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What made your parents decide to move to Brazil?

Well, there was a time when my father, who grew up in a family of 7, went to Brazil. There was someone named Koto Ninomiya – this person, well, they were my dad’s older sister. And there was also my dad’s second older sibling Ninomiya Tokuichi. And together with Harumi Sonokumashita, my uncle, they went to Brazil in 1926 or 1927 as a family unit. So, well, Koto Ninomiya got married in Brazil to someone named Shimuta who was originally from Fukuoka Prefecture.

Either at the end of 1952 or at the start of 1953, the Shimuta couple came to Japan. They seemed extremely wealthy. They looked at our lives and said something like “Things are better in Brazil. Japan lost the war and has no future. So, if you go to Brazil you can have a good life”. And well, my parents, well, how do you put it, took those words to heart. “Well then, let’s go to Brazil” they said.

They left Yokohama on November 28th, 1953 on board the “America Maru” ship and arrived in Santos on January 16th, 1954.


Brazil migration postwar World War II

Date: September 19, 2019

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Yoko Nishimura

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

Interviewee Bio

Masato Ninomiya was born in Nagano Prefecture in 1948 and moved to Brazil at the age of 5 with his family. He currently maintains a legal office in São Paulo, and in addition to working as a Law Professor at the University of Sao Paulo, also serves as Special Assistant to the President at Meiji University and as Visiting Professor of Law at Musashino University. Since its founding in 1992, he has served as President of CIATE (Center for Information and Support to Workers Abroad), Advisor to the Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) for Central and South America, and also a Committee Member of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Additionally, he is considered a Nikkei community leader in Brazil, supporting various activities such as improving the working conditions of Brazilian Dekasegi, and the education of Japanese-Brazilian children. . (May 2021)

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Roger Shimomura

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