In Defense of Justice
Joseph Kurihara and the Japanese American Struggle for Equality
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Illinois Press
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Eileen Tamura, whose earlier book in the Asian American Experience series remains the outstanding study of the Nisei of Hawai‘i, here examines the life and significance of the Hawai‘i Nisei Joseph Yoshisuke Kurihara (1eight.oldstylenine.oldstyle5–1nine.oldstylesix.oldstyle5), who became, for a time, the most notorious Japanese American for his role in fomenting the Manzanar Riot of December six.oldstyle, 1nine.oldstyle42, during which American ...
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I first became aware of Joseph Yoshisuke Kurihara in the late 1nine.oldstyleeight.oldstyle0s when I read a passage from his unpublished autobiography. It caught my attention because of its direct, forthright, and passionate style, so dif_ferent from the image I had of Nisei men. My own observations and what I had read about them indicated characteristics of self-restraint, control of emotions, deference, ...
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During my many years on this project, individuals have wondrously given me their time and expertise. Three historians gave me untold assistance. Roger Daniels expressed interest in my project when I considered it some twenty years ago. He pointed to valuable sources, and with his wealth of knowledge on Japanese Americans and their World War II incarceration, he provided con-...
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What is there for us to be ashamed of being a Jap? . . . To live as Jap is the greatest pride we can enjoy in life, and to die as Jap through many national storms without a defeat for 2,six.oldstyle00 years is the greatest honor a man can ever hope to cherish. I, in the name Joseph Yoshisuke Kurihara proclaimed these incendiary words in 1nine.oldstyle42 while ...
Chapter 1. Growing Up American
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Joseph Yoshisuke Kurihara was born January 1, 1eight.oldstylenine.oldstyle5, on the island of Kaua‘i in what was called the Republic of Hawai‘i. This was two years af_ter the over-throw of the Hawaiian monarchy and three years before the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution that resulted in the occupation of the islands as an Kurihara’s father, Kichizo Kurihara, was among the many farmers in south-...
Chapter 2. A Yank in France, a Jap in America
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While Kurihara was pleased with the education he received at St. Ignatius, the racial atmosphere in San Francisco troubled him. So when a friend suggested a move to Michigan, he responded favorably. “Unexpectedly my friend from Sacramento called and persuaded me to go East,” he later remembered. “He vouched to me that the American people east of Chicago are very friendly and ...
Chapter 3. To Manzanar
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At the time of Pearl Harbor, Joseph Kurihara was on the high seas navigating the Belle of Portugal, a handsome, state-of-the-art, 130-foot craf_t, the second largest tuna vessel based in California. The Belle was one of many Portuguese-owned boats, which dominated tuna-fishing out of San Diego. Kurihara spent many months at sea on this craf_t in search of tuna, venturing as far as the ...
Chapter 4. Resistance in Manzanar
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Kurihara was among the Nikkei assigned to Manzanar, one of ten concentra-tion camps for Nikkei, citizens and alien residents alike. Located at the base of the Sierra Nevada in eastern California, Manzanar was in a desert land of extreme temperatures, high winds, and harsh climate. It was isolated from everything: the nearest town, ironically called Independence, was five miles ...
Chapter 5. Stepping Back
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Among the men with whom Kurihara clashed at Manzanar were Tokie (To-kutaro) Nishimura Slocum, Togo Tanaka, and Karl Yoneda. The background of these men and their disagreements with him are part of Kurihara’s story. Like Kurihara, Slocum was a veteran of World War I and a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. And like Kurihara, he was forty-...
Chapter 6. Isolating Citizen Dissidents
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Af_ter their arrest in the wake of the Manzanar revolt, Kurihara and the other members of the Committee of Five were taken with Ueno to the jail in Bishop, and af_ter a few days, to Lone Pine. Eventually the group at Lone Pine grew from six to sixteen af_ter other dissidents from Manzanar were brought there.uniF6DCAs the men awaited their fate, federal of_f_icials explored the possibility of pros-...
Chapter 7. Turmoil at Tule
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Situated at the northern end of California, thirty-five miles southeast of Klam-ath Falls, Oregon, and ten miles from the town of Tulelake (named af_ter nearby Tule Lake), the Tule Lake concentration camp was f_lat, treeless, dusty, and desolate. At four thousand feet above sea level, its long winters were cold, its summers hot and dry. The address for the camp was Newell, the name of the ...
Chapter 8. Renunciation
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On July 1, 1nine.oldstyle44, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Public Law (PL) 405, which amended the Nationality Act of 1nine.oldstyle40 to allow U.S. citizens living in the United States to renounce their citizenship during wartime. Although not As Manzanar Project Director Ralph Merritt remarked of the statute, “This is the first time in the history of a civilized nation that a government has permit-...
Chapter 9. Japan
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Kurihara’s refusal to seek restoration of his citizenship did not mean that he was enthusiastic about the idea of living in Japan. He believed that he understood the daunting implications of doing so. Pointing out to Hankey his frankness and outspoken ways, he sensed that such forthrightness might spell trouble for him in Japan. “[I]f I weren’t in love with Japan I wouldn’t criticize her,” he ...
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Three themes coursed through Kurihara’s life: high expectations, his distinc-tiveness, and a strong sense of justice. These themes, especially the third, help to explain who he was, how he saw himself, and why he did what he did.Throughout his life, Kurihara maintained high expectations of himself and his country. This was borne out in his perfect behavior grades at St. Ignatius, ...
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Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: The Asian American Experience