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My father forced me to speak Japanese at home

We were told that at home, we speak Japanese. My younger brother and younger sister were born in Brazil so they had a strong tendency to speak Portuguese. But my dad was a tailor so, you know, he was at home all the time. If we spoke in Portuguese he would get mad at us. “Speak Japanese!” he would say.

And so, at first, I didn’t oppose it, but as a teenager I really rebelled against it. It was like, we come all the way to Brazil and we’re only speaking Japanese? And I thought it was unreasonable to force that on us. But just because they force Japanese on you that way doesn’t mean you’ll be able to speak Japanese. So, in that sense I’m grateful to my parents.


Japanese languages

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)

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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Sumiko Kozawa
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Sumiko Kozawa

Learning English

(1916-2016) Florist

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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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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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Paulo Issamu Hirano
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Paulo Issamu Hirano

Accepted by Japanese society as I learned more Japanese (Japanese)

(b. 1979) Sansei Nikkei Brazilian who lives in Oizumi-machi in Gunma prefecture. He runs his own design studio.

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Paulo Issamu Hirano
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Paulo Issamu Hirano

Change of identity (Japanese)

(b. 1979) Sansei Nikkei Brazilian who lives in Oizumi-machi in Gunma prefecture. He runs his own design studio.

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Paulo Issamu Hirano
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Paulo Issamu Hirano

The term Nikkei (Japanese)

(b. 1979) Sansei Nikkei Brazilian who lives in Oizumi-machi in Gunma prefecture. He runs his own design studio.

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Paulo Issamu Hirano
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Paulo Issamu Hirano

On becoming a Japanese national (Japanese)

(b. 1979) Sansei Nikkei Brazilian who lives in Oizumi-machi in Gunma prefecture. He runs his own design studio.

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