The seminar's members, representing the full range of academic disciplines that bear upon the study of Japan and including Japan specialists from government, business, and the nonprofit sectors, meet regularly to discuss scholarly papers on all aspects of modern Japan, from history, literature, art, and the performing arts to politics, economics, social issues, and the US-Japan bilateral relationship.

Seminar: #445

Founded: 1960

May 22, 2008

January 22, 2009
Joint Meeting with Brazil Seminar
Ethel Kominsky
Brazilian-Japanese Families Broken by Transnational Migration

During the last years of the 1920’s, a group of Japanese immigrants settled in a small colony, Bastos, in Sao Paulo State. Some of them came with their families, others came with made-up families in order to comply with Brazilian immigration laws and never saw their relatives again. After achieving success as small cotton farmers, the immigrants had to change to poultry farming due to the declining price of cotton. In the 1980’s due to the Brazilian economic crisis, Japanese-Brazilians, the immigrants’ children and grandchildren, began to migrate back to Japan. The aim of this research carried out from 2005 to 2006 is to understand the lives of the women and children who stayed in Brazil when the men in their family returned to Japan. We observe that these women and children were emotionally and sometimes financially harmed by separation. Children who were left behind stayed with their grandparents or with a live-in housemaid. Sometimes children are depressed and refuse to go to school. One child committed suicide; others increase their demands for clothing or toys from their faraway parents. Still others do not obey their grandparents, who are too old to understand their needs. The grandparents’ situation is not easy either. Sometime the parents do not send money to support their own children. The old Japanese-Brazilian generation which is in charge of the Japanese-Brazilian Association has been trying to help those who are left behind, but they do not have enough resources for that.