Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Uchinanchu Emigration to South America

Here's some background I looked up:
In 1906, a wave of Okinawan emigration to South America started off in Peru. Two years later, immigrants arrived in Santos, Brazil, contracted to work on coffee plantations. A majority of them planned on returning to Japan after making their fortunes. Lured by false promises of great opportunities and wealth, they found living and working conditions harsh and life a struggle. These pioneers provided the foundation for thriving Okinawan communities in Brazil today.

In contrast, Okinawan emigration to Argentina consisted mainly of “free migrants,” rather than contract immigrants. Uchinanchu flocked to urban areas, running dry cleaning, floral or gardening businesses. By the 1950s, they dominated the dry cleaning business (which is an interesting contrast to Uchinanchu in Hawaii who overwhelmingly went into the restaurant business on Oahu!).

It is estimated that there are currently around 150,000 Okinawans living in Brazil, 35,000 in Argentina and around 60,000 in Peru. [University of the Ryukyus]

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