Kathy Yamaguchi

Kathy Yamaguchi (pseudonym) was born in 1948 as a Sansei daughter of a homemaker and a gardener, who had met in the incarceration camp in Topaz, Utah. Yamaguchi calls her father an "assimilationist" who mostly associated with non-Asians, and she feels that she, too, did not have a lot of Japanese American friends when she was growing up. When Yamaguchi began to pursue medical education at the University of California, San Francisco, in 1971, she realized how her lack of exposure to professional role models, as well as her experience of growing up in an extremely "non-verbal" family, made it a challenge for her to be in a decision-making position. She describes herself as being only "around on the fringes" of the Asian American activism in the 1970s. She joined the East Bay Socialist Doctors Group and the Physicians for Social Responsibility, and through members of these groups, she learned in the early 1980s about US survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. She was struck by their graciousness and gratefulness to physicians who offered the needed medical care. "Given what they've gone through," Yamaguchi says, she felt it necessary to assist US hibakusha. She supports a single-payer health care system, and feels that US survivors are one of many groups that have been disadvantaged by the absence of such a system. Yamaguchi also enjoys working with Japanese physicians from Hiroshima who come biannually to conduct a health checkup for American hibakusha. She joined the Sansei Legacy Project beginning in 1990, which put her more in touch with her feelings about being raised by the parents who had been incarcerated during the war. She also made many more Japanese American friends through her participation in the group. At the time of the interview, Yamaguchi worked as a part-time physician in a public clinic serving the underserved patients in San Francisco's Japantown area.


Kathy Yamaguchi Interview — ddr-densho-1021-1
15-Jul-11. San Francisco, California.
1:14:46 — 19 segments.
Kathy Yamaguchi