The Making of a Minahasan Community in Oarai, Japan

  • Riwanto Tirtosudarmo


This is a gloomy tale of a Minahasan community, a Christian minority ethnic group originally from North Sulawesi, that settled in Oarai, a beach town, in Ibaraki Perfecture, in the east coast of Japan. This Minahasan community, many of them with their family, are mostly over stayers, working as casual workers in many small family type fish processing companies. There are several versions, according to their oral history, how they finally settled and form a community of about a thousand people in Japan. There are four social institutions that critically important to sustain this community of undocumented migrants: Church, Kaisha (Work Place), Family and “Kerukunan” or Village Association. These four social institutions constituting the pillars in which the livelihood of this fragile migrant community is supported. Their fragility is obvious as they don’t have proper documentation. Their Japanese employers, and to a lesser extent their priests, become their main interlocutors with their host country. Family and “Kerukunan” provide a bonding value for them in Japan and with their fellow Minahasans at home. Since 1990 when the Japanese changing their immigration law and allowing the Japanese descendants (Nikkeijin) to work more permanently, the faith of this Minahasan community is threaten as the Japanese employers prefer the “Nikkejin” than the over stayers.


Minahasan Social institution Over stayer Immigration policy Nikkeijin Japan 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Riwanto Tirtosudarmo
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Center for Society and CultureIndonesian Institute of SciencesJakartaIndonesia

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