University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
United States of America

Ryuta Komaki is a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His dissertation research looks at the use of the internet, mobile media and social media by Japanese-Brazilian return migrants in Japan. He has presented his works at international and domestic conferences, including the International Communication Association’s annual meetings, the Harvard East Asia Society Graduate Student Conference, and Global Fusion.

<h3>Partially Connected, Partially Protected: Mobility, Mobile Media and Japanese-Brazilian Return Migrants in Japan</h3>

This paper looks at the use of mobile and digital media by Japanese-Brazilian return migrants in Japan, and explores connections between their limited engagement with the emerging forms of media and social and historical conditions, such as the Japanese government’s past and present treatment of ‘visiting’ workers and the condition of global capitalism. Japanese-Brazilian return migrants are Brazilian nationals of Japanese descent, who migrate from Brazil to Japan in search of better economic opportunities. While the current wave of return migration began almost two decades ago and the presence of Japanese-Brazilian transnational workers has gained visibility both in the origin and host societies, how this population adopts and utilizes mobile phones and the Internet has not been documented or studied well. My study finds that Japanese-Brazilian return migrants in Japan, whom I look at through interviews and content analyses of online material, remain partially connected to the range of mobile and digital media products and services available in the host society, despite that Japan is one of the best-connected countries in the world. Opportunities to benefit from networked and accelerated information and communication technologies are also unevenly distributed among them. My findings suggest that the sphere of Japanese-Brazilian return migration, which includes every day, transnational and transcendental use of mobile media, is where various aspects of differential mobilities come together.  Access to mobility enabling media is partial and uneven, while the mobile media market in Japan is saturated, and Japanese-Brazilians have a specific kind of transnational mobility because of their ancestry, while the Japanese government imagines and designates different types of social and global mobility to different groups of people. I argue that future studies of transnational and diasporic users of mobile media should take into account the concepts of differentiated use and differentiated mobility.