Armenians in Japan: Historical Perspectives

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Armenians in Japan: Historical Perspectives
Stream: History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Astghik Hovhannisyan, Russian-Armenian University, Armenia (organizer, presenter)
Shinji Shigematsu, Otemon Gakuin University, Japan (chair, presenter)
Meline Mesropyan, Tohoku University, Japan (presenter)


Given Armenia’s geographical location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, as well as historical circumstances, Armenian history has often been defined by migration, border crossing, transnational interaction and international trade. Japan, however distantly located, has also become a destination for Armenian travellers, traders, and even refugees, who arrived in Japan after the Meiji Restoration. This panel attempts to shed light on Japanese-Armenian historical connections through a focus on border crossing, circulation of people, goods, and ideas. The aim is to explore conditions that have shaped relations of these countries.
Astghik Hovhannisyan explores representations of Japan in Heghine Melik-Haykazyan’s travelogue published in 1905. Shinji Shigematsu’s talk focuses on Armenian traders in Meiji era Kobe, and particularly the Apcar family. Finally, Meline Mesropyan’s work discusses the problem of Armenian refugees who predominantly arrived in Japan after WWI.