Lost words

It has been said by many that writing letters is a lost art form. People under the age of 35 or so may have never experienced the sentimental emotions of discovering that dusty old shoebox full of beautifully crafted letters that convey love, joy, sorrow and introspection. The grief-stricken letter with tear-stained handwriting or the […]

Tule Lake revisited and reframed

TULE LAKE REVISITED: A BRIEF HISTORY AND GUIDE TO THE TULE LAKE CONCENTRATION CAMP SITE (second edition) By Barbara Takei and Judy Tachibana (San Francisco: Tule Lake Committee Inc., 56 pp., $15, spiral bound) This is a timely and much needed revision of the original “Tule Lake” (2001). Much has transpired, beginning with the transformation […]

TULE LAKE PRESERVATION: A progress report

Tule Lake’s segregation history resonates with America’s deepest held beliefs — about standing up for one’s convictions and challenging those who have abused power. Yet, perversely, due to lingering World War II propaganda that cast Japanese American challengers to the unjust incarceration as disloyal subversives, our community has been slow to recognize courageous individual responses […]

ISLANDERS IN EXILE: The history of Bainbridge, Terminal Island Nikkei

Off the Pacific Coast, the historic Japanese villages of Terminal Island in Southern California’s San Pedro Bay and Bainbridge Island in the Pacific Northwest’s Puget Sound share attributes as close-knit, cohesive, and self-contained communities with abrupt converging histories. From the early 1900s, while the Issei worked hard in fishing and canneries at Fish Harbor, and […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: A tribute to Dr. Setsuko Matsunaga Nishi, sociologist, activist and race relations advocate

This week’s column focuses on the distinguished sociologist and activist Dr. Setsuko Matsunaga Nishi, a pioneering scholar of race relations who died Nov. 18, 2012. Unlike virtually all the people I write about in “Great Unknown,” I got to know her personally. Because of our friendship and my knowledge of her career, I helped the […]

‘Tim’ Nomiyama, a Nisei military resister, dies

Tetsuo “Tim” Nomiyama, a Kibei Nisei military resister, passed away on Dec. 10, 2012 at the age of 96. Nomiyama was born on Jan. 20, 1916 in Alameda, Calif. Around the age of 4 or 5, his parents sent him to their ancestral home in Fukuoka Prefecture to receive a Japanese education. When Nomiyama returned […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Poet, writer Mary Oyama Mittwer championed literary and intellectual exchanges

One astounding aspect of Japanese American life is the number of accomplished families — clans that gave birth to multiple members who made names for themselves in different fields of endeavor. I recently had the occasion to work on the Tajiri family, which produced in one generation the journalists Larry and Yoshiko Tajiri, the photographer […]

Japanese Ambassador tours United Tribes; visit yields linguistic clarity

BISMARCK, N.D. — After 67 years, telltale signs of the Japanese interment can still be found at the former site of a government detention camp. The Japanese Ambassador to the United States helped shed some light on one fading piece of evidence during a visit to United Tribes Technical College. Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki toured United […]

No-nos, renunciants speak out about stigma over wartime actions

TORRANCE, Calif. — The “No-No Boys” and renunciants, Nikkei prisoners who protested the injustice of having to answer a “loyalty questionnaire” while incarcerated in American concentration camps during World War II, were the focus of a forum held on Oct. 27 at the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library Community Room in Torrance. Although 70 years […]

Setting the record straight on ‘Allegiance’

The play “Allegiance” attempts to promote sympathy for those who answered no to loyalty questionnaire questions or refused induction into the U.S. Army (aka “resisters”) by seeking to taint the reputation of those who volunteered to serve in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), a segregated Japanese American combat unit formed in the U.S. Army […]

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