Chris Cheng

Chris Cheng is of Japanese and Chinese decent, whose Japanese side hails from Cuba. Chris visited Cuba for one month in 2006 to research the Japanese Cuban community for a master's research project. He was the first person in his family to return to Cuba since the last of his family left in 1971. Chris obtained a full list of Japanese interned in Cuba during World War II, and has one of the only known translations from Japanese into English. He works at Square, Inc and previously at Google, Inc in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Updated August 2016

community en

Excerpt from Japanese Cubans: Past, Present, and Future: My Japanese Family’s Migration to Cuba - Part 2

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Alicia’s sister, Josefa (Sizue) Yoshimura, was two years younger, and had two “boyfriends” (the title changes depending on which sister of hers is asked). The first was named Octavio. He was in love with Josefa, but she didn’t consider him a boyfriend by any measure. Octavio was skinny and always wore a guayabera, a typical Cuban shirt that usually had stitched flower or patterned designs running vertically on each half of the front side. They are still popular in Cuba today. The second “boyfriend” was Margarito. He was overweight and more in love with Josefa ...

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Excerpt from Japanese Cubans: Past, Present, and Future: My Japanese Family’s Migration to Cuba - Part 1

I would like to take the opportunity to tell the tale of my great grandfather who traveled from Japan to Cuba, via Mexico, and established two generations of Japanese Cubans. My family ran a successful ice cream business and was very happy living in Cuba. However, when the Revolution came in 1959, my family lost everything and in 1966 it was decided by the family elders that everyone would leave Cuba for the United States of America. My godfather, Hector (Makoto) Matsumoto was the first member of my family to arrive in the United States in 1962 under Operation Peter ...

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Excerpt from Japanese Cubans: Past, Present, and Future: Strengthening the Japanese Cuban Community

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There are a number of impediments which inhibit Japanese Cuban unity in Cuba. Here I provide some issues which need to be addressed in order to facilitate better and stronger Japanese institutions in Cuba.

The small number of Cubans with Japanese heritage has been mentioned, and as with other peoples which assimilate into a host country, as time goes on, the more difficult it can be to preserve the language and other components of a culture. 

Japanese Cubans do not have many monetary resources, which is the same with almost every Cuban. Cuban government officials often ...

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community en

Excerpt from Japanese Cubans: Past, Present, and Future: The Future

The future of a culture often relies on its ties to the past. Many Japanese Cubans do not have strong ties to their Japanese heritage. The small quantity of Japanese Cubans has limited the strength and capabilities of Japanese organizations and institutions. Unlike Peru, Brazil, and the United States where large Japanese communities reside, Japanese Cubans do not have sufficient numbers to drive demand for Japanese language or history courses, nor music or dance lessons. In the United States, well-to-do Nisei have donated money to museums, schools, universities, and non-profit organizations to continue passing the knowledge of Japanese language, history ...

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war en

Excerpt from Japanese Cubans: Past, Present, and Future: World War II — Cuba Allies with the United States

One lesser known fact about Cuban history is that the United States and Cuba were allies during World War II. The Cuban government declared Japan an enemy of the state on December 9, 1941, just a few days after the attack on Pearl Harbor in the United States. On this day, Cuban Law Number 32 was signed into law by Cuban President Fulgencio Batista which declared:

“A state of war between the Republic of Cuba and the Japanese Empire and authorizes and orders the President of the Republic to employ the armed forces of the Nation and the resources of ...

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