Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Shosuke Sasaki Interview
Narrator: Shosuke Sasaki
Interviewers: Frank Abe (primary), Stephen Fugita (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 18, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-sshosuke-01-0026

<Begin Segment 26>

FA: Getting back to New York again. When you were in New York, you wrote a pamphlet called "How to Attack the Newspaper Use of the Word 'Jap.'" And you wrote a long sample case history of how to do it. Can you tell us, just in brief, how did you get, why did you launch that campaign in New York and how did you get them to stop using the word "Jap" in newspapers?

SS: Well, I got -- at Standard and Poor's was one unit, a Newspaper Guild unit representing the Standard and Poor's group. In time they came, they asked me if I would serve as an alternate delegate to the monthly meeting of the guild organization, representing the guild. And when they asked me if I would become an alternate delegate, I said, "Well, might as well." So I did. And when I went to those meetings as an alternate delegate, I learned that the guild had a provision already enacted stating themselves to be against the use of derogatory epithets in American publications. So I asked them, "How about the word 'Jap'? It's not in the prohibited list," and they said, "Well, I guess that's because we never thought about it. Nobody asked." So I said, "Well I'm asking right now that that be on the..." [Laughs] They took it up with the next guild executive committee meeting and they put the word "Jap" there on the proscribed list. And not only that, they thought that was such a good idea, that they volunteered to bring it up at the national guild convention that was being held in the autumn of that year in Portland and so they revised my original proposal a little bit. No real substantive change and they presented it with the backing of the Standard and Poor's unit and they passed the thing applying on a national basis. And that's what really did the trick. That piece of news got into practically every newspaper in the country.

FA: Really?

SS: Yeah.

FA: It was the first?

SS: First time any organization had come out in open opposition to the use of the word "Jap."

FA: In print.

SS: Yeah.

FA: Did the papers stop right away?

SS: Not all. There was paper that continued right almost up to the end. That was the paper by, that was owned by Dorothy Schiff. She was the publisher of the New York, I think they used to call it the Post. And let's see... [Flipping through document.]

FA: Well, it's all in there, I'm sure.

SS: Yeah, yeah. Oh yes. And that same time, prior to that time I had put on this campaign against the newspaper, dictionary definitions of the word "Jap," you know. So they couldn't use that as a crutch to defend its use. You've got that letter in here.

FA: Yes.

SS: So, I remember I went to the bookstore and I copied out all the latest definitions in the latest dictionaries.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.