January 27, 2021/ 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Current Trends in Nikkei-Brazilian Migration to Japan

Mini online symposium

Waseda Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies,
Contemporary Japan Study Group &
Institute of Asian Migrations

Date and Time: January 27th, 16:00 – 18:00 (California), 19:00 – 21:00 (New York)

 January 28th, 9:00 – 11:00 (Tokyo)

Registration form: https://forms.gle/iKqhGcZphcMjQKyEA
The symposium will be recorded and uploaded online.


1. “Taking Religion Seriously: Nikkei Pentecostal Christians and Their Quest
for New Origin Stories”

Suma Ikeuchi is an interdisciplinary scholar with a PhD in anthropology who primarily studies the migrant minorities in transnational Japan. She currently works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her book Jesus Loves Japan: Return Migration and Global Pentecostalism in a Brazilian Diaspora (Stanford Univ Press 2019) won the Francis L.K. Hsu Book Prize from the Society for East Asian Anthropology in 2020.

2. “Forever Foreign: Three Decades of Japanese-Brazilian Labor Migrants in

Sarah LeBaron von Baeyer is a Lecturer of Anthropology at Tufts University and an applied anthropologist. Previously she was a Lecturer at Yale University and the University of Heidelberg. Her research focuses on transnational migration, race and ethnicity, and diaspora. Her book, Living Transnationally between Japan and Brazil: Routes Beyond Roots, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2020.

Discussant: Joshua Hotaka Roth

Joshua Hotaka Roth is Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Mount Holyoke College. His book Brokered Homeland: Japanese Brazilian Migrants in Japan (Cornell University Press) won the 2004 Book Award for Social Science from the Association for Asian American Studies, and published more recently “Kamikaze Truckers in Postwar Japan” (Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies, 2019). He is currently finishing a graphic memoir focused on his parents exploring the themes of aging, care, and creativity, tentatively entitled “Drawn to Care.”

Institute of Asian Migrations: https://www.waseda-iam.org/
Waseda Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies: https://www.waseda.jp/fire/gsaps/


Abstracts of the presentations

“Taking Religion Seriously: Nikkei Pentecostal Christians and Their Quest for
New Origin Stories”

 Suma Takeuchi

The literature on Nikkei Brazilians has long highlighted ethnoracial categories of belonging. So what happens when an ethnography takes religion as the primary analytical device, by focusing on the type of religion that its followers claim to transcend their own ethnoracial identities? Based on a yearlong fieldwork among the Pentecostal Nikkei Brazilians in central Japan, this talk elucidates the ethnographic and theoretical contributions that such a study can make to the anthropology of Japan and Asia.

“Forever Foreign: Three Decades of Japanese-Brazilian Labor Migrants in Japan”

Sarah LeBaron von Baeyer

2020 marks thirty years since Japan’s amended Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (ICRRA) came into effect, ushering in migrants of Japanese descent from countries such as Brazil and Peru to work in unskilled labor in Japan. Today, despite the fact that many Japanese-Brazilians are permanent or long-term residents of Japan, often starting or raising families there, they continue to be viewed and treated as a temporary, disposable labor force. How does their experience as “foreigners” (estrangeiros in Portuguese; gaijin in Japanese) in Japan compare to their experience as racially and ethnically marked others (referred to in Portuguese as japas or japoneses) in Brazil? This article examines discourses of race and ethnicity, nationality, and culture in Japan and Brazil to illuminate how Japanese-Brazilian labor migrants variously navigate Japanese “homogeneity” and Brazilian “racial democracy” to understand their position as minorities in both societies.

Download file: Nikkeijin-Brazilian-migration-Mini-Symposium-Poster-(2)-pl-w00.pdf