Studies on Islam and Muslims had drawn increasing attention in Japan since the middle of the 1930s, when Imperial Japan was beginning territorial expansion in China and the South Sea or the Southern Area (Nan’yo) as well as economic advance in the Middle East countries. The empire recognized the urgent necessity to adopt an “Islam policy” (kaikyõ seisaku) because those countries had a large Muslim population. Academic institutes such as The Greater Japanese Islamic Association (Dai Nihon kaikyõ kyõkai) were established in the 1930s to study on Islam and Muslims living in those regions and to strengthen ties between Japan and the “Islamic world”, with different financials support and subsequent interventions by the imperial government.
Today’s researchers, mostly historians and area studies specialists, have analyzed and reconsidered publications and reports on Islam and Muslims in wartime Japan from the perspective of its relation to the abovementioned “Islam policy”. However, there is no systematic review on geographical studies on Islam and Muslims in Japan at that time. This presentation seeks to describe characteristics of those geographical studies published during World War II and to discuss how Japanese geographers recognized and represented the “Islamic world” under geopolitics pressure.
Keywords: “Islam policy” (kaikyõ seisaku)|the Islamic world|the Greater East Asia (Daitõa)|the Middle East|Japanese geographer