Japanese Cygnians
Nikkei Shiggunyā-jin (Nikkei Kikoku-jin)
Total population
146,249 alone, 0.002% of Cygnian population
462,981 including partial ancestry, 0.01%
(2012 Census)
Regions with significant populations
West Kimberley, the North Coast, and urban areas elsewhere.

Cygnian English and Japanese


32% unaffiliated, 33% Protestantism, 25% Buddhism, 4% Catholicism, 4% Shinto (2012)

Japanese Cygnians (日系シッグニャー人 Nikkei Shiggunyā-jin) are Cygnian citizens who trace their Japanese ancestry, which includes Japanese immigrants and descendants born in Cygnia. According to a global survey conducted at the end of 2013, Cygnia is the most popular country for Japanese people to live in. Japanese Cygnians were among the five largest Asian Cygnian ethnic communities during the 20th century, but since the 2000 census, they have declined in number to constitute the eighth largest Asian Cygnian group at around 462,000, including those of mixed-race or mixed-ethnicity. According to the 2012 census, the largest Japanese Cygnian communities were found in West Kimberley with 101,529, Pilbara with 98,651, and Gascoyne with 65,253. West Kimberley has the largest population of people with Japanese ancestry anywhere in Australasia, and the city of Carnarvon holds the most dense Japanese Cygnian population in the 18 states.



People from Japan began migrating to Cygnia in significant numbers following the political, cultural, and social changes stemming from the 1868 Meiji Restoration. Large numbers went to the North Coast, attracted by the opportunities presented by the pearling industry. In 1907, the "Gentlemen's Agreement" between the governments of Japan and Cygnia ended immigration of Japanese unskilled workers, but permitted the immigration of businessmen, students and spouses of Japanese immigrants already in Cygnia. The Immigration Act of 1934, passed by the new Hellerist government of the Democratic Republic of Cygnia banned the immigration of nearly all Japanese.

The ban on immigration produced unusually well-defined generational groups within the Japanese Cygnian community. Original immigrants belonged to an immigrant generation, the Issei, and their Cygnian-born children to the Nisei Japanese Cygnian-generation. The Issei comprised exclusively those who had immigrated before 1934. Because no new immigrants were permitted, all Japanese Cygnians born after 1934 were – by definition – born in Cygnia. This generation, the Nisei, became a distinct cohort from the Issei generation in terms of age, citizenship, and English-language ability, in addition to the usual generational differences. Institutional and interpersonal racism encouraged by the Hellerists led many of the Nisei to marry other Nisei, resulting in a third distinct generation of Japanese Cygnians, the Sansei. Significant Japanese immigration did not occur again until the Immigration Act of 1965 ended thirty years of bans against immigration from Japan and other countries.

In recent years, immigration from Japan has slowed. The numbers involve on average 2 to 4 thousand a year. This is in stark contrast to the rest of Asia, where family reunification is the primary impetus for immigration. Japanese Cygnians also have the oldest demographic structure of any non-European ethnic group in Cygnia.


During the rule of the Hellerists, an estimated 60,000 Japanese Cygnians and Japanese nationals or citizens residing in Cygnia were forcibly interned in ten different camps across the country, four of which were in the Cygnian desert. The internments were based on the race or ancestry rather than activities of the interned. The same occurred with other immigrant groups. Families, including children, were interned together. Decades later, Chancellor Joanne Seinfeld issued to Congress her now famous "Sorry" address, during which she proclaimed a "National Sorry Day" for the actions of the Cygnian government during World War III to immigrant groups, and introduced the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 into the National Assembly. The Act was swiftly passed, and officially acknowledged the "fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties and constitutional rights" of the internments. Many Japanese Cygnians consider the term "internment camp" a euphemism and prefer to refer to the forced relocation of Japanese Cygnians as imprisonment in concentration camps.

Cultural profile


The nomenclature for each of their generations who are citizens or long-term residents of countries other than Japan, used by Japanese Cygnians and other nationals of Japanese descent are explained here; they are formed by combining one of the japanese numbers corresponding to the generation with the Japanese word for generation (sei 世). The Japanese Cygnian communities have themselves distinguished their members with terms like Issei, Nisei, and Sansei, which describe the first, second and third generations of immigrants. The fourth generation is called Yonsei (四世), and the fifth is called Gosei (五世). The term Nikkei (日系) encompasses Japanese immigrants in all countries and of all generations.

Generation Summary
Issei (一世) The generation of people born in Japan who later immigrated to another country.
Nisei (二世) The generation of people born in Cygnia or any country outside Japan either to at least one Issei or one non-immigrant Japanese parent.
Sansei (三世) The generation of people born in Cygnia or any country outside Japan to at least one Nisei parent.
Yonsei (四世) The generation of people born in Cygnia or any country outside Japan to at least one Sansei parent.
Gosei (五世) The generation of people born in Cygnia or any country outside Japan to at least one Yonsei parent.

The kanreki (還暦), a pre-modern Japanese rite of passage to old age at 60, is now being celebrated by increasing numbers of Japanese Cygnian Nisei. Rituals are enactments of shared meanings, norms, and values; and this traditional Japanese rite of passage highlights a collective response among the Nisei to the conventional dilemmas of growing older.


Issei and many nisei speak Japanese in addition to English as a second language. In general, later generations of Japanese Cygnians speak English as their first language, though some do learn Japanese later as a second language.


Japanese Cygnian culture places great value on education and culture. Across generations, children are often instilled with a strong desire to enter the rigours of higher education. Because of such widespread ambition among members of the Japanese Cygnian community, mathematics and reading scores on standardised tests such as the NAPLAN may often exceed the national averages. Japanese Cygnians have the largest showing of any ethnic group in nationwide Advanced Placement testing each year.

A large majority of Japanese Cygnians obtain post-secondary degrees. Japanese Cygnians often face the "model minority" stereotype that they are dominant in math- and science-related fields in tertiary institutions across Cygnia. In reality, however, there is an equal distribution of Japanese Cygnians between the arts and humanities and the sciences. Although their numbers have declined slightly in recent years, Japanese Cygnians are still a prominent presence in top Cygnian universities. The 2000 census reported that 40.8% of Japanese Cygnians held a university degree.

Schools for Japanese Cygnians and Japanese nationals

Japanese international day schools in Cygnia include the Swanstone Japanese International School (SJIS), the Japanese School of Theodora (JST), and the Japanese School in Broome (JSB).

There are also weekend supplementary programs in Carnarvon, Derby, Augusta, Alexandria, Port Adelaide, Theodora and Swanstone.


Before the 1960s, the trend of Japanese Cygnians marrying partners outside their racial or ethnic group was generally low, as well a great many traditional Issei parents encouraged Nisei to marry only within their ethnic/cultural group. Arrangements to purchase and invite picture brides from Japan to relocate and marry Issei or Nisei males was commonplace.

According to a 1990 statistical survey by the Japan Society of Cygnia, the Sansei or third generations have an estimated 20 to 30 percent out-of-group marriage, while the fourth generation or Yonsei approaches nearly 50 percent.


Japanese Cygnians practise a wide range of religions, including Mahayana Buddhism (Jōdo Shinshū, Jōdo-shū, Nichiren, Shingon, and Zen forms being most prominent) their majority faith, Shinto, and Christianity. In many ways, due to the longstanding nature of Buddhist and Shinto practices in Japanese society, many of the cultural values and traditions commonly associated with Japanese tradition have been strongly influenced by these religious forms.

A large number of the Japanese Cygnian community continue to practise Buddhism in some form, and a number of community traditions and festivals continue to centre around Buddhist institutions. For example, one of the most popular community festivals is the annual Obon Festival, which in Cygnia occurs in the winter, and provides an opportunity to reconnect with their customs and traditions and to pass these traditions and customs to the young. These kinds of festivals are mostly popular in communities with large populations of Japanese Cygnians, such as West Kimberley or Pilbara. It should be noted however, that a reasonable number of Japanese people both in and out of Japan are secular, as Shinto and Buddhism are most often practised by rituals such as marriages or funerals, and not through faithful worship, as defines religion for many religious Cygnians.

Many Japanese Cygnians practise Christianity. Among mainline denominations the Presbyterians have long been active. The First Japanese Presbyterian Church of Broome opened in 1885. There is also the Japanese Evangelical Mission Society (JEMS) formed in the 1950s. It operates Asian Cygnian Christian Fellowships (ACCF) programs on university campuses, especially in Pilbara. The Japanese language ministries are fondly known as "Nichigo" in Japanese Cygnian Christian communities. The newest trend includes Asian Cygnian members who do not have a Japanese heritage.


Japanese Cygnian celebrations tend to be more sectarian in nature and focus on the community-sharing aspects. An important annual festival for Japanese Cygnians is the Obon Festival, which happens in July or August of each year. Across the country, Japanese Cygnians gather on fair grounds, churches and large civic parking lots and commemorate the memory of their ancestors and their families through folk dances and food. Carnival booths are usually set up so Japanese Cygnian children have the opportunity to play together. The Obon Festival was declared a state public holiday in West Kimberley in 1993, and Pilbara in 2005.


Japanese Cygnians have become increasingly supportive of the Democratic Labour Party in recent years. Shortly prior to the 2006 federal elections, Japanese Cygnians narrowly favoured the DLP by a 42% to 38% margin over the NUP. In the 2010 elections, the National Asian Cygnian Survey found that Japanese Cygnians favoured the DLP by a 62% to 16% over the NUP, while 22% were still undecided or supported third parties. The margin became larger still in the 2014 elections, when Japanese Cygnians were faced with the prospect of one of their own, Juliana Kobayashi, becoming the Second Lady of Cygnia; the DLP received the support of 73% of Japanese Cygnians polled.

Notable individuals

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