Japanese-Brazilian starts publication with Brazilian appeal

by Yugo Hirano

Kyodo

A Japanese-Brazilian has started publishing a free bimonthly magazine in the 100th year since Japanese started emigrating to Brazil.

Mario Makuda, who runs an advertising agency in Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture, is producing Revista Mais Brasil (Magazine More Brazil) in the hope that Japanese will become more knowledgeable about not only soccer, the samba and the Amazon, but also about the South American nation itself and Brazilians living in Japan.

He printed 10,000 copies of the first issue of the Japanese-language periodical in January and distributed them in 25 prefectures, including Tokyo, Osaka, Aichi and Kyoto. The print run for the second issue in March was boosted to 15,000 copies.

The first edition featured light reading such as articles on Brazilian-style cafes in Japan as well as Brazilian music, cuisine and fashion. There also were some economic stories, including one on development of an oil well along the coast of Sao Paulo State.

In addition to the 35-year-old Makuda, Kenichi Fujimoto, a 38-year-old former company worker, and five other Japanese are on the magazine’s staff.

Makuda received favorable reaction from readers who said the magazine carried information not found in other publications. He said he wants to become a bridge between Japan and Brazil.

Fujimoto’s love for the bossa nova fueled his deep interest in Brazil. He gave up working as a company employee and opened a Brazilian-style bar in Suginami Ward, Tokyo. He published a Brazilian music magazine named Banca once a year under the pen name Willie Whopper.

Makuda encountered him at a Brazilian music concert in summer 2006 and talked about the possibility of publishing an information magazine, a discussion that eventually led to Revista Mais Brasil.

Makuda raised funds by getting advertisements from supermarkets for Brazilians in Oizumi and Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, among other places. Fujimoto took the position of the magazine’s editor.

The magazine is distributed to Brazilian restaurants, record shops and other locations. It is being put out every other month now, but Makuda hopes eventually to make it a monthly.

More than 300,000 Brazilians reside in Japan, the bulk of them Japanese-Brazilian migrant workers. Portuguese-language newspapers have been published, but there has been a surge in free papers since 2000. Several dozen different papers in Portuguese are believed to be in circulation at present.

A number of Japanese-Brazilians understand only Portuguese, making it indispensable for them to have informative magazines running help-wanted ads, and information on shopping and restaurants.

Makuda was previously involved in producing a free paper. His aim is to make use of his expertise to promote Brazil to Japanese society.

Angelo Ishi, a Japanese-Brazilian associate professor of the theory of ethnic media at Musashi University in Tokyo, said that information magazines not only give Japanese an opportunity to learn more about Brazil but also encourage Japanese-Brazilians who were born in Japan to better appreciate their Brazilian identity.