Project Description

São Paulo, Brazil: Mainland-Taiwan-Japan relations


Relations between Mainland China, Taiwan, and Japan have been fraught with disputes over territory and the interpretation of history for years. How are Mainlanders, Taiwanese and Japanese faring overseas?

The largest influx of Mainlanders in Brazil arrived around 1949, when industrialists and businessmen, many from Shanghai, fled the Communist takeover and moved their families and entire factories with their workers to São Paulo. Taiwanese mostly came in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of them were Mainlanders from Shandong that also had fled the communists, but moved to Taiwan first in 1949 as members of the Nationalist army. Japanese have been emigrating to Brazil since 1908, when the country’s coffee plantations were facing labor shortages.

Japanese in Sao Paulo 1930The Liberdade district in Sao Paulo has a distinct multi-Asian cultural presence, with Japanese, Taiwanese and Mainlanders all living in one area. Taiwanese and Mainlanders go to the same temples and celebrate the same Chinese holidays. Taiwan-Japanese intermarriages have become normal. Due to the extended historical presence of both Mainlanders and Japanese in Taiwan, the Taiwanese community in São Paulo in many ways forms a bridge between the other two communities.

An opportunity…
Especially third generation immigrants (and their children) from each of the three places have largely moved beyond focusing on differences, and embraced the enrichment of diversity. A little distance from the emotional debates in the motherlands appear to work well for tolerance; perhaps there is a role to play for increasingly intertwined diasporas in reducing some of the world’s political tensions?

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