We are actively working to preserve the physical artifacts as well as the stories and memories of life in one of America's concentration camps located at Poston, Arizona. It was named "Poston" or the "Colorado River Relocation Center", located on the Colorado River Indian Reservation during World War II. The Poston Community Alliance is a 501(c)(3)non-profit group.
Five To Be Honored At IVC Graduation
Written by KXO Staff Report
Thursday, 10 June 2010
Five Japanese Americans whose college education was disrupted when they were interned during World War 2 will be honored Saturday at IVC’s Commencement Exercises.
Terry Koike (Poston 53-5-C), Hiroshi Kaku (Poston block 12), Emiko Kaku (Poston block 12), Sachiko Kaku (Poston block 12) and Arthur Kato (Poston 53-12-C) will be awarded Honorary Associate Degrees during the commencement. Family members of four of them will be in attendance to accept the degrees. Two of them, Hiroshi Katu and Kato, will be honored posthumously.
The five were students who either attended or planned to attend Central Junior College in El Centro or Brawley Junior College in Brawley when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in February 1943 forcing over 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry to move from their homes and communities to internment camps. Sixty-two percent of these men, women and children were American-born citizens who were Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans) or Sansei (third generation Japanese Americans), and 2,567 Japanese American students were enrolled in California’s higher education institutions, both public and private.
Records from the California Nisei College Diploma Project assert that more than 1,200 Nisei students attended 44 junior and community colleges during the academic term immediately prior to Executive Order 9066.
In October 2009, Assembly Bill 37 authored by Assembly member Warren T. Furutani, became law. It provides for institutions of higher education in California, including community colleges, to award honorary degrees to Japanese American college students who were forcibly evacuated from their homes in 1942, interned in government camps, and as a result, were unable to complete their education.
The five former Imperial Valley students to receive the degrees Saturday were identified by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office
IVC will be hosting a special reception for the families of the honorees at 8 a.m. Saturday in the board room, prior to the commencement that begins at 10 a.m.
Monterey Park woman, placed in WWII internment camp, finally receives college degree
By Sandra T. Molina, Staff Writer
Photo: Masako Yoshida (Poston 36-5-A), right chats with Eiko Watanabe Nomura. Yoshida and three other women attend the LA City College graduation at the Greek Theater in Hollywood, June 7, 2010, to receive their honorary degrees. Yoshida of Monterey Park was attending Los Angeles City College when WWII broke out and was rounded up and sent relocation camps along with thousands of other Japanese Americans and never finished her education. (Correspondent photo by Mike Mullen/SWCity)
LOS ANGELES - Masako Yoshida (Poston 36-5-A), 85, is no longer her family's only college dropout.
She received an honorary degree Tuesday from Los Angeles City College at the school's graduation ceremony held at the Greek Theatre.
Yoshida, of Monterey Park, was attending LACC when Japanese- Americans were rounded up and placed in camps during World War II.
The family, including her parents and an older brother and younger sister, went from living in a rented home in Boyle Heights to an internment camp (Poston I) in Arizona.
"It was quite a shock," Yoshida said. She was 17.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, thousands of Japanese-Americans living across the nation were forced to relocate and sent to camps.
Yoshida's family was sent to the relocation camp in Poston, Ariz.
"Evacuation orders were put on telephone poles," she said.
The family spent just over a year at the camp, which Yoshida describes as "terrible."
There were no doors or partitions for the bathrooms and showers.
"It was very uncomfortable," Yoshida said.
On Oct. 11, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law A.B. 37, which provides for the conferring of an honorary degree upon each person, living or deceased, who was forced to leave his or her postsecondary studies, said Lawrence Bradford, vice president of Student Services.
"Today we are fortunate to have four Nisei (second-generation Japanese American) students present," he said.
After leaving the camp, she went east and met her future husband, Mitsuo Yoshida, in South Carolina. He served in the infantry in a segregated unit in the U.S. Army.
The couple, who had three children, moved to Monterey Park in 1953, where they had a hard time finding a place to live.
"They wouldn't rent to Japanese," Yoshida said.
The Yoshidas found a "wonderful" woman who sold them a home, with a deed that disallowed discrimination.
Since Yoshida had a family to raise, she did not go back to school.
For about 25 years, she was an instructional aide in the Alhambra Unified School District, where she still volunteers in her retirement.
When Yoshida got the call from LACC about the degree, she was surprised.
She realized she would join the rest of her family as a college graduate, including her parents, siblings, husband, children and now her grandchildren.
College awards degrees for internees
by Promise Yee
OCEANSIDE — Few graduates face the tremendous challenges that Mira Costa College students Yukiko (Nakamura) Sugiyama (Poston 12-1-A), Johnny Yoshimura (Poston 43-3-A), and Audrey (Fujita) Mizokami (Poston 328-1-C) endured. Their studies were interrupted when they were forced into Japanese internment camps shortly after the start of World War II.
Thanks to the Nisei Diploma Project and Assembly Bill 37 signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009, Mira Costa College received support to actively seek out former students and bestow upon them their well-deserved diplomas.
“Japanese Americans defended their country while their families were held in internment camps,” speaker George Furuya Jr., president of the Vista Buddhist
Temple and a third-generation Japanese American, said. “They never complained, they were productive, patriotic Americans.”
PHOTO: Yukiko (Nakamura)Sugiyama (Poston 12-1-A), accompanied by her granddaughter Tisha Melville, was present to shake the hand of college President Francisco Rodriguez, accept her degree, and turn her tassel at the Mira Costa College graduation ceremony May 28. Four generations of her family watched her graduate.
Sugiyama was in her second year of study at Mira Costa College, then known as Oceanside Carlsbad Junior College, and close to graduation when she and her family were relocated to the Poston(I) Camp in Arizona in 1942. Before withdrawing from school, the dean of students told Sugiyama to get course work from her professors, mail back her assignments, and complete her degree. In camp, Sugiyama finished her degree and ranked second in her class off 33 graduates.
Sugiyama and her family stayed in the internment camp for four years. “We were the first to go and last to leave,” Sugiyama said.
Once released, they had no money or resources, everything had been taken from them. Sugiyama said Japanese Americans felt understandable resentment.
“My degree didn’t do much good,” Sugiyama said. “We couldn’t find a job, no one would hire us.”
“They did the best they could to hold their heads up,” Judith Nakano, daughter of Yukiko (Nakamura) Sugiyama, said. “They are Americans in every sense of the word.”
Sugiyama’s husband served in the military while she was interned. They eventually saved money, bought a home and raised a family.
Sandy Gilbert, the daughter of the late Yoshimura, and Robin McNamara, the daughter of Mizokami, were present to accept the honorary degrees for their parents at the graduation ceremony.
Yoshimura stopped his education and served as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, while his parents and other family members were interned at the Poston Internment Camp (block 43-3-A) in Arizona.
Mizokami attended Mira Costa from 1939 to 1941. Before she had a chance to complete her studies, she and her family were sent to the Santa Anita Assembly Center, then Poston (328-1-C) in Arizona, and later the Granada Camp in Colorado.
Japanese American baseball teams thrived in local area before World War II By GEOFFREY DUNN
Special to the Herald
Photo: Roy Hattori, 91, left, Maya Miyamoto (Poston 308-13-A), 88, both of Monterey.(VERN FISHER/The Herald)
As the 2010 Major League Baseball season reminds us that hope springs eternal, a long forgotten chapter of local sports history waits quietly to be reopened.
Players from Japan are now commonplace in the big leagues — Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners and Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Boston Red Sox have become American sports icons — but few contemporary fans of the national pastime are aware that Japanese American baseball teams flourished throughout the Monterey Bay region during the era leading up to World War II.
"Baseball was my first love in those days," recalled 91-year-old Tom Mine (Poston block 216), a left-hand-hitting outfielder who played on the Watsonville Kasei team in the late 1930s. "We played some pretty good ball. But mostly, we had a lot of fun."
Baseball was first introduced to Japan in the early 1870s by American educator Horace Wilson, who taught the game to his students at Tokyo University.
"We loved the game," said Roy Hattori, also 91, who played for the Monterey Minato club during the 1930s. "Our fathers loved baseball, too. The Issei (first-generation immigrants) loved baseball before coming to the United States," he said.
During the 1920s and '30s, most communities in the Monterey Bay Area — Monterey, Watsonville, Santa Cruz, Salinas, Hollister and Gilroy — hosted talented Japanese-American baseball teams that played in highly competitive leagues against each other, with games scheduled on Sundays.
In a certain sense, these leagues were something of a parallel to the more well-known Negro Leagues that flourished in the U.S. before Jackie Robinson broke the so-called "color line" in the 1940s.
"We traveled all through Northern and Southern California," said Maya Miyamoto (Poston 308-13-A), 88, one of the five legendary Miyamoto brothers who formed the hub of the Monterey baseball squad for the better part of two decades.
"We'd ride to games in the back of old Model T trucks with sideboards and canvas tops. On the way home, we'd sleep in the back."
The late Frank Manaka, who was the first Japanese-American in Monterey to own his own sardine boat, was a star pitcher at Monterey High School who dreamed of playing in the major leagues.
According to Monterey maritime historian Timothy Thomas, Manaka's father insisted that he follow the family tradition, going to work in the fishing industry at the age of 18.
"But he never lost his passion for baseball," Thomas said, "and he followed the game until the day he died, on his 100th birthday."
Big in community
"Baseball has always played an important role in the local Japanese community," Thomas said. "At a very early age, young Japanese boys learned to play the game."
Sports activities in the Japanese-American community focused around the Japanese American Citizens League, or JACL, and the Minato Athletic Club. The first Minato baseball team organized in the 1920s and fielded strong teams for the next two decades.
During the early days of Japanese-American baseball, Issei women did not attend games.
"Only the men came out," Hattori said. But once the second generation of Nisei players came around, the entire family showed up to games at Jacks Park, located directly across from the JACL Hall. "The women wanted to see their sons play. Baseball became more of a family affair," Hattori said.
Larry Oda, currently the National President of the JACL, recalled a story about his father, Junichi, who owned the Western Wholesale Fish Co., which packed abalone on the Monterey waterfront in the 1920s. His father would hire young ballplayers so that they could earn extra money.
Work, then play
"On game days, he would let them rush through their task of shucking the abalone so they could get to their game on time," Oda notes. "Instead of carefully laying each abalone flat on the table, they would be quickly piled one on top of the other. The ladies doing the trimming and slicing would get upset because it is hard to get a good slice out of an abalone that's rolled up in a ball," Oda said.
The unchallenged star of the Monterey Minato team during the 1930s was Maya Miyamoto's older brother, Ky, who led the Minatos to a pair of state championships.
In 1935 he played third base for the San Jose Asahi in a celebrated contest against the touring Tokyo Giants before a capacity crowd of 1,000 at Asahi Park in San Jose. He singled and stole home in the ninth inning to tie the game before the Asahi went on to win, 3-2.
Ky Miyamoto (Poston block 308-13-A) was also was selected to play on the Alameda Kono all-star team that toured Japan, Korea and Manchuria for three months in 1937.
For all the cheers and diamond heroics, however, there was a troubling backdrop to the racially segregated leagues.
Immigrants from China, Japan and the Philippines have played a significant role in the region's cultural and economic development, but these immigrant groups were, at nearly every turn, subjected to both restrictive legislation and even vigilante violence throughout the region.
Anti-Japanese American activity in the Monterey Bay area reared its ugly head as early as the 1890s. In the 1920s, it became even more ramped up, as Japanese fishing boats were sunk in Monterey and local business associations tried to squeeze Japanese farmers out of the region's agricultural economy.
While baseball has often furnished the social lubricant for breaking down racial barriers in the United States and provided opportunities for ethnic groups to claim their share of the American Dream, the sport just as often reflected the harsh realities of American society.
As Japanese-American historian Gary Otake said, "we must acknowledge the discrimination and segregation from the larger society that forced the Japanese American community to build leagues of their own."
For the Monterey Bay region's Japanese-American communities, the legacy of America's racial divide took an even uglier turn when residents of Japanese ancestry were forced into internment camps in the early days of World War II.
Not surprisingly, many of the Japanese-American baseball teams re-formed in the camps. "We played on Sundays to big crowds there," Watsonville's Mine remembers. "Just like we did at home."
The Nisei baseball leagues also factored into U.S. military history during the war. Several of the ballplayers from Japanese-American teams in Hawaii and throughout the western states served in Europe with the celebrated all-Nisei "Go for Broke" 442nd Regimental Combat unit, the most highly decorated military unit in American history.
On MacArthur's team
Maya Miyamoto (Poston block 308-13-A), who served in the 441st Military Intelligence Battalion during the war, played on a team in Japan under Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the U.S. occupation.
After the war, some of the teams regrouped back in California, but the all-Nisei teams didn't last long.
All but a few had disbanded by the 1950s — with their players either retiring or playing on integrated teams.
Like many of those who played in the pre-war leagues, Miyamoto has fond memories of the old days. "Back then, it was all fun," he said.
"After the games it was a way for communities to get together and socialize. Nowadays, baseball seems a little too serious. Today it's all business. It's supposed to be fun."