The first Latin American country that Japanese people settled was Brazil. But when Brazil decided to halt Japanese Brazil immigration in 1930s, Uruguay became one of the countries to welcome the Japanese settlers to populate the unpopulated areas. Most of them remained in the capital, Montevideo. When World War II began, there was Anti-Japanese sentiment, especially from German Uruguayans and Italian Uruguayans. Japanese language teaching in schools and newspaper and book publishing in Japanese were prohibited. After the end of the war, hundreds of Japanese refugees were still permitted by Uruguayan government to settle. In recent decades, many Japanese settlers arrived especially as businessmen to profit in the country. Japanese Uruguayans are now respected by white Uruguayans and become assimilated to the mainstream society. They are also an important part of Uruguayan culture.
The 2011 Uruguayan census revealed 186 people who declared Japan as their country of birth.