Germany and Japan in WWII were BFF's, with Japan continuing to fight to the bitter, nuke-filled, end.

Now, let's say a German citizen wanted to check out Japan, for whatever reason:

Firstly, could they do so at a time when both countries were otherwise suspicious of foreigners? If so, how would they get there, and would they have been restricted to some formal travel program? And if not, what about the two nations relationship would prevent this trip from happening and why?

Secondly, if Germans did manage to get to Japan in a legal way, what would the locals be like? What would they have thought of this gaijin having come to their country? Would their open or (more likely) quiet natural distrust of foreigners be overcome by the fact that their two peoples were brothesr in arms against their nations common enemies?

I've been studying Japan recently, so I'm vary curious as to if/how something like this would play out.

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    Vague question with naive assumptions. What is a Nazi citizen? What time are you talking about? Are you asking about honeymoon trips to visit the Fuji or business trips? Why would it be illegal to enter Japan assuming they have a visa?
    – Greg
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 2:32
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    During the war, there is no way the average German citizen could make it to Japan, as it would require traveling through thousands of miles of enemy territory.
    – user15620
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 4:22
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    If memory serves me (it's been a few decades), my Japanese language teacher in college was the child of a German and a Japanese, and grew up in wartime Japan.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 4:55
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    @greg Soviet Russian wasn't the sort of country people could travel through on a lark even before Barbarossa. Realistically speaking, travel to Japan meant travel by ocean, and that wasn't gonna happen for the average person after 1939.
    – user15620
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 19:53
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    My apologies lads... seems I can only ever ask crappy questions about history... :(
    – Tirous
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 21:56

2 Answers 2


The anti-Comintern pact was signed in 1936, so I guess it depends on how you define "brothers in arms". Also, the trip could have been made predominantly by rail, without going through Russia - mostly the British-dominated Middle East, then India, and north to Manchukuo. There's a multi-year window where a citizen of Nazi Germany (1933 through 1939) could go through British lands. But you said German citizen, so it's a bit vague.

Of course, these journeys were far more common in Agatha Christie novels than in real life and it would have been a rich German, regardless of time frame or politics.

It's worth pointing out that there was active propaganda in Japan well before the war, encouraging the people to feel fraternal towards the Germans. An example is the 1937 Japanese/German propaganda film, The Daughter of the Samurai.

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    A German doesn't have to start their journey from Germany; they could have taken a short ferry from Shanghai/Busan or a liner from Seattle. Lots of Germans were living in places like Shanghai at the time. Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 4:23

A television programme I saw years ago mentioned that Japan having been on the Allied side in the First World War, a number of German servicemen became prisoners of War of the Japanese when the latter took the opportunity to seize German possessions in China and the Pacific.

These Germans were sufficiently well treated that a number of them chose to stay on in Japan afterwards, some opening beer halls. I do not know if they remained there permanently.

This was cited as evidence that there had, perhaps due to indoctrination that becoming a prisoner was shameful, been a cultural change by World War II when the Japanese treated their prisoners of war vastly less well.

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