Around the beginning of the1990s Minahasan migrants from North Sulawesi,
Indonesia began to trickle into Oarai in Ibaraki Perfecture, Japan. They were
mostly employed as casual workers in small fish packaging companies that
operated in this little port town.
As the numbers of Minahasan have increased, Oarai has become a 'little Manado'
where Minahasan social institutions have emerged. Two important institutions,
namely the Church and 'kerukunan' (a typical Minahasan people's organisation
based on the same village of origin) were established in Oarai. These two institutions
are important binding factors that make a 'far away from home Minahasan community'
exist in Oarai. My talk will center on the livelihoods of this vulnerable community
particularly in relation to their 'illegality' in Japan and the constant changes of
difficult circumstances to which they have to adapt. It was estimated that the
number of Minahasan is now around one thousand people and there are four
Churches (three Protestant and one Catholic) actively serving the Minahasan
community in Oarai.