ddr-densho-1021-8-9 ()


0:06:19 — Segment 9 of 9

Previous segment Next segment

March 27, 2014

Naoko Wake Collection of Oral Histories of US Survivors of the Atomic Bombs


Courtesy of Naoko Wake, Densho


Thomas T. Noguchi

Thomas T. Noguchi Interview

0:54:01 — 9 segments


Los Angeles, California

Thomas Noguchi was the first Japanese American to serve as the Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner of Los Angeles Country. Well-known for conducting autopsies of public figures such as Robert F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and William Holden, Noguchi was in the position between 1967 and 1982. As a Shin Issei immigrant born in Japan (in 1927) and trained in medicine in both Japan and the United States, Noguchi faced racial prejudice especially early in his career, leading to a dismissal from the position in 1969. The Japanese American community and organizations, including the Japanese American Citizens League, made a concerted effort to reinstate him, a campaign that proved successful. Noguchi felt "grateful," and when US survivors ask for his assistance to organize themselves in 1970, he felt as if it was a good opportunity to give back to the community. He enlisted support for US hibakusha from the California State Senator Mervyn Dymally and the U.S. Congressman Edward Roybal. They authored the bills that would have established a publicly funded program for medical care and treatment of radiation illnesses among US survivors. Although both the state and federal bills failed, Noguchi's collaborative effort with the politicians of color reveal changing racial and class relations in the state and national politics in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Noguchi's interview includes a discussion of his work with key leaders of the US survivors' organization, his communication with the JACL, and the public hearings for the medical bills.

Naoko Wake, interviewer


Courtesy of Naoko Wake, Densho