アーサー・A・ハンセン

(Arthur A. Hansen)

Art Hansen is Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American Studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he retired in 2008 as the director of the Center for Oral and Public History.  Between 2001 and 2005, he served as Senior Historian at the Japanese American National Museum.

Updated October 2009

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Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura’s Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory - Part 5 of 7

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Omura’s retreat eliminated a formidable counterweight to the JACL’s hegemonic hold over Japanese Denver’s public life. The existence of a large, active JACL chapter, along with a favorable press to promote its agenda and social gospel, ensured that the organization would prevail. How the immediate Japanese American past would be configured within (and outside of) Denver’s Nikkei community was also discernible.

The basic lesson for Nikkei to learn from their wartime history, as adumbrated by Yasui, was that, unlike most other Americans, they needed to fulfill obligations like military service before their civil ...

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Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura’s Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory - Part 4 of 7

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During the last half of 1947, Omura did take another stab at editing the Rocky Shimpo. But his postwar editorial mission to expose and stop the JACL occurred when their leadership controlled the community, enjoyed the full support of the U.S. government, and was promoting measures resonate within their community and mainstream America. This story deserves extended treatment,1 but only one sidebar, Omura’s clash of words and worldviews with Minoru Yasui will be broached here.

It is ironic that Yasui and Omura, Pacific Northwest Nisei dissidents who alike championed constitutional and human rights, should ...

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Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura’s Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory - Part 3 of 7

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The April 2 Rocky Nippon was dedicated to Omura and his Pacific Coast Evacuee Placement Bureau, whose doors had just closed. Other Denver doors were slamming in Omura’s face. In the April 10 Times, Kaz Oka of Poston, Arizona, denounced Omura. In “Why I Disagree with Mr. Omura,” Oka dismissed Omura’s recent lecture “on his favorite topic” as more of his rantings. He mocked Omura for devoting half his talk to his placement bureau. “I fail to see what it has to do with his discussion of the JACL and its alleged failings…UNLESS he ...

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Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura’s Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory - Part 2 of 7

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The boiling point came in February 1942 during meetings of the Bay Region Council for Unity (BRCU). Omura urged this progressive Nisei group’s membership to form a coalition with the JACL on an equal partnership basis and pitched resistance to the prospective mass eviction policy. The BRCU chair, Larry Tajiri, unsuccessfully sought Omura’s expulsion, but argued successfully that the BRCU affiliate as a “Sounding Board” with JACL. This meant BRCU would support JACL Executive Secretary Mike Masaoka’s impassioned plea of “constructive cooperation” with the government for “future considerations.”1 Omura was outraged at Masaoka ...

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Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura’s Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory - Part 1 of 7

It galled many long-standing Japanese American Citizen League (JACL) members who read the “Millennium New Year’s Edition” of the Pacific Citizen (PC), the League’s newspaper, to encounter “Influential JA Journalist: James Omura” in an issue commemorating outstanding twentieth-century Nisei.1 Perhaps no other Nikkei name could so predictably have nettled Old Guard JACLers as Jimmie Omura, born on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1912 and died in Denver, Colorado, in 1994.

Thus, JACL pioneer Fred Hirasuna wrote in the PC:

Who named James Omura influential journalist of the past century? Omura…did not challenge evacuation by physically resisting evacuation ...

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