The arrival of Indians in Japan for business and commercial interests began in the 1870s at the two major open ports of Yokohama and Kobe. The Indians began a profitable business exporting textiles and silk to India while importing cotton yarn to be manufactured in Japan which eventually made textiles one of the largest and most cheaply produced exports. More Indians entered Japan during World War I when Japanese products were sought to fill gaps in demand that war-torn Europe could not meet. Following the great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, most of the Indians in Yokohama relocated to Kobe, and the city hosted the largest migrant Indian population in Japan.
Local statistics of the Hyogo Prefecture Government showed 59 Indians living in the prefecture in 1905. By 1939, on the eve of World War II, the number of Indians in Hyogo Prefecture had reached 632. However, due to British sanctions against Japan and the 1941 halt of the shipping between Japan and India, many Indians closed their business and left Japan. By 1942, there were only 114 Indians remaining in the Hyogo area. The numbers gradually increased after India gained Independence in 1947. The economic prosperity of post-war Japan tempted the Indian textile merchants to the country once more. However, post-war Indian merchants gradually persified their business interests towards real estate management, trading in electronics, automobiles, sundries and other goods besides textiles.
Until 1970, Kobe maintained the largest Indian population in Japan. However, since 1980s, the predominance of Kobe has waned because of the rapid flow of new migrants in other parts of Japan especially in the Kanto area. According to the current statistics maintained by the Japanese government there are approximately 3,000 Indians living in the Kansai area.
Indians in the Kansai area have set up different community organizations from time-to-time. Currently, the 3 major organizations are:-
ICCJ, with its headquarters in Osaka, was established in 1937. The chamber has about 120 members. The members are mostly engaged in trading in textiles, automobiles, electronics, sundries and other goods and real estate management.
Present Hon. President is Mr. K.P. Ram
The Indian Social Society, Kobe (ISS) (Tel: 078-242-4092; 222-1829; Fax: 078-242-0135)
ISS was founded in the 1930s. Most of the members belong to Sindhi community. Total members are 56 companies.
Present Hon. President of ISS is Mr. Johnny Lalwani.
The India Club (Tel: 078-221-8525; Fax: 078-241-3379)
Founded in 1904 under the name ‘The Oriental Club’, which was subsequently changed to ‘The India Club’ in 1913. Total membership comprises 47 companies. Most of the members belong to the Gujarati and Punjabi communities.
Present Hon. President of The India Club is Mr. Sundeep Shah.
Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) Offices in Osaka-Kobe
Currently there are four PSUs in Osaka. The names of heads of these PSUs and their contact details are given below: