Peruvian Japanese Internment

Introduction

History of Peruvian Japanese

Peru's Motivations for Internment

America's Reasons

Legal Reasons Behind Internment

Conclusion

Sources

Museum
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History of the Japanese Immigrants in Peru

The Japanese in Peru

The Japanese began arriving in Peru in the late 1800's. Many factors motivated the Japanese to immigrate to Peru. At the time of the Sino-Japanese war, the economic state of Japan was poor. Japanese immigrated to Peru to find new job opportunities. Because of the poor economic conditions in Japan, a surplus of skilled farmers in Japan occurred. Peru provided a new job market that was accomodating to the Japanese farmers. When the Japanese first arrived in Peru, the Peruvians welcomed the hard-work ethic of the Japanese worker. They provided the Peruvians with a cheap and productive labor source. After the population of Japanese immigrants grew in Peru, many Peruvian Japanese began opening small businesses and became entrepreneurs. The Peruvian Japanese were becoming a larger part in the Peruvian economy, but their growing part in the Peruvian economy lead to other problems for the Peruvian Japanese.

Although the Japanese were evolving among the Peruvian economy, they were a community that isolated themselves from the rest of society. They made no attempts to integrate themselves into Peruvian society. The Japanese lived in seperate communities and generally only associated with other Japanese. The Japanese sent their children to Japanese-language schools and continued many practices typical of Japanese culture. They harbored ideas that the Japanese were a superior culture, and often looked down upon the Peruvians. Most of the Japanese felt that Peru was a temporary residency until they could either move back to Japan or move to a better country. As a result, the Japanese were commonly not understood by the native Peruvians. This tension between the Japanese and native Peruvians lead to dislike towards the Japanese. As the Japanese in Peru became economically successful, the Peruvians saw the Japanese as a threat. Native Peruvians felt that the Japanese were taking over the farmland and the business in Peru. A racist attitude towards the Japanese grew among the Peruvians which lead to discrimination not only at a social level, but eventually at a political level.

Peruvian Reactions to the Japanese

The Peruvian government began discriminating against the Japanese as a reaction to the public dislike of the Japanese. It began in June of 1936, when the Japanese government amended immigration quotas and regulations to restrict the number of immigrants from Japan who were allowed migrate to Peru. Later in July of 1936, the Peruvian government discontinued granting the Japanese naturalization papers. The goal behind Peruvian government's legislation was to eliminate the influence of Japanese in Peru.

The biggest conflict between the native Peruvians and Peruvian Japanese occured in May of 1940. At this time riots against the native Japanese broke out in Lima and Callao. Peruvian Japanese businesses and homes were destroyed during the riots. After the riots, many Japanese became worried and some Japanese men even had their families return to Japan. The Peruvian government reacted to the riots by suspending future immigration rights to the Japanese and by taking away the citizenship of native-born Peruvian Japanese.

 

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This exhibit was researched and designed by Alexis Frances Murono.

Background: (www.sscnet.ucla.edu/ aasc/ex9066)


This exhibit and museum were created during an introductory seminar on the Asia-Pacific War, taught at Wake Forest University during the spring semester 2002.

The material and opinions are those of their respective authors and do not represent the views of the University or the Department of History.