Arthur A. Hansen

Art Hansen is Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American Studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he retired in 2008 as the director of the Center for Oral and Public History.  Between 2001 and 2005, he served as Senior Historian at the Japanese American National Museum.

Updated October 2009

politics en

Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura’s Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory - Part 4 of 7

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During the last half of 1947, Omura did take another stab at editing the Rocky Shimpo. But his postwar editorial mission to expose and stop the JACL occurred when their leadership controlled the community, enjoyed the full support of the U.S. government, and was promoting measures resonate within their community and mainstream America. This story deserves extended treatment,1 but only one sidebar, Omura’s clash of words and worldviews with Minoru Yasui will be broached here.

It is ironic that Yasui and Omura, Pacific Northwest Nisei dissidents who alike championed constitutional and human rights, should ...

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Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura’s Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory - Part 3 of 7

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The April 2 Rocky Nippon was dedicated to Omura and his Pacific Coast Evacuee Placement Bureau, whose doors had just closed. Other Denver doors were slamming in Omura’s face. In the April 10 Times, Kaz Oka of Poston, Arizona, denounced Omura. In “Why I Disagree with Mr. Omura,” Oka dismissed Omura’s recent lecture “on his favorite topic” as more of his rantings. He mocked Omura for devoting half his talk to his placement bureau. “I fail to see what it has to do with his discussion of the JACL and its alleged failings…UNLESS he ...

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Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura’s Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory - Part 2 of 7

Read Part 1 >> 

The boiling point came in February 1942 during meetings of the Bay Region Council for Unity (BRCU). Omura urged this progressive Nisei group’s membership to form a coalition with the JACL on an equal partnership basis and pitched resistance to the prospective mass eviction policy. The BRCU chair, Larry Tajiri, unsuccessfully sought Omura’s expulsion, but argued successfully that the BRCU affiliate as a “Sounding Board” with JACL. This meant BRCU would support JACL Executive Secretary Mike Masaoka’s impassioned plea of “constructive cooperation” with the government for “future considerations.”1 Omura was outraged at Masaoka ...

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politics en

Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura’s Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory - Part 1 of 7

It galled many long-standing Japanese American Citizen League (JACL) members who read the “Millennium New Year’s Edition” of the Pacific Citizen (PC), the League’s newspaper, to encounter “Influential JA Journalist: James Omura” in an issue commemorating outstanding twentieth-century Nisei.1 Perhaps no other Nikkei name could so predictably have nettled Old Guard JACLers as Jimmie Omura, born on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1912 and died in Denver, Colorado, in 1994.

Thus, JACL pioneer Fred Hirasuna wrote in the PC:

Who named James Omura influential journalist of the past century? Omura…did not challenge evacuation by physically resisting evacuation ...

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war en

Book Review -- Imprisoned in Paradise: Japanese Internee Road Workers at the World War II Kooskia Internment Camp by Priscilla Wegars

Imprisoned in Paradise is a magnificent microstudy of the World War II Japanese internment experience. This is due to the creative vision of its author, the historian Priscilla Wegars. In addition to writing the present book—a decade-long process—Wegars curates the University of Idaho’s Asian American Comparative Collection and edits the collections’s research reports series, in which Imprisoned in Paradise is the third volume.

The paradoxical title prefigures the work’s central interpretive message that the heretofore largely overlooked Department of Justice-operated facility of Kooskia in north-central Idaho, although unquestionably a wartime confinement site for some 265 ...

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