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). 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 the coedited volume John Okada - The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press, 2018).

Updated June 2018

culture en

The Man Behind the Camera: The story of Yoichi Okamoto, LBJ's Shadow

Since the early days of the camera, photography has enjoyed a particular vogue in Japan. Long before the stereotyped tourist groups snapping pictures arrived on the international scene, Japanese photographers had demonstrated their talent. Japanese brands such as Olympus, Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Pentax, and Fujifilm, all firms originally founded during the interwar years, came to dominate the international film and camera market by the end of the 20th century.

While it is not clear how direct an influence Japanese shutterbugs exercised on overseas Nikkei communities, photography remained a prominent interest of those in the United States. Numerous Japanese Americans operated ...

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community en

Clifford Uyeda and Ben Kuroki: Nisei Conservatives in the 1960s

One extraordinary trend in recent years is the eclipse of Japanese Americans within the Republican Party. Alan Nakanishi, the sole Japanese American Republican in the California Assembly, left office in 2008. Beth Fukumoto of Hawaii, who was House Minority Leader from 2014 to 2017, quit the Republican Party after being unseated from her position, and denounced the intolerance of “party leaders” for dissent within the party (most notably her opposition to Donald Trump’s treatment of women and minorities). In 2018 Fukumoto ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a Democrat. Although Bob Sakata, an elderly Japanese American farmer from Colorado, was ...

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culture en

The Epic Lives of Taro and Mitsu Yashima

One remarkable Japanese American story is that of the epic and tragic partnership of Taro and Mitsu Yashima, an extraordinary couple of artists and freedom fighters. Together they survived years of hardship—imprisonment, exile, poverty, and illness—and made a name for themselves as authors and illustrators. Eventually they reached a point where Mitsu was unable to continue with her husband.

Taro Yashima was born Jun Atsushi Iwamatsu on September 21, 1908, the son of a doctor and art collector in the seaside town of Nejime (now part of Minami Ōsumi-cho), in Kagoshima prefecture. Yashima later recalled that his childhood ...

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community en

Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga: The Godmother of the Redress Movement

Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga was the scholar-activist who dedicated herself to researching the wartime removal and confinement of Japanese Americans, and who located the evidence of government injustice that helped lead to the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 and to the victories in the coram nobis cases in federal court by the wartime defendants in the “Japanese internment” cases. Aiko’s life can be considered a marvelous set of paradoxes. Though she spent her active years outside the West Coast, she began and ended her long life in Los Angeles.

After being confined by the US government under Executive ...

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community en

Japanese Americans and Catholicism

The recent release of Martin Scorsese’s film SILENCE, on the persecution of Catholic missionaries in early modern Japan, has increased popular interest in the long and eventful encounter between Japanese Americans and Catholicism, a subject that has tended to pass unnoticed in chronicles of Nikkei life. This absence of discussion is peculiar, since in most places around the world where Japanese emigrant communities became established in the 20th century—including Latin America, the Philippines, New Caledonia, and Quebec—Catholicism was the dominant religion. In these regions, the Church played an important role in assisting the Nikkei, some of whom ...

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