This collection of five essays by a team of three Japanese and two Bolivian scholars traces the growth of Japanese immigration to Bolivia, analyzes attitudes of the Issei and Nisei, and summarizes agricultural achievements of their immigrant colonies. In contrast to the large numbers of Japanese who immigrated to Argentina, Brazil, and the United States, only a handful of Japanese chose Bolivia, making them an ideal group to study.

The first Japanese to reach Bolivia originally went in 1899 to work on Peruvian sugar and cotton plantations. Disillusioned with dismal working conditions in Peru, many left for Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, while 91 chose jobs on rubber plantations in northwestern Bolivia. In the next 15 years, 2,000 Japanese came, but by 1915 only 340 remained. Predominantly males, they planned to earn money and return home. Within the next few decades, until 1942, 500 more emigrated as picture brides or to join relatives. A larger and more structured migration followed World War II. The coincidence of wartime destruction and Bolivia’s need for laborers led to an immigration agreement between Japan and Bolivia. From 1957 to 1977, 1,652 Japanese (327 families) formed the agricultural colony of San Juan in the Department of Santa Cruz; the majority came from Nagasaki. Between 1954 and 1977, 3,344 Okinawans (710 families) started three agricultural colonies in the same department. Both groups had high attrition rates; 477 left San Juan and 1,477 loft the Okinawan colonies by 1979.

Three of these essays are the result of questionnaires given to the Issei and Nisei in these colonies. The results, summarized in over 100 graphs and tables, address such topics as reasons for coming to Bolivia, impressions on arriving in Bolivia (91 percent in San Juan had a negative impression), and measures of assimilation. In general, the Japanese had not anticipated the poverty, lack of infrastructure, and health problems in rural Bolivia. Regarding assimilation, the Japanese language usually was not maintained by the Nisei, but their interest in Japanese culture, customs, and contemporary Japan remained strong.

This volume has a degree of comprehensiveness and unity often lacking in edited works, but there are a few problems. There should be greater integration of the tables and narrative to avoid a simple cataloging of questionnaire responses. The narrative is awkwardly broken by an outline format and frequent enumerations. Also, an index would be useful. Aside from these reservations, this is a detailed study important to immigration specialists and a welcome addition to the literature on Japanese by James L. Tigner, C. Harvey Gardiner, and Arlinda Rocha Nogueira.