Distinguished Asian Americans: A Biographical Dictionary

By Hyung-Chan Kim; Dorothy Cordova et al. | Go to book overview
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KYUTARO ABIKO

(1865–1936)

Newspaper Publisher, Community Leader

Kyutaro Abiko, leader of the Japanese Community of San Francisco, was a newspaper publisher, farm colony pioneer, and head of the Japanese American Business Promotion Company (Nichibei Kangyosha). Abiko was born in 1865 in the town of Suibara, in Niigata prefecture, Japan. Since his mother died soon after he was born, his maternal grandparents raised him. As a youngster he contributed to the family business by selling candles and paper in nearby villages. At the age of seventeen Abiko and several friends ran away from home, intending to move to the city and then stow away on a ship to America, where he hoped to make his fortune. He lived for several years in Tokyo, where he took English classes and converted to Christianity in 1883.

Inspired by the American ships that sailed into Tokyo’s harbors, Abiko decided to sail abroad. He immigrated to America in 1885 under the patronage of the Fukuinkai (Gospel Society), the first Japanese immigrant organization in San Francisco, founded by Methodists and Congregationalists. Abiko settled in San Francisco, where he worked as a schoolboy in an English-speaking home and attended the Lincoln Grammar School. Following graduation from the Boys’ High School he enrolled in the University of California at Berkeley. While attending Berkeley, Abiko became an influential leader and instructor of the Methodist Branch Fukuinkai.

After graduation from U. C. Berkeley, Abiko began a laundry business and a restaurant, both of which earned only small profits. In 1897 he purchased a Japanese newspaper, and in 1899 he combined his paper

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