Introduction / History The people of Japanese origin came to Peru in the last century. Many Japanese now are third and fourth generation. Peruvians in Japan are the second largest Japanese people group in South America, those in Brazil being the largest.
Peru was the first country in Latin America to have diplomatic relations with Japan and to allow Japanese immigration. Japanese families first came to Peru in 1899. There were about eight hundred of them. They came from Hiroshima, Okinawa, Osaka, Gifu, and Kanagawa. Many came as farmers and later went to live in the cities of Peru like the capital Lima.
A politician of Japanese origin, Alberto Fujimori, led Peru from 1990-2000. He was later put in prison on corruption and human rights abuses. He was released from prison in 2017. He was returned to prison in 2018. Fujimori's record in Peru remains very controversial.
What are their lives like? The Japanese in Peru have many different jobs. Some work at the highest levels of Peruvian society as financiers, university professors and as owners of large businesses. They are often well educated and have major economic positions. As a result of the Peruvian economy sinking in the 1980s, many Japanese Peruvians went to the U.S.A. or to Japan.
Although their numbers are relatively small, the Japanese have had a major impact on Peru.
The Peruvian Japanese have strong community associations. They marry within their group. They try to keep to themselves and are proud of their cultural heritage. Japanese young people attend special schools on Saturdays to learn the Japanese language and culture. Economic and social links between Peru and Japan are strong. Japanese couples have a small number of children generally one to three. Other Peruvians tend to have larger families.
What are their beliefs? The majority of the Japanese in Peru claim to be Shinto Buddhists. This is also the majority religion in Japan. For many secular Japanese, Buddhism is more cultural than religious.
Buddhism is the major world religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama or the Buddha, who lived in the 6th and 5th century BC in ancient India. The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths by which one can gain spiritual knowledge and escape the endless cycles of reincarnation.
Mahayana Buddhism is the dominant branch of Japanese Buddhism. It asserts that by following the six perfections that a Buddhist can move along the path to Enlightenment. Tibetan Buddhism falls within the Mahayana school.
Two of the important Buddhist yearly holidays are Vesak, the Buddha's birthday celebrated in May or June. Bodhi Day, the holiday in December or January commemorates the day that the historical Buddha experienced enlightenment under a Bodhi tree.
What are their needs? The Japanese in Peru must understand that material success will not bring them the peace of mind and hope that they desire. Peruvian believers can build friendships with their Japanese neighbors and show them the love of Christ in practical ways.
Prayer Points Pray that Japanese evangelicals in Brazil will go to Peru and evangelize their Japanese neighbors.
Pray for a spiritual hunger that will lead the Japanese in Peru to seek and find the one, true God of the Bible.
Ask the Lord to send workers to the Japanese in Peru.
Pray the Lord raises up a movement to Christ among the Japanese in Peru in this decade.