Project Description


Institutional Participants


Focus Group#1
Focus Group#2
Focus Group#3
Focus Group#4
Summary Report

Staff and Advisors

English Japanese
Spanish Portuguese

Japanese American
National Museum




The triadic contextual relationships between the Nikkei community, Japan, and the home nation are divided into the following sub-categories: (a) migration; (b) Japan influence (cultural traditions, revitalization, relative status of Japan and home nation); and (c) Home Nation influence (sociopolitical, economic, and political).

Primary language spoken: English
Facilitator: Lloyd Inui, Senior Advisor, INRP
Discussants: Jeffrey Lesser (Thursday, June 24)
Masako Iino (Friday, June 25)
Recorder: Simultaneous Interpreter System

Research Participants:

1st Year Participants: Masako Iino, Amelia Morimoto, Gary Mukai
2nd Year Participants: Jeffrey Lesser, Steven Ropp
Guest Observer: Masahiro Fukukawa, Director of Consular and Migration Policy Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan

Facilitator’s report by Lloyd Inui;
Steven Ropp’s focus is identity formation of Japanese Peruvian and Japanese Americans, especially the choices that the “young” make in light of changes in the economy and political participation. Besides looking at demographic data, he will examine formal (blood quantum) and informal ( interpersonal issues) definitions of community “borders.” Visual representations of identity (who? what? and how they are represented) will also be examined. The issue of the changing sense of Nikkeiness and how that was put that into practice will be part of his investigation.

Jeffrey Lesser’s focus is on the strategies used by Japanese Brazilians in negotiating their own identity in response to being “stuck in the same basket” as other ethnic groups. Delineates three strategies: “whiteness” or asserting a sameness, “hyphen” or being bicultural, and “nationalist” or being Japanese. His project traces these developments and the competition and tensions these strategies have generated within the Japanese Brazilian communities.

Gary Mukai acknowledged the distinctiveness of his curricular project vis-s-vis the research projects of most the INRP’s participants. While he presents Japanese migration to the western hemisphere as a case study of the migration phenomena, he has been able to capitalize on the research and resources that his INRP involvement has provided to document the breadth of the Nikkei experience in the Americas without ignoring its diversity.

Amelia Morimoto’s focus is on the cultural and not just the socio-economic facets of identity formation. Her project goes beyond the usual focus on demographic data and provides an initial examination of the “thinking” that is also the basis of Japanese Peruvian identity. The relevance of, views, and judgements respondents hold regarding Japan are data that is being analyzed.

Masako Iino’s focus is on the post world War II LARA (Licensed Agencies for Relief in Asia) relief efforts and what it tells us about the Nikkei communities and their relation with Japan. Did the Nikkei role in LARA in Canada, USA and Latin America indicate that Japan was a continuing factor in the identity of Nikkei despite Japan’s role as an enemy nation . She intends to examine the possibility of connections between Nikkei groups in these three areas through LARA.

Masahiro Fukukawa as an observer and Japanese government official, Mr. Fukukawa offered that he was interested in supporting Latin American Nikkei in becoming a bridge between their respective nation and Japan. He is interested in what roles Nikkei can play in this capacity.

General comments of facilitator (Lloyd Inui):
My overall impression of Group 3’s presentations and feedback is that the significance of Japan - real or myth/memory - either positive or negative, needs to be clearly addressed, as a factor differentiating Nikkei identity, behavior and status in different locales. For example, the often difficult pre-World War II kibei experience of the Japanese Americans is not comparable to that of Latin American Nikkei who studied in Japan and returned to their Latin American communities, generally with increased stature. Japan seems to loom much more prominently in the life and minds of Latin American Nikkei than is seemingly the case in the USA. The triadic relation issue is also highlighted by the Latin American Nikkei’s greater awareness of other Latin American Nikkei and the views they have of each other. This differs from the limited Japanese American awareness of other Nikkei. And although it may only be an indication of global changes, for younger Latin American Nikkei in particular, the USA seems to enter as an “option to expand the Japanese Latin American triadic relation of Nikkei community, home nation and Japan.

Reconstituted Group 3 Participants:
Arakaki, Amemiya, Ayukawa, Higa, Lesser, Mori, E., Mori, K., Morimoto, Ninomiya, Ropp and Takezawa