SAO PAULO – About 4,000 people, including Princess Mako, attended a ceremony in Sao Paulo on Saturday to mark the 110th anniversary of the arrival of Brazil’s first Japanese immigrants.
In a speech, Princess Mako expressed her gratitude to the government and people of Brazil for warmly welcoming the immigrants.
She also said she “sincerely respects the efforts of Japanese immigrants and their descendants to build, develop and support Japanese-Brazilian communities.”
The princess is the first child of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, and the eldest grandchild of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
Harumi Goya, president of the Brazilian Society of Japanese Culture and Social Services, told the ceremony that following periods of hardship, Japanese-Brazilians now feel they are seeing fruitful results.
Brazilian Vice Foreign Minister Marcos Galvao, who once served as ambassador to Japan, praised the immigrants, saying they came from far way to make great contributions to the development of the country.
An estimated 250,000 Japanese have emigrated to Brazil since the first group of 781 arrived aboard the Kasado Maru in 1908.
Brazil is home to the world’s largest community of Japanese descendants outside of Japan, totaling about 1.9 million people.
Later on Saturday, Princess Mako visited Sao Paulo’s Ibirapuera Park and laid a wreath at a cenotaph for the early immigrants. She also held talks with volunteers from the Japan International Cooperation Agency and young Japanese-Brazilians.