The Japanese Migration to the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has a small Japanese presence of a relatively recent creation. The impact the Japanese migrants have in Dominican society greatly surpasses their numerical presence.

The Japanese Migration Wave from 1956 to 1959

The first Japanese migrants began to arrive in the Dominican Republic on July 29, 1956. They were invited by dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo as part of the government’s attempt to develop, increase, and diversify the agricultural production of the Dominican Republic. This first group was settled in the border town of Dajabon. The last Japanese migrant group arrived in 1959, two years before the dictatorship abruptly ended. Approximately 1500 Japanese migrated to the Dominican Republic.

The Japanese Agricultural Colonies

The Dominican government created eight agricultural colonies in the following places. We include the name of the town and the province in parenthesis.

  • Aguas Negras (Pedernales)
  • Constanza (La Vega)
  • Dajabon (Dajabon)
  • Duverge (Independencia)
  • Higüey (La Altagracia)
  • Jarabacoa (La Vega)
  • Manzanillo (Monte Cristi)
  • Neiba (Bahoruco)

The Most Famous Japanese Colony

The Japanese colony settled in Constanza gains the greatest attention. The reason for this is unknown, but its fame reached such heights that most Dominicans that know of the existence of the Japanese community think that Constanza is the only place where the Japanese and their descendants live.

Documentation of the Japanese Migration 

In 2007 the Comité Ejecutivo de la Conmemoración del Cincuentenario de la Inmigración de Japoneses al País Dominicano (Executive Committe of the Commemoration of the Fiftieth Year of the Japanese Migration to the Dominican Republic) published the book Hoy día, todavía nos encontramos vivos aquí (Today, We Still Live Here). It documents the process of migration, the arrival, and the successes and trials that suffered the Japanese migrants in the Dominican Republic. The book has two versions; the first version was published in Japanese for Japan, and the second version was published in Spanish for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican version began to sell in 2009.

Cover of the Dominican version of the book Hoy día, todavía nos encontramos vivos aquí, which documents the experiences of the Japanese that opted to migrate to the Dominican Republic.

The Japanese Park in Jarabacoa 

In 2008 the mountain town of Jarabacoa inaugurated the Parque Japonés (The Japanese Park), the first of its kind in the Dominican Republic. This is a very beautiful park with Japanese gardens. Its creation of this park was to commemorate the very valuable contributions to the development of the fertile Jarabacoa Valley and the town of the same name.

The small park incorporates a small pond and waterway in very traditional Japanese style. In an island in the middle of the pond stands a white plaque with the flags of the Dominican Republic and Japan, and information explaining why the park was created.

On the opposite side of the same island in the middle of the pond is another plaque, this time in Japanese.

Attention to detail marks the very essence of this small part of Japan in the Dominican Republic. Picturesque walkways and Japanese gardens enhance the beauty of the park.

A typical Japanese pedestrian bridge was also incorporated into the park.

A torii (traditional Japanese gate) also graces this park. The Dominican Republic has two traditional Japanese gates, this one in Jarabacoa and a second one in the Japanese Gardens of the Dr. Rafael Moscoso Botanical Garden in Santo Domingo.

Monument to the Japanese Immigration

In 2013 the Japanese Embassy, the International Cooperative Agency of Japan, and the Community of Japanese Immigrants in the Dominican Republic united resources and efforts to create and inaugurate the Monument to the Japanese Inmigration in Santo Domingo.

Public announcement of the inauguration of the Monument to the Japanese Inmigration in Santo Domingo. Traduction: “The Embassy of Japan in the Dominican Republic, the International Cooperative Agency of Japan, and the Community of Japanese Immigrants in the Dominican Republic are happy to inform the construction of the Monument to the Japanese Immigration. It will preserve for the current and future generations the history that gave rise to the Japanese agricultural immigration to the Dominican Republic in 1956. This important monument will be inaugurated in January 2013. It will be located in Parque San José (San Jose Park) in the Colonial City (across from the Monument of Fray Antón de Montesinos and Paseo Presidente Billini).”

Photo taken on the day of the inauguration in Parque San José. In the foreground are various members, mostly females, of the Japanese community. In the background is the beautiful Monument to the Japanese Immigration.

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