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https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/1542/

Change of identity (Japanese)

(Japanese) As for my identity, I think I have been through a series of changes in the process of becoming an adult. Before I came to Japan, I had a strong feeling that I was Japanese. I came to Japan with a strong belief that I was Japanese. But once I arrived here, I was treated as Brazilian and I couldn’t get along with people at school. As people said to me, “Go back to Brazil,” I found myself really confused. And then I started to think of myself as Brazilian after all and asked myself who I was as Brazilian. I went back and forth between the two especially when I was in school. I thought to myself, I’m Brazilian, but then I wanted to be Japanese. I wanted to have friends, so I thought, what should I do to become like everyone else? So, as a child my desire to become a Japanese national might have been stronger.

Well, but I knew that whether I become a Japanese national or not would have no effect on my Japanese skills or on my surroundings, so I didn’t take any action. Still, I remember that I thought a lot about my identity, questioning if I was Brazilian or Japanese.

And as I grew up, I think I started to feel more attached to me being a Brazilian. I couldn’t fully become Japanese - there’s part of me that couldn’t become Japanese. It was partly because I didn’t know enough, and I didn’t experience things that are commonly experienced in Japanese home, so I thought to myself, I’m not Japanese after all, but at the same time I don’t know much about Brazil either, so I’m not Brazilian, which led me to being Nikkei in the end.


Brazilians Gunma Prefecture identity Japan Japanese Nikkei in Japan Oizumi

Date: October 18, 2016

Location: Gunma, Japan

Interviewer: Shigeru Kojima

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Paulo Issamu Hirano was born in São Paulo in January, 1979. As a Sansei whose grandparents are from Kumamoto Prefecture, he grew up in the Monte Kemel region near Liberdade. In 1989, he moved to Japan as his father, who had come as a dekasegi, called on him. Ever since, he has lived in Oizumi-machi in Gunma Prefecture. At first he was having a hard time with the language, but he made more friends as he learned Japanese. Currently he supports the Brazilian community as a graphic designer with his Japanese skills. In 2009, he started his own business and runs a design studio now. He publishes free magazines that introduce Oizumi-machi. He dedicates his life to making Oizumi-machi a Brazil town. (August, 2017)

Henry Suto
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Henry Suto

Being enlisted into the Japanese Army

(1928 - 2008) Drafted into both the Japanese Imperial Army and the U.S. Army.

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Henry Suto
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Henry Suto

Reaction to the Emperor’s surrender

(1928 - 2008) Drafted into both the Japanese Imperial Army and the U.S. Army.

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Hiroshi Sakane
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Hiroshi Sakane

A strong Japanese identity (Japanese)

(b. 1948) Executive Director of Amano Museum

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Hiroshi Sakane
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Hiroshi Sakane

On being thought of as a Japanese person (Japanese)

(b. 1948) Executive Director of Amano Museum

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Toshiko Elena Onchi
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Toshiko Elena Onchi

The identity crisis of Peruvian children in Japan (Spanish)

Japanese Peruvian in Japan

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Francesca Yukari Biller
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Francesca Yukari Biller

Fitting in to both sides of her family

Jewish Japanese American journalist

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Jimmy Murakami
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Jimmy Murakami

Teaching English in Japan

(1933 – 2014) Japanese American animator

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A. Wallace Tashima
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A. Wallace Tashima

Asian American Lawyers as Victims of “Overt Racial Discrimination”

(b. 1934) The First Japanese American Appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals. 

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A. Wallace Tashima
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A. Wallace Tashima

“I could never get a job offer from a private law firm”

(b. 1934) The First Japanese American Appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals. 

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Edward Toru Horikiri
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Edward Toru Horikiri

(Japanese) My children’s education

(b. 1929) Kibei Nisei

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Acey Kohrogi
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Acey Kohrogi

Nomo's impact on later Japanese players

Former Director of Asian Operations for Los Angeles Dodgers

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Jean Hamako Schneider
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Jean Hamako Schneider

Respecting the will of a five-year-old daughter (Japanese)

(b. 1925) War bride

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Takeo Uesugi
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Takeo Uesugi

Americans changing his opinion of the US

(1940-2016) Issei Landscape Architect

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Terumi Hisamatsu Calloway
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Terumi Hisamatsu Calloway

The Kids and Japanese Language (Japanese)

(b. 1937) A war bride from Yokohama

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Antonio Shinkiti Shikota
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Antonio Shinkiti Shikota

More government supports in the city of Oizumi for Japanese Brazilians (Portuguese)

(b. 1962) Japanese Brazilian owner of a Brazilian products store in Japan.

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