Statehood, Gender, and Japanese Migration to Singapore, 1890–1920

  • Bill Mihalopoulos
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series book series (PMSTH)


This chapter takes Japanese migration to colonial Singapore, the political and economic heart of the British Straits Settlements, as a case study to deal with the wider question of how migration, gender, and political economy entwine in the social arrangements of culture.1 The largest Japanese presence in Singapore until 1920 were Japanese women engaged in sex work. Between 1907 and 1915 Japanese women working as licensed prostitutes made up over half of the Japanese population in the Straits Settlements. In 1908 Japanese sex workers accounted for 79 percent of the total number of Japanese residing in the area. The largest number of Japanese women working as licensed prostitutes was registered in 1917. The Japanese consul counted 1912 women, around 62 percent of the total Japanese population, working in the brothels of Singapore and Malaya.2


Japanese Woman Japanese Government Foreign Ministry Malay Peninsula Colonial Authority 
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