Brazil–Japan relations

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Brazil-Japan relations
Map indicating locations of Brazil and Japan



Brazil–Japan refers to the current and historical relations between Brazil and Japan. More than 1.6 million Brazilians are of Japanese descent, making Brazil host to the largest Japanese community outside Japan.[1] At the same time, Japan is host to the third largest Brazilian population, most being of Japanese origin.[2] Both nations are members of the G4 nations, G20 and World Trade Organization.


A poster used in Japan to attract immigrants to Brazil. It reads: "Let’s go to South America with families."

First contact between Brazil and Japan was through Portuguese explorers who first arrived to Japan in 1543 and founded the city of Nagasaki; 43 years after Portugal founded its first colonies in Brazil. From 1543–1638, Portugal traded with Japan with stopovers in Brazil along the way, known as the Nanban trade. Many Japanese products were sold in Brazil and, during this time period, Portuguese traders sold Japanese slaves in Brazil.[3] By 1638, Portuguese traders were no longer allowed to trade in Japan, however, trade continued between the Portuguese colony in Macau. Soon afterwards, Japan entered a period of isolation.

In September 1822, Brazil obtained its independence from Portugal. In October 1868, Japan entered the Meiji period and began fostering diplomatic relations with several nations, after decades of isolation. In 1895, Brazil and Japan signed a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation.[2] In 1897, diplomatic missions were opened in each nations capitals, respectively. In June 1908, a ship from Japan carrying 790 Japanese migrants arrived to Brazil aboard the Kasato Maru; the first of many Japanese migrants to arrive to Brazil. Between 1908 and 1941, over 190,000 Japanese immigrated to Brazil searching for better opportunities in the South American nation.[4]

During World War II, Brazil broke diplomatic relations with Japan in January 1942 over the Attack on Pearl Harbor and allied itself with the Allies.[2] As a result, thousands of families of Japanese origin in Brazil were arrested or deported as potential spies or collaborators. The Brazilian government also closed hundreds of Japanese schools, seized communications equipment and forced the relocation of Japanese who lived close to the coastline. Many in the Japanese-Brazilian community were tortured, and were forced to step on an image of Emperor Hirohito, who was then considered a deity in Japan.[5] Diplomatic relations between both nations were restored in 1952.[2] Between 1953–1973, an additional 55,000 Japanese immigrated to Brazil.[4]

In July 1959, Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi became the first Japanese head of state to visit Brazil.[6] In September 1976, Brazilian President Ernesto Geisel paid an official visit to Japan.[2] Japanese Emperor Akihito visited Brazil in 1997, his third visit to the country (his first and second visit were as Crown Prince in 1967 and 1978, respectively).[2]

In 1990, the Japanese government authorized the legal entry of Japanese and their descendants until the third generation in Japan. Since then, close to 300,000 Japanese-Brazilians have migrated to Japan and form the third-largest immigrant group in Japan, after Chinese and Koreans.[7] In recent years, however, several have returned to Brazil after saving money in Japan to purchase property in Brazil and in 2016, the Brazilian-Japanese community totaled 180,000 members.[8]

In 2015, both nations celebrated 120 years of diplomatic relations.

State visits[edit]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, June 2019.

Presidential visits from Brazil to Japan[2]

Royal and Prime Ministerial visits from Japan to Brazil[2]

Bilateral relations[edit]

Brazil and Japan have signed several bilateral agreements/treaties such as an Agreement on Technical Cooperation (1970); Cooperation Agreement in the field of Science and Technology (1984); Joint Program for Revitalization of Economic Relations (2005) and an Agreement on the facilitation of the issuance of multiple-entry Visas for holders of regular passports (2016).[2]


In 2015, trade between Brazil and Japan totaled US$8 billion.[8] Brazil's main exports to Japan include: iron ore, meat, non-ferrous metal, chemicals, iron and steel. Japan's main exports to Brazil include: automobiles, automotive parts, motors, metal working machinery.[8] In 2016, Japanese direct investment in Brazil totaled US$1.4 billion. That same year, Japan ranked as the third largest trading partner for Brazil in Asia and the seventh in the world.[2] Several well known multinational Japanese companies such as Daiso, Honda, Sony, Toshiba and Toyota (among others) operate in Brazil. In 2007, Japan Airlines began purchasing Embraer made airplanes for their company.[2]

The two countries are negotiating a free trade agreement, with possible announcement until the end of 2019, following the opening of the South American market, Mercosur.[9]

Resident diplomatic missions[edit]

Embassy of Brazil in Tokyo

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lasting legacy of Brazil's Japanese
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Japan". Archived from the original on 2017-08-20. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  3. ^ The rarely, if ever, told story of Japanese sold as slaves by Portuguese traders
  4. ^ a b Japan, Brazil mark a century of settlement, family ties
  5. ^ Brazil's Japanese community gets apology for abuse
  6. ^ História de 120 Anos de Amizade Japão-Brasil (1951-2000) (in Portuguese)
  7. ^ A Japanese Exodus in Reverse; Brazilians Work Their Way Back to the Ancestral Home
  8. ^ a b c Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Brazil
  9. ^ "Parceria comercial entre Brasil e Japão pode sair ainda este ano". UOL. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  10. ^ Embassy of Brazil in Japan (in Japanese and Portuguese)
  11. ^ Embassy of Japan in Brazil (in Japanese and Portuguese)