Akemi Kikumura Yano

Akemi Kikumura Yano is a Visiting Scholar at the University of California at Los Angeles, Asian American Studies Center.  She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from UCLA and is an award-winning author, curator, and playwright, best known for her book Through Harsh Winters:  The Life of an Immigrant Woman.

Updated February 2012

community en ja

Issei Pioneers - Hawaii and the Mainland 1885-1924 - Part 25

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On November 13, 1922, the United States Supreme Court ruled against Ozawa, declaring that as a “Mongolian” he was ineligible to citizenship. Justice Sutherland delivered the Supreme Court decision in the Takao Ozawa case:

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On behalf of the appellant it is argued that we should give to this phrase [free white persons] the meaning which it had in minds of its original framers in 1790 and that it was employed by them for the sole purpose of excluding the black or African race and the Indians then inhabiting this country. It may be true …

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community en ja

Issei Pioneers - Hawaii and the Mainland 1885-1924 - Part 24

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THE RIGHT OF NATURALIZATION 

The greatest legal barrier barring the Issei from equal participation in the United States was their classification as “Aliens Ineligible to Citizenship.” One of the earliest Issei to fight for naturalization was Namyo Bessho, who enlisted in the United States Navy in 1898. Bessho was a veteran of two wars (the Spanish American and World War I) and acted as personal steward for presidents William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Taft.

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In 1910, Manyo Bessho filed a petition for naturalization under the Act of July 26, 1894 which granted …

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community en ja

Issei Pioneers - Hawaii and the Mainland 1885-1924 - Part 23

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KYUTARO ABIKO: NEWSPAPER PUBLISHER, BANKER, FARM COLONY PIONEER

One of the most respected Issei leaders on the Mainland was Kyutaro Abiko who believed that a solution to the anti-Japanese movement was permanent settlement.  As published of the Nichibei Shimbun, which had the largest circulation in the continental U.S., he influenced many with his ideas about race relations in America. Blaming the sojourning mentality for the many shortcomings in the immigrant society, he exhorted his countrymen to sink roots in America and make a commitment to the soil.  An early advocate of the picture bride marriage, he urged …

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community en ja

Issei Pioneers - Hawaii and the Mainland 1885-1924 - Part 22

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THE FIGHT FOR EQUAL RIGHTS 

While the Japanese community turned inward for sustenance and support, about the swirled a constant barrage of accusations which the Issei could not ignore. Racist arguments called to “Restrict backward races,” and “Keep United States and Canada White Man’s countries.” In 1905, newspaper headlines blared: “JAPANESE A MENACE TO AMERICAN WOMEN.” California State Senator James D. Phelan warned, “The rats are in the granary. They have gotten in under the door and they are breeding with alarming rapidity. If this is not checked now, it means the end of …

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community en ja

Issei Pioneers - Hawaii and the Mainland 1885-1924 - Part 21

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THE CREATIVE SPIRIT

Despite the rigors of daily life, the Issei found time for creative expression. In cities and towns, groups formed to study and perform traditional dances, songs, and to play musical instruments such as the shamisen (three-stringed instrument), koto (harp), shakuhachi (flute), and biwa( lute). In Hawaii classical Okinawan entertainment was preserved and popularized by musicians such Kosuke Nakaganeko (1908-1990), master teacher and performer of the sanshin, an Okinawan three-stringed guitar.

Amateur drama groups formed in both Hawaii and on the Mainland, performing kyogen (comedic plays), shimpa (modern plays), and kabuki in theaters …

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