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The Multiple Identities of the Nikkei Community

The Brazilian Media Landscape in Japan

The Brazilian media in Japan, as well as most of the world’s communication processes, has undergone accelerated growth followed by significant diversification and segmentation. In the more than two-decade-old dekasegi migration movement—during which groups of Brazilian immigrants were slowly transformed into a socially articulated community—the media has been accompanying this expansion while going through constant modifications, whether in the printed press, audio and video means of communication, and the Web. To fully understand the current landscape of the Brazilian media in Japan, it is necessary to take a look back in order to grasp the beginnings of the dekasegi press.


During the time when the first generation of Brazilian Nikkei faced the challenges of working in the archipelago, only two periodicals vied for the role of news source about both Brazil and Japan: the International Press, established in 1992, and the Jornal Tudo Bem (All’s Well Newspaper), established in 1993. For the Brazilian community, whose only means until then of keeping itself informed about Brazil was through letters from relatives, the advent of the printed press began supplying their basic need for Brazilian news.

"The first dekasegi received from their relatives in Brazil copies of newspaper and magazine clippings sent by mail. At a time when the Internet didn’t exist, it was in this precarious manner that most of them were informed of the facts taking place in their native country." (ARAI-HIRASAKI, 2008, p. 220)

The initial period of the dekasegi press showed a predominance of news articles about Brazil and information culled from news agencies such as Agência Estado and Agência Folha. The editorial line of the periodicals had little distinctness while the journalists’ profiles were those of a professional with prior experience in Brazil, generally Nisei, who spoke a little Japanese. The main competition took place between International Press and Jornal Tudo Bem, although there were other publications of lesser prominence.

The launching of TV Globo Internacional, featuring some of the Brazilian network’s programming, followed the newspapers. Despite the high costs for the installation of satellite dishes to capture the Globo signal and the pricy programming package monthly fees, a large part of the Brazilian residents in Japan began taking advantage of the system. Another resource, cheaper and more popular within the community, was the rental of videos carrying the programming of both Globo and other networks. Thus, soap operas, miniseries, and variety shows such as Fantástico continued to be part of the lives of Brazilians in spite of their living in a foreign country.


For almost a decade, the Brazilian media in Japan was restricted to the following: printed periodicals, videotapes, and one television network. During this period, the International Press and the Jornal Tudo Bem solidified their positions as the largest Portuguese-language publications in Japan, having expanded to include editorials and sections. The editorial line, earlier quite vague, became more distinctive. Also during that time, increased competition could be noticed among the periodicals as a result of the emergence of new regional newspapers—Look, in Gunma Prefecture, and Folha Mundial (World Newspaper) and Nova Visão (New Vision), in Shizuoka Prefecture.

"Today, the Tudo Bem and the International Press are the most important newspapers in circulation for Brazilians living in the archipelago. The editorial changes that have taken place in its pages throughout the years reflect actual transformations in the lifestyle of the Brazilians. If until the mid-1990s readers were interested solely in news from Brazil, today they look for what’s happening in Japan and in their own communities; a clear sign that the dekasegi are becoming immigrants." (ARAI- HIRASAKI, 2008, p. 224)

As the Brazilian community grew, it became more organized and began organizing more social, sports-related, religious, and other types of activities. Heeding these trends, the Brazilian press in Japan began promoting editorial and content changes so as to attract this potential reading public.

"With an eye on the growing Brazilian market in Japan, along the periphery of the Japanese economy new establishments surfaced, including food outlets, apparel stores, cosmetics, and shoes made in Brazil. Additionally, there were more restaurants serving typical dishes, Portuguese-language video stores, nightclubs playing Brazilian music, hairdressers, repair services, and even used car dealerships catering to Brazilians—all that under the control of Brazilians or Japanese returned from Brazil and protected by Japanese supporters who were, in truth, de facto investors." (KAWAMURA, 2003, pp.100-101)

The community’s profile changes led to transformations in the printed press, so that the dekasegi media kept expanding its coverage of the community. With better-structured offices, the Brazilian newspapers in Japan began offering more extensive and more complete coverage of the growing Brazilian community in that country.

While this community settled permanently in provinces such as Gunma, Shizuoka, and Aichi, branches were formed in cities with a large concentration of Brazilians: Oizumi, Hamamatsu, and Nagoya. The last one, the Aichi capital, has branches not because of the large number of Brazilians but because it houses Brazil’s governmental, commercial, and banking structure, e.g., the Brazilian Consulate in Nagoya, numerous stores carrying Brazilian products, restaurants and nightclubs, and Brazilians banks, such as Banco do Brasil and Bradesco, among others. In addition to the opening of branches, another structural measure that came out of the newspapers’ news desk was the hiring, as freelancers, of reporters and photographers in provinces with a mid-level concentration of Brazilians, such as Nagano, Tochigi, and Mie.

In this second period of the Brazilian press in Japan, the journalists’ profile underwent several alterations. Experienced professionals that had come from Brazil continued to arrive, whether or not they were Nikkei, and generally with a visa for specialists in Humanities, granted to journalists by the Japanese Consulate. To those, were added the ex-dekasegi with a journalism degree, who were quitting factories; self-taught photographers, or those who learned the craft at Japanese schools; and those not graduated in journalism but with a good rapport with the community. The ex-dekasegi with a degree in journalism and the “journalists without a degree” used to send their texts to the publication’s main news desk, where they were rewritten in accordance with the journalistic standards of the newspaper in question.

"The professionals at the branches write stories about the local communities and send them to the headquarters. Today, the IP has six branches, with one journalist in each, and only one has experience in journalism. For today’s media, to have someone informed about the reality of the Brazilian communities in Japan may be more useful than having a reporter with a degree in journalism and prior experience in Brazil. Even Fátima (Fátima Kamata, the IP’s editor-in-chief, in an interview conducted in 2001), when she began working at the Japanese newspaper in São Paulo, had to readjust herself, learning from her own mistakes that the editorial policies of community publications are different than those of a regular newspaper. Therefore, in these newspapers, experience in traditional journalism is not emphasized." (SHIRAMIZU, Shiguehiko, 2004)


At the turn of the 21st century, two events have changed the landscape of the Brazilian media in Japan. The first one was the advent of the Internet, whose popularization began in the 1990s. The second one was the creation of the “free papers,” free publications that became more popular in Japan thanks to the large number of foreigners in that country.


The popularization of the Internet has led to a worldwide transformation in the news realm. At the end of the 1990s, the digital media gained adepts in Japan due to the ability to buy a computer and the excellent quality of the digital network in that country.

When the digital media’s first news sites began surfacing, the question that came up was if that would represent the end of the printed press. But one decade after the popularization of the Internet, what can be attested is that the digital media has contributed to a reformulation of the content of newspapers the world over and that partnerships have been established, thus increasing access to information via audio, video, and interactive resources.

The Internet has served as a creative agent of a new language and has influenced other media with its hyperlinks, tools, and interactivity, in addition to having transformed the relationship between journalists and their sources.

"In fact, if we come up with an analysis of the transformations caused by the Internet we’ll notice that, in a certain way, it has strongly assisted the practice of journalism. It has facilitated access to information, contact with sources, and fact-checking; at the same time, it has also extended the reach and the chances of distribution of journalistic information." (FLIZIKOWSKI, Marcio, 2004)

The Internet has reduced distances and has promoted a revolution in all the news processes known to date. Inside news desks, changes were felt from the creation of guidelines to the editorial process and newspaper publication. The working ways of members of the press were radically altered in a mere decade.

With the popularization of the worldwide net of computers, a new—and cheap—means of receiving news from Brazil became in use in the archipelago. Thus, the vehicles of communication for Brazilians in Japan had to review and reformulate their strategies.

The two largest Brazilian periodicals in Japan have strengthened their local coverage focus. Firstly, on account of the increase of the news space devoted to the community. The larger and more structured the community, the more news it’ll produce, which requires more efficient coverage. Secondly, because the reader now has information practically in real time via the Web, so that the printed press is unable to compete with the Internet when it comes to general content, such as news from Brazil, international news, sports, and culture.

Nonetheless, instead of heralding the end of the printed media, the Internet has inaugurated a new relationship between the news media and the reading public: the printed media has acquired Web versions, which are more interactive with their readers, and have survived. The printed media and the Web have become allies in the supply of information.

Bastions of news for the Brazilian-dekasegi community, the Portuguese-language newspapers in Japan formed partnerships with major Brazilian online portals. Currently, the Jornal Tudo Bem is hosted at the UOL portal, while the IPC, by way of Pokebrás, is tied to the Grupo Abril. The other publications for Brazilians in Japan also offer sites or complete editions on the Web to their reading public.

Free papers

The second element that has transformed the landscape of the Brazilian media in Japan was the advent of “free papers”—free magazines in Portuguese. The first Brazilian free papers emerged in the beginning of 2000. The first notable magazine was the biweekly Alternativa, established in 2000, with headquarters in Aikawa in Kanagawa Prefecture. Currently, the free papers total more than 60; segmentation is their chief characteristic. There are free papers that cover only one subject—automobiles or religion, for instance—and others that can be found in only one province.

Nowadays, the largest free papers are: Alternativa + version Nishi and Higashi (, Gambare! (, Vitrine (, Mais Brasil (, Acha Fácil (, Folha E (, and Meu Carro (

The Future

Today’s Brazilian dekasegi enjoy numerous and diverse options of access to news about Japan, Brazil, and the world. The community itself, which in the beginning of the dekasegi migration movement was more homogeneous, is currently composed of male and female Brazilians of all age groups, with varied tastes and interests. In the same manner, diversification also occurred in regard to shopping, leisure, and entertainment options for these Brazilians.

In the publishing field, the transformations the community has been undergoing are translated into the diversification of resources and the segmentation of publications aiming at a smaller—but more faithful—readership. The variety of periodicals at the disposal of Brazilian readers, distributed at outlets for Brazilian products, reflects the global trend of specialized news publications.

One important change in the editorial line of the printed media should be highlighted; one that has been gradually taking place with the passing of the years. The newspapers’ readership is increasingly less seen as consisting of people temporarily in Japan, over there to work for two to four years and then return to Brazil. The number of news articles about the return to the country of origin, though still present, has diminished, having been replaced by pieces on how to live in Japan, how to retire in that country, or how to buy property in the archipelago.

Not that long ago the implicit editorial line of most printed media presented their coverage based on the supposition that most Brazilian dekasegi were in the country temporarily. Today, the editorial line signals that the Brazilian migration is no longer temporary but permanent, so that now the main focus of the articles is life in Japan. The integration into Japanese society, permanent visas, retirement, home ownership, Japanese schools and universities are recurrent subjects of news articles that interest the greater part of the reading public.

Just like the Brazilian community in Japan and its media has been undergoing transformations, the profile and perspectives of Brazilian journalists in Japan have changed as well. The job market, which earlier consisted of three or four publications, has both multiplied and expanded beyond the limits of the printed media, now encompassing radio, TV and the Internet.

And what was for journalists a new and temporary work experience away from Brazil has turned into a permanent job market that recruits professionals from Brazilian publications, the Japanese media, and from factories, since the ex-dekasegi with journalism degrees and the “journalists without degree” still represent a significant portion of the news desks of the Brazilian media in Japan. This could surprise news desks in Brazil, where most media outlets require a degree. In Japan, the absence of a degree is accepted as a fact, perhaps because of the way that profession is characterized in Japanese society. In Japan, journalism schools do not exist, while media outlets recruit their future employees from sociology, political science, economics, history and other colleges, providing in-house training to those novices in the profession.

Summary: Brazilian Media in Japan

1. Beginnings (1992 to 1996)

Main competition: IP and JTB
Journalist Profile: with prior experience in Brazil, Nisei, speaking a little Japanese
Advertiser: banks, contractors

2. Maturity (1996 to 2000)

Competition: Regional IP, JTB, periodicals (Folha E, Look, Folha Mundial),
free papers in English (Tokyo Classified), Globo Internacional TV, videotapes of news programs and soap operas.

Journalist Profile: with prior experience in Brazil, ex-dekasegi, Nikkei or not
Advertiser: banks, contractors, stores (generally, Brazilian-owned establishments)

3. Today (2001 to 2008)

Competition: IP, JTB, Internet (portals, sites, blogs, wireless devices), free news sources (Gambare!, Alternativa, Vitrine, Mais Brasil), weekly and biweekly “free papers,” monthly and bimonthly “free papers,” segmented - auto, religious, etc. - “free papers,” Globo network, Record network, NHK in Portuguese.

Journalist Profile: with prior experience in Brazil or Japan, ex-dekasegi with or without a degree in journalism, Nikkei, ethnically mixed, with spouse of either Japanese and non-Japanese ancestry.

Advertiser: banks, contractors, retail, restaurants, schools, travel agencies, driving schools, academies, beauticians, hostess services, telephony, Internet, computer sciences, moving companies, etc.





ARAI, Jhony, HIRASAKI, Cesar, 100 years of Japanese Immigration in Brazil, São Paulo, 2008. The Official Press of the State of São Paulo.

FLIZIKOWSKI, MARCIO, article “The challenge of journalism in the 21st century,” 25/5/2004.

KAWAMURA, Lili, Where the Brazilians Go, São Paulo, 2003.

LOPEZ, Immaculada, News article “Green-Yellow Invasion,” published in Brazilian Problems Magazine, #319 January/February of 1997. [“Green-Yellow” refers to the colors of the Brazilian flag]

SASAKI, ELISA, Immigration to Japan, Advanced Studies, vol.20 #57 São Paulo May/Aug 2006.

SHIRAMIZU, SHIGUEHIKO, Ethnic Media Studies, Communitarian Journalism – Portuguese-language publications increase in Japan, 2004.


International Press - weekly, 50,000 units
Jornal Tudo Bem - weekly, 40,000 units
Alternativa - biweekly, Nishi and Higashi version, 56,000 units
Gambare! - weekly, 25,000 units
Vitrine - biweekly, 60,000 units
Folha E - monthly, 40,000 units
Mais Brasil - biweekly, no circulation data
Acha Fácil Guia de Compras e Serviços - monthly, 30,000 units
Olho vivo - monthly, 20,000 units
Boa dica - monthly, 20,000 units
Meu Carro - monthly, no circulation data

*Andreia Ferreira was a panelist in a presentation titled "The Dynamic Life of Migrants Between Brazil and Japan-Perspectives on Japan" at the Discover Nikkei Symposium—100 Years of Japanese Immigration: The Multiple Identities of the Nikkei Community in Sao Paulo on September 20, 2008.

© 2008 Andréia Ferreira

Brazil brazilians in Japan dekasegi media

About this series

A series of articles from panelists at a Discover Nikkei Symposium—“100 Years of Japanese Immigration: The Multiple Identities of the Nikkei Community” in São Paulo on September 20, 2008.