Greg Robinson

Greg Robinson, a native New Yorker, is Professor of History at l'Université du Québec À Montréal, a French-language institution in Montreal, Canada. He is the author of the books By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (Harvard University Press, 2001), A Tragedy of Democracy; Japanese Confinement in North America (Columbia University Press, 2009), After Camp: Portraits in Postwar Japanese Life and Politics (University of California Press, 2012), Pacific Citizens: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and Japanese American Journalism in the World War II Era (University of Illinois Press, 2012), and The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches (University Press of Colorado, 2016), as well as coeditor of the anthology Miné Okubo: Following Her Own Road (University of Washington Press, 2008). Robinson is also coeditor of the volume John Okada - The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press, 2018). His historical column “The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great,” is a well-known feature of the Nichi Bei Weekly newspaper. Robinson’s latest book is an anthology of his columns, The Unsung Great: Portraits of Extraordinary Japanese Americans (University of Washington Press, 2020).

Updated September 2020

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From Kenny Murase to Kenji Murase: The Journey of a Nisei Writer, Scholar, and Activist - Part 2

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In August 1942, Kenny Murase arrived at Poston with his parents and brothers. He soon was invited to join the Bureau of Sociological Research (BSR), where he worked under the direction of Dr. Alexander Leighton. He also volunteered to assist JERS researcher Tamie Tsuchiyama. Meanwhile, Murase returned to journalism. First, he took the position of Acting City Editor of the inmate newspaper Poston III Press Bulletin. In addition to his editing work, he was invited to write for the Pacific Citizen by editor Larry Tajiri (whom Murase had gotten to know in San Francisco when they both ...

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From Kenny Murase to Kenji Murase: The Journey of a Nisei Writer, Scholar, and Activist - Part 1

The life of Kenji Murase, a Nisei litterateur, activist, and social scientist, illustrates some of the challenges faced by Nisei intellectuals in the mid-twentieth century. Although he came from a poor farming family, and had to scramble to get an education, Murase threw himself into progressive literary and political movements. Years later, even after he became a distinguished professor, he retained his focus on community empowerment.

Kenji Kenneth Murase was born in Parlier, California, near Fresno, in January 1920 (while his birth and marriage certificates listed January 9 as his date of birth, Murase claimed January 3 as his birthday ...

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T. John Fujii: Expatriate or Collaborator? - Part 2

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T. John Fujii’s career in wartime Singapore, as discussed in his book Singapore Assignment, offers a stark lesson in the ambiguity of Nisei responses to the conflict of loyalties between the United States and Japan in the era of the Pacific War. During these years, a whole cadre of educated Nisei, who had been excluded on racial grounds from employment with mainstream American businesses, and had accepted positions with Japanese firms in North America and in Japan’s growing empire in Asia, were caught in the middle of the growing Japanese-U.S. conflict. They were forced ...

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T. John Fujii: Expatriate or Collaborator? - Part 1

The story of Tatsuki John Fujii, a journeyman writer and journalist who was one of the earliest Nisei book authors, offers a rich illustration of the international connections (and complications) of Japanese Americans.

Tatsuki Fujii was born in 1914 in Aichi-ken, Japan, the son of Jiryu (“Jirie”) Fujii and Toshi Fujii. He was still an infant when his family moved to California in 1915. Jiryu Fujii had been a Tendai Buddhist priest in Japan, but he converted to Christianity and became a Methodist minister. The family lived in Merced and later Alameda and Walnut Grove. During these years, two more ...

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A Union of Artists: Kimi Gengo and Bunji Tagawa - Part 2

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Kimi Gengo Tagawa achieved early renown for her poetry, winning prizes and publishing a volume of verse while still in her twenties. Conversely, the long artistic career of her husband, Bunji Tagawa, did not take off until after his thirtieth birthday.

Bunji Tagawa was born in Japan on August 13, 1904. Daikichiro Tagawa, his father, was a Japanese Christian lawyer, journalist, and statesman who later served as president of Meiji University. The elder Tagawa served multiple terms in the Diet as an independent representative from his native Nagasaki, and became renowned for his liberal and progressive views ...

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