The Newsletter 71 Summer 2015

Return or circular migration? The case of the Japanese Brazilians

Ingrid Van Rompay-Bartels

Japanese Brazilians traveling from Brazil to Japan constitute an interesting example of return migration, involving descendants of former Japanese migrants who belonged to a diaspora that was established in the past. Even after several generations the descendants’ identity is still primarily characterised by the preservation of elements that relate to their original Japanese heritage. Since 1990, following the reform of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act in Japan, thousands of Japanese Brazilians were legally allowed to live and work in the country of their ancestors. In less than two decades, Japanese Brazilians became the third largest group of migrants in Japan, a status they would keep until 2007; the fi nancial crisis of 2008 brought it to a halt. The drastic decline that followed shows that for the large majority of these return migrants the concept of ‘return’ has lost its signifi cance.