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Open Access Publications from the University of California

From Carioca to Karaoke: Brazilian Guestworkers in Japan

  • Author(s): Bornstein, Lisa
  • et al.

This article examines the advent ofa new phenomenon - the migration of Brazilian (generally ofJapanese ancestry) guest­ workers to Japan. In Part I, Japan's 1990 immigration policy is described, and the scope ofthe migration and the character­ istics of the guestworkers are presented. In Part II, the article explores how two social institutions affect the migration pro­ cess. Based on interviews with guestworkers and recruiters, the author ;ugues that recruiters, and the economics of their operations, are greatly determinant of the types of jobs migrants get, and that the soda/ relationships underlying migration sente to mask the economics ofrecruitment. More­ over, the experience of the migrants upon arriving in Japan is also a product of soda/ relations, ones in which the ethnicity of these migrants is constructedprimarily on the basis of their position in the labor market and their cultural attributes. In Part Il,l the migration of these lkazilian-Japanese, and the immigration policy permitting it, are shown to be rooted in the failure of alternative policy instruments to resolve labor shortages in Japanese industty and in fears over the impact of widespread immigration.

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