Esther Newman

Esther Newman recently moved back to her hometown of Encinitas, California. After college and a career in marketing and media production for Ohio’s Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, she returned to school to study twentieth century American history. While in graduate school, she became interested in her family’s history and now plans to continue independent research on topics affecting the Japanese Diaspora including internment, migration and assimilation.

Updated July 2010

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Yoshitaro Amano, Canal Zone Resident and Prisoner #203 - Part 6

Part 5 >>

Few prisoners spoke directly to the enemy in protest but some were willing to speak up when ordered to do so. According to Amano, the military conducted a court martial of the soldier accused of shooting Kanesaburo Oshima, calling ten Japanese as witnesses. One courageous witness, Shindo Tamezo, testified that the soldier said, “I don’t care, he’s just a Jap” after firing at Oshima. After the accused soldier denied hearing requests to hold fire, Tamezo angrily called him a liar, noting that the sentry in the watchtower heard the request. Amano claimed that an officer then ...

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Yoshitaro Amano, Canal Zone Resident and Prisoner #203 - Part 5

Part 4 >>

Spirits spiked and plummeted throughout the next several months that included the anxiety-ridden voyage aboard the Florida from Panama to New Orleans followed by long hours on a train through desolate territory to an unknown destination. A high point for the prisoners occurred on the train.  An American soldier, fooling around by balancing his weapon on his palm, dropped the gun and watched it fall through a gap under a door.  The prisoners expected to see harsh punishment doled out but no recrimination beyond an extra shift of K.P. duty fell to the clumsy soldier.  The train ...

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Yoshitaro Amano, Canal Zone Resident and Prisoner #203 - Part 4

Part 3 >>

On the evening of December 7, 1941, Amano recalled ordering his two Panamanian maids to bring whiskey and three glasses.  He poured for the three of them and offered a toast to Japan’s victory and a toast to his love of Panama.  On impulse, he grabbed the Japanese board game, go, before taking a last look at the home that held happy memories of his family and driving to the police station.

Amano revealed his conflicted emotions:

At last, Japan started the war.  Do you think Japan would win?  I had a cold doubt stab at my ...

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Food Tours of Little Tokyo with Six Taste - An interview with Jeff Okita

Want to get the inside scoop on Little Tokyo? With a Six Taste tour, it’s likely to be mochi flavored gelato, but you’ll also enjoy tasty tidbits of history, culture and samples of Japanese cuisine along seven stops in a 3-1/2 hour walking adventure. The tours place the Japanese American National Museum (JANM)’s goals of understanding and appreciation of cultural and ethnic diversity on a path leading directly to the stomach. It’s one of the latest programs offered through JANM.

Six Taste is the brainchild of Jeff Okita, a northern California native, and his business ...

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Yoshitaro Amano, Canal Zone Resident and Prisoner #203 - Part 3

Part 2 >>

Amano confirmed that military personnel did more than mistreat prisoners for entertainment; they gathered intelligence in concert with the FBI.  Amano revealed in his statements that his highly suspect activities and defiant attitude made him a target.  While captive, the Americans identified Amano only by the number on his prison-issued clothes. “My number was 203, a bad omen.  Everyone knew about 203, a fort Japan fought for in Russia.”

The significance of number 203 derived from The Battle of 203-Meter Hill and the Siege of Port Arthur in 1904 during the Russo-Japanese War. The battle was noteworthy both ...

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