Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - Of Two Bloods: Return Migration and Global Pentecostalism among Nikkei Brazilian Migrants in Contemporary Japan

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Thurgood Marshall North, Mezzanine

The “return” of emigrants and their descendants is today a growing form of transnational mobility in Asia and beyond. In 1990, Japan introduced a new type of visa for “long-term residents,” which is available to foreigners of Japanese descent up to the third generation. Given this change, hundreds of thousands of Japanese Brazilians (i.e. Nikkeis) started migrating to Japan, today forming the fifth largest group of foreign residents in the nation at around 180,000. Although Nikkeis benefit from the special ancestry-based visa, they often feel marginalized in their supposed ancestral homeland due to their quasi-Japanese status and working-class profile. In this context of contested belonging, Latin American Pentecostal Christianity has been flourishing among the migrant communities. Based on 14 months of fieldwork, this paper investigates the intersection of migration, religion, and kinship by analyzing two tropes of “blood” prominent among Nikkei Pentecostal converts: the “Japanese blood” and the blood of Jesus. To many Nikkeis, their “Japanese blood” carries a contentious meaning as a marker of their marginal place in the national kinship of Japan. This is in stark contrast to the other kind of blood, the blood of Jesus, which they embrace as the medium of Christian fellowship open for any “brothers and sisters in faith.” While the national kinship locates the source of migrants’ moral entitlement in their Japanese ancestral past, the Pentecostal kinship emphasizes the importance of continuous conversion in the charismatic present. The paper delves into the ethical tensions between the two diverging logics of relatedness.

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