Japanese Language/Japanese Brazilian
Outside Japan and the Okinawan islands, Japanese is spoken as a first language by approximately two million people: immigrants to who settled in Brazil (800,000 Japanese descendants, number of native Japanese speakers unknown),other South American countries, the US state of Hawaii (180,000) and other US locations. One hundred years after the first Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil, the country as a whole has been reflecting on an anniversary that has left a significant legacy.Numbering an estimated 1.5 million, there are more people of Japanese descent in Brazil than anywhere in the world outside of Japan itself. The celebrations are a chance to pay tribute to the pioneering immigrants that first arrived at the port of Santos near to Sao Paulo - and, the organisers say, to thank Brazilian society for making them welcome.The 165 families who arrived here on 18 June 1908 came to escape poverty and lack of job opportunities in Japan, and to meet the demand for workers in Brazil's coffee plantations. But there is plenty of evidence at the Museum of Japanese Immigration in Sao Paulo that this was not always a comfortable story. The newly-arrived Japanese faced a huge culture shock: a radically different language, food and climate.For the Japanese immigrants in Brazil, national and ethnic identities merged into a moral model around which they tried to unify their community. They watched each other to see if they were "true Japanese," which led to a moral, and literal, purge. In addition to experiencing inner turmoil, many individuals paid a high price in other ways. The first generation of immigrants, victims of discrimination in the country to which they had moved, reacted by adopting an ultraorthodox version of the Japanese stereotype. Ultimately forced to give that up, they came to terms with staying in Brazil permanently and resolved to "become ancestors of future Japanese-Brazilians." The following generations are developing their identity as an ethnic minority in Brazilian society. Although some are now in Japan as reimmigrants to earn money, most want to return to Brazil.