Saturday, August 20, 2011

Japanese migrants caught between cultures

THE huge Japanese earthquake and the contrasting fortunes of the Japanese and Brazilian economies have sent many Brazilian-Japanese back to Brazil. 
But Japanese with roots in Latin America are finding that despite the economic boom in Brazil, wealth and jobs are yet to trickle down to the poor.

And the unpleasant existence they endured in Japan - discriminated against and ostracised - is often no better in Brazil.

Academic and documentary-maker Kimihiro Tsumura has made a film on these people, trapped between two radically different societies.

As Japan's economy sinks while Latin America's rises, such people are questioning where their future lies. The Japanese government has offered to pay for their tickets out of the country - provided they don't return.
For Professor Tsumura, this policy is unfair. "Morally, it's against human rights," he said. "For the families who choose to take the grant, they can't come back to Japan for three years, if at all. It's just so opportunistic."

The degasegi, as they are known, are usually employed on three-month contracts and are the first fired when there's a downturn. The children are allowed - and in the case of some families, expected - to work in factories from the age of 15.

Several hundred thousand people in Japan have roots in Latin America. They come from a 2.5 million-strong Japanese diaspora based mainly in Brazil. Their life can be a dispiriting process of bouncing between two worlds as the economic circumstances and immigration laws change.

1 comment: