Today marks a historic occasion in the legacy of the Nichi Bei News, as we take a bold leap to launch a new Japanese section.
As we set out to launch the Nichi Bei Weekly, as it was then called, in September of 2009, we said that if there was interest and funding available, we would do what we can to be inclusive of the Japanese-speaking segment of the greater Japanese American community. But besides a small haiku group, there wasn’t necessarily a clamoring for a Japanese-language section at the time, as there were two free Japanese-language publications in Northern California and the Hokubei Mainichi was still publishing a bilingual newspaper as well (although it would close a few weeks after the Nichi Bei Times).
As we head toward our 15th year publishing in a groundbreaking nonprofit format, we take pride in maintaining a now 124-year-old legacy of community leadership through media. It is with this legacy of community-building that we are launching a new Japanese-language section, geared towards bridging the gap between the long-established Japanese American community and the Japanese-speaking community.
We are able to do this through funding from two sources: the San Francisco Japantown Foundation and the Ethnic Media Grant as administered through the California State Library. Such funding helped our staff study the interest of the Japanese-speaking community, and will help to pay for staffing of the project for one year, including former Nichi Bei Times Japanese section staff members Mizuho Takagi and Kota Morikawa, as well as graphic designer Yuki Caton. Hopefully, by the end of one year, the section will be self-sustained through a combination of advertising and subscriptions, if not other funding sources.
A survey conducted in July yielded some positive results, as selected Japanese-speaking community members were tapped for their opinions. The top 5 interests in a multiple-choice question were:
Japanese American Community: 70%
Japanese American History: 56%
Japanese Culture: 55%
Medical Trends: 47%
When asked if they would subscribe to such a publication, even if we only included one or two pages of Japanese, nearly half of the respondents said they would. There are also those who wish to collaborate on articles in Japanese. This is certainly encouraging.
As a bulk of the funding comes from the state’s Stop the Hate campaign, part of our focus will be to raise awareness of hate incident reporting. Thus, we will focus on publishing articles on hate crimes perpetrated against the Asian American community, and providing resources to report such hate incidents. As part of the Ethnic Media Grant, the Nichi Bei Foundation has produced a public service announcement in Japanese, discussing how to report hate incidents, which has been airing nationally on NHK’s TV Japan and in seven media markets on Crossings TV’s Japanese language programming. We have also been publishing print advertisements in a Japanese language publication, as well as our own.
We feel that this information is vitally important, as Japanese immigrants come from a rather homogenous country where such incidents of hate are fortunately not as common. An informed community is a stronger community, so we will point to resources provided by the state as well as Japanese-language legal counseling from Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach.
As we evolve into a new state of inclusion, trying to bridge the Japanese American and Japanese-speaking communities, we will include translated articles from the English section of the Nichi Bei News. Perhaps in the future we will include Japanese-only articles, and potentially translate Japanese section articles into English. Given our current resources, we cannot include as robust of a Japanese-language section as the old Nichi Bei Times, which had a larger Japanese-language editorial staff. However, as other Japanese-language publications have either decreased frequency, shrunk, or closed, we hope to fill a community void.
We hope that you can support us on this journey to be more inclusive. Events such as our Nichi Bei Day with the A’s have done well to bring Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants together. We strive to bring the communities together through this evolving publication.
If you support our mission to keep the Japanese American community connected, informed and empowered, please consider a donation to our Nichi Bei Day of Giving campaign at https://www.nichibei.org/give2nichibei.
Thank you for your support and consideration.
Kenji G. Taguma
Editor-in-Chief, Nichi Bei News