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Pacific Citizens

Pacific Citizens: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and Japanese American Journalism in the World War II Era

Edited, with an Introduction and Notes, by Greg Robinson
Foreword by Harry K. Honda
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Pacific Citizens
    Book Description:

    Offering a window into a critical era in Japanese American life, Pacific Citizens collects key writings of Larry S. Tajiri, a multitalented journalist, essayist, and popular culture maven. He and his wife, Guyo, who worked by his side, became leading figures in Nisei political life as the central purveyors of news for and about Japanese Americans during World War II, both those confined in government camps and others outside._x000B__x000B_The Tajiris made the community newspaper the Pacific Citizen a forum for liberal and progressive views on politics, civil rights, and democracy, insightfully addressing issues of assimilation, multiracialism, and U.S. foreign relations. Through his editorship of the Pacific Citizen as well as in articles and columns in outside media, Larry Tajiri became the Japanese American community's most visible spokesperson, articulating a broad vision of Nisei identity to a varied audience._x000B__x000B_In this thoughtfully framed and annotated volume, Greg Robinson interprets and examines the contributions of the Tajiris through a selection of writings, columns, editorials, and correspondence from before, during, and after the war. Pacific Citizens contextualizes the Tajiris' output, providing a telling portrait of these two dedicated journalists and serving as a reminder of the public value of the ethnic community press.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09383-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Series Foreword
    (pp. xiii-xiv)

    Unlike most of the ethnic press in the United States, the Pacific Citizen was always published in English. Until the ethnic cleansing and incarceration of 1942, it had been at most the mouthpiece of a generation, or part of it. Moved from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City (1940 population 189,000), it became the voice of a people mostly exiled to ten desolate concentration camps stretching from southern Idaho to southeastern Arkansas. There were other surviving Japanese American organs, like the traditional bilingual Utah Nippo and Denver’s Rocky Shimpo, but only the Pacific Citizen had significant national readership: it was...

  4. Foreword
    (pp. xv-xviii)

    To thousands of japanese americans during World War II, in Uncle Sam’s military legions or those languishing in concentration camps American-style because of their racial affinity to the enemy, the Pacific Citizen was their best source of what was bustling in their sphere. For example, the Pacific Citizen’s first issue, edited by Larry Tajiri out of Salt Lake City in June 4, 1942, was headlined “Army to Order Evacuation of Military Area 2.” The words surprised and shocked hundreds who had voluntarily moved away on their own from Military Area 1, generally within one hundred miles from the Pacific Coast....

  5. Introduction: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and the Pacific Citizen
    (pp. xix-xlii)

    Pacific citizens examines and interprets the contributions of Larry S. Tajiri, a multitalented newspaperman, essayist, and political thinker, and his wife, Guyo. In the decade beginning in 1942, the Tajiris served as editors and sole full-time employees of the newspaper the Pacific Citizen, organ of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). During the years of World War II they were central purveyors of news to and about Japanese Americans, both those who were confined by official order in government camps and others outside, and in the postwar resettlement era the Tajiris made their newspaper a forum for progressive views on...

  6. 1 The Early Years
    (pp. 1-30)

    This section includes larry tajiri’s writings during the decade preceding the bombing of Pearl Harbor and allows the reader to trace his developing social and political views. Tajiri, like the Nisei press itself, came of age during this period, serving first as English editor (1931–1934) of Kashu Mainichi, an upstart challenger to the established Los Angeles Japanese vernacular Rafu Shimpo, and later as English editor (1934–1940) of the San Francisco Nichi Bei. As previously noted, in mid-1940 Tajiri left for a job with Asahi news service. These articles have disappeared. However, included here are a handful of the...

  7. 2 Wartime Columns and Editorials
    (pp. 31-63)

    The articles in this section cover Larry Tajiri’s central role in Japanese American journalism and collective life as editor of the Pacific Citizen during the years of World War II. As mentioned in the introduction, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the coming of war, Tajiri’s job and happy life in New York disappeared. (The impact of the attack on the New York community is detailed in the first two selections reproduced here, one a dispatch for Nichi Bei that was rapidly filed but remained unpublished for three weeks, and the other an editorial for the inaugural issue...

  8. 3 Writings in Mainstream and Multiracial Publications
    (pp. 64-127)

    This chapter covers Larry Tajiri’s writings for publications outside of the Pacific Citizen and the Japanese vernacular press during the wartime period. The mass removal and confinement of Japanese Americans, which swept away the bulk of the prewar Japanese press, paradoxically gave West Coast Nisei their first real access to mainstream media. Reportage of the government’s actions, combined with the efforts of the WRA to encourage positive publicity about the inmates (so as to make mass resettlement more acceptable to the public), made the plight of Japanese Americans a matter of national interest and opened up the pages of non-Japanese...

  9. 4 Wartime Correspondence
    (pp. 128-149)

    This chapter is devoted to reprints or extracts of the few surviving typewritten letters, addressed to personal friends and professional acquaintances, that Larry Tajiri wrote during the wartime period. None of them, apart from the message to the New Canadian,¹ has ever before seen print or seems to have been intended for publication. Although the letters were private, Tajiri’s views in them largely parallel those in his columns. It is a measure of the man that even his “off the record” comments are largely consistent with his publicly expressed views—albeit couched in somewhat more unrestrained language, such as his...

  10. 5 Guyo Tajiri: Out from the Shadows
    (pp. 150-188)

    This chapter covers, or rather recovers, the writing of Marion Guyo Tajiri, whose role as columnist and editor of the Pacific Citizen has been largely obscured. Guyo was Larry’s sole colleague on the journal during the war years, and even though her salary was only one-third of his, her surviving correspondence (portions of which are reproduced in this chapter) indicates that she was a full partner in its operation. Nevertheless, her name remained absent from the Pacific Citizen’s masthead, even as virtually all of her book reviews and columns—until she began her dispatches from the Tokyo Rose trial—appeared...

  11. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  12. 6 Larry Tajiri’s Postwar Writings
    (pp. 189-229)

    This section tracks Larry Tajiri’s writing during the postwar era, when he took the Pacific Citizen in a variety of new directions. (Because Tajiri’s output during the 1945–1946 period is so heavily represented in this volume by his articles in NOW, no pieces that appeared in the Pacific Citizen during those months have been included in this section.) With the end of World War II, the Japanese American inmates left the camps and resettled outside, in the majority of cases along the West Coast. There they faced difficult challenges in rebuilding lives and communities. They had lost most or...

  13. 7 The Later Years
    (pp. 230-264)

    This section covers the last dozen years of Larry Tajiri’s life—the period after he gave up the editorship of the Pacific Citizen. As the letter to Miné Okubo reprinted in this chapter suggests, Tajiri went through a period of flux after leaving the newspaper’s direction, taking up diverse jobs before he finally settled into a position as entertainment columnist for the Denver Post in 1956. While during this interim period he was scrupulous about not interfering with the direction of the Pacific Citizen, which had returned to the West Coast, he continued to contribute his “Vagaries” column on a...

  14. Afterword
    (pp. 265-268)

    The evolution of this book has been a many-sided voyage of discovery for me. First, it has led me to uncover and read through whole swaths of documentary material relating to the Tajiris and to Japanese American journalism, material that has reshaped and refined my views on historical points. Even more, I had the good fortune to become acquainted through the project with a selection of marvelously brilliant and talented people who served both as informants and inspirers.

    The first and foremost of these was Guyo Tajiri herself, who started me on my journey. I well recall my initial meeting...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 269-282)
  16. Index
    (pp. 283-295)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 296-299)