Indians in Japan

Indians in Japan
Zainichi Indojin
Total population
24,524 (2014)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Tokyo · Kobe[2]

Japanese · English

Indian languages:
Gujarati · Hindi · Kannada · Punjabi · Tamil · Other languages of India[3]
Christianity · Hinduism · Islam · Jainism · Sikhism[3]

Indians in Japan consist of migrants from India to Japan and their descendants. As of December 2008, there were 22,335 Indian nationals living in Japan.[1] Roughly 60% consist of expatriate IT professionals and their families.[4]

Migration history

According to the Nihon Shoki, in 654 two men and two women of the Tushara Kingdom, along with one woman from Sravasti, were driven by a storm to take refuge at the former Hyūga Province in southern Kyushu. They remained for several years before setting off for home.[5]

The history of modern Indian settlement in Japan goes back more than a century. As early as 1873, a few Indian businessmen and their families, primarily Parsis and Sindhis, had settled Yokohama as well as Okinawa.[6] In 1891, Tata, then a small trading firm, established a branch in Kobe.[7] By 1901, Japanese government statistics recorded 30 people from British India living in Japan.[8] Local statistics of the Hyōgo Prefecture government showed 59 Indians living in the prefecture in 1905, among whom all but one were men.[9] After the destruction wreaked on Yokohama in the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, the Indian traders there also migrated to Kobe; from then on, Kobe became the center of gravity of Japan's Indian community.[10]

By 1939, on the eve of World War II, the number of Indians in Hyōgo Prefecture had reached 632. However, due to British sanctions against Japan and the 1941 halt of shipping between Japan and their homeland, many closed their shops and left; by 1942, there were only 114 remaining. Three years after the Partition of India, their numbers had recovered somewhat to 255; there were also four Pakistanis.[11] Prior to 1990, the Indian community in Japan remained centred on the Kobe area. However, after 1990, the numbers in Tokyo began to show a sharp increase.[2] Migrants who arrived in the 1990s included industrial trainees sent by Japanese car manufacturers which had set up factories in India.[12] IT professionals and their families also came to Tokyo, settling primarily in Setagaya and Minato wards.[13]

Business and employment

As of 2000, there were also around 800 Indians working in the IT industry in Japan, up from 120 in 1993.[14] Kenichi Yoshida, a director of Softbridge Solutions Japan Co., stated in late 2009 that Indian engineers are becoming the backbone of Japan's IT industry and that "it is important for Japanese industry to work together with India."[15][16] Another 870 Indians were employed as cooks.[14] Others are engaged in trading, importing Indian handicrafts, garments, precious stones, and marine products, and exporting Japanese electronic goods, textiles, automotive parts, and jewellery.[6]


Indians in Japan speak a number of different languages and follow various religions; there is little correlation between religion or language and profession, except in the case of the Jains, many of whom work in the jewellery industry.[17] The Jains are generally concentrated around Okachi-machi in Taitō, Tokyo.[18] On the whole, Tokyo has fewer religious facilities for Indians than does Kobe.[19]

There are Sikh gurudwara in both Kobe and Tokyo; the latter is of more recent provenance, having been founded in 1999 in the basement of an office building.[20] Some Sikhs employed as unskilled labourers in small and medium enterprises had to cut their hair short and remove their turbans in violation of the principle of kesh, because their employers are unfamiliar with their customs and do not give them any latitude in their style of dress. They consider this just a temporary adaptation to Japanese society. However, this practise is not common among Sikhs in skilled professions such as IT.[21]


Indians who send their children to school in Japan generally select English-medium schools. The first Indian-specific school was established in 2004 in Tokyo's Koto ward at the initiative of some of the old trading families based in Tokyo and Yokohama. The school's name is IISJ which stands for India International School in Japan.[22] The Global Indian International School, a Singapore-based school, has operated a branch in Tokyo since 2006, and plans to open another in Yokohama in 2008.[19] They follow the Indian Central Board of Secondary Education curriculum. The schools are popular not just among Indian expatriates, but among some Japanese as well, due to a reputation for rigour in mathematics education.[23] Other migrants leave their children behind in their native states, either with grandparents or at boarding schools, in order to avoid interrupting their education.[22]

Jeevarani "Rani Sanku" Angelina, a woman from Chennai,[24] established the Little Angels International School, which caters to Japanese students.[25]

Community organisations

One of the earliest Indian community organisations, the Oriental Club, was established in 1904 in Kobe; it changed its name to The India Club in 1913, and continued operating up to the present day. More were founded in the 1930s, including the Indian-dominated Silk Merchants' Association, the Indian Social Society, and the Indian Chamber of Commerce.[9] In 2000, Indian expatriates living in Edogawa, Tokyo, an area with a high concentration of Indian IT engineers founded the Indian Community of Edogawa.[18] Others include the Indian Community Activities Tokyo, whose Diwali celebration draws 2,500 participants, as well as the Indian Merchants Association of Yokohama.[14]

Notable people

See also


  1. 1 2 "インド基礎データ", 各国・地域情勢, Tokyo, Japan: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, July 2009, retrieved 2009-09-25
  2. 1 2 Azuma 2008, p. 256
  3. 1 2 Azuma 2008, p. 258; she lists the religions and languages in alphabetical order therein
  4. Kondõ, Masanori (2008-03-10), "対インド関係 「頭脳大国」との視点を", Asahi Shimbun, retrieved 2009-09-25
  5. Waterhouse 1991, p. 75
  6. 1 2 Singhvi 2000, p. 283
  7. Minamino & Sawa 2005, p. 5
  8. Minamino & Sawa 2005, p. 4
  9. 1 2 Minamino & Sawa 2005, p. 6
  10. Sawa & Minamino 2007, p. 15
  11. Minamino & Sawa 2005, p. 7
  12. Azuma 2008, p. 258
  13. Sawa & Minamino 2007, p. 66
  14. 1 2 3 Singhvi 2000, p. 284
  15. "FOCUS: Indian engineers becoming backbone of Japan's IT". Kyodo News. Minato, Tokyo. November 6, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  16. "Backbone of Japan's IT industry? Indian engineers!". Mumbai. November 6, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  17. Azuma 2008, p. 259
  18. 1 2 Azuma 2008, p. 262
  19. 1 2 Sawa & Minamino 2007, p. 19
  20. Azuma 2008, p. 264
  21. Azuma 2008, pp. 263–264
  22. 1 2 Sawa & Minamino 2007, p. 21
  23. Hani, Yoko (2007-04-11), "Indian schools make a mark", Japan Times, retrieved 2009-09-25
  24. "History." Little Angels International School. Retrieved on March 9, 2015.
  25. Fackler, Martin (January 2, 2008). "Losing an Edge, Japanese Envy India's Schools". The New York Times. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 9, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2015. Unlike other Indian schools, Ms. Angelina said, Little Angels was intended primarily for Japanese children, to meet the need she had found when she sent her sons to Japanese kindergarten.


Further reading

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