The emigration of Japanese to Brazil to work at coffee plantations began in 1908. The population kept flowing -with highs and lows- in that direction for decades. Today there are approximately one and a half million Brazilians of Japanese descent living in the South American country.Eighty-two years later the direction of migration was reversed. In the 90s Brazilians began to move to Japan. The country was in need of manpower for the industry and gave preference to foreign workers of Japanese descent. Many left hiperinflation in Brazil and went Est for the dream of prosperity in the land of their parents or grandparents. Japan seemed then capable of becoming the world's number one economy.
But not all was to be easy because, eventhough they had Japanese blood in the veins, they still werestrangers in a society convinced and proud until recentlyof being one of the most homogenous in the world. The number of so-called Nikkei-jin was increasing in Japan as the country stuck in the economic stagnation that followed the bubble burst in 1991. They became 270,000, living together with some 60,000 Peruvians of Japanese origin.
Since then, the flow of people has changed direction once more. In 2009 the Japanese government approved paying the trip back to their country to those Nikkei who wanted to leave, on condition that they would never re-apply for residence in Japan. The Japanese did that because unemployment in the country threatened to pick up over 5%. But perhaps it was not necessary because, during these years, the number of Brazilians of Japanese origin who returned to Brazil has been increasing. They want to profit from the economic boom generated by political stability, the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics in Rio. More than 40,000 are presumed to have already left japan for Brazil.
Will Japan need them again? Or will it transform and adapt to a new economic role, with less intensive manufacturing, less people and a better quality of life?