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Japanese American Courier (#18)

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Founded in 1928 by James “Jimmie” Sakamoto, second-generation Japanese Americans (Nisei) turned to the Japanese American Courier, the first English-language Japanese American newspaper in the U.S., to get the news. Whether sports news from the Courier League (also founded by Sakamoto) or global news positioning Nisei as the ideal bridge between U.S. and Japan and providing Japan’s perspective on its 1930s expansionism in Asia, the Japanese American Courier espoused community and Americanism, while holding onto Japanese roots.

A former football player and one-time professional boxer, Sakamoto lost his eyesight before becoming a newspaper editor and publisher. A powerhouse within the community, he also founded the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) in 1930. Sakamoto took on editing and typesetting the JACL newspaper, the Pacific Citizen, from 1933 to 1939. He published the Courier until its last issue on April 24, 1942.

Imagine Sakamoto pounding out the news from a storefront here on 5th Avenue. What tone would he take as tensions between the U.S. and Japan rose in 1940? What message would he give after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the U.S. order for the forced removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast on February 19, 1942? For Sakamoto, it was Americanism and U.S. patriotism all the way, advocating cooperation “loyally” and “cheerfully,” tenets that would carry through in JACL philosophy throughout the War.

Images

Shofuryu Ikebana group and dance/shibai group, Oct. 13, 1935. Celebration of Mr. Kurimoto (second row, fifth from left) receiving his shakuhachi name. James Sakamoto is pictured third row, third from left.

Wing Luke Museum Collection.

First reunion of the Mikado baseball club, 1954. James Sakamoto is pictured standing, far right. A well-known athlete, Sakamoto

Wing Luke Museum Collection.