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Japanese Americans

March 23, 2010 | By Andrew Blankstein
A lawyer representing a Westlake Village man who was charged Tuesday in the fatal shooting of a Pasadena art college instructor said his client had been traumatized by years of insults targeting his Japanese heritage. "This is a textbook heat-of-passion incident, which a jury would consider" in weighing whether Steven Ronald Honma "is guilty of murder or a lower-level homicide such as a manslaughter," said Dmitry Gorin, whose law firm is representing Honma, 54, who was arrested Sunday in connection with the weekend slaying at a Persian new year's party.
March 1, 2010 | By Teresa Watanabe
Mickey Komai opens one of the leather-bound books stored in his Little Tokyo office and delicately turns the yellowed pages filled with Japanese and English script. Here in the pages of the bilingual newspaper his family has run for most of a century is the tumultuous story of Japanese Americans in Southern California. The Rafu Shimpo covered acts to ban Japanese from owning land, bringing over brides and eventually immigrating at all. "Why do people hate the Japanese?" the paper plaintively asked in one 1926 issue.
February 20, 2010 | Rosemary McClure
Tom Doi harvested a bountiful crop of vegetables last fall: tomatoes, corn, eggplant and green beans. He reaped so much produce from his garden, in fact, that he could share his vine-ripened Big Boy tomatoes with the folks at Nikkei Senior Gardens, a San Fernando Valley assisted-living facility. Senior homes such as Nikkei often receive donations from outsiders. In this case, however, the donation came from within: Doi, an energetic 88-year-old, is a resident. "I'm going back to my roots," he says.
December 13, 2009 | By Teresa Watanabe
For a time, the Fujiokas of Los Angeles lived a life of almost unimaginable abundance for a Japanese immigrant family in the early 20th century. There were white mink stoles and a Steinway grand piano, beachfront property and vacations to Catalina, even enough money to sponsor an Indianapolis 500 racer. Then came Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and suddenly, the family lost nearly everything. They lost their freedom when patriarch Fred Jiro Fujioka was hauled away by the FBI and other family members were sent to a desolate Wyoming internment camp.
November 8, 2009 | Alison Bell
A plaque near the entrance on the sprawling grounds of the Santa Anita racetrack is the sole reminder of the track's place in World War II history as the nation's largest assembly center for Japanese Americans on their way to internment camps. Although the prestigious Breeders' Cup World Championships unfolded Friday and Saturday at the landmark racetrack, 67 years ago a darker chapter unfolded at the site. The horses were moved out, the track was shut down and the park's extensive grounds provided the massive space needed by the War Department to temporarily house thousands of people of Japanese decent.
October 19, 2009 | ERIC SONDHEIMER
When politics, race or religion prevents people from talking or even shaking hands, it's left to sports competition to save the day. And so it was, 65 years ago, in the middle of World War II, that courage and what was right came through on a makeshift high school football field in Manzanar, Calif., in the Owens Valley. Manzanar High School, made up of sons and daughters of Japanese Americans interned by Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin Roosevelt, played their first and only interscholastic athletic event, a football game against Big Pine High on Oct. 25, 1944.
August 16, 2009 | Esmeralda Bermudez
Sumo wrestlers and samurai converged Saturday as the 69th annual Nisei Week Festival drew several thousand people to Little Tokyo. While the wrestlers groaned and charged at one another inside a ring, sword-wielding samurai visiting from Nagoya, Japan, hit the stage to perform a prewar ritual said to have been presented only once before outside Japan. In elaborate 15th and 16th century warrior armor topped with giant horns, the dozen men and women reenacted the moment when Japanese samurai pledged their lives, then marched to battle.
August 7, 2009 | Elaine Woo
U.S. District Judge Robert M. Takasugi, a survivor of a World War II relocation camp for Japanese Americans who was known for his compassion for victims of injustice and his calm demeanor in the face of sometimes outrageous courtroom antics, has died. He was 78. Takasugi died Tuesday at a Los Angeles nursing home after battling numerous ailments over the last year, said his son, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Jon Takasugi.
July 17, 2009 | Larry Gordon
Grace Obata Amemiya was a pre-nursing student at UC Berkeley in 1942 when she, her family and 120,000 other Japanese Americans were forced from their schools and homes and sent to federal internment camps. The wartime relocations destroyed her childhood dream of a University of California diploma. Amemiya, now 88, joyfully returned to UC on Thursday and was named a graduate six decades late.
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