Participating Scholars
Amelia Morimoto
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Amelia Morimoto, a third generation Peruvian of Japanese ancestry, has studied psychology, anthropology, and museology. She is the author of numerous books and articles that focus on Japanese immigration to Perú, the Japanese Peruvian community, education, culture, museums and identity. She is currently involved in social sciences research projects related to museum activities. She is Advisor of the Museo Conmemorativo de la Inmigración Japonesa in Perú.

e-mail: musinjap@apip.org.pe


Research Proposal Abstract
Peruvian Nikkei Political Identity from 1990-1998

Before Alberto Fujimori became president of Peru in 1990, a common stereotype among the people in Perú was that Japanese Peruvian interests were limited to their own ethnic community life and not concerned in national issues. However, a national survey conducted in 1989 and a survey questionnaire answered by more than 5,000 Peruvian Nikkei citizens, revealed very strong opinions related to current affairs and proposals for the future development of Perú. In 1990, during the national elections period, many Peruvian Nikkei opposed Fujimori's candidacy. The reasons for their opposition will be analyzed based on interviews conducted during that period. In addition, new interviews will be done in order to guage current opinions and attitudes. Morimoto's research will provide insight into the changing political attitudes and opinions of Peruvian Nikkei during the last decade.



"The Nikkei Opinion in 1989"

Until Fujimori, Nikkei communities were believed to have little interest in national political affairs and internally oriented.

But 1989 census revealed that Nikkei have opinions. They are progressive and liberal unlike the ideology dominant in Peru at that time. Peru was polarized between socialist and radical and had many problem such as hyper-inflation, terrorism and corruption. There was a mass exit of population from the country and Nikkei was no exception. They went to Japan.

In such an overall situation, the Nikkei survey revealed that there was pessimism but at the same time, there was also hope for change.

1 Japan was the most admired country by the Nikkei of Peru in 1989, by all the generations. 40% chose it as “ideal country.” Such an admiration was based, first, on the moral and cultural qualities. The persistent image of Japan, throughout the generations, was its fight for recovery from the destruction from World War II.
Second, its development and economic success by Japan was also the reason for admiration. Advanced technology and beautiful scenery were other sustained positive image of Japan among Nikkei.
In addition, administrative order and political stability and possibilities that Japan could provide Peru were other reasons.

On the other hand, there were also negative images. They mainly refer to the consequences of industrialization and development, which are reflected in rapid pace of life in Japan.
Also, there were constant criticisms against the cultural change in Japan after the war, its “Americanization,” and also, to some extent, discrimination against the foreigners, the nikkei and women.

Overall, however, if selected as an ideal country or not, Japan had an excellent image among Nikkei of Peru. Over 90% of opinions expressed were favorable to Japan.

2 The USA was the second admired country among Nikkei in Peru. Among Sansei and Yonsei, it was the second admired country, while among Issei and Nisei, it was the third admired, after Japan and Peru. The hegemonic situation of the USA in the American continent and its world power would be the main reason for this attraction.

3 Peru, despite its negative image, was the third country considered ideal. For the older generations (Issei and Nisei), was the second admirable country after Japan. Among the younger generations (Sansei and Yonsei) it was the third.
Its negative image was founded primarily in the general social and government crisis.
Positive opinions and hopes for change and future paralleled with such negative opinions. The proposals for change primarily include political-administrative aspects and moral and educational aspects. In other words, the Nikkei population regards the problem as essential, in addition to that of the existing government, such as structure of the state, and among all, the mentality of the politicians and the general population. This change of mentality was also related with economic aspect. In addition to concrete measures, some abstract aspects were also included such as conscience, responsibility, honesty and seriousness to achieve more productivity and development.

4 The self image of the Nikkei was mostly positive in every generation. They refer to intellectual, moral qualities and their success in the national level. They also perceive themselves as distinctive and special group in the society. However, they also perceive defects. The majority of criticisms to themselves are contradictory to the favorable opinions: not integrated to the country, or not united etc. One aspect which calls for attention was the present expectation about the participation of the Nikkei in the political leadership at the national level, when there was no capable candidate in the country.

5 Finally, the Peruvian Nikkei group demonstrated a solid identification with Peru, its problems and possibilities. Peru’s future was part of their preoccupations. In summary, if there were possibilities for them to make contribution to the country, it would be in the realm of morality, as expressed in their judgments, opinions and proposals for future in this census.