Gil Asakawa

Gil Asakawa writes about pop culture and politics from a Asian American and Japanese American perspective on his blog, www.nikkeiview.com. He and his partner also co-founded www.visualizAsian.com, where they conduct live interviews with notable Asian American Pacific Islanders. He is the author of Being Japanese American (Stone Bridge Press, 2004) and served as the Pacific Citizen's editorial board chair for seven years as a JACL national board member.

Updated November 2009

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Nikkei View

A Salute to Our JA Veterans

When the word “veterans” comes up in conversations within the Japanese American community, I suspect most of the time the image the word conjures is a picture of Nisei soldiers of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team fighting during World War II.

More and more people might think of the Military Intelligence Service, the lesser-known group of Nisei who served bravely during WWII in the Pacific, island-hopping with General Douglas MacArthur and then helped as interpreters in the US Occupation of Japan. So many of the MIS kept mum about their experience because the government demanded secrecy about their ...

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Nikkei View

On writing about the JA community

I started my writing career as a music critic and became a journalist with jobs at various mainstream media newspapers and later, websites, and wasn’t much concerned with covering the Japanese, Japanese American, or Asian American Pacific Islander communities or issues.

I became curious about my roots when my father was diagnosed with lung cancer in the early ‘90s, but it wasn’t until a few years later before I started writing about being Japanese American. I met my wife, who is Sansei, in the late ‘90s and one of the first things she said to me was that ...

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The Little Exile is a terrific addition to the JA reading list

The historical story of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II is still not well-known in mainstream American culture and literature. When it comes to books, there are only a handful of books that are based on Japanese Americans’ wartime experience. After the groundbreaking, angry No-No Boy by John Okada in 1957, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s Farewell to Manazanar was the first well-known memoir in 1973 (and made better-known because of its 1976 TV movie adaptation). The 1994 novel Snow Falling on Cedars is the most famailiar to non-JA audiences (again, because of the 1999 Oscar-nominated Hollywood film version ...

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Nikkei View

The Legacy of the Sansei from a “Ni-hansei” perspective

When I was a kid, I used to tell people who asked what generation I was, that I was “Ni-hansei,” or second-and-a-half. That’s because although my father was a Nisei born in Hawaii (technically a Kibei because his family moved to Japan in 1940 and he was stuck there during the war, but that’s another essay), I was born in Japan.

My dad was in the US Army during the Korean war, and met my Issei mom in Hokkaido when he was stationed there. My two brothers and I were all born in Tokyo; I’m a prime ...

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NHK is Your Direct Line to Japanese News

The recent 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima went by quietly on American news (in part because there’s just so much news to cover exploding out of our own White House). So on August 6, I turned to the one place I knew would give the commemoration of the bombing its due coverage: NHK World, Japan’s English-language public television network.

NHK World didn’t disappoint. The network aired live the annual solemn ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park that included dignitaries Kazumi Matsui, the Mayor of Hiroshima, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The speeches were ...

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