My cousin and grandparents family lives in Mie prefecture, where there are many Brazilian workers and their family. The reason why there are so many Brazilian workers is because Mie prefecture and Sao Paolo, Brazil have a sister-city relationship among each other. From the beginning of 20th century to 1960s, many Brazilians have migrated to Japan for work. Since then, there has been a promotion of wide-ranging exchanges, such as in the areas of culture, sports, and technological fields. However, what I see in Mie is different to what is said; the Brazilian immigrants and the local people in Japan lives nearby but there are the discriminations and prejudice visible, which are the sufferings minorities often face.
In Mie, there are many manufacturing companies which need cheap labor working for a long time, so that the product costs can be kept low. My cousin is now 10 years old now, and at the school he goes to, there are about 30 Brazilian students, about 10 students classified into 3 classes. They are the “sansei” or “yonsei”, who’s ancestor has came to Japan as migrant workers who decided to settle in Japan living with their family. Most of them acquire a permanent resident visa and a while later, obtain Japanese nationality. Most of the Brazilian students in my cousin’s school spoke Japanese fluently than Portuguese; since they were born and raised in Japan, just like any other people called “zainichi.”
However they belong to a Japanese school speaking in Japanese, at first when they enter elementary school, they tend to stay together with the Brazilian friends and not hang out with others. In other words, the Japanese children keep a distance from them. This situation continues until they graduate. What I saw was shocking; when I went to school to pick up my cousin, in the playground, there were many children playing soccer and dodge ball who were only Japanese, and the Brazilian children group were shoved by the corner, passing the soccer ball to one another. After school, I asked my cousin how they stay with the Brazilian group, he said that “they don’t speak that much and play with us so we don’t stay with them. They look so different and don’t feel like we are in the same classroom.”
As we went home to my grandparents’ house, my grandmother said the same thing, that they are so different. Also, she said that they are said to be noisy in night, not following the rules and making the environment bad. This is exactly what we learnt and saw in looking at the class of zainichi and Nikkei, the cases we saw in the Koreans and Filipinos; especially since where my cousin lives is at the country side, people have the prejudice from the beginning and recognize them as “foreigners.”
I feel miserable that these problems are occurring close to me. When I go to Mie again, I would like to talk to my relatives more deeply, and persuade how their attitude is wrong and rude.
International Affairs Office, Department of Social and Cultural Affairs.
Mie Prefectural Government, n.d. Web. 22 Dec. 2012.
by Shiori Miyake