Japanese immigration to South Africa began when Japan emerged as the country's largest trading partner when it was under apartheid. The designation of Honorary whites was applied to Japanese people living in South Africa in the 1960s to assist a trade pact formed between South Africa and Japan in the early 1960s.
With such a huge deal in the works, Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd determined that it would be tactless and disadvantageous to their trade arrangements to subject the Japanese people to the same restrictions as other non-White ethnicities, since trade delegations from Japan would now regularly visit South Africa for business. Due to inconsistencies with the apartheid, opposition party politicians and the press since the early 1960s questioned why Japanese were granted special privileges. The designation gave Japanese almost all of the same rights and privileges as Whites (except for the right to vote, as well as being exempt from conscription). Immigration from Japan declined when apartheid ended.