Iranians experiences in Japan through their narratives
In the early 1990s, forty to fifty thousand Iranians came to Japan as foreign workers. Now, only about ten thousand currently reside here with the remainder having returned to Iran. Since most of them were considered "illegal" workers, they did not have the opportunities to share their stories about their experiences in Japan. Tomoko Yamagishi, an assistant professor of Meiji University, and I went to Iran in 2000 and interviewed several of these returnees. This paper discusses our findings and the resulting implications. Many of those interviewed were lower middle class city dwellers or Turks, one of the minority groups in Iran. They had various reasons for coming to Japan. Many of them came for work, some to change their lives, and some to escape Iran. After they came to Japan, however, the images that Japanese held of Iranians changed for the worse. They had a very difficult time because of stereotypes and prejudices. In spite of their hard experiences in Japan, many of those interviewed say that they still like Japan and would come to Japan again, if they had the opportunity. In addition, some Iranians married Japanese women. Now they can speak Japanese and are accustomed to the Japanese culture. They have become Japanese cultural carriers to Iran.