Japanese Brazilian

Japanese Brazilian

"'Ethnic group
|group=flagicon|Japan Japanese Brazilian flagicon|Brazil

Japanese immigrants in Brazil
poptime="c." 1,500,000 Japanese Brazilians
0.5% of Brazil's population
300,000 Japanese Brazilians. [ [http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200805030045.html Asahi.com - EDITORIAL: Brazilian immigration] ]
langs= Predominantly Portuguese.
Minorities speak Japanese.
rels= Predominantly Roman Catholic [ [http://www.adital.com.br/site/noticia.asp?lang=PT&cod=23402 Adital - Brasileiros no Japão ] ] , Buddhism, Shintoism [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90244.htm U.S. State Department - International Religious Freedom Report 2007] ]
related=Japanese American, Japanese people

A Japanese Brazilian (日系ブラジル人 in kanji and kana Japanese writing; "nikkei burajiru-jin" in rōmaji Japanese writing; "nipo-brasileiro" in Portuguese) is a Brazilian citizen of Japanese ethnic origin, or a Japanese immigrant living in Brazil. The first Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil 100 years ago. Nowadays, Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, numbering an estimate of more than 1.5 million (including those of mixed-race or mixed-ethnicity), [ [http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/latin/brazil/index.html Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Japan-Brazil Relations] ] more than that of the 1.2 million in the United States. [ [http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/IPTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-qr_name=ACS_2005_EST_G00_S0201&-qr_name=ACS_2005_EST_G00_S0201PR&-qr_name=ACS_2005_EST_G00_S0201T&-qr_name=ACS_2005_EST_G00_S0201TPR&-reg=ACS_2005_EST_G00_S0201:041;ACS_2005_EST_G00_S0201PR:041;ACS_2005_EST_G00_S0201T:041;ACS_2005_EST_G00_S0201TPR:041&-ds_name=ACS_2005_EST_G00_&-_lang=en US Census data 2005] ]

The largest concentrations of Japanese in Brazil are mostly found in the state of São Paulo and in the state of Paraná.


Between the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, coffee was the main export product of Brazil. At first, Brazilian farmers used African slave labour in the coffee plantations, but in 1850, slave traffic was abolished in Brazil. To solve the labour shortage, the Brazilian elite decided to attract European immigrants to work in the coffee plantations. The government and farmers offered to pay any European immigrant's passage. The plan encouraged thousands of Europeans, most of them Italians, [ [http://www1.ibge.gov.br/brasil500/italianos/regdestino.html Brasil 500 anos ] ] to migrate to Brazil. However, once in Brazil, the immigrants received a very low salary and worked in poor conditions, similar to the conditions faced by the black slaves: long working hours and frequent ill-treatment by their bosses. Because of this, in 1902, Italy enacted Decree Prinetti, prohibiting subsidized immigration to Brazil. [ [http://www.historica.arquivoestado.sp.gov.br/materias/anteriores/edicao09/materia01/ HISTÓRICA - Revista Eletrônica do Arquivo do Estado ] ]

The Brazilian elite thought only the European workers were able to develop the country. The promotion of European immigration was part of the "whitening project" ("embranquecimento") of Brazil. Until 1892, Asians and Africans were forbidden to immigrate to Brazil. Asians began arriving only in 1908, as a result of the decrease in the Italian immigration to Brazil and a new labour shortage on the coffee plantations. [ [http://www.imigracaojaponesa.com.br/naviodaesperanca.html Imigração Japonesa no Brasil ] ]

The beginning

The end of feudalism in Japan generated great poverty in the rural population, so many Japanese began to emigrate in search of better living conditions. In 1907, the Brazilian and the Japanese governments signed a treaty permitting Japanese migration to Brazil. The first Japanese immigrants (791 people - mostly farmers) came to Brazil in 1908 on the "Kasato Maru" from the Japanese port of Kobe, moving to Brazil in search of better living conditions. Many of them became laborers on coffee plantations.

In the first seven years, 3,434 more Japanese families (14,983 people) arrived. The beginning of World War I (1914) started a boom in Japanese migration to Brazil, such that between 1917 and 1940 over 164,000 Japanese came to Brazil, 75% of them going to São Paulo, since that was where most of the coffee plantations were. [ [http://www.saopaulo.sp.gov.br/imigracaojaponesa/historia.php História | Imigração Japonesa | Governo do Estado de São Paulo ] ]

New life in Brazil

The vast majority of Japanese immigrants intended to work a few years in Brazil, make some money, and go home. However, getting “rich quick” was a dream that was almost impossible to achieve. The immigrants had a very low salary and worked long hours of exhausting work. Also, everything that the immigrants consumed had to be purchased from the landowner. Soon, their debts became very high. and work with the coffee.

Japanese children, born in Brazil, were educated in schools founded by the Japanese community. Most only learned to speak Japanese and lived within the Japanese community in rural areas. Over the years, many Japanese managed to buy their own land and became small farmers. They started to plant strawberries, tea and rice. Only 6% of children were the result of interracial relationships. Immigrants rarely accepted to marry a non-Japanese person. [http://www.labeurb.unicamp.br/elb/asiaticas/japones.htm ELB ] ]

The third generation has completely changed the characteristics of the Japanese population of Brazil. Most left the rural area and migrated to Brazilian urban centres (mainly São Paulo city). Today, 90% of Japanese-Brazilians live in urban areas. The grandchildren of Japanese also began to integrate into Brazil. With the closing of Japanese schools in Brazil during World War II, the Japanese were forced to attend Brazilian schools and learn the Portuguese language. Earlier, the Japanese in Brazilian cities worked in small stores, selling vegetables, fish and fruit. Over time, they diversified their areas of activity.

World War II

During World War II, Brazil severed relations with Japan. Japanese newspapers and teaching the Japanese language in schools were banned, leaving Portuguese as the only option for Japanese descendants. Newspapers in German or Italian were also advised to cease production, as Germany and Italy were Japan's allies in the war. When the conflict was over, many Japanese refugees decided to settle in Brazil, thus creating a large Japanese community. Second or higher generation Brazilians are often monolingual in Portuguese. Some Japanese schools provide education in Japanese and Portuguese.

Integration and Intermarriage

A more recent phenomenon in Brazil is intermarriages between Japanese Brazilians and non-Japanese. Though people of Japanese descent make up only 0.5% of the country's population, they are the largest Japanese community outside of Japan, with over 1.5 million people. In areas with large numbers of Japanese, such as São Paulo and Paraná, since the 1970s, large numbers of Japanese-descendants started to marry into other ethnic groups. Although interracial relationships are not well accepted in Japan, immigrants in Brazil seem to be more acceptable to integration with Brazilian culture.

Nowadays, among the 1.5 million Brazilians of Japanese descent, 40% have some non-Japanese ancestry. [ cite news
last= Duffy
first= Gary
url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7459448.stm
title= Lasting legacy of Brazil's Japanese
publisher= BBC News
date= 17 June 2008
] This number reaches only 6% among children of Japanese immigrants, but 61% among great-grandchildren of Japanese immigrants.

The generations

Nowadays, most Japanese Brazilians belong to the third generation (sanseis), who make up 41.33% of the community. First generation (isseis) are 12.51%, second generation (nisseis) are 30.85% and fourth generation (yonseis) 12.95%.


Immigrants, as well as most Japanese, were mostly followers of Buddhism and Shinto. In the Japanese communities in Brazil, there was a strong performance of Brazilian priests to convert the Japanese. More recently, intermarriage with Catholics also contributed to the growth of Catholicism in the community. Currently, 60% of Japanese-Brazilians are Roman Catholics. [ [http://www.panib.org.br/ PANIB - Pastoral Nipo Brasileira ] ]


Nowadays, Japanese Brazilians speak mostly Portuguese. First generation Japanese can speak original Japanese dialects, with many of them only speaking Japanese. Second generation is usually bilingual in Japanese and Portuguese. In a poll, 53% of second generation reported that only spoke Japanese when they were children. Nowadays, 13.3% speak only Japanese, 18.1% only Portuguese and 68.8% both languages. The third generation is mainly Portuguese-speaking, with 39.3% speaking only Portuguese, 58.9% both languages and 1.8% only Japanese.

Japanese Brazilians usually speak Japanese more often when they live along with a first generation relative. Those who do not live with a Japanese-born relative usually speak more often Portuguese. [http://www.gel.org.br/4publica-estudos-2006/sistema06/etd.pdf]

Japanese spoken in Brazil is usually a mix of different Japanese dialects, since the Japanese community in Brazil came from all regions of Japan, influenced by the Portuguese language. The high numbers of Brazilian immigrants returning from Japan will probably produce more Japanese speakers in Brazil.

The Dekasegi

During the 1980s, the Japanese economic situation improved and achieved stability. Many Japanese Brazilians went to Japan as contract workers due to economic and political problems in Brazil, and they were termed "Dekasegi". Working visas were offered to Brazilian Dekasegis in 1990, encouraging more immigration from Brazil.

In 1990, the Japanese government authorized the legal entry of Japanese and their descendants until the third generation in Japan. Many Japanese Brazilians began to immigrate. The influx of Japanese descendants from Brazil to Japan was and continues to be large: there are over 300,000 Brazilians living in Japan today, mainly as workers in factories. [ [http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200805030045.html Asahi.com. Editorial: Brazilian immigration]

They also constitute the largest number of Portuguese speakers in Asia, greater than those of formerly Portuguese East Timor, Macau and Goa combined. Nevertheless, Brazil maintains its status as home to the largest Japanese community outside of Japan.

Cities with the most Brazilians in Japan are: Hamamatsu, Aichi, Shizuoka,
Kanagawa, Saitama and Gunma. Brazilians in Japan are usually educated. However, they are employed in the Japanese automotive and electronics industries, a trade considered below native Japanese. Most Brazilians go to Japan attracted by the recruiting agencies (legal or illegal) in conjunction with the factories. Many Brazilians are subjected to hours of exhaustive work, earning a small salary by Japanese standards. [http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/folha/bbc/ult272u42891.shtml Folha Online - BBC - Lula ouve de brasileiros queixas sobre vida no Japão - 28/05/2005 ] ] Nevertheless, in 2002, Brazilians living in Japan sent US$ 2.5 billion to Brazil. [ [http://www.portaldekassegui.com/tabelanuncio.htm Untitled Document ] ]

Brazilian identity in Japan

In Japan, many Japanese Brazilians suffer prejudice because they do not know how to speak Japanese correctly. Despite their Japanese appearance, Brazilians in Japan are culturally Brazilians, usually only speaking Portuguese, and are treated as foreigners. The children of Brazilians suffer prejudice in Japanese schools for not knowing the Japanese language. Thousands of Brazilian children are out of school in Japan. Scholars report that many Japanese Brazilians felt (and were often treated) as Japanese in Brazil. But when they move to Japan, they realize that they are totally Brazilian. In Brazil, Japanese Brazilians rarely heard the samba and participated in a carnival parade. However, once in Japan, Japanese Brazilians often promote carnivals and samba festivities in the Japanese cities to demonstrate their pride of being Brazilians. [ [http://www.scielo.br/pdf/ea/v20n57/a09v2057.pdf a09v2057.pdf ] ]

Notable persons


*Aline Nakashima, top model
*Daniele Suzuki, actress and TV host
*Dan Nakagawa, musician and actor
*Eduardo Hashimoto, actor
*Erica Awano, artist, author of Holy Avenger
*Fernanda Takai, Pato Fu's band lead singer
*Flavio Shiro, leading abstract artist
*Ken Kaneko, actor
*Juliana Imai, top model
*Juliana Kametani, actress
*Jun Matsui, tattoo artist and illustrator
*Leandro Okabe, model
*Lisa Ono, singer
*Lovefoxxx, born Luísa Hanaê Matsushita, lead singer of the indie band Cansei de Ser Sexy
*Manabu Mabe, artist
*Milton Trajano, cartoonist
*Ricardo Di Roberto ("Japinha"), musician, member of CPM 22 band
*Rui Ohtake, architect
*Sabrina Sato Rahal, model and reality television personality
*Tizuka Yamazaki, film director
*Tiago Yonamine, graphic designer


* Getúlio Hanashiro, politician;
* Luiz Gushiken, politician;
* Cássio Taniguchi, politician, former mayor of Curitiba;
* Mauricio Yamakawa, politician, former mayor of Paranavaí.


*Mitsuyo Maeda, judoka
*Chiaki Ishii, judoka
*Tânia Ishii, judoka
*Vânia Ishii, judoka
*Katsutoshi Naito, judoka and wrestler (who won a bronze medal at the 1924 Summer Olympics (featherweight, freestyle wrestling) [http://www.psu.edu/sports/olympics/naito.html]
*Hugo Hoyama, table tennis player
*Cláudio Kano, table tennis player
*July Hirata, former softball player
*Lucas Salatta, swimming swimmer
*Lyoto Machida, mixed martial arts fighter
*Andrews Nakahara, kyokushin karate fighter
*Paulo Miyashiro, triathlete
*Mariana Ohata, triathlete
*Paulo Nagamura, football (soccer) player
*Rodrigo Tabata, football (soccer) player
*Rogério Romero, swimming swimmer
*Sandro Hiroshi, football (soccer) player
*Sergio Echigo, former football (soccer) player
*Marcus Tulio Tanaka, football (soccer) player
*Tetsuo Okamoto, former swimmer
*Manabu Suzuki, former racing driver turned car magazine writer and motorsport announcer


* Alfredo Kojima, informatics programmer;
* Célia Takada, journalist;
* Kokei José Uehara, hydraulic engineer and professor of University of São Paulo (pt);
* Marly Yanaze, executive marketing strategist for Fortune companies in the USA, and private companies in Brazil and Japan. Graduated with a BA in Communications and Advertising from UMESP, and MBA from the University of Texas at Austin;
* Shigeaki Ueki, lawyer and businessman, former president of Petrobrás;
* Tizuko Kishimoto, University of São Paulo researcher in kids education, teachers formation, games and toys.

ee also

*Japanese Peruvian
*Asian Latin American


External links

* [http://www.nihonsite.com.br/muse/ Museu Histórico da Imigração Japonesa no Brasil]
* [http://sites.bunkyonet.com.br/bunkyo/ Sociedade Brasileira de Cultura Japonesa]
* [http://www.fjsp.org.br Fundação Japão em São Paulo]
* [http://centenario2008.org.br Centenário da Imigração Japonesa no Brasil (1908-2008)]
* [http://www2.mre.gov.br/dai/b_japa_01_2881.htm Tratado de Amizade Brasil-Japão]
* [http://www2.mre.gov.br/dai/japmigr.htm Tratado de Migração e Colonização Brasil-Japão]
* [http://www.imigracaojaponesa.com.br Site da Imigração Japonesa no Brasil]
* [http://www.imigracaojaponesa.com.br/naviodaesperanca.html Leia sobre os navios de imigrantes que aportaram no Porto de Santos]
* [http://www.100anosjapaobrasil.com.br Site comemorativo do Centenário da Imigração Japonesa que coleta histórias de vida de imigrantes e descendentes]
* [http://www.cenb.org.br/ Center for Japanese-Brazilian Studies (Centro de Estudos Nipo-Brasileiros)]

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