Why are there so many Japanese in Brazil?
Friday, November 6th, 2009
I was having a play around at WolframAlpha recently and did a quick search for “Japanese language” and got the results below. The figure that I found most surprising was for one country in particular – Brazil – so I dug around some more to find out why.
Am I the only one who wasn’t aware of the Japanese-Brazilian connection? If not, then hopefully this fills in the blanks for you.
Top 8 Japanese Language Speakers
|Country||# of Speakers|
NB: 1993 – 2008 speaker estimates (WolframAlpha)
Following the abolition of slave labour by the Brazilian government in the mid-19th century and the end of subsidised immigration from Italy in 1902, the Brazilians looked towards Asia to bolster the flagging labour forces they needed to run their coffee plantations.
With their options dwindling, the previous ban on Asian immigration was reversed and in 1907 a treaty was signed between the Brazilian and Japanese governments to grant the Japanese the right to live and work in Brazil.
The initial 790 immigrants were mostly farmers, who were forced to look outside of Japan for work due to severe poverty brought on by heavy land taxes and other changes imposed following the demise of the centuries long feudal system.
Lured by the promise of employment, a further 15,000 Japanese made the move to Brazil from 1908 to 1914, with most Japanese-Brazilians (日系ブラジル人) settling in and around São Paulo, where most of the coffee plantation work was available.
Japan’s entry in to World War I was the impetus for subsequent waves of migration, which from 1917 to 1940 totalled more than 164,000.
Decades later, Brazil is now home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan with the most recent official figure nudging just over 1.4 million.
So when you’re next walking down the street and a stranger asks you why there are so many Japanese speakers in Brazil (ブラジル), you’ll know why (^_^)
Words To Learn
|移民 (いみん)||emigration, immigration|
** Historical figures used from Wikipedia in this article.