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March 07, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

THE KIKUCHI DIARY: Chronicle from an American Concentration Camp by Charles Kikuchi, edited by John Modell (University of Illinois Press: $9.95; 253 pp.). Kikuchi, then 26, kept this journal while he was interned with his family at the Tanforan "relocation camp" south of San Francisco. (Tanforan had been a race track; the nearly 8,000 internees had to convert the stables into apartments.) A graduate student in social work, Kikuchi was an astute observer: His diary stands as a vivid and poignant record of the cultural divisions that separated older Japanese immigrants from their American-born children, and the erosion of traditional family roles. In addition to recording the details of life in camp, Kikuchi used his diary to vent his anger at the politicians responsible for his imprisonment and the yahoos who sought to disenfranchise American citizens of Japanese descent. In an entry dated Aug. 17, 1942, he noted prophetically: "The injustices of evacuation will some day come to light. It is a blot upon our national life--like the Negro problem, the way labor gets kicked around, the unequal distribution of wealth, the sad plight of the farmers, the slums of our large cities."

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