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Japanese American

Still Image from "Norman Mineta And His Legacy: An American Story" / Mineta Legacy Project

Next Wednesday, February 19, is Day of Remembrance. It’s the 78th anniversary of when President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which sent West Coast Japanese Americans to concentration camps. A note on terminology: These were not Nazi death camps in Europe, but they were spaces that Japanese Americans were forced to live in. 

On this week's Valley Edition: There's only one proposition on the ballot this year, Proposition 13. Some say it will deepen state debt, while others think it’s the fix for California’s aging schools.

Plus: We’ll speak to a California native who served in two presidential cabinets. Secretary Norman Mineta was pivotal in convincing the U.S. government to formally apologize to Japanese Americans after their internment during World War II. 

 

Ansel Adams / Library of Congress

Back in 1927, baseball legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig came to Fresno to play exhibition matches, sometimes playing with all Japanese-American teams. One of those players was Kenichi Zenimura, an immigrant from Japan.

 

In a 1999 documentary film about him, “Diamonds In The Rough,” narrator and actor Noriyuki “Pat” Morita says that, “He’ll always be remembered as Zeni, ‘Dean of the Diamond.’” 

Those words, “Dean of the Diamond,” are memorialized on his gravestone. 

 

Alice Daniel / Valley Public Radio

This week, a Japanese-American from Baton Rouge, Louisiana visited Fresno for the first time in 78 years. In 1942, Walter Imahara and his family were ordered to leave their home in Sacramento and come to the Fresno Assembly Center per President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The family was then sent to an internment camp in Arkansas. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: He hadn’t been to Fresno in 78 years, but this week Walter Imahara visited the site of the Fresno Assembly Center. It’s where he and his family were sent first before going to an internment camp in Arkansas. 

Later, what if you’re a low income, first generation college student? Where do you turn to get the mentoring and support you need? We meet students who are finding assistance with a program at Fresno City College. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

A Japanese American man from Baton Rouge, Louisiana visited Fresno for the first time in 78 years Tuesday to see where he and his parents had to report in 1942 after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066.

Walter Imahara was 4 years old at the time. The now-Fresno Fairgrounds was formerly the Fresno Assembly Center. It’s where Japanese Americans from around the state arrived before being transported to internment camps. 

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

One popular stop in Fresno’s Chinatown is Kogetsu-Do, a Japanese shop with a long history over on F Street.

Lynn Ikeda-Yada owns the shop, whose name means "lake moon," and she’s the third generation to do so. Her grandparents migrated to Chinatown from Hiroshima, Japan.

There’s even a blown-up photo on the wall of her grandparents and uncle in the same space Ikeda-Yada’s shop occupies today.

“My grandparents started it in 1915,” says Ikeda-Yada. “That picture was taken in 1920 and they had two sons: Roy, who’s the little boy there, and my dad, Mas.”