An ‘immersion’ into Terminal Island Nikkei lives

TERMINAL ISLAND: LOST COMMUNITIES OF LOS ANGELES HARBOR By Naomi Hirahara and Geraldine Knatz (Santa Monica, Calif.: Angel City Press, 2015, 288 pp., $35, paperback) As an oral historian, I have always been addicted to reading obituaries, especially those relating to the World War II Japanese American experience. For example, a recent transfixing obituary for […]

Suyama Project seeks stories of WWII protests

LOS ANGELES — United States residents of Japanese ancestry, who reportedly endured without protest the forced relocation from their West Coast homes and incarceration in U.S.-style concentration camps after Japan’s December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, have been stereotyped for decades as “quiet Americans.” Contradicting this image were the hundreds of Nikkei who protested against […]

OUT OF THE SHADOWS OF INFAMY: Nikkei resistance during World War II

Contrary to the stereotype that Japanese Americans during World War II never questioned the constitutionality of the United States concentration camps and willingly went in to the camps and even served in the Army from the camps, hundreds of Japanese Americans took part in all forms of protests, including legal, as well as physical ones. […]

‘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 […]

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 […]

‘Allegiance’ musical a lyrical interpretation of Japanese American history

Just think about it, a musical based on the incarceration experience of Japanese Americans during World War II. It struck me as an idea so far out that I couldn’t imagine what it would be like. But that’s the nature of creativity, isn’t it? Something we lesser mortals can’t imagine turns out to be something […]

RABBIT RAMBLINGS: Getting the monkey off our backs, through understanding history

Let’s face it. We Japanese Americans of the camp generations still carry a heavy monkey on our backs, for we carry the memory of having been stuck in concentration camps for three years. We were categorized into oversimplified, distorted categories of having been “loyal” or “disloyal” or associated with a family that carried one of […]

Remembering Gordon Hirabayashi, from one resister to another

It was through a news report in the early nineteen forties that I first became aware of the remarkable Gordon Hirabayashi. Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor he had surrendered to the authorities and asked to be imprisoned for violating the curfew order that was imposed on all those of Japanese ancestry. He apparently disagreed […]

Gordon Hirabayashi, civil rights icon who resisted wartime incarceration, dies

Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi, one of three wartime litigants who challenged wartime curfew or exclusion orders and whose legal convictions were vacated four decades later, died on Jan. 2, 2012 after a long bout with Alzheimer’s disease in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, his family said. He was 93. “Dad was slowly declining in health after living 10 […]

A lifelong relationship: Citizens and the state

PRISONS AND PATRIOTS: Japanese American Wartime Citizenship, Civil Disobedience, and Historical Memory By Cherstin M. Lyon (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011, 233 pp., $30.95, paperback) “Prisons and Patriots” is Cherstin Lyon’s first book. Its publication catapults Professor Lyon, a historian at California State University, San Bernardino, into the ranks of the premier scholars of World […]

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