Koji's Column

“Koji’s Column” is a column series contributed by Japanese American National Museum staff member, Koji Steven Sakai. His column explores Nikkei identity and culture from the standpoint of a second- and fourth-generation Japanese Americana American male from Southern California.

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A Response To Roger Lotchins’ “There Were No Concentration Camps In America” Article

The first lesson I want to teach my son is that there are idiots in the world. Lots of them. And just because you teach a class in college or you have a degree does not mean you are not an idiot. Don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that ALL professors and people who have degrees are idiots but some of them are.

Roger Lotchin, an alleged professor of history at the University of North Carolina, is one of them. In his opinion piece, “There were no concentration camps in America”, he seems to ignore history ...

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Top 10 Iconic Japanese American Photos

Walt Disney once said, “Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” Pictures tell a story that even the best writer’s words could never fully describe. That’s saying a lot coming from a writer.

I wanted to “tell” the story of Japanese Americans. Here are my top 10 iconic pictures that tell my story.

#10: Japanese American Baseball

African Americans weren’t the only group of people excluded from playing in organized sports. Most people of color couldn’t play on high school teams or professional leagues. The Japanese Americans ...

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Top Five Japanese American Women Civil Rights Pioneers You Should Know

In California, January 30 was officially Fred Korematsu Day. It is important to honor and remember Korematsu but I believe it is also a time to look back at some of the other Japanese Americans (JAs) who also fought for the rights of not just JAs but all Americans.

Unfortunately, Japanese American women don’t get enough credit for their contributions to the civil rights movement. I want to change that. So I created a list of five JA women activists that I think everyone should know:

Yuri Kochiyama

Kochiyama is most well-known for cradling Malcolm X’s head in ...

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The Top Non-Asian Civil Rights Heroes For Japanese Americans

After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, there was only one national organization that was willing to stand up for the rights of Japanese Americans (JAs). They were the Quakers. Not only did they speak out against the unconstitutional incarceration of JAs they helped many of the Nisei (second generation) kids go to college.

Even though the Quakers were the only national group, there were some brave individuals who spoke out for the rights of Japanese Americans. These individuals were willing to put their professional and personal reputations and sometimes their safety on the line for their fellow Americans, even when the ...

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70th Anniversary of the Signing of Executive Order 9066

2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066. For those of you who don’t know, 9066 was the order that eventually led to the unconstitutional incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. It was signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. Here’s a quote from the order:

“…from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose ...

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