Densho Digital Archive
Densho Digital Archive Collection
Title: Frank H. Hirata Interview
Narrator: Frank H. Hirata
Interviewers: Martha Nakagawa (primary); Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Culver City, California
Date: February 23, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-hfrank-01-0028

<Begin Segment 28>

MN: I want to switch gears into JACL. You're a JACL member. How long were you a JACL member and which chapter?

FH: From 1962 when I started working for the Japanese Chamber of Commerce. Akiyama Gunmai, and who was that guy, the Catholic priest there?

MN: Yamazaki?

FH: No, no, Catholic priest, hakujin guy who was with the Berno church there. Hakujin father? Clement, Father Clement. And so long time, and we used to meet at the... what was that restaurant? Little Tokyo on East First Street... Japanese restaurant there.

MN: Daruma?

FH: Not Daruma, East First Street.

MN: Far East Cafe?

FH: No, no, right on the, little south from where there was the movie house there.

MN: Sanko-low?

FH: Eigiku. Eigiku. We used to meet quite often, and there was a restaurant called the Eigiku restaurant, and we used to meet there fairly frequently. And being a Chamber of Commerce executive and so forth, I was called in and so forth and I immediately became a member.

MN: What did you think about the JACL?

FH: JACL? I think it has done a great job, especially in the early days and so forth working for the civil rights of the Japanese Americans and so forth. But now, it's gradually diluted. Civil Rights Movement is fine, but now, it's spread out to the other Asians, not only Japanese Americans but Chinese and Koreans and so forth, and Vietnamese and so forth. And in a way, it has lost the focus. Yes, the civil rights could be the focus, but you know, the focused group. And just like what's happening in the Little Tokyo all over, you know, things are changing. It's a matter of change. I think that's what Obama calls change. It is change, things do change. And so JACL is completely different from when it was first organized by Mike Masaoka, and I think Sab Kido and so forth, those guys. And Sab Kido, I hear that he was beaten in the camp. Said that, you know, the Japanese is winning, Japanese is losing and those kind of things, and he stood up for the U.S. citizens' rights and so forth, and he was beaten pretty badly I think.

MN: Did he actually personally talk to you about that?

FH: No, but I... no, not personally, but I heard about those kind of things, yes.

MN: And you were good friends with Saburo Kido, is that correct?

FH: He was a great man, he was a great man. Because almost daily I visited his company, he was running the Nichibei Times. Shinichi Bei, I'm sorry, Shinichi Bei. They had three Japanese, JA papers, one is the Rafu Shimpo, and Shinichi Bei, and Kashu Mainichi Bei. The Shinichi Bei was the first one to go, and then the Kashu Mainichi. Rafu is still existing, but I used to be the executive secretary to the Chamber of Commerce being the hub of the Japanese community activities, almost eighty, I wrote a news release and sent it, brought it to those papers.


<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.