As of 2010:|
80 Japanese nationals
Roughly 1,100 people of Japanese descent
|Regions with significant populations|
|Cuban Spanish, Japanese|
|Related ethnic groups|
The group of Japanese Cubans are called Nikkei. The start of Japanese immigration to Cuba was when there was a noteworthy "peak" in immigration. In 1915, it was estimated that there were fewer than 60 Japanese living in Cuba. They established an agricultural society in Carmelina. Later in 1916, 262 Japanese arrived. Most decided to get a job by harvesting cane. But the conditions were very hard for the Japanese, and some returned to Japan. Some made it to the Isle of Youth, where some families established fruit and vegetable farms. In 1926, immigration to Cuba slowed down.
On December 9, 1941, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, President Batista declared war on Japan, along with its fascist allies, Germany and Italy. A few days later, on December 12, all Japanese descendants living in Cuba were declared "enemy aliens". Most Japanese Cubans were seized. There was also 114 Germans, and 13 Italians. As of 1943 a total of about 1,200 Japanese had immigrated to Cuba, including about 200 Okinawans. Later, over 6,000 Germans, Italians, or Japanese ancestry were deported to the United States. Some found new jobs when they arrived. Some worked as cooks, servants, and other forms of support. The prisoners were not released when the war ended. The last group was released on March 1946; over six months after Japan surrendered. After World War II, some left for Japan. Friendship between the two countries provided women to build a new community. During the 1959 revolution, and the Cuban revolution, more nikkei left for Japan.
Today it is estimated that 1,100 Japanese descendants live in Cuba; they make up 0.01% of the population. In 2008, the Japanese government conferred the Order of the Rising Sun with gold and silver rays on Francisco Shinichi Miyasaka Machida in recognition of his contribution to the welfare of the descendants of Japanese emigrants in Cuba.
- Masterson, Daniel M and Sayaka Funada-Classen. (2003). The Japanese in Latin America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-07144-7