Although Peruvians would elect a Japanese man, Alberto Fujimori, the president of their country in 1990, earlier generations of Peruvians resented and distrusted the Japanese living in their country. In an effort to send all its Japanese people to Japan during World War II, the Peruvian government began shipping them to the United States, where most of the deportees were interned for the duration of the war, along with many Japanese Americans.
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the deteriorating economic situation in Japan prompted many young Japanese to migrate to the Americas. When the Japanese were legally barred from entering the United States, they turned their attention to South American nations. In 1899, the first Japanese began settling in Peru.
Although initially hired by Peruvian agricultural landowners, many Japanese immigrants eventually migrated to Peru’s cities to work as small-scale merchants. South Americans did not wholeheartedly welcome the Japanese immigrants, however. This distrust and hostility deepened during the 1930’s, partly because of the perceived affluence of the Japanese during the
In May, 1940, rumors that the Japanese in Peru’s capital city, Lima, were planning to take over the country led to anti-Japanese riots. Anti-Japanese sentiments combined with the December, 1941, Japanese
On the grounds of “military necessity,” Peru deported about 1,800 first-generation
Engaged in a version of ethnic cleansing, the Peruvian government expected that the Japanese whom it was deporting would eventually be sent to Japan. Meanwhile, U.S. secretary of state
After World War II ended in 1945, and U.S. internment camps were closed, about 100 Japanese Peruvians who had been interned in the United States returned to Peru. About 300 remained in the United States. The rest went to Japan.
Kikumara-Yano, Akemi, ed. Encyclopedia of Japanese Descendants in the Americas: An Illustrated History of the Nikkei. Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press, 2002. Masterson, Daniel M., and Sayaka Funada-Classen. The Japanese in Latin America. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2004.
Japanese American internment
Latin American immigrants