Catching up on the History of Little Tokyo

NSU students in J Town
On February 8, 2003 members of the Nikkei Student Union of UC San Diego toured Little Tokyo with members of NCRR. The tour was led by Tony Osumi and Jim Matsuoka, who provided an in depth account of the many events that has shaped this historic community during the past three decades. Tony and Jim spoke about the effort and struggle that was necessary on the part of the community to provide housing for the Issei (like the Little Tokyo Towers) and the ongoing boycott and labor issues involving the New Otani Hotel. These were just some of topics that a standard tour would probably not cover. In addition, the current controversy involving the effort to locate a gym on city owned property on the Northside of First Street was discussed by Kathy Masaoka. NCRR's interaction with students are part of a wide variety of activities that the organization engages in to preserve the history of a people as well as documenting their struggles to exist. NCRR actively supports efforts such as the development of a Gym in Little Tokyo with an activity center, to bring more life and the younger generation to "J Town." In addition, members have been available to discuss the activities of a decade long redress campaign that lead to the Civil Liberties Act, which provided redress payments and an apology from the government in 1988. Some 81,000 former internees were recipients of these payments. NCRR has been willing hosts to groups like those from DePaul University during the past year, who were touring San Francisco and Southern California, as part of a program involving the study of Asian American history. NCRR members and former internees living at the Little Tokyo Towers met with the students from DePaul to help provide answers to questions that they had about the removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast during World War II.

Tony Osumi
The tour for the students from San Diego followed the visit by a quartet of students from the NSU of UCLA during the previous week. Coordinating the students from San Diego was Russell Ozawa, who is currently enrolled as a student there. Following the tour, the students broke up to eat at various places in Little Tokyo. A list of "choice" restaurants was provided but the students wound up scattering throughout "J" Town to enjoy lunch. The presentation by NCRR was held at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center. The group went on to visit the Japanese American National Museum later in the afternoon and then went on to a program at UCLA in the evening.

The NCRR in keeping with it's dual role of educating the public about the internment as well as preserving the history of Little Tokyo is open to meeting with groups. As it is an all volunteer organization, meetings and tours can be provided subject to the availability of it's members.