[WEBINAR] From Global Financial Crisis to Covid-19 Pandemic: Old and New Challenges for Nikkei Brazilians in Japan

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From Global Financial Crisis to Covid-19 Pandemic: Old and New Challenges for Nikkei Brazilians in Japan

Colloquium: May 10 | 5-6:30 p.m. PDT |  Online - Zoom Webinar

Speaker: Angelo Ishi, Professor, Musashi University

Discussant: Keiko Yamanaka, Lecturer, UC Berkeley

Sponsor: Center for Japanese Studies, UC Berkeley

The reform of the Japanese Immigration law in 1990 enabled foreigners of Japanese descent (so-called “Nikkei”) to obtain a long-term visa and as a result, although it was not a working visa, they adapted it to become de-facto non-skilled foreign workers in Japan. Since then, the Nikkei of South American origin, mainly from Brazil, have become one of the most significant ethnic minorities in Japan. Following the peak number of more than 320 thousand by mid-2008, Nikkei populations saw a sudden, drastic decline due to the global financial crisis and subsequent massive unemployment. A controversial “Voluntary Return Program,” launched by the Japanese government, catalyzed an exodus of Brazilians to their home country. Most Brazilians, however, chose to stay in Japan. Twelve years later, the Covid-19 crisis exposed the old issues, bringing to light the continuing precarity of the Nikkei in Japan’s economy and society. From the very beginning Angelo Ishi, a third-generation Brazilian Nikkei himself, joined the journey of Nikkei workers/immigrants. As a sociologist, as a community leader, and as editor of an ethnic news publication, he has personally experienced and witnessed the multiple challenges confronted by the Nikkei communities. With his first-hand knowledge and perspective, he also served on the advisory committee for the Japanese government’s first “Multicultural Coexistence” guideline announced in 2006. Based on his multi-sourced field research as a community insider for more than 30 years, the speaker combines his qualitative and quantitative data for this talk, focusing in the main on the following topics:
1. How Nikkei immigrants have survived the Covid-19 crisis in Japan –– and an analysis of the results from a comprehensive survey conducted by the Japanese government.
2. The ambivalence of the Japanese government policy towards the “Nikkei” immigrants and the Nikkei criticism towards the “Yonsei (4th generation) visa.”
3. How recipients of the “Voluntary Return Program” misunderstood conditions of the governmental financial support plan, due to poor multilingual services.

ANGELO ISHI is Professor at the Faculty of Sociology, Musashi University in Tokyo. As a Brazilian of Japanese descent, he has conducted extensive field research about Brazilian communities in Japan as well as the Brazilian diaspora worldwide, with a focus on the media and cultural issues. Born in São Paulo, he graduated from University of São Paulo, Faculty of Journalism. He has lived in Japan since 1990, first as a Japanese government scholarship graduate student at Niigata University and the University of Tokyo and worked as the editor-in-chief of the Portuguese-language newspaper, Jornal Tudo Bem. He is a member of the Board of the Japanese Association for Migration Studies, and the Managing Director of the Association of Nikkei & Japanese Abroad. He is also a member of several advisory panels related to migration policies for the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education, and others. Earlier he joined the working group of the Ministry of Internal Affairs that contributed to the national government’s guideline for Japan’s “Multicultural Coexistence” program. His many publications include “Searching for home, wealth, pride, and ‘class’: Japanese Brazilians in the ‘land of Yen’” in Searching for Home Abroad: Japanese-Brazilians and Transnationalism (2003, Duke University Press), “Between privilege and prejudice: Japanese-Brazilian migrants in the ‘land of Yen and the ancestors’” in Transcultural Japan: At the Borderlands of Race, Gender, and Identity (2008, Routledge), and “Integrating a new diaspora: Transnational events by Brazilians in Japan, the United States, and Europe” in Living in Two Homes: Integration, Identity and Education of Transnational Migrants in a Globalized World (2017, Emerald Publishing).

Registration required