Suspicious Points of Contact in Pre-War Chicago

This series tells the stories of Japanese and Japanese Americans in Chicago and the Midwest prior to and during World War II, stories that were very different from those of Japanese on the West Coast. Although the Japanese population, along with the number of Japanese arrested by the FBI right after the war broke out, were both small (less than 500 and 20 respectively), the US government’s watchful eyes had been suspicious of Japanese government espionage carried out by Japanese Chicagoans who had daily contact with African Americans since the 1930s. The series focuses on the lives of four Japanese in Chicago and the Midwest who were arrested on suspicion of espionage.

war en

The Japanese Consulate and Naka & Pearl Nakane - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

Naka and Pearl Nakane and Chicago

Did Naka Nakane ever come to Chicago? How much political influence did he have in Illinois? Did the Japanese consulate in Chicago somehow get involved in Nakane’s “black maneuver” in the Midwest ? All that can be said at this point is that two documents purporting to be pledges from the Development of Our Own were found among others in a search of the former Japanese consulate in Chicago.1

The Development of Our Own was incorporated as a non-profit organization in Illinois on October 1, 1936. Its address was listed ...

continue a ler

war en

The Japanese Consulate and Naka & Pearl Nakane - Part 1

Introduction

On January 30, 1941, a long telegram was sent from Yosuke Matsuoka, a minister of foreign affairs, to Japanese embassy in Washington and forwarded to consulates in the US, including the one in Chicago. The telegram instructed that the ministry had changed the emphasis of its publicity and propaganda work to strengthen intelligence work in the US.

One of the programs Matsuoka mapped out was to “make investigations of all anti-Semitism, communism, movements of Negroes, and labor movements” and to utilize US citizens “of foreign extraction (other than Japanese), aliens (other than Japanese), communists, Negroes, labor union members and ...

continue a ler

community en

The Japanese Mutual Aid Society and Charles Yasuma Yamazaki - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

Charles Yasuma Yamazaki and the African American Community

Yamazaki led an interesting life, a life full of change. Born in Kochi in April 1877, he left home for better living and arrived in Seattle as a seaman in 1899.1 After working in railroad construction in Puyallup, Washington and Helena, Montana from 1899 to 1901,2 in December 1902, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Boston as a wardroom steward on the USS Raleigh, with a five year contract. After a month’s hospitalization in a navy hospital in March 1903 for unknown reasons, having ...

continue a ler

community en

The Japanese Mutual Aid Society and Charles Yasuma Yamazaki - Part 1

Background

Pre-World War II Chicago had no segregated residential enclaves for Japanese residents like the Japantowns and Little Tokyos on the West Coast, but this did not mean there wasn't a Japanese community. Actually, there was a Japanese community, but it was more of an invisible mental space in the Japanese residents’ minds than a physical community.

Although Japanesehad livedscattered throughout Chicago since the 19th century, they certainly had formed various community groups and organizations. Becoming members of those groups and attending their meetings helped these people maintain their identity as Japanese. In fact, a sense of community ...

continue a ler

war en

Eizo Yanagi - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

Returning to our questions about Eizo Yanagi, what kind of contacts did he actually have with African Americans in Chicago? Most of the following information on Yanagi can be found in his file at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington DC.1

Eizo Yanagi

Eizo Yanagi worked as an engraving artist in pre-war Chicago and made his living by producing diplomas and certificates. He also had an English name, Frank Young (and at times went by Frank Eizo Yanagi). When the Japanese Prince and Princess Takamatsu visited Chicago in May 1931, Yanagi was a ...

continue a ler