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

community en

Brother Theophane Walsh

In November 2018, the New York Times wrote an article highlighting the work of Father Ruskin Piedra, the priest of the church Our Lady of Perpetual Help in New York City.1 At 84, he busies himself with supporting litigation on behalf of immigrants - some from his own parish - to protect them from deportation. Amid the dreadful news of family separation and confinement of children in detention centers, Father Piedra’s work is a hopeful reminder that despite the callousness of the current administration’s policies in regard to immigrants and human rights, there are those working to help them ...

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Ways and Means: The Woman Behind The Moved-Outers

In the face of the tragic events of official confinement and loss that Japanese Americans experienced during World War II, there were numerous non-Japanese who found ways to help Issei and Nisei, or who protested their official treatment. A number of years ago, the Board of Directors of the Military Intelligence Service Association of Northern California approved the founding of the Kansha project to commemorate these individuals, whom one might call the “righteous gentiles” of Japanese America. Writer and activist Shizue Seigel wrote the intriguing book In Good Conscience, which told some of their stories. I have been interested to ...

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The Undiscovered History of Japanese Americans and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Part 2

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As mentioned, throughout the prewar years Japanese Americans, especially those in the Intermountain West, developed connections of different kinds with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS church. To show their appreciation to the Mormon church for its friendly attitude toward Japan, in April 1941 a group of Salt Lake Japanese Americans, led by Mike Masaoka, presented 25 Japanese cherry trees for planting around the Mormon Tabernacle. This relationship would be tested by World War II and by the wartime removal and confinement of Issei and Nisei from the West Coast.

At ...

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The Undiscovered History of Japanese Americans and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Part 1

A rather unsuspected but significant force in Japanese American life has been the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (whose members are commonly known as Latter-day Saints or Mormons—the latter name derives from the Book of Mormon, the Church’s key scriptural text).

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, LDS congregations and missionaries interacted with Japanese communities in different locations, even as thousands of Japanese Americans subjected to official confinement in Utah and Idaho during World War II came into close contact with LDS church members. While relatively few Japanese Americans took up the faith during ...

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Nunc Pro Tunc: The Story Behind a Phrase

It was more than ten years ago that my friend Tetsuden Kashima told me of his dream project. Tetsu, a professor of Sociology at University of Washington and an incisive scholar of wartime Japanese Americans, confided that he and some colleagues had hatched a plan to persuade the University administration to offer honorary degrees to those UW Nisei students of 1941-42 whose studies had been interrupted by their wartime removal, as a gesture of healing and reparation.

At that time, no university had ever held such a diploma ceremony, but it seemed to me a particularly effective way of dramatizing ...

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