Brazilian Minority in Japan
Brazilian minority in Japan commonly referred to as Japanese Brazilians represents Brazilian nationals of Japanese ancestry living in the current day Japan. Since they are minute in numbers, they are classified as a minority community. The first Brazilian immigrants to set foot in Japan did so in 1908 (Higuchi, 2006). Japan remains the major home for other Brazilians who live away from their homes. As at 2000, close to 1.4 to 1.5 million Brazilians are said to be comfortable leaving in Japan (Higuchi, 2006). The movement of the Brazilian people is believed to have originated between the 19th and the 20th century (Higuchi, 2006). During this period, coffee was the export main product coming from Brazil and going to the rest of the world. Brazilian farmers use to utilize Africans as the main laborers in their farming practice. However, after the ban on slave trade, they had to devise new methods that would attract other people to come to invest in their products. To solve the shortage, Brazilian immigrants were supposed to work on the farms of the above individuals. An additional push from the government encouraged what was commonly known as whitening of the country. The economy of Japan was booming especially after the end of feudalism, and therefore, the two countries signed an agreement or treaty permitting entry of either party into the other country (Higuchi, 2006). It was during this period that saw a lot of people from Brazil gaining entry into Japan and vice versa. The minority Japanese Brazilians face discriminatory economic challenges though they have same rights as Japanese nationals.
Characteristics of Japanese Brazilians
Japanese Brazilians have very distinct properties. Most of them are descendants of Japanese spouses who went to invest their money in Brazil in the earlier century. Some ended up getting married and as a result, they had spouses in those regions. The descendants of this spouses are the once that relocated back to Japan. They have been granted permission as permanent members of the country and thus, have the equal same rights as other citizens across Japan. In other words, the majority of them are documented.
Japan immigrants present in Brazil are largely socially and economically heterogeneous as compared to the Brazilians in Japan who are highly homogenous in most of the activities that they engage. The number of Brazilians hired in Japan is greater compared to any other nationality due to the greater ties between these two different countries from ancient times (Takenoshita, 2013). Most Brazilian-Japanese work in the automobile industry as well as the food and manufacturing industry (Chung, 2010). Most of the Brazilians who enter Japan come from recruitment agencies and are never sent directly to any of the labor shops. It is only after this period that they are sent out to different locations across the world (Chung, 2010). The major issue of concern regarding the Brazilian-Japanese has always surrounded issues relating to migration and availability of jobs to this growing population in different countries. This minority group is also fighting to be recognized as one of the groups in the country.
Issues affecting the Brazilian Minority in Japan
Labor market flexibility is affecting many developed and developing countries. Though labor flexibility has been growing over the years, it has affected the employment of both immigrants who enter the country as well as that native of a particular country. The labor market is always expanding due to the effects of globalization, which require that all countries across the world increase flexibility to meet their labor needs (Takenoshita, 2013). Some countries like Japan opt to meet these needs by formulating part time jobs, independent contracting, fixed term jobs and temporary jobs (Higuchi and Tanno, 2003). The labor markets in most countries have always been dividing into two fronts. These are the primary and secondary level. The latter requires the investor to train their workers by providing good education and other training opportunities while the former workers have unskilled jobs and are normally dismissed at the mercy of the owner (Chung, 2010). The required increase in flexibility across the market has caused different segments markets to be polarized depending on the needs of the association.
In most countries like Japan, a lot of jobs associated for the natives are associated with the primary sector while the other forms of jobs can be provided to the secondary workers who in most cases are immigrants. Most people in the secondary sector would be paid low dues for heavy work as compared to the native born of a particular country. Since Brazilian-Japanese are not regarded as a true native in the country, they are treated as immigrants and bear the full burden off being immigrants (Chung, 2010). Their wages are low, and the working conditions are poorer as compared to where the other people work. Essentially, all non-native are normally expected to work in the secondary sector although some of them have the requisite qualifications than other members of the primary force. Increasing labor flexibility in the secondary sector has not yielded the desired results. In fact, it has made it nearly impossible for other people in the informal sector to move up the ladder. This is what affects this new generation.
Most of the Brazilian minorities in Japan have ended up being used for non-standard work or jobs. Such forms of jobs have no security and thus an individual can be fired at any time. The hiring and firing terms for employees under this group are quite high especially when it is compared to the other group of natives who are rarely fired (Scottham & Dias, 2010). More regulations and job descriptions are also provided for a lot of people who work in the secondary sector (Takenoshita, 2013). Some of the descriptions provided do not meet their job specifications and therefore it can be said that in a certain way they are being overused (Chung, 2010). The problem becomes worse for Brazilian minority who are unskilled and do not have enough capital in their markets. When regulations are imposed on a community or minority group, they serve as the main wall that hinders them from reaching the required target.
Beginning from the 1980s, Japan always accepted immigrants to come to their country due to the several needs of the whole population. The demand for labor in their country exceeded the supply of the laborers present at a provided time. This was because of several factors that were affecting Japan as a nation. This included the decrease in a number of children due to decreased fertility rates and increased the educational levels of most of the Japanese education to the extents that they were never interested in other forms of jobs that downgraded their ability (Higuchi, 2006). The segmented market also provided an opportunity for the incoming workers to get secondary jobs due to the presence of many more small firms that were being established in the country at very first rates compared to the large firms that had few individuals.
Japan as a country had to reconsider some of its laws to avert the looming crisis in their industries. Essentially, the country had to revoke and revise the law that was formulated in 1990. The law, The Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, which had initially failed to address the address the needs of the community ended up as the main driver, which pushed for reforms that were to be done in Japan (Higuchi, 2006). Although the Act placed a lot of emphasis on who was supposed to be classified as Japanese, the law permitted the entry of both second class and third class citizens. These were people of Japanese origin who were commonly referred to as Nikkeijin. The immigration policy allowed people who shared some similarity with the Japanese people to be allowed into the country and practiced their beliefs as compared to people who never wanted to be part and parcel of the Japanese culture in the first place. The Japanese government would welcome such people in their country because there was a wide perception that they would become easily assimilated into the Japanese cultures to the numerous beliefs that had been identified as being common among the various entities (Takenoshita, 2013). However, most of the Nikkeijin do not speak Japanese and therefore cannot be fully classified as Japanese citizens. Additionally, the number of people in Japan started to decrease after the economic crisis that hit the country in the year 1990 to 2000s (Chung, 2010). The crisis, which saw a reduction in the number of jobs being conducted by the immigrants, was the first sign that the labor market was slowly shifting in the wrong direction especially after a period of stable employment and working conditions in the country.
Increasing global market competition forced the market to become more and more flexible than before. This is what resulted in a large group of non-standard workers although the number of people who had been employed in regular work remained the same without feeling the effects of the global change in the system (Takenoshita, 2013). The flexibility in the market had generated a lot of polarization in the market, and the effects were being felt on either side of the divide. Most of the Brazilian people of Japan were now employed as labor contractors (Chung, 2010). The other industrial organizations had to rely on international agencies that brought in people from different areas through their recruitment agencies.
Mobility barriers have always existed between natives born in Japan and other groups that made entry into this country. Most of these that are existent today have been concentrated on the non-standard form of employment that is more common with the immigrants in a country than the traditional people in a country (Takenoshita, 2013). Another form of mobility barrier that hinders minority groups such as the Brazilians minority found in Japan stems from issues related to firm internal labor markets and the concept of firm skills that are only relevant in some organizations based in Japan (Chung, 2010). This means that only workers who have been able to graduate from school in the previous years are liable to be recruited in the firm internal market. Therefore, other individuals such as the minority Brazilians who lack the necessary documents are constantly closed out of the processes of seeking any meaningful employment though they have been given the same status as a native of the country (Takenoshita, 2013). If you lack the educational requirements which are true for a lot of parties, it becomes next to impossible to have any meaningful employment in such a country.
Japanese welfare and citizenship policies have for a long time marginalized the socio-economic needs of the minority communities who come to work in their country. The government of Japan to have insisted on one of the most complicated process of naturalization to any individual who wishes to become Japanese in the country (Tsuda, 2000). More critics argue that such services would have suited social rights and citizens of the country instead of placing a lot of resources on the border posts (Takenoshita, 2013). When the naturalization process in a company becomes too complicated, it means that there are high probabilities that the minority community may never be able to access the same services and job requirements as other individuals. It, therefore, means that is some way, certain aspects that belong to Brazilian immigrants and other minority communities may not be fully integrated into the Japanese industry. It is as if the industry prefers that immigrants be part of the secondary sector in the market while the native be part of the primary sector (Takenoshita, 2013). This seems to stem the fear that if more immigrants became naturalized, then there are high chances that native would end up losing some jobs. Thus, the current system attempts to create what is commonly known as status quo. This means that restrictive policies will continue in the minority communities while at the same time more jobs will be provided to natives.
Some local governmental and nongovernmental organizations have attempted to bridge the gap that exists between the different sides but has done so with limited success. They initially based most of the practices in integrating people through the use of social programs in the community. They also provided a lot of information on issues relating to translation and educational programs among schoolchildren. Even though this is a step in the right direction, it fails to address the elephant in the room. The true picture that exists in the current Japan is that of people who have been economically disadvantaged because they come from a minority community. Most people from the minority community who have been living in the country for many years want the same opportunities as the other Japanese citizens.
The indifference in economic practices is deeply rooted in the Japanese welfare system and more specifically on the employment policies. Their policies have given too much attention to older people who have already left the job market. If the country had focused on the working age population, the problem would have never existed in the first place. The country relaxed most restrictions on labor dispatching agencies back then in the year 1990 (Takenoshita, 2013). From that period to date the government has never taken serious thought in protecting the rights of the temporary workers who in most cases come from the minority community group commonly referred to as Japanese Brazilians (Takenoshita, 2013). While contract companies and other temporary agencies commonly employ most of the Brazilians present in Japan, only one in ten is employed by the manufacturing industry. Previous research indicates that more of the smaller firms present in the company employ immigrant workers because they have not recovered from the effects of economic depression that hit them years ago. Larger firms tend to use these immigrants for different purposes.
Although most of the institutionalized practices have hindered the development of immigrants in the business market. Some of them have managed to overcome the effects imposed by society and succeed in the market. Some of them have managed to achieve this by relying on what has been coined as social capital. This expression has been used to refer to the ability of an individual to secure benefits through the use of social networks or structures. The effects of social capital on the socioeconomic needs in the market solely depend on welfare policies and how the bodies in charge regulate them. Bonding social capital refers to family and friend ties while bridging social capital refers to inter-ethnic contacts. These two forms of social capital have been used to assist immigrant workers from Brazil to access the right information when it comes to the labor market (Takenoshita, 2013). However, bonding social capital is spatially populated and as a consequence, the amount of capital provided is useful in providing some immigrants with a job opportunity. In most countries where success has been achieved, bridging social capital in the mainstream population is the only way that people will get more access to several important jobs in the society or community
Immigrant’s entrepreneurship plays an important role in determining the socioeconomic mobility of an individual in a country that is far away from home. Currently, about one percent of this Brazilian minority community that is in Japan is self-employed. Most Brazilians’ entrepreneurs have focused on providing customers with services that link them to their culture. It should be remembered that Japan is one of the countries across the world whereby people have placed more focus and emphasis on issues relating to cultural practices (Takenoshita, 2013). Some of the few Brazilians have become established in the market and have this created a name for the selves in the market.
Most of the Brazilian who currently uses social capital supports themselves away from their homes. Bonding among different ethnic communities is what has resulted in the development of Brazilian immigrant’s culture to associate themselves with some room of the business. When they lose their jobs due to certain factors in the market, they are able to recover more progressively since they have an alternative source of employment in their pockets (Lancee, 2010). Therefore, social capital can be said to have played a critical role in safeguarding the lives of most people coming from minority groups. The densely knit social capital groups have seen some families survive through turbulent economic periods in the society. Fewer Brazilians nationals have also opted to become friend with people of Japanese origin (Takenoshita, 2013). These intimate friendships have assisted in the development of some of the common social capital forums that are noted today. Initially, such relationships failed to take place to the indifferences between the two communities. Other major causes were a lack of relationships due to poor language skills as well as aspects such as prejudice and discrimination that was present in the Japanese system and aimed at segregating the minority groups (Takenoshita, 2013). Today, some of the Brazilian immigrants have formed their businesses using social capital that has come from their colleagues on the Japanese side. If a certain amount of money is needed to start a business, then a party is organized where everybody is invited. The event raises enough money for individuals to go into self-employment.
Minority groups that are far away from their country of origin have always been marginalized on all fronts be it socially, economically or politically. The minority Brazilian community in Japan is among groups that have felt the effects of marginalization on an economic basis. Most of its populace that came to work in Japan have been regarded as second-class citizens and have only managed to be employed in the secondary sector which is characterized with low pay. The naturalization process has also been complicated such that it has become more difficult for them to have the same rights and business opportunities when it comes to employment. The current structure in Japan only favors the native of the country despite the Brazilians playing a key role in modulating and regulating their economy for the longest period of time. Mobility up the ladder remains a dream in Japan. Minority communities have taken to social capital to raise the required funds to meet their daily needs in the society. This new system has shown the how the Brazilian in Japan can finally survive out of poor forms of employment.
Chung, E.A. (2010) Immigration and Citizenship in Japan. New York: Cambridge University Press
Higuchi, N. (2006, February). Brazilian migration to Japan: Trends, modalities, and impact. In United Nations–Expert Group Meeting on International Migration and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean-UN/POP/EGM-MIG/2005/11 (Vol. 27).
Higuchi, N., and Tanno, K. (2003) ‘What’s driving Brazil-Japan migration? The making and remaking of the Brazilian niche in Japan’, International Journal of Japanese Sociology, 12(1): 33_47.
Lancee, B. (2010) ‘The economic returns of immigrants’ bonding and bridging social capital: the case of the Netherlands’, International Migration Review, 44(1): 202_26.logy, 12(1): 33_47.
Scottham, K. M., & Dias, R. H. (2010). Acculturative strategies and the psychological adaptation of Brazilian migrants to Japan. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 10(4), 284-303.
Takenoshita, H. (2013). Labour market flexibilisation and the disadvantages of immigrant employment: Japanese-Brazilian immigrants in Japan. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39(7), 1177-1195.
Tsuda, T. (2000). Acting Brazilian in Japan: Ethnic resistance among return migrants. Ethnology, 55-71.
- Migration of Brazilians to Japan in early 19th century
- Ban on slave trade forcing countries to look for alternative workers
- Agreement treaty between Japan and Brazilian signed allowing individuals to enter the two countries without major restrictions
The minority Japanese Brazilians face discriminatory economic challenges though they have same rights as Japanese nationals.
Characteristics of Brazilian Japanese
- Were majorly descendants of Japanese spouses who migrated to brazil and decided to come back to their homes
- Were known as Nikkeijin
- Had the same documentation as other Japanese nationals and were believed to be much closer than other communities
- Brazilian-Japanese worked in the automobile industry as well as the food and manufacturing industry
- Were majorly recruited via companies
Issues affecting the Brazilian Minority in Japan
- Labor market flexibility associated with part time and temporary jobs
- Most natives worked in the primary sector while immigrants worked in secondary sector irrespective of education level.
- Secondary sector characterized with low wages and poor working conditions
- Nikkeijin treated as secondary citizens
- Marginalized Japanese welfare and citizenship affecting socio-economic needs of the minority communities
- Mobility barriers between natives in Japan and other groups
- Failure to bridge gap between natives and immigrants by the government
- Reliance on social capital to start business