Discover Nikkei

Great Japanese Language School in Escobar (Japanese)

(Japanese) One other special thing about Escobar was that there was Japanese organization which still exists today. What was even more amazing was that — Japanese language school had a really good programs. When I was very young, resident married Japanese couples taught Japanese at school. Classes were offered in the morning and the afternoon. If you spent the morning at an Argentinian, Spanish school, then you would study at the Japanese school for three and a half or four hours in the afternoon. So many generations received a fairly bilingual education, including me.

Because of that, I often heard, “Wow, the Nikkei in Escobar speak such good Japanese.” Or “your Japanese is pretty good.” That was really thanks to the older generations and our predecessor who contributed a lot of resources to Japanese education, even though they weren’t all doing very well financially.

Argentina bilingual Buenos Aires Escobar language schools

Date: September 22, 2019

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Yoko Nishimura

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

Interviewee Bio

Juan Alberto Matsumoto was born in 1962 in the city of Escobar, Buenos Aires, Argentina. He received an informal bilingual education attending the Japanese school in Escobar. While he was in college, he enlisted in the Malvinas War (Falklands War) and served as a signalman. Afterwards, he graduated from the University of Salvador in Buenos Aires with a degree in international relations. In 1990, he went to Japan as a government-sponsored student. He majored in Labor law at Yokohama National University where he received a master’s degree.

Currently he serves as a public relations legal translator, a court interpreter, and broadcast interpreter, as well as a lecturer at JICA trainee orientations. He also teaches Spanish language and Latin American politics and law at the University of Shizuoka and occasionally he gives talks on multicultural coexistence. He also provides various supports for Latin American Nikkei living in Japan. (February 2020)

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