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.
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.
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.
The Japanese Garden at the Dr Rafael María Moscoso Botanical Gardens
The Dr Rafael María Moscoso National Botanical Gardens in Santo Domingo incorporates what is the largest Japanese Garden in the Caribbean and one of the most exquisites in the Americas. It was a gift from the Japanese immigrant Mamoru Matsunaga to the botanical gardens and Dominican society.