0.3-0.4% of the Peruvian population
|Regions with significant populations|
|Lima, La Libertad Department, Lambayeque Department|
|Predominantly Roman Catholicism,
Protestantism, Shintoism, Mahayana Buddhism,
|Related ethnic groups|
|Chinese Peruvian, Japanese Brazilian, Asian Latinos|
Japanese Peruvians (Spanish: Peruano-Japonés or Nipo-peruano, Japanese: 日系ペルー人, Nikkei Perūjin) are people of Japanese ancestry who were born in or immigrated to Peru. The immigrants from Japan are called the issei generation. Second and third generation Peruvians are referred to as nisei and sansei in Japanese. The yonsei are the fourth generation after the issei.
Japanese Peruvians comprise the second largest ethnic Japanese population in Latin America after Brazil (1.5 million). This ethnic group composes today approximately 0.3% of the population of Peru.
Peru was the first Latin American country to establish diplomatic relations with Japan, in June 1873. Peru was also the first Latin American country to accept Japanese immigration. The Sakura Maru carried Japanese families from Yokohama to Peru and arrived on April 3, 1899 at the Peruvian port city of Callao. This group of 790 Japanese became the first of several waves of emigrants who made new lives for themselves in Peru, some nine years before emigration to Brazil began.
Japanese immigrants arrived from Okinawa, Gifu, Hiroshima, Kanagawa and Osaka prefectures. Many arrived as farmers or to work in the fields but, after their contracts were completed, settled in the cities. In the period before World War II, the Japanese community in Peru was largely run by issei immigrants born in Japan. "Those of the second generation [the nisei ] were almost inevitably excluded from community decision-making."
World War II
It is estimated that there were around 26,000 people of Japanese descent in Peru around the beginning of World War II. After the start of World War II, the United States State Department reached an agreement with the government of Peru; 1,799 Japanese Peruvians were rounded up and transported to American internment camps run by the U.S. Justice Department.
The Peruvians were initially placed amongst the Japanese-Americans who had been excluded from the US west coast; later they were interned in the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) facilities in Crystal City, Texas; Kenedy, Texas; and Santa Fe, New Mexico The Japanese-Peruvians were kept in these "alien detention camps" for more than two years before, through the efforts of civil rights attorney Wayne M. Collins, being offered "parole" relocation to the labor-starved farming community in Seabrook, New Jersey. The interned Japanese Peruvian nisei in the United States were further separated from the issei, in part because of distance between the internment camps and in part because the interned nisei knew almost nothing about their parents' homeland and language.
The deportation of Japanese Peruvians to the United States involved expropriation of their property and other assets in Peru. At war's end, only 79 Japanese Peruvian citizens returned to Peru, and 400 remained in the United States as "stateless" refugees. The interned Peruvian nisei who became naturalized American citizens would consider their children sansei, meaning three generations from the grandparents who had left Japan for Peru.
Today, the occupations of Japanese Peruvians vary because most of them are very well-educated people, ranging from substantial ranks in finance and academia, to catering and hospitality. Japanese Peruvians have a considerable economic position in Peru.
In 2008, more than 6,000 Peruvians lived and worked in Japan, which included 5,000 illegal non-Japanese-descent Peruvians, as documented by immigration officials. There were 41,000 registered Japanese-Peruvian (at least 15,000 illegal non-Japanese-Peruvian with false documentations and illegal Japanese nationalization and maximum 26,000 true Japanese-Peruvian with true documentation and legal Japanese nationalization). Due to economic instability in the 1980s, many Japanese Peruvians left for Japan and the United States, although some have since returned.
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- Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Japan: Japan-Peru relations (Japanese)
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