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Friday, April 25, 2008

Japan, Brazil celebrate 100 years of emigration

Staff writer

Japanese and Brazilian officials celebrated the centennial of Japanese emigration to Brazil in a ceremony in Tokyo Thursday, saying they will work to further strengthen bilateral ties.

News photo
Milestone marked: Emperor Akihito makes a congratulatory speech during a ceremony Thursday at a Tokyo hotel to celebrate the centennial of Japanese emigration to Brazil. Dilma Rousseff, chief minister of the Presidential Staff Office of Brazil (left), also spoke at the event. KAZUAKI NAGATA PHOTO

"Although our fellow nationals faced many hardships when they moved to Brazil, they have earned significant respect and trust from the local society," Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said in a speech, lauding the contributions made by Japanese emigrants and their descendants to bilateral ties.

"I am proud as a Japanese . . . and would like to show my great appreciation (of their efforts)," said Fukuda, adding that the two nations have become good partners on the international stage as well.

Dilma Rousseff, chief minister of the Presidential Staff Office of Brazil, said it is time to revitalize the bilateral relationship to both countries' benefit.

She cited environmental issues and recyclable energy as areas where the two countries can work together. She also noted that Brazil recently adopted Japan's digital terrestrial broadcasting technology.

In April 1908, 781 Japanese emigrants departed Kobe aboard the Kasato Maru, bound for Brazil. The majority of the emigrants were farmers, and they arrived at the port of Santos, south of Sao Paulo, where they went on to work at coffee plantations.

The number of Japanese emigrants to Brazil numbered 190,000 until the end of World War II, and about 1.5 million people of Japanese descent currently live in Brazil, making it the largest Japanese-derived community in the world.

Hundreds took part in the ceremony, including Japanese-Brazilians living in Japan. The event also featured musical performances by students of Ishihama Nishi Elementary School in Aichi Prefecture — where many of the Japanese-Brazilians live.

Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and Crown Prince Naruhito also attended the event.

In his congratulatory speech, the Emperor mentioned his visit earlier this month to the town of Oizumi and the city of Ota in Gunma Prefecture, where many Brazilians of Japanese descent work at factories.

He said it is great to see that various policies have been implemented by local governments to support their lives.

"Just like Japanese emigrants were warmly accepted in Brazil, I think it is important that people of Japanese descent who make daily efforts at local communities here in Japan are warmly accepted as well."

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