Princess Mako reflects on hardships of Japanese diaspora at museum in Sao Paulo


Princess Mako, the eldest granddaughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, on Sunday visited a Sao Paulo immigration museum as part of her Brazilian tour marking the 110th anniversary of Japan’s first arrivals in the Latin American country.

An estimated 250,000 Japanese have emigrated to Brazil since those first 781 people left the port city of Kobe for the country in 1908. They departed under a government policy at the time that encouraged emigration amid an economic downturn and growing population.

Sao Paulo is now home to the largest community of Japanese outside Japan.

“They must have faced great difficulties,” the princess said after seeing photographs, a replica of immigrant housing and a map indicating where Japanese people settled, among other items.

Other sites she visited Sunday included the Japan House, the hub of a Japanese government project promoting Japanese culture abroad, as well as Promissao, a municipality built by the immigrants.

As part of her fourth official trip abroad, which started Wednesday, the 26-year-old princess is scheduled to visit 14 Brazilian cities in five states before returning to Japan on July 31.