Q: Why have Brazilians of Japanese descent gone to Japan, and what do they do there?

A: In 1990, the Japanese government passed a law allowing second and third-generation Japanese descendants (the children and grandchildren of Japanese citizens) and their families to live and work in Japan. For many Brazilians of Japanese descent, this was an attractive option, as they could earn higher salaries by going to Japan and working in factories. The migration is overwhelmingly for economic reasons: although most of the migrants are of Japanese descent, my surveys and interviews have shown that they go to Japan in search of financial stability and a better life, not due to cultural ties or a desire for some mythical “return” to their ethnic homeland. When they go to Japan, most of the migrants do not speak much Japanese or identify with Japanese culture and society; that fact, along with the physical and mental toll of exhausting factory work, is a major reason why many Brazilians – including the three families in the film – have such a challenging experience in Japan.