There is a significant community of Brazilians in Japan
, consisting largely but not exclusively of Brazilians of Japanese ethnicity
In June 1990, Japan amended its Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law in response to the huge increases in illegal workers seen during the 1980s; one major change, among others, was to permit the entry of Japanese descendants
The Japanese diaspora, and its individual members known as , are Japanese emigrants from Japan and their descendants that reside in a foreign country...
, or nikkeijin
, up to the third generation, along with their spouses. This sparked a huge influx of guest workers from Latin America. By 1998, there were 222,217 Brazilians in Japan, making up 81% of all Latin Americans there.
In April 2009, the Japanese government introduced a new programme that would incentivise Brazilian and other Latin American immigrants to return home with a stipend of $3000 for airfare and $2000 for each dependent. Those who participate must agree not to pursue employment in Japan in the future.
Integration and community
Brazilians of Japanese descent in particular find themselves the targets of discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...
; some local Japanese scorn them as the descendants of "social dropouts" who emigrated from Japan because they were "giving up" on Japanese society, whereas others perceive them more as objects of pity than scorn, people who were forced into emigrating by unfortunate circumstances beyond their control such as birth order or lack of opportunities in rural areas.
With Catholicism widespread in Brazil
The Roman Catholic Church in Brazil is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope, curia in Rome, and the very influential Brazilian Conference of Bishops , composed by over four hundred primary and auxiliary bishops and archbishops. There are over 250...
, in the early days of Brazilian migration to Japan, Catholic churches often served as spaces for migrant gatherings and socialisation. However, the growth of secular Brazilian community organisations, media, and businesses in Japan has taken over part of this role from the churches. Migrants, including Brazilians, make up perhaps as much as half of the total Catholic population in Japan. However, differences in culture and even in religious tradition have made it difficult to integrate Brazilian migrants into native Japanese Catholic
The Roman Catholic Church in Japan is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome. There are approximately 509,000 Catholics in Japan—just under 0.5% of the total population. There are 16 dioceses, including three archdioceses with 1589...
congregations. For example in the Saitama Diocese, although Japanese-speaking and Portuguese-speaking congregation share the same church building, exchange between them is almost non-existent, and the two groups hold ceremonies, celebrations, and other events separately.
Japanese new religions see the stream of Brazilian migration as an opportunity to gain new converts. The Church of World Messianity
The Church of World Messianity , abbreviated COWM, is a "new religion" founded in 1935 by Mokichi Okada. The religion's key concept is Johrei, claimed to be a method of channeling divine light into the body of another for the purposes of healing...
(SKK, for Sekai Kyūsei Kyō
) is one Japanese new religion which has had a strong following in Brazil; by 1998 they had 300,000 members in Brazil, 97% of non-Japanese background. With the increase in Brazilian migration to Japan, by 2006 a total of 21 Johrei
centres had engaged Brazilian SKK missionaries in order to provide Portuguese-language orientation to Brazilian migrants. They have been somewhat more successful than Catholics in promoting integration between the Brazilian and Japanese parts of their congregations.