Organized Panel Session
This paper examines how the post-national existence of the Japanese diaspora in South America—their combination of language, ethnicity, identity and citizenship beyond the modern congruence of national membership, territorial space, linguistic homogeneity for a particular state sovereignty—fits with Japan’s strategy in international economic cooperation in the 2000s. Adopting a case-study approach, this paper analyzes the “Nikkei third country experts program (NTCE program)” operated as part of Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) to mobilize skilled experts who are Japanese diaspora (i.e., who are Nikkei) and citizens of South American countries internationally. This paper first lays out the sociopolitical context within which the post-national existence of the South American Japanese diaspora gained strategic relevance to the Japanese government from the 1990s to the present, focusing particularly on the phrase “assistance which can show Japan’s face”, based on data retrieved from the National Diet Record Database. The paper then illustrates the case of the NTCE program, operated as part of Japan’s South-South Cooperation. Based on document analysis and interviews conducted in Japan in 2009, this section illustrates how the post-national existence of the Nikkei population fits in the NTCE program, where the combination of language skills (fluency in Spanish or Portuguese), citizenship (domicile affiliation to the country with which Japan “collaborates”), and Nikkei membership (both in terms of their ethnicity and identity), coupled with their expert skills, are valued in light of the specific needs of the Japanese government in the contemporary context of ODA.