Japanese immigration to Colombia : the quest for Eldorado?
This thesis is a cultural history of Japanese immigration to Colombia throughout the twentieth century. It looks at the circumstances under which Japanese migration was envisioned by Colombia and Japan and has three basic aims: first, to identify the expectations of Colombia regarding foreign immigration, and of the Japanese government in promoting emigration abroad; second, to explain the process of adaptation by the immigrants to the new social and physical environment, so different from their country of origin; and third, to discuss the significance of the 'U-turn nikkei’ labour migration to Japan. In this work, the activities of the emigration company Kaigai Kôgyô Kabushiki Gaisha are examined. This company, in association with the Overseas Cooperative of Fukuoka Prefecture, planned and conducted rural immigration to Colombia. In addition to a summary of the immigration legislation, an overview of all immigration plans is presented. Because of the role immigration played in shaping the relations between the two countries, early diplomatic and economic relationships are also considered. Special attention is given to the protection of the Panama Canal zone by the United States, a fact that deterred Japanese immigration to Colombia. This thesis has involved the examination of a diverse range of sources, dispersed in several archives and libraries in Colombia, England, Japan, and the United States. Bibliographical research was combined with fieldwork, carried out among the Japanese immigrants and their descendants in Colombia as well as Japan. This work hopes to contribute to a better understanding of Japanese emigration abroad, adding a new perspective to the study of international immigration to Colombia.