Posted by: CJ | November 29, 2011

Coming to Japan, Coming to America

This is old news, but it new news to me. Over the past two decades Japan has gotten a lot of immigrants. Specifically, Brazilians of Japanese descent that moved back to Brazil. This was done in a somewhat systematic fashion for two reasons:

  1. Japan is pretty insular, so they figured immigrants of Japanese descent (i.e. children of former Japanese emigrants) would be easiest to absorb.
  2. Japan has amazingly low birth rates, so they’ve gone through periodic labor shortages the past couple of decades.

But there are two caveats, and they’re related. One is that the absorption of these Brazilian immigrants hasn’t gone quite as smoothly as hoped. The other is that children of foreigners born in Japan do not automatically become Japanese citizens.

When I think about the problems of the Brazilians of Japanese descent assimilating to Japan, I suddenly am much more cognizant why people historically called America a ‘county of immigrants’, and still do. We have, and continue, to absorb huge numbers of immigrants on a yearly basis. And on the individual level, it only takes a generation or two before we basically fully accept the children of immigrants as full Americans.


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