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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 June 2021
This article explains how the US westward expansion influenced and stimulated Japanese migration to Brazil. Emerging in the nineteenth century as expanding powers in East Asia and Latin America, respectively, both Meiji Japan and post-independence Brazil looked to the US westward expansion as a central reference for their own processes of settler colonialism. The convergence of Japan and Brazil in their imitation of US settler colonialism eventually brought the two sides together at the turn of the twentieth century to negotiate for the start of Japanese migration to Brazil. This article challenges the current understanding of Japanese migration to Brazil, conventionally regarded as a topic of Latin American ethnic studies, by placing it in the context of settler colonialism in both Japanese and Brazilian histories. The study also explores the shared experiences of East Asia and Latin America as they felt the global impact of the American westward expansion.
1 ‘The Closing of the Frontier’, Exhibition Themes, The Art Institute of Chicago. https://archive.artic.edu/window/themes.html
2 Frederick Jackson Turner, The Frontier in American History (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1921), 1–38.
3 Nihon Gaikō Bunsho Dejitaru Ākaibu 26 (1893): 614–5.
4 Eiichiro Azuma, Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America (London: Oxford University Press, 2005), 17–31, and In Search of Our Frontier: Japanese America and Settler Colonialism in the Construction of Japan’s Borderless Empire (University of California Press, 2019), 29–44.
5 Nihon Gaikō Bunsho Dejitaru Ākaibu (1893): 614–5.
6 Nobuya Tsuchida, ‘The Japanese in Brazil, 1908–1941’ (PhD diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1978), 29–30. Also see https://www.ndl.go.jp/brasil/e/s1/s1_1.html
7 One of the most impressive exhibitions at the fair was titled ‘Anthropology: Man and His Works’. Curated by Harvard Professor Frederic Putnam and his chief assistant Franz Boas, the exhibition featured an anthropological and archeological display to showcase the advancement of the North American scientific institutions in these fields. Sven Schuster, ‘The World’s Fairs as Spaces of Global Knowledge: Latin American Archaeology and Anthropology in the Age of Exhibitions’, Journal of Global History 13, no. 1 (March 2018): 75.
8 Nitobe Inazō, The Imperial Agricultural College of Sapporo (Sapporo: The Imperial Agricultural College of Sapporo, 1893), 1–2. Cited from Michele M. Mason and Helen J.S. Lee, eds., Reading Colonial Japan: Text, Context, and Critique (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012), 39–40.
9 Sven Schuster, ‘The World’s Fairs as Spaces of Global Knowledge’, 80.
10 Recent scholarship of settler colonialism has substantially expanded the definition of settler colonialism as a concept, which has been traditionally confined by Euro-American experiences. For example, see Candace Fujikane, ‘Introduction: Asian Settler Colonialism in the U.S. Colony of Hawai‘i’, in Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawai‘i, ed. Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Y. Okamura (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2008), 3; Dean Itsuji Saranillio, ‘Why Asian Settler Colonialism Matters: A Thought Piece on Critiques, Debates, and Indigenous Difference’, Settler Colonial Studies 3, nos. 3–4 (2013): 287. This article joins this new trend of scholarship and explores the overlaps and similarities between the experience of colonial settlers and that of migrants.
11 Toake Endoh, Exporting Japan: Politics of Emigration to Latin America (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2009).
12 Seth Jacobowitz, ‘A Bitter Brew: Coffee and Labor in Japanese Brazilian Immigrant Literature’, Estudos Japanese, no. 41 (2019), 13–30.
13 Miriam Kingsberg, ‘Becoming Brazilian to Be Japanese: Emigrant Assimilation, Cultural Anthropology, and National Identity’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 56, no. 1 (2014): 67–97, and ‘Japan’s Inca Boom: Global Archaeology and the Making of a Postwar Nation’, Monumenta Nipponica 69, no. 2 (2014): 221–54.
14 Ana Paulina Lee, Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018).
15 David M. Wrobel, Global West, American Frontier: Travel, Empire, and Exceptionalism from Manifest Destiney to the Great Depression (University of New Mexico Press, 2013), 21–8.
16 James Belich, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783–1939 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
17 Late Qing intellectual Kang Youwei also envisioned the establishment of a new China in Brazil through migration as a means of survival, when the Qing empire was struggling. As Qing China was struggling with the increasing penetration of the Western and Japanese colonialism at the end of the nineteenth century, Kang Youwei, a leading intellectual of the day, envisioned the establishment of a new China in Brazil via migration as a means of racial and national survival. Liang Zhan, ‘Wenming, Lixing, yu Zhongzhu Gailiang: Yige Datong Shijie de Gouxiang’ in Shijie Zhixue yu Wenming Dengji: Quanqiushi Yanjiu de Xinlujing, edited by Liu He (Beijing: Shenghuo Dushu Xinzhi Sanlian Shudian, 2016), 146–54.
18 Michael Goebel has convincingly shown how the influx of immigration into Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay empowered these post-independence nations to effectively deprive the indigenous land. Michael Goebel, ‘Settler Colonialism in Postcolonial Latin America’, in The Routledge Handbook of the History of Settler Colonialism, eds., Edward Cavanagh and Lorenzo Veracini (London and New York: Routledge, 2017), 142–4. The government of the Republic of Chile, in 1845, also promulgated a law that defined the indigenous land to the south of the Bio-bio and to the north of Copiapó as unowned and offered it to immigrants for free. George F. W. Young, Germans in Chile: Immigration and Colonization, 1849–1914 (New York: The Center for Migration Studies of New York, 1974), 26–8.
19 Peter Duus has provided a brief but comprehensive overview of the international context for the rise of Japanese imperialism and expansionism. Peter Duus, The Abacus and the Sward: the Japanese Penetration of Korea, 1895–1910 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 2–18.
20 Eiichiro Azuma has shown how Meiji expansionists saw Japanese emigration to the United States as a component of Japanese colonial expansion. Eiichiro Azuma, Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America (London: Oxford University Press, 2005), 17–33.
21 In 1803, Thomas Jefferson reasoned that the rapid growth of White American farming communities made it necessary for them to acquire more land from the Native Americans whose primary livelihood was hunting. He envisioned a mass relocation of the Native Americans to the western side of the Mississippi in order to reserve the entire eastern side of the river for the expanding White farming communities. This idea was eventually carried out during the presidency of Andrew Jackson and resulted in the relocation of Native American tribes residing in the southeastern states to the other side of the Mississippi. Alison Bashford, ‘Malthus and Colonial History’, The Journal of Australian Studies 36, no. 1 (March 2012): 104. Barbara Arneil, John Locke and America: The Defense of English Colonialism (Oxford University Press, 1996), 192–3.
22 Yoshida Hideo, Nihon Jinkō Ron no Shiteki Kenkyū (Tokyo: Kawade Shobō, 1944), 213–4.
23 ‘Kaitaku no Shisatsu’, Hokkaido Kaitaku Zasshi, no. 2 (February 14, 1880): 1–4.
24 Hayami Akira, ‘Jinkō Tōkei no Kindaika Katei’, in Kokusei chōsa Izen, Nihon Jinkō Tōkei Shūsei, ed. Naimushō Naikaku Tōkeikyoku, reprint edition, Vol. 1 (Tōyō Shorin, 1992), 10.
25 Horace M. Capron, Memoirs of Horace Capron – Volume I: Autobiography (Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, 1884), 79.
26 Horace M. Capron, Memoirs of Horace Capron – Volume II: Autobiography (Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, 1884), 92–3, 98.
27 ‘Kaitaku Zasshi Hakkō no Shushi’, Hokkaido Kaitaku Zasshi, no. 1 (January 31, 1880): 2–3.
28 Katsuya Hirano, ‘Thanatopolitics in the Making of Japan’s Hokkaido: Settler Colonialism and Primitive Accumulation’, Critical Historical Studies 2, no. 2 (Fall 2015): 198, 204.
29 Taguchi Ukichi, Nihon Keizai Ron (Tokyo: Keizai Zasshisha, 1878), 73.
30 For example, see ‘Asano’, Hokkaido Kaitaku Zasshi, no. 2 (February 14, 1880): 9; ‘Jyagatara imo no rieki’, Hokkaido Kaitaku Zasshi, no. 3 (February 28, 1880): 56; ‘Budō saibai no rieki’, Hokkaido Kaitaku Zasshi, no. 5 (March 27, 1880): 97; ‘Sake no setsu’, Hokkaido Kaitaku Zasshi, no. 10 (June 5, 1880): 241.
31 ‘Nihon Teikoku no Uchi ni Amerika Gasshūkoku wo Genshutsu Suru wa Atarasa ni Tōki ni Arazaru Beshi’, Hokkaido Kaitaku Zasshi, no. 3 (February 28, 1880): 50–1.
32 Before 1807, the territory of colonial Brazil was not open to non-Portuguese settlers. Oliver Marshall, English, Irish and Irish American Pioneer settlers in the Nineteenth Century Brazil (Oxford, Center for Brazilian Studies, Oxford University, 2005), 15.
33 The actual land colonization and utilization were not the immediate goals of these bandeirantes and their sponsors. Richard M. Morse, The Banderianets: The Historical Role of the Brazilian Pathfinders (New York: Alfred. A. Knopf, 1965), 21–8.
34 Pedro II also made an official visit to the United States in 1876 and traveled by railroad across the country with profound interest. He was called ‘Our Yankee Emperor’ in the United States, showing how the US general public were impressed by the Brazilian official leader’s familiarity with the American culture and custom. Joseph Smith, Brazil and the United States: Convergence and Divergence (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010), 31.
35 José Juan Pérez Meléndez, ‘Reconsiderando a política de colonização no Brasil imperial: os anos da Regência e o mundo externo’. Revista Brasileira de História 34, no. 68 (2014): 37–8.
36 For example, Rio paid close attention to the ongoing process of land exploration in the United States. José Juan Pérez Meléndez has documented how the Brazilian leaders borrowed a page from the American experience by encouraging private associations to build river canals. José Juan Pérez Meléndez, ‘The Business of Peopling: Colonization and Politics in Imperial Brazil, 1822–1860’, (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2016), 181–3.
37 José Juan Pérez Meléndez, ‘The Business of Peopling: Colonization and Politics in Imperial Brazil, 1822–1860’, 325–6.
38 Toake Endoh, Exporting Japan: Politics of Emigration to Latin America, 27.
39 Clodomir Vianna Moog, Bandeirantes and Pioneers (New York: G. Braziller, 1964), 12–3.
40 Jeffrey Lesser, Immigration, Ethnicity and National Identity, 1808 to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 14.
41 Emilia Viotti da Costa, The Brazilian Empire: Myth and History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), xxv.
42 Jeffrey Lesser, Immigration, Ethnicity and National Identity, 1808 to the Present, 27.
43 Emilia Viotti da Costa, The Brazilian Empire: Myth and History, xxv.
44 Almir Antonio de Souza, ‘A Lei de Terras no Brasil Império e os índios do Planalto Meridional: a luta política e diplomática do Kaingang Vitorino Condá (1845–1870)’, Revista Brasileira de História 35, no. 70 (2015): 111.
45 Alexandre Carlos Gugliotta, ‘Tavares Bastos (1839–1875) e a Sociedade Internacional de Imigração um espaço a favor da modernidade’, ponencia presentada en el XII Encuentro Regional de História ‘Usos do Passado’, Asociación Nacional de História de Río de Janeiro (2006): 5–6.
46 Oliver Marshall, English, Irish and Irish American Pioneer settlers in the Nineteenth Century Brazil, 21–2.
47 Alexandre Carlos Gugliotta, ‘Tavares Bastos (1839–1875) e a Sociedade Internacional de Imigração um espaço a favor da modernidade’, 4–5.
48 Oliver Marshall, English, Irish and Irish American Pioneer settlers in the Nineteenth Century Brazil, 23.
49 It was estimated that about 20,000 Confederate supports from the United States chose to migrate to Brazil between 1865 and 1885. Jeffrey Lesser, Immigration, Ethnicity and National Identity, 1808 to the Present, 45.
50 Scully also considered the German another desirable ethnic group for Brazilian immigration, but believed that they lack self-reliance, imagination and enterprise in comparison with the English and Irish. Oliver Marshall, English, Irish and Irish American Pioneer settlers in the Nineteenth Century Brazil, 26.
51 Oliver Marshall, English, Irish and Irish American Pioneer settlers in the Nineteenth Century Brazil, 25.
52 Jeffrey Lesser, Immigration, Ethnicity and National Identity, 1808 to the Present, 32.
55 E. Bradford Burns, A History of Brazil (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 155.
56 Mauricio A. Font, Coffee and Transformation in São Paulo, Brazil (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2010),14.
58 Jeffrey Lesser, Immigration, Ethnicity and National Identity, 1808 to the Present, 68.
62 Jeffery Lesser, Negotiating National Identity: Immigrants, Minorities, and the Struggle for Ethnicity in Brazil (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999), 96–7.
63 Fukuzawa Yukichi, ‘Fuki Kōmyo wa Oya Yuzuri no Kuni ni Kagirazu’, Fukuzawa Yukichi Zenshū, vol. 9 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1960), 546.
64 Tachikawa Kenji, ‘Meiji Zenhanki no Tobeinetsu (1)’, Tomiyama Daigaku Kyōyōbu Kiyō 23, no. 2 (1990): 17.
65 Ebihara Hachirō, Kaigai Hōji Shinbun Zasshishi: Tsuketari Kaigai Hōjin Gaiji Shinbun Zasshishi (Tokyo: Meicho Fukyūkai, 1980), 106.
66 While an influential Japanese intellectual Tokutomi Sōhō called for Japanese expansion into the South Pacific, another thinker Nagasawa Betten turned to Latin America. Tokutomi Sōhō, ‘Nihon Jinshū no Shin Kokyō’, Kokumin no Tomo 6, no. 85 (June 13, 1890): 829–38. Nagasawa Setsu (Betten), Yankii (Tokyo: Keigyōsha, 1893), 22.
67 Mark Peattie, Nan’yō: The Rise and Fall of the Japanese in Micronesia, 1885–1945 (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1988), 5–6.
69 Peattie, Nan’yō, 7. Usui Ryūichirō, Enomoto Takeaki kara Sekaishi ga Mieru (Tokyo: PHP Kenkyūjo, 2005), 221–2.
70 ‘Shokumin Kyōkai Hōkoku Hatsuda no Riyū’, Shokumin Kyōkai Hōkokusho, no. 1 (April, 1893): 1–2.
71 Jerry Garcia, ‘Japanese Immigration and Community Development in Mexico, 1897–1940’, (PhD diss., Washington State University, 1999), 54–5.
72 Fujita’s report was published by the Foreign Ministry as Mekishikokoku Taiheiyo Engan Shoshūn Jūnkai Hōkoku (Tokyo: Gaimu daijin kanbō iminka, 1891).
76 Koyama Rokurō, Imin Yonjūnen Shi (São Paulo, Koyama Rokurō, 1949), 6. Nemoto’s report ushered in the official start of Japanese migration to Peru in 1899.
78 Nobuya Tsuchida, ‘The Japanese in Brazil, 1908–1941’, 139–42.
79 Koyama Rokurō, Imin Yonjūnen Shi, 23.
80 Ikushima Shigekazu, Amazon Ijū Sanjūnenshi (São Paulo: Sanpauro Shinbunsha, 1959), 17–51.
81 Nagata Shigeshi, the head of Japanese Striving Society that played a critical role in Japanese migration to the State of Sāo Paulo pointed to the supposed racial harmony with local residents achieved by Japanese communities in Brazil as evidence that the Japanese would be able to accomplish a similar colonial task, now branded as co-existence and co-prosperity, in Manchuria. Nagata Shigeshi, ‘Ajia Tairiku e no Shinshutsu’, Rikkō Sekai, no. 286 (October 1928): 4.
82 For example, Umetani Mitsusada, a central leader in the campaigns of Japanese migration to the State of Sāo Paulo in the 1920s moved back to Asia in 1932 to head the migration department of the Kwantung Army. He proceeded to carry out a series of migration campaigns and land acquisition in Manchuria. The Japanese Striving Society, that played a central role in leading Japanese migration to the State of Sāo Paulo, also launched campaigns to relocate Japanese subjects to the Philippines and Java during the Second World War. Nippon Rikkō Kai Sōritsu Hyaku Shūnen Kinen Jigyō Jikkō Iinkai Kinenshi Hensan Senmon Iinkai, Nippon Rikkō Kai Hyakunen no Kōseki: Reiniku Kyūsai, Kaigai Hatten Undō, Kokusai Kōken (Tokyo: Nippon Rikkō Kai, 1997), 213, 260–73.
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