South Bay History Project

Created by the South Bay Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League.


Japanese Americans constitute a significant component of the ethnically diverse community of the South Bay, a Southern California region south of Playa Del Rey and north of Long Beach. The South Bay History Project, organized by the South Bay Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, (SBJACL) seeks to preserve the history of Japanese American settlement in the greater South Bay community. These communities include, but are not limited to: Torrance, Gardena, Hawthorne, Wilmington, Palos Verdes, the Beach cities, Carson and San Pedro. The Project has conducted oral history interviews so that people can learn to understand and appreciate the complexities of the contributions made by Japanese American pioneers -- people who farmed the land, worked in industry, and continue to thrive in the community today.


Japanese Americans lived in the South Bay long before it grew into a center of industry, business, and suburban residential life. Yet there is little acknowledgement of the historical context in which these relationships developed. The South Bay History Project has attempted to create a long-term legacy of remembrance by gathering testimonials of Japanese Americans who immigrated to the area, were removed during World War II and returned to resettle, telling the stories of the unique contributions they made to the greater South Bay community.

Working with the California State University, Long Beach, the South Bay History Project has made accessible on the internet at the CSULB's Virtual Oral/Aural History Archive 16 oral histories representing a cross section of the Japanese American community. The narrators come from farming, industry, small business and service backgrounds. Another seven interviews, for a total of 23, were conducted but not included in the CSULB project. All interviews were conducted by volunteers from the South Bay History Project committee, most of whom are members of the SBJACL.

Oral History Interviews

Frank Koo Endo                Miyoko Fujikawa        Testuo Ted Hasagawa     George Ishibashi
Fujiko "Fuzzy" Ishikawa     Frances Midori Kaji    Midori Kitzaono Kamei     Harold Takashi Kobata
Toshiko Kubota                May Minami               George Sakaye Nakano    Jack Takeshi Omatsu
Hideo "Jibo" Satow           Sumiko Sumi Seki      George Joji Tenpo           Michael Shigeru Yasutake

Click here to access interviews from the University Library at California State University, Long Beach.

The Committee

The committee began meeting in mid-2002 after receiving seed money from the Pacific Southwest District, JACL Trust Fund. The committee was awarded the bulk of its funding, which included the CSULB component, by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program in May 2003. The first interview was conducted in June 2003. All interviews were recorded digitally on a CD-ROM recording device, and most were done in the narrator's home. All the narrators live in the South Bay, with the exception of one who currently resides in Arizona

Committee Members and Contributors:
Diane Tanaka - Chair
Scott Fujita - Treasurer
Ike Hatchimonji - CCLPEP Liaison
Anne Inoue - Legal Counsel
Brian Minami - Digital Media Consultant
Dale Ann Sato - Historian
Ron Ikejiri
Bryan Inoue
Colette Isawa
Midori Kamei
Ed Mitoma
Al Muratsuchi
Clarissa Muratsuchi
Lily Nakatani
Yoko Okunishi
Irene Rafael
Joh Sekiguchi
Ray Shibata
Jeanne Tsujimoto
Ernest Tsujimoto

Access and Copyright Information

All rights to the audio files and the summary transcriptions of the oral histories are owned by the SBJACL. The complete audio files of 16 oral histories, with summary transcriptions, are accessible on CSULB's oral history archive. Complete transcripts and audio files of all 23 oral histories are available through the SBJACL. Fees may be applicable.

For information, please contact: support(at)southbayjacl.org or write: P.O. Box 4135, Torrance, CA 90510.

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