The problem Japanese Brazilians face when going back “home”

by Chie Munemori

Today a great number of immigrants are living with us in Japan. Each of them has various types of reasons for leaving their home countries and migrating to Japan. In the case of Japanese Brazilians whose ancestors are Japanese who migrated from Japan to Brazil in the past hundred years, they immigrated back to Japan because of financial disaster which happened in the late 1980’s. They wish to get good job and send remittance to families in Brazil, and some of them even decide to settle down in Japan for rest of their lives. In fact, in spite of their dreams, the present situation surrounding them in Japan is against their wills. The circumstances are difficult for them in the extreme. Below I present some of those problems they face and also potential resolutions of them.

One is that most of Japanese Brazilians have citizenships of Brazil and they are already not familiar with the culture, customs, and social system of Japan. It means that many of them tend to have difficulties with their daily lives right after coming to Japan. For example, in my hometown Hiroshima, many Japanese Brazilians are there and one of my friends in my schooldays is also the one. She and her family did not understand even easy sentences written or spoken in Japanese so that they always had to ask their neighborhoods problems such as how to throw out garbage and to pass of a circular in their area. Response to this situation, some mayoral governments and local communities have started providing them with free support services such as Japanese school, offices to look for a job and to rent a house, desks to teach them how to pay taxes, and so on. Komatsu city in Ishikawa prefecture is the one of those local governments.

Secondary, Japanese compulsory education system does not include foreign children as its target because the Constitution of Japan in Article 14 says “All people shall have the right to receive an equal education correspondent to their ability, as provided by law” but Japanese Brazilians are not included in “all people”. In other words, in this article “all people” means people who have Japanese citizenship. That’s why public elementary schools in Japan do not have proper curriculum of Japanese for children who are not Japanese in it. And worse is that some of young Japanese Brazilian students in elementary school are ill-treated by classmates since they do not understand Japanese. In such cases, those students become not to go to school because of that. To result these problems, administration need to modify its educational system to give them chance to learn Japanese in public school as their human rights. Additionally, teachers in school need to teach students cross-cultural understanding between Japanese and those who have different cultural back grounds from them.

In conclusion, it is necessary to change our social system not only for Japanese Brazilian but also for us Japanese under the situation of decreasing birthrate and aging population. Japanese Brazilian is potential power in Japanese society. We have to reconsider their rights and life conditions.


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