The Benefits of Being Minority: The Ethnic Status of the Japanese-Brazilians in Brazil (Working Paper #21)

Takeyuki Tsuda, University of California – San Diego

Summary: Despite their socioeconomic and cultural integration in mainstream Brazilian society, however, the Japanese-Brazilians continue to assert a rather prominent “Japanese” ethnic minority identity, which remains considerably stronger than their identification with majority Brazilians or the Brazilian nation (cf. Maeyama 1996:398). Because of a strong consciousness of their distinctive ethnic attributes that constitute their “Japaneseness” in Brazil, the Japanese-Brazilians continue to emphasize their minority identities despite a growing realization that they have become considerably Brazilianized. Many of my nikkeijin informants privileged the Japanese side of their dual ethnic identity, claiming that they feel more “Japanese” than “Brazilian.” Only a relatively small proportion of them had fully adopted a majority Brazilian identity. This paper examines the various components of this continued experience of Japanese ethnic distinctiveness and identity among the nikkeijin in Brazil.

Working Paper #21»