Migration Historical Overview - Argentina

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Argentine Nikkei history began in 1908-09 with the arrival of immigrants from Okinawa and Kagoshima—the major prefectural origins of Argentine Nikkei. The first Japanese entered the country via Brazil, and succeeding groups of immigrants tended to reach Argentina through the neighboring nations.

In the prewar years, Nikkei were concentrated in urban small businesses, especially dry cleaning and cafes in Buenos Aires, while some worked as domestic servants, factory workers, and longshoremen. A minority of Japanese also engaged in horticulture, floriculture, and fishery. In regions with a substantial Japanese population, institutions such as prefectural associations and Japanese language schools were established and served as loci of Nikkei community formations and ties.

Impact of World War II

During the U.S.-Japanese conflict of World War II, Argentina remained neutral until 1943, which limited the impact of war on the lives of Nikkei. However, restrictions included the ban on meetings, Japanese education, newspaper publication, as well as a freeze on Japanese assets—which remained effective between 1944 and 1946. Meanwhile, Japanese residents strove to become more integrated into society and to make Argentina their permanent home.

Influx since 1960s

Between 1960s and 1970s, the influx of new immigrants rejuvenated the Nikkei community. Many were attracted by the economic opportunities in agriculture. The postwar years witnessed the upward mobility of the Argentine-born generations, many of whom received higher education and practiced the Catholic faith. With the growing avenues for white-collar employment, the career choices of younger Japanese Argentines are now more diversified, although some Nisei and Sansei have decided to work in Japan, reflecting domestic recessions since the 1980s.


Developed in collaboration with the Centro Nikkei Argentino and the Asociación Universitaria Nikkei.

Akemi Kikumura-Yano, ed., Encyclopedia of Japanese Descendants in the Americas: An Illustrated History of the Nikkei (Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press, 2002), 71.

Migration Bibliography: Argentina

Additional Resources: Argentina

Encyclopedia of Nikkei Migration
Japanese immigrants making the difficult trek through the Andes Mountains to enter Argentina after arriving in Chile in 1915. (Collection of Asociación Japonesa en Argentina)
In the 1920s, the dry cleaning business was highly popular among Japanese residents. The Japanese owner of the “Kioto” drycleaners located at 2047 Lavalle, in Buenos Aires, arrived n Argentina in 1914. (Collection of Sato Family)
A celebration parade held along the central avenues of Buenos Aires on August 1998, commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the Friendship, Commercial and Navigation Treaty between Argentina and Japan, signed in 1898. (Collection of Asociación Universitaria Nikkei)

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