Eiichiro Azuma

Eiichiro Azuma is the Alan Charles Kors Term Chair Associate Professor of History and Asian American Studies at University of Pennsylvania. He is author of Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America (Oxford University Press, 2005) and co-editor of Yuji Ichioka, Before Internment: Essays in Prewar Japanese American History (Stanford University Press, 2006). Professor Azuma is also currently at work with David Yoo in the editing of the Oxford Handbook of Asian American History. Between 1992 and 2000, he worked as a Curator/Researcher at the Japanese American National Museum and has an MA in Asian American studies and a PhD in history from UCLA.

Updated July 2013

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In This Great Land of Freedom: The Japanese Pioneers of Oregon

Chapter 8 — Renewed Oppression and Final Struggle

Once he was our friend
The owner of the store now
Behaves nervously
Refusing to sell us goods

Shizue Iwatsuki1

With the war coming to an end, Oregon experienced renewed anti-Japanese movements. In Gresham, local farmers and businessmen, inspired by the economic advantage of Japanese exclusion, started a campaign to prevent their return as early as 1943. This movement led to the establishment of the Oregon Anti-Japanese Inc., in November, 1944. Later renamed the Japanese Exclusion League, this group called for “the enactment of legislation, both State and Federal, designed to exclude from United States citizenship now ineligible for ...

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In This Great Land of Freedom: The Japanese Pioneers of Oregon

Chapter 7 — Issei Life Behind Barbed Wire

The harsh winds of autumn
Pierce the spirit of those
Who live at the mercy of fate
Created by the war.

Akiyama1

The internees had primitive living conditions. The North Portland Assembly Center had previously been used as the Pacific International Livestock Exposition Building and was barely adapted for human habitation. Each family was assigned to a small, single room in a large barrack with walls made of thin plywood sheets. In order to make each room as “homey” as possible, the internees made shelves, tables, chairs, cupboards and other furniture and appliances for themselves. They hung curtains or ...

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In This Great Land of Freedom: The Japanese Pioneers of Oregon

Chapter 6 — Pearl Harbor: Days of Anguish and Confusion

We have spent two-thirds of our lives in the United States and we feel we are more American than Japanese; we are willing to do anything we may be asked to do to help our foster mother.

A Portland Issei, January 23, 19421

Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor had a profound impact on Issei life. Immediately classified as “enemy aliens,” they were no longer able to assure security for themselves or for their children. “Asleep or awake, I felt as if I were losing the color in my face,” said a Portland merchant. “I knew that our lives ...

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In This Great Land of Freedom: The Japanese Pioneers of Oregon

Chapter 5 — The Struggle Against Exclusion

A series of exclusions
Now getting used to it
I spend each day farming

Honda Fugetsu1

While building their community and industries, Japanese immigrants struggled against exclusionists’ threats. Combined with the rise of anti-foreign sentiments of World War I, the rapid growth of Issei agriculture stirred whites’ fear of Japanese competition. As the Hood River Japanese farmers showed a notable prosperity with a high level of land ownership, they became the prime target of organized exclusionist attacks. The local American Legion was the forerunner of the movement. It not only opposed Japanese land ownership in Hood River but also ...

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In This Great Land of Freedom: The Japanese Pioneers of Oregon

Chapter 4 — Japanese Immigrant Families and Community Development

“Japan is such a small island country…. What is the use of returning to such a place? If we have to fulfill our filial duty to parents and live with wives, why don’t we have them come to America? If the difference in the language and customs bothers us, why don’t we learn to adapt to them”1

Masuo Yasui

The rapid development of Japanese farm communities in Oregon was marked by the emergence of families. The early Japanese immigrant society was primarily a world of young bachelors. During the 1910s, the migratory nature of the community changed ...

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