The Power of Japanese Blood : An In-Depth Analysis of the History, Status and Identity of Nikkei Peruvians During the 20th and 21st Centuries
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Despite his downfall, Alberto Fujimori will forever be remembered as the nikkei who accomplished the impossible, going against the grain of traditional politics by using his status as a minority to gain the presidency and breaching the gap between nikkei transnationalism and their assimilation into Peruvian society. Though there is still debate among scholars whether a country should promote multiculturalism or assimilation when dealing with newly arrived immigrants, the results of assimilation in Peru are progressive as much as they are appealing. Born from the various minorities living in Peru, one of the biggest examples of this progressive change was the creation of Peru's most anticipated and recent annual food festivals, Mistura. The name itself, meaning mixture, represents Peru's diversity and the growing harmony among Peru's many minorities. One of the great aspects of Mistura is its tendency to inspire new creative combinations of Peruvian cooking, one of which comes with a name that appropriately describes its origins: Nikkei. In a culinary context, Nikkei is a cuisine that combines the best of both Peruvian and Japanese food; mixing Peruvian ingredients with Japanese recipes and techniques. Even the history of Nikkei cuisine, perfectly reflects the journey of nikkei Peruvians as they went from immigration, to integration and ultimately assimilation. Though, Japanese blood is powerful enough to establish one's social status in Japan, where legacy and authenticity carry significant weight, it created in Peru a tight-knit community that was perceived as a very private club, reinforcing its social exclusiveness. Like a double-edged sword, the strength within the nikkei community has become the symbol for the unifying power achievable by minorities and the reciprocating seclusion this unity also brings. Since their arrival on the Sakura Mura, Japanese and their descendants have played a crucial role in the formation of Peru, whether it was as laborers in Peru's agricultural sector or as president. In tum, Peru influenced greatly the formation of Peruvian nikkei identity during the 20th century. Evident through the rise and fall of Fujimori and his use of his Japanese ancestry as a minority to win the presidency, Fujimori's corruption has demonstrated to the world that he was a product of his environment. Like all the dictators before him, Fujimori resorted to violence and corruption as a solution to Peru's abounding issues, proving that Fujimori was as much Peruvian as he was Japanese. Ultimately, the history and experiences shared by nikkei in Peru assure that for centuries to come, their cultural traditions and heritage will be more than just history, but living proof of the power within minorities.