Longtime Pacific Citizen editor Harry Honda dies

LOS ANGELES — Harry K. Honda, a longtime editor of the Japanese American Citizens League’s house organ Pacific Citizen, passed away on July 4, 2013, the JACL announced. He was 93.
Honda was born in Los Angeles in 1919. He attended Belmont High, where he worked as managing editor of the school newspaper. He spent two years at Los Angeles Junior College in publications.
Beginning in 1936, Honda worked weekends for the Rafu Shimpo’s Sunday sports section and became English editor for Sangyo Nippo, the JACL statement said. He then spent 10 months as assistant editor at San Francisco’s Nichi Bei Shimbun, the JACL stated.
Honda served in the Army during World War II. He graduated with a degree in political science from Loyola University in 1950. When the Pacific Citizen’s office relocated from Salt Lake City, Utah to Los Angeles in 1952, JACL National President Saburo Kido appointed Honda to the position of executive editor.
“I am deeply saddened upon hearing Harry’s passing,” said National JACL President David Lin in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with Misako and the entire Honda family.”
Lin added, “We will always be grateful for Harry’s contributions to the JACL. I’ve always enjoyed visiting with Harry at the National Conventions and he will be dearly missed at our Washington National Convention later this month.”
During his time as executive editor of the PC, Honda enjoyed visiting Japan on JACL’s first group tour in 1967, witnessing President Ronald Reagan sign the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, and attending each JACL National Convention with his wife, Misako.
According to the JACL, he formally retired from the Pacific Citizen in 2002.
Honda was preparing to attend the JACL National Convention, to be held July 24-27 in Washington, D.C., and the PANA conference in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“We were ready to greet him at the Convention, and had airport pick-up arranged for him,” stated JACL National Executive Director Priscilla Ouchida in a Facebook post. “Then we received a call that he would not be coming to convention. We had no idea. I still can’t believe he is gone.”
Historian and author Greg Robinson reflected upon Honda’s legacy.
“Harry K. Honda was not just a giant of Japanese American journalism; his life and work encapsulated the Nisei story,” Robinson stated. “During his extraordinary career leading the PC, the JACL and the larger community went through enormous changes. Harry Honda and the PC bravely stood up against McCarthyism at the height of the 1950s red scare, and supported civil rights for all Americans.
“On a personal note … I benefited both from his kind encouragement of my work and from his encyclopedia knowledge of Japanese American history,” Robinson recalled. “I was very honored when (he) agreed to provide an introduction to my book ‘Pacific Citizens’ (2012), on the career of his friend Larry Tajiri.
“He was a great journalist, the last of his generation,” Robinson recalled. “He was also a great gentleman.”
A service will be held Monday, July 15, 10:30 a.m. (viewing at 9:30 a.m.), at St. Francis Xavier Chapel/Japanese Catholic Center (Maryknoll), 222 South Hewitt St., Los Angeles.

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