
  • Dave Spector, TV commentator
  • Takamiyama Daigorō (born Jesse James Wailani Kuhaulua), former sumo wrestler and the first foreign-born wrestler to win the top division championship
  • Hikaru Utada, singer
  • Walter Tenney Carleton, International businessman and founding director of NEC
  • Mina Myoui, singer from Twice
  • Crystal Kay, singer

See also


  1. ^ "平成29年度末 在留外国人確定資料" (PDF). Ministry of Justice, . Annual Report of Statistics on Legal Migrants. National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-03-27. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Mitarai, Shoji, An Exploration of the History of Cross-cultural Negotiation: The First U.S.-Japan Trade Negotiation before Commodore Perry's Arrival, Working Papers, Social Science Research Network, SSRN 602701
  3. ^ "Table 10.1 Registered Foreigners by Nationality: 1950-2006" (PDF). Ministry of Justice, . Annual Report of Statistics on Legal Migrants. National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. 2008. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
  4. ^ 平成19年末現在における外国人登録者統計について [Regarding statistics on registered foreigners as at the end of 2007] (PDF) (in Japanese). Japan: Japanese Ministry of Justice. June 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 24, 2008.
  5. ^ Takahashi, Jere (1998), Nisei/Sansei: Shifting Japanese American Identities and Politics, Temple University Press, pp. 65–84, ISBN 1-56639-659-X
  6. ^ Yamashiro, Masahiro (1995), 帰米二世―解体していく「日本人」, Gogatsu Shobo, ISBN 4-7727-0222-9
  7. ^ Kono, Suminori; R. Isa, Abdul; Ogimoto, Itsuro; Yoshimura, Takesumi (1987), "Cause-Specific Mortality among Koreans, Chinese, and Americans in Japan, 1973-1982", International Journal of Epidemiology, Oxford University Press, 16 (3): 415–419, doi:10.1093/ije/16.3.415, PMID 3667040, archived from the original on 2012-07-14
  8. ^ Lewis, Ferd (2006-07-02), "Akebono", Honolulu Advertiser, retrieved 2007-05-25
  9. ^ Swensen, Jason (1998-11-25). "Lingual diversity: Abundance of language skills gives Utah a competitive edge". Deseret News. Archived from the original on 2007-07-15. Retrieved 2008-01-03.
  10. ^ "Returned Missionaries Find Success in Japan". Deseret News via 2003-03-28. Retrieved 2007-06-20.
  11. ^ Kawakami, Kenjiro (2002). "William R. Gorham (1888-1949) and Japanese Industry". International Conference on Business & Technology Transfer. Retrieved 2013-05-08.

Further reading

  • Black, J. S. (1988), "Work role transitions: A study of American expatriates in Japan", Journal of International Business Studies, 27 (9): 277–293
  • Mateu, Milagros, "Reflexivity as a Facilitator to Adjusting to a New Culture: American Expatriates in Japan", Journal of Learning, 12 (12): 55–62, archived from the original on 2009-02-28, retrieved 2008-04-11
  • Yamakawa, Ryuichi (1992), "The applicability of Japanese labor and employment laws to Americans working in Japan", San Diego Law Review (29): 175–201
  • Yamashita, Sayoko (July 1996), "Ethnographic Report of an African American Student in Japan", Journal of Black Studies, Sage Publications, 26 (6): 735–747, doi:10.1177/002193479602600605, JSTOR 2784863