The Japanese Community in Brazil, 1908-1940: Between Samurai and Carnival

The Japanese Community in Brazil, 1908-1940: Between Samurai and Carnival

The Japanese Community in Brazil, 1908-1940: Between Samurai and Carnival

The Japanese Community in Brazil, 1908-1940: Between Samurai and Carnival

Synopsis

The largest Japanese community outside East Asia in the 1930s and one long neglected in English-language scholarship was in Brazil. Drawing heavily on little-used sources, including the Japanese-language press of Brazil, Stewart Lone explores the growth of expatriate settlements, small businesses, schools, civic groups, and sports and leisure. Lone reinterprets issues of Japanese identity and relations with other peoples.

Excerpt

One of the longest running and least conclusive debates in modern Japan centres on the question of to what degree the Japanese people can or should engage with the outside world. In the background to this debate is the historical fact that, between the 1630s and 1850s, Japan's diplomatic policy was one of near-complete isolation; the only foreigners allowed into the country were Dutch merchants on a trading post at the very southern tip of the islands, some private Chinese traders, and an occasional Korean emissary. Japanese were forbidden on pain of death from travelling overseas. Under overt intimidation from the Western imperial powers, however, this policy was abandoned from the 1860s in favour of importing foreign models of politics, industry, education, law, and military organisation amongst other things: Japanese students and study groups began to roam the globe in search of what was then called ‘civilisation and enlightenment’. Over the next century, this revolution in contact with the outside led to extreme fluctuations within Japan between cultural nationalism and internationalism. In general, the staccato rhythm of these fluctuations was dictated by Japan's own military or economic strength. In the 1980s, for example, the apparent ‘economic miracle’ of the previous twenty years resulted in a flood of books and articles ascribing Japan's success to its village-style social structure and values in which homogeneity of language, custom and thought produced what in an earlier age would have been praised as voluntary organic solidarity but which, in the mind of Japan's critics, looked far more like mechanical regimentation. In response to accusations of a kind of tribalism and refusal to deal equitably with foreigners, the Japanese

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