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Crowder Publications

P.O. Box 62921 Phoenix, Arizona 85082-2921

Phone:602-957-3741

 

JAPANESE - in Peru 

The largest immigrant ethnic group in Peru is descended from the Japanese (Nikkei). This is the second largest enclave of Japanese in South America next to Brazil. While only being about 50,000 in total  they have made a substantial impact on the economic and cultural diversity of Peru. They also as other groups in Peruvian society suffered substantially from overt and subversive discrimination. 

    In 1899, the Japanese government was concerned with over population and began a campaign to send Japanese to different parts of the world. This sponsored migration was also designed to help acquire foreign capital and to provide for territorial expansion. The Japanese participants were lured with the promise of wealth and the ability to return after four years with savings. Many of the participants signed on because of lack of opportunity and poverty in their homeland. 790 Japanese arrived in 1899 to work the sugar and cotton plantations. A significant number of them were from Okinawa. The Peruvians had an interest in the Japanese immigrants in that large plantation operators had a shortage of labor and had difficulty in recruiting Indians from the Sierra to work. Over the next forty years there were about 33,000 that migrated to Peru. As many would discover the dream of acquiring wealth did not materialize and most of the Japanese decided to remain in Peru after their contract expired. Because there were minimal opportunities to gaining land the migrants made their way to urban areas, such as Lima. The migration continued until just prior to WWII. Many of the early migrants after leaving the plantations worked as domestic servants and street vendors. Then a number of the Japanese began barbershops (1904), which required little capital and would soon dominate the industry within a number of years. There were also a number of the immigrants who after saving capital opened up small stores and food stands.  By 1930 over half of Japanese immigrants and now descendants were involved in small business, such as watch repair shops.

Along with their industriousness and success there continues to be racism directed towards the Japanese-Peruvians. This is has especially been the case since Fujimori born of Japanese parents left office as president in disgrace. In 1940 there was a riot instigated by anti Japanese-Peruvian sentiment, which took ten lives and injured hundreds. There also was substantial loss of residences and businesses as the police stood by and did not intervene. It is believed by some historians that much of the anti-Japanese -Peruvian feelings came from U.S. efforts to discredit anyone of Japanese descent of being involved with Japanese forces in WWII. Then, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Peruvian government really had their way with the Japanese in Peru. They confiscated their property 1,771 of the immigrants and individuals of Japanese descent into custody and shipped them off to the U.S. where they were put into custody in Texas. The U.S. compensated Peru with a payment in the millions of dollars. Only 76 of the detainees were allowed to return to Peru. Most of the detainees ended up in Japan or the U.S.

          The Japanese in Peru today have a tremendous strength in their community organizations of which there are at least seventy associations. They are basically a closed society and keep a low profile. There is tremendous pride in the cultural heritage and significant efforts in preserving this with education and the arts among those of Japanese ancestry. Social and economic ties remain strong with Japan. The Peruvian stereotypes of the Japanese descendants are of hardworking, honorable and trustworthy individuals.

 By Nicholas Crowder / copyright 2004/ May not be retransmitted or copied without prior written consent. Furthermore, it may not be used for commercial purposes without prior written consent from Nicholas Crowder - crowdpub@mindspring.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LATIN AMERICA TRAVELER AND CROWDER PUBLICATIONS MAKES EFFORTS TO VERIFY INFORMATION IN THIS PUBLICATION. HOWEVER,IT ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS OR ADVERTISING INACCURACIES. ALSO, THE PUBLISHER DISCLAIMS ANY PERSONAL LIABILITY,EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FOR ADVICE OR INFORMATION PRESENTED WITHIN/Copyright 2001,2002,2003,2004