In memoriam: Bill Hosokawa

Thanks to Kenji Taguma, English Edition Editor of the Nichi Bei Times, for alerting us to the sad news of the passing on Friday of JACL historian Bill Hosokawa.

Read his obituary in the Denver Post, whose editorial page he edited for many years. Bill agreed to be interviewed for our film at the JACL National Convention in 1994, to explain the reasoning behind the organization’s wartime policy of compliance and cooperation with incarceration.

Though we disagreed on many things, on the few occasions we met, Bill was always gracious and accommodating to me, the younger journalist and critic. Whatever its bias in presenting Japanese Americans as the model minority, his landmark book with the title that Edison Uno hated, Nisei: The Quiet Americans, was still the one that first exposed me to the story of camp and Heart Mountain that my father never told me.

I’ll never forget his response when I asked him to sign my copy (well, actually my father’s copy that I took from his shelf and never returned, sorry dad) and asked him about fellow Denver journalist James Omura and the conspiracy trial of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee leaders. He said, “Yeah, they all got convicted and he got off!” — as if he felt Omura should have also been convicted of conspiracy for editorially supporting the wartime draft resistance.

It was on my list of things to do, to ask him once and for all to explain his role as part of Jimmie Sakamoto’s self-described intelligence squad in the Seattle JACL just after Pearl Harbor. Now we’ll never know for sure.

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