In 1899 legendary newspaperman Kyutaro Abiko — known to historians as the most influential Japanese immigrant to America — established the Nichi Bei Shimbun, which would become the most influential Japanese American newspaper in the country prior to World War II. Abiko, who also founded three Japanese American farming colonies in California’s Central Valley, encouraged Japanese immigrants to settle in their adoptive country, and to rebuild their lives in America.
After the war, some former staff of the Nichi Bei Shimbun came back to establish the Nichi Bei Times with the goal of getting the community reconnected after their devastating incarceration in wartime concentration camps. Led by Shichinosuke Asano, a protege of Takeshi “Kei” Hara — the first commoner prime minister of Japan — the first issue of the Nichi Bei Times rolled off the presses on May 18, 1946. The early pages were used by Asano to raise awareness of and funds for postwar relief efforts in Japan, and the newspaper would help in obtaining redress for the community for their wartime incarceration.
An inspired rebirth…
As the Nichi Bei Times board of directors decided to close the newspaper after 63 years in September of 2009, a group of Nichi Bei Times staff and contributing writers, media professionals and community leaders — encouraged and supported by the Japanese American community — set out to rebuild in the spirit of the Issei, brick by brick. They established the Nichi Bei Foundation, an educational and charitable nonprofit organization, as a means to support community organizations, shed light on community issues and document the community’s history.
Just one week after the last edition of the Nichi Bei Times rolled off the presses, the very first edition of the Nichi Bei Weekly was published as the first ethnic nonprofit newspaper of its kind in the country.
Born in one of the worst economic climates in decades, with virtually no seed money, the pioneering rebirth of the Nichi Bei Foundation and the Nichi Bei Weekly has become one of the most inspired community movements in recent memory.
Inspired by a community-serving historical legacy, the Nichi Bei Foundation and the Nichi Bei Weekly have a simple yet profound mission: to keep the community connected, informed and empowered.
- Kenji G. Taguma, President
- Tim Yamamura, Secretary
- Grace Horikiri
- Fred Kochi
- Wayne Maeda
- Lisa Yokota
Read Board of Directors Bios here.
Nichi Bei Foundation Advisory Council:
- Jeff Adachi, San Francisco Public Defender
- Sandy Close, Founder and Executive Editor, New America Media
- Art Hansen, Director Emeritus, Japanese American Oral History Project, California State University, Fullerton
- Carole Hayashino, President and Executive Director, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i
- Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, Independent Researcher
- Lane Hirabayashi, Chair, UCLA Asian American Studies Program
- Fred Hoshiyama, Community Solidarity Activist
- Cathy Inamasu, Executive Director, Nihonmachi Little Friends
- Jan Masaoka, Director, Blue Avocado
- Dale Minami, Community Activist and Attorney
- Andy Noguchi, Civil Rights Co-Chair, Florin JACL
- Jon Osaki, Executive Director, Japanese Community Youth Council
- Paul Osaki, Executive Director, Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California
- Don Tamaki, Chair, San Francisco Japantown Foundation
- Twila Tomita, Board Member, Florin JACL
- Rosalyn Tonai, Executive Director, National Japanese American Historical Society
- Bill Watanabe, Executive Director, Little Tokyo Service Center
- Jimi Yamaichi, Curator and Historian, Japanese American Museum of San Jose
- Akemi Kikumura Yano, former President and CEO, Japanese American National Museum