In Japan, however, it seems there are too many cars to build with too few people to build them. That's where Japan's connection to Brazil comes in handy. Thanks to a long-ago labor shortage, a 1908 law led to an influx of Japanese into Brazil, which now sports the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan itself. Under Japanese law, anyone claiming Japanese heritage can be issued a visa. Proof of one Japanese great-grandparent is all that is necessary, and even then not rigidly required.
With visa in hand, the Brazilians work through intermediaries to find employment at Japan's labor-starved automakers. The companies avoid immigration issues by trusting the middle-men to verify legal eligibility of the applicants. Instead of paying the average rate of $20 an hour to Japanese workers, the companies pay an average of $12 an hour to the Brazilians.