When man was going through social evolution, there were certain factors that contributed in development of this ideologically structured community. Sociology is the scientific study of society and therefore, a lot of concepts of social behavior correlate with scientific hypothesis. Just like a drop of oil won’t mix in a jar full of water, a person is unable to blend in a society that he does not culturally or inherently belong to. People belonging to any society learn normative behavior from interaction with other social beings. For some sociologists, society is the actor and we as social beings learn from society. There are a lot of factors when we talk about interaction between people in a closed system.
Communication is an integral part of society and we are able to convey, deliver and develop ideas through communication. At the same time, communication can hamper the process of progressive learning if one is unable to clear his/her intentions and actions to others. There are two features of interaction which work in tandem, ethno – methodology and symbolic interactionism. According to ancient transformation, symbolic interactionism is the communication through symbols and signs and the actions that denote our intention or lately known as ‘science of deduction’ is known as ethno – methodology. There are certain cultural barriers that hinder any immigrant’s lifestyle and values.
This history of Japanese immigrants in Brazil is long as numerous Japanese groups sought living in Brazil to escape the economic crisis and unemployment in their country. The first wave of immigrants from Japan came to Brazil in early twentieth century. Japanese immigrants started coming to Brazil in 1908 as a result of decrease in Italian immigrants which created labor shortage in coffee plants of the country. In the first seven years of Japanese immigration, more than 14 thousand Japanese immigrated to Brazil. As of today, more than 1.5 million Japanese immigrants are living in Brazil (Hiramatsu, Franco and Tomita). When the Japanese immigrants move to Brazil, they face difficulties in communicating with the local community. Apart from other problems, language was the main hurdle in the settlement of these immigrants. As Ember, Ember and Skoggard states:
“Another problem the Japanese had when they moved to Brazil was language. Although Japanese emigration companies sent interpreters along with the emigrants to Brazil, they often only knew Spanish or English. Thus, while these interpreters were supposed to act on the behalf of immigrants, they were unable to do so effectively.” (Ember, Ember and Skoggard)
Japanese have to face several differences culturally and socially in the Brazilian society. Before understanding the crux of the analyses it will apt enough to identify the major problems that exist in status for the Japanese people in Brazil. The subjectivity is involved in every debate of intercultural identification and is pertinent because people belonging to a certain background derive their sense of belonging from a specific source. Japanese Brazilian community is a lot more different than other multicultural societies on a lot of levels because Brazilian society is more tolerant than others on multiple levels. This is one of the few reasons why, outside Japan, Brazil holds the largest chunk of Japanese population (Noguchi and Fotos). Keeping that in mind, let’s analyze the situation in the following transition. Japanese started to migrate to Japan in 1908 and till now Brazil is the most concerned place for Japanese when they think about migrating to other parts of the world. Although the term Japanese Brazilians is often perceived in the wrong context as these people are not necessarily non-civilians, after 1908 it’s an ongoing chain and this small part of the community has conformed itself into Brazilian culture. In an exclusive journal Al-Jazeera interviewed some socialists living and the most important statement from a local socialist was,
“The interest in Japanese culture is independent from the Japanese community here. The Association of Nikkei and Japanese Abroad estimates about 2.6 million Japanese currently live outside of Japan. Of that number, nearly 1.5 million live in Brazil - or more than 60 percent of all Japanese descendants - and two-thirds of those live in Sao Paulo state.” (Kestler-D'Amours)
Although, language may cause some of the major problems, it is subjective itself. One may not realize this as a pertinent issue but have a look; consider yourself ordering food at a local restaurant, buying something from a local grocery store or you’re a student in the community college trying to understand whatever the teacher is trying to make you understand a concept. Despite the fact that the old community is fairly able to conform to the society, ideological streaming is often work in tandem with mutuality relation with the Brazilian community and this in turn is the factor that makes any society more tolerant.
The first generation of immigrants doesn’t usually learn Portuguese. They have working of Portuguese language developed by the interaction with the local community. The second generation of Japanese immigrants is bilingual because of the usage of Japanese language at home but increased interaction in Portuguese outside. The third generation has little or no knowledge of Japanese and is usually monolingual with fluent Portuguese with exceptions of people having non-fluent Japanese. Japanese Brazilian tend to speak Brazilian more often when living with a relative who was born in Japan while they speak Portuguese while living with second or third generation Japanese immigrant.
Another problem faced by the Japanese-Brazilian community is sense of identity loss. This is mainly due to the fact that the number of Japanese immigrants who are able to speak Japanese is decreasing day by day. This has resulted in sense of identity loss as first and second generation immigrants feel that they are losing their identity as Japanese (Endo). As a result, people of the community are taking steps to learn Japanese language by going to language learning institutions. This helps them in preserving their lingual and cultural identity.
However, here an interesting fact arises in the form of non-native Japanese speakers teaching Japanese to the third generation Japanese-Brazilian immigrants. By the increased number of Japanese immigrants in the country, the interaction between the local community and the Japanese immigrants has resulted in promotion of Japanese language in Brazil. As mentioned earlier, the third generation of Japanese immigrants doesn’t have much knowledge of Japanese. This is true for some of the second generation immigrants too. So, the non-native Japanese speakers are nowadays teaching Japanese language to the second and third generation immigrants.
“One of them, Fernando Katsuji Noda, 48, is a second-generation Japanese-Brazilian banker who was not taught Japanese by his parents. Although it wasn’t an issue in Brazil, he said he regretted being unable to communicate with his relatives when he met them in Japan, and so began studying the language a few years ago. “I initially felt reluctant to learn Japanese from a non-Japanese teacher,” Noda said, but added he now enjoys studying under Wanderley, who teaches in a fun manner.” (Endo)
In conclusion, the problems faced by Japanese immigrants when they move to Brazil in terms of communication include lack of knowledge of Portuguese and sense of identify loss faced by the immigrants when the second or third generation no longer remains fluent in Japanese. These differences and problems make hurdles in the daily life of Japanese immigrants as they are forced to blend in while struggling to keep their identity intact. The issues faced by first generation of immigrants are quite different from the subsequent generations. The first generation struggles in communicating with the Brazilian community while the subsequent generations can easily communicate with the locals but struggle in keeping their cultural identity and communicating with the Japanese relatives back home. These difficulties make the communication between relatives and the immigrants problematic as seen in the case of Fernando Noda who felt regret upon not being able to communicate with his Japanese relatives and decided to learn Japanese in Brazil from a language learning centre.
Ember, Melvin, Carol R Ember, and Ian A Skoggard. Encyclopedia Of Diasporas. New York: Springer, 2005. Print.
Endo, Motonobu. 'Non-Native Teachers Of Japanese Growing Among Brazil's Immigrants | The Japan Times'. The Japan Times. N.p., 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
Hiramatsu, Daniel Afonso, LaÃ©rcio Joel Franco, and Nilce Emy Tomita. 'InfluÃªncia Da AculturaÃ§Ã£o Na AutopercepÃ§Ã£o Dos Idosos Quanto Ã€ SaÃºde Bucal Em Uma PopulaÃ§Ã£o De Origem Japonesa'. Cadernos de SaÃºde PÃºblica 22.11 (2006): 2441-2448. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
Kestler-D'Amours, Jillian. 'Japanese Brazilians Celebrate Mixed Heritage'. Aljazeera.com. N.p., 2014. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
Noguchi, Mary Goebel, and Sandra Fotos. Studies In Japanese Bilingualism. Clevedon [England]: Multilingual Matters Ltd., 2001. Print.