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This book highlights an unknown aspect of Japanese immigrants and investments in Sabah (then North Borneo) during the pre-war period. Although Sabahans know of the existence of the Japanese presence on the east coast, the details remain virtually unknown. Here the author presents previously unpublished historical facts on the Japanese immigrants and investments. The focus is on the migration policy of the Japanese government and the “South-seas fever” after World War I. The Japanese government encouraged migration to reduce the labour force in the saturated domestic labour market. However, with the restrictive measures taken by various recipient countries of Japanese immigrants. North Borneo became one of only two feasible destinations in the late 1930s. The author also describes episodes in neighbouring Sarawak and the Philippines to enable the readers to visualize the Japanese government’s change in migration policy. The “South-seas fever” among the Japanese conglomerates and individuals in the 1910s and the financial support of the Governor-General’s Secretariat of Taiwan helped accelerate Japanese investments and migration to North Borneo. The author touches upon the Japanese investments in rubber, coconut, and abaca plantations as well as the fishing industry on the east coast which contributed to the economic development of North Borneo. With the Japanese invasion of China, the colonial governments in Southeast Asia became cautious about receiving Japanese investments and immigrants; however, the North Borneo Government did not take any restrictive measures until early 1941 due to the Japanese contribution to the economy. This liberal policy encouraged the Japanese government to invest in North Borneo and strategically secure important goods and facilities for the coming Pacific War.
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