The Japanese-American Press
HARRY H. L. KITANO
The early part of the twentieth century saw a significant immigration from Japan to the United States and with it a need for Japanese-language newspapers. The immigrant group was a largely literate one, and news was especially important since both local and international events were directly relevant to their lives. For example, the hostility of the dominant group, especially in California, was reflected in a variety of laws, rules, and regulations which created problems for the Japanese immigrant. The larger issue of U.S.-Japan relations brought forth a number of other questions and problems, especially concerning conflicting loyalties, so that the mixture of language, issues, and problems provided a fertile background for ethnic newspapers.
Therefore, if in 1900 questions were asked concerning the need, the format, and the future of Japanese-American newspapers, the answers would no doubt have been: "Yes, there is a need for newspapers printed in Japanese"; "no, there is little need for an English-language section now, but probably in the future when an American born and educated generation comes of age"; and "yes, the future of the Japanese-language press looks strong because there is a steady stream of new immigrants and there is a constant flow of news that directly affects their lives."
Issues, needs, and the nature of the population have changed over time so that in the 1980s there are mixed messages concerning the ethnic press. For example, in 1983 Hiro Hishiki, publisher of the Kashu Mainichi (California daily), one of the two Los Angeles--based Japanese-American dailies, said, "You're looking at a broken newspaperman."1 Kenneth Toguchi, the editor of a Hawaiian-based English-language publication, concurs with this gloomy assessment and writes that "the future of Japanese language publications is dismal". 2 The reasons given are that "the number of Issei [first-generation immigrants] is rapidly decreasing and the number of new Japanese immigrants is minimal. Acculturation of the younger generations . . . has sealed the fate of the Japanese language presses."
But the Japanese press has survived any number of gloomy predictions. For