ⓘ Nisei


ⓘ Nisei

Nisei is a Japanese language term used in countries in North America and South America to specify the ethnically Japanese children born in the new country to Japanese-born immigrants. The Nisei are considered the second generation, and the grandchildren of the Japanese-born immigrants are called Sansei, or third generation.


1. History

Although the earliest organized group of Japanese emigrants left Japan centuries ago, and a later group settled in Mexico in 1897, the four largest populations of Japanese immigrants and their descendants live in Brazil, Canada, Peru, and the United States.


1.1. History Brazilian Nisei

Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside Japan, estimated to number more than 1.5 million including those of mixed-race or mixed-ethnicity, more than that of the 1.2 million in the United States. The Nisei Japanese Brazilians are an important part of the ethnic minority in that South American nation.


1.2. History Canadian Nisei

Within Japanese-Canadian communities across Canada, three distinct subgroups developed, each with different sociocultural referents, generational identity, and wartime experiences.


1.3. History Peruvian Nisei

Among the approximately 80.000 Peruvians of Japanese descent, the Nisei Japanese Peruvians comprise the largest element.


2.1. Cultural profile Generations

Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians have special names for each of their generations in North America. These are formed by combining one of the Japanese numbers corresponding to the generation with the Japanese word for generation sei 世. The Japanese-American and Japanese-Canadian communities have themselves distinguished their members with terms like Issei, Nisei, and Sansei which describe the first, second and third generation of immigrants. The fourth generation is called Yonsei 四世 and the fifth is called Gosei 五世. The Issei, Nisei and Sansei generations reflect distinctly different attitudes to authority, gender, non-Japanese involvement, and religious belief and practice, and other matters. The age when individuals faced the wartime evacuation and internment is the single, most significant factor which explains these variations in their experiences, attitudes and behaviour patterns.

The term Nikkei 日系 was coined by a multinational group of sociologists and encompasses all of the worlds Japanese immigrants across generations. The collective memory of the Issei and older Nisei was an image of Meiji Japan from 1870 through 1911, which contrasted sharply with the Japan that newer immigrants had more recently left. These differing attitudes, social values and associations with Japan were often incompatible with each other. In this context, the significant differences in post-war experiences and opportunities did nothing to mitigate the gaps which separated generational perspectives.

In North America since the redress victory in 1988, a significant evolutionary change has occurred. The Nisei, their parents and their children are changing the way they look at themselves as individuals of Japanese descent in their respective nations of Canada, the United States and Mexico.

There are currently just over one hundred thousand British Japanese, mostly in London; but unlike other Nikkei terms used centered from Japan to distinguish the distance from Japanese nationality elsewhere in the world, these Britons do not conventionally parse their communities in generational terms as Issei, Nisei, or Sansei.

The second generation of immigrants, born in Canada or the United States to parents not born in Canada or the United States, is called Nisei 二世. The Nisei have become part of the general immigrant experience in the United States and Canada to become part of the greater "melting pot" of Americans and Canadians. Some Nisei have resisted being absorbed into the majority society, largely because of their tendency to maintain Japanese interpersonal styles of relationships.

Most Nisei were educated in Canadian or American school systems where they were taught Canadian or American national values as national citizens of those countries of individualism and citizenship. When these were taken away in the early 1940s, the Nisei confronted great difficulty in accepting or coming to terms with internment and forced resettlement. Older Nisei tended to identify more closely with the Issei, sharing similar economic and social characteristics. Older Nisei who had been employed in small businesses, in farming, in fishing or in semi-skilled occupations, tended to remain in blue-collar work. In contrast, the younger Nisei attended university and college and entered various professions and white-collar employment after the war. This sharp division in post-war experiences and opportunities exacerbated the gaps between these Nisei.


2.2. Cultural profile Languages

The Japanese-born Issei learned Japanese as their mother tongue, and their success in learning English as a second language was varied. Most Nisei speak Japanese to some extent, learned from Issei parents, Japanese school, and living in a Japanese community or in the internment camps. A majority of English-speaking Nisei have retained knowledge of the Japanese language, at least in its spoken form. Most Sansei speak English as their first language and most marry people of non-Japanese ancestry.


2.3. Cultural profile Education

An illustrative point-of-view, as revealed in the poetry of an Issei woman:


2.4. Cultural profile Intermarriage

There was relatively little inter-marriage during the Nisei generation, mainly because the relocation and the war intervened exactly at a time when the group was of marrying age. Identification of them with the enemy by the American public, made them unpopular and unlikely candidates for inter-racial marriage. Beside this, they were thrown, en masse, into camps with others of the same ethnicity, causing the majority of Nisei to marry other Nisei. This is why third generation Sansei are mostly still of the same racial appearance as the Issei, who first immigrated to the U.S. The Sansei generation has widely inter-married in the post WWII years, with estimates of such unions at over 60 percent.


3. History


When the Canadian and American governments interned West Coast Japanese in 1942, neither distinguished between native-born Japanese citizens Nisei and their non-citizen parents Issei.


3.1. History Internment

When the Canadian and American governments interned West Coast Japanese in 1942, neither distinguished between native-born Japanese citizens Nisei and their non-citizen parents Issei.


3.2. History Japanese American redress

In 1978, the Japanese American Citizens League actively began demanding be taken as redress for harms endured by Japanese Americans during World War II.

In 1980, Congress established the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians CWRIC The commission report, Personal Justice Denied, condemned the internment as "unjust and motivated by racism rather than real military necessity".

In 1988, U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided for a formal apology and payments of $20.000 for each survivor. The legislation stated that government actions were based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership". The Civil Liberties Act Amendments of 1992, appropriating an additional $400 million in order to ensure that all remaining internees received their $20.000 redress payments, was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush, who also issued another formal apology from the U.S. government.

Japanese and Japanese Americans who were relocated during WWII were compensated for direct property losses in 1948. These payments were awarded to 82.210 Japanese Americans or their heirs at a cost of $1.6 billion; the programs final disbursement occurred in 1999.


4. Notable individuals

The number of nisei who have earned some degree of public recognition has continued to increase over time; but the quiet lives of those whose names are known only to family and friends are no less important in understanding the broader narrative of the nikkei. Although the names highlighted here are over-represented by issei from North America, the Latin American member countries of the Pan American Nikkei Association PANA include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, in addition to the English-speaking United States and Canada.

  • James K. Okubo 1920–1967, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Joe M. Nishimoto 1920–1944, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Apolo Anton Ohno 1982– Olympic gold 2002, 2006, silver 2002, 2010, and bronze 2006, 2010 medalist speed skater.
  • William K. Nakamura 1922–1944, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Alberto Fujimori 1938–, President of Peru, 1990-2000
  • Yeiki Kobashigawa 1920–2005, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • George Yoshia 1922–, California musician and teacher
  • David Suzuki 1936-, Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist.
  • Kiyoshi K. Muranaga 1922–1944, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Mirai Nagasu 1993–, U.S. Figure Skating champion in 2008 and Olympic bronze medalist
  • Sally Amaki, American singer and voice actress based in Tokyo.
  • Yukio Okutsu 1921–2003, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • George T. Sakato 1921–2015, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Yoko Ono 1933– Artist
  • George Takei 1937–, actor and gay rights activist best known for his role in the television series Star Trek
  • Frank H. Ono 1923–1980, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Hiroshi Miyamura 1925–, US Medal of Honor recipient in Korean War
  • Ben Kuroki 1917–2015, only Japanese American U.S. Army Air Forces aircrew member to fly combat missions in the Pacific theater in World War II
  • Minoru Yamasaki 1912–1986, architect best known for the New York World Trade Center "Twin Towers"
  • Allan M. Ohata 1918–1977, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Tommy Kono 1930–2016, Olympic gold medalist 1952, 1956 and silver medalist 1960 weightlifter and only lifter to have set world records in four different weightlifting classes
  • Yuri Kochiyama 1921–2014, civil rights activist
  • Joe Hayashi 1920–1945, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Daniel K. Inouye 1924–2012, Senator from Hawaii, Medal of Honor recipient World War II
  • Pat Morita 1932–2005, television and movie actor nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1984
  • Kazuo Otani 1918–1944, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Barney F. Hajiro 1916–2011, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Norman Mineta 1931–, former Congressman from California and Secretary of Transportation
  • James Shigeta 1929–2014, an American film and television actor
  • Francis Fukuyama 1952–, philosopher and political economist
  • Kaoru Moto 1917–1992, Medal of Honor
  • Mikio Hasemoto 1916–1943, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II recipient in World War II
  • Isamu Noguchi 1904–1988, sculptor and landscape architect
  • Mike Masaoka 1915–1991 leader of the Japanese American Citizens League JACL
  • Luiz Gushiken 1950–2013, Brazilian politician and activist
  • Robert T. Kuroda 1922–1944, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Karl Yoneda 1906-1999, Communist labor activist
  • Hisaye Yamamoto 1921–2011, a Japanese American author
  • John Okada 1923–1971, Writer
  • Santa J. Ono 1962-, President University of Cincinnati and President University of British Columbia
  • Wataru Misaka 1923–2019, became the first player of Asian descent and the first non-Caucasian to play in the NBA in 1947
  • Shinkichi Tajiri 1923–2009, a sculptor
  • Spark Matsunaga 1916–1990, US Senator from Hawaii
  • James Iha 1968–, guitarist, ex-member of alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins
  • Mike Shinoda 1977–, an American musician, rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, graphic designer, manager and film composer. Member of the American band Linkin Park.
  • William Hohri 1927–2010, political activist.
  • George Nakashima 1905–1990, furniture and cabinetmaker
  • Ford Konno 1933–, Olympic gold medalist 1952, 1952 and silver medalist 1952, 1956 swimmer
  • Ted T. Tanouye 1919–1944, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Yoshinobu Oyakawa 1933–, Olympic gold medalist 1952 in swimming
  • Steve Aoki 1977–, Japanese American electro house musician
  • John Fujio Aiso 1909–1987, an American military leader, lawyer, and judge
  • Shinyei Nakamine 1920–1944, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Atsuko Tanaka ski jumper 1992–, Canadian Olympic ski jumper
  • Shizuya Hayashi 1917–2008, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Masato Nakae 1917–1998, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
  • Sadao Munemori 1922–1945, Medal of Honor recipient in World War II


5. Bibliography

  • Yoo, David & Daniels, Roger. 1999. Growing Up Nisei: Race, Generation, and Culture Among Japanese Americans of California, 1924-49. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-06822-5
  • Tamura, Eileen & Daniels, Roger. 1994. Americanization, Acculturation, and Ethnic Identity: The Nisei Generation in Hawaii. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-06358-9
  • McLellan, Janet. 1999. Many Petals of the Lotus: Five Asian Buddhist Communities in Toronto. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-8225-1
  • Hosokawa, Bill. 2002. Nisei: The Quiet Americans. Boulder: University Press of Colorado ISBN 978-0-87081-668-0
  • Moulin, Pierre. 2007. Dachau, Holocaust, and US Samurais: Nisei Soldiers First in Dachau? Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1-4259-3801-7
  • Yenne, Bill. 2007. Rising Sons: The Japanese American GIs Who Fought for the United States in World War II. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-35464-0
  • Dinnerstein, Leonard & Reimers, David M. 1999. Ethnic Americans: A History of Immigration. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-11189-8
  • Itoh, Keiko. 2001. The Japanese Community in Pre-War Britain: From Integration to Disintegration. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7007-1487-2

  • Nisei Week 二世週祭, Nisei - shū Matsuri is an annual festival celebrating Japanese American JA culture and history in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. Nisei
  • Nisei is the ninth episode of the third season of the American science fiction television series The X - Files. It premiered on the Fox network on November
  • The Nisei Baseball Research Project NBRP is a non - profit 501 c 3 organization documenting, preserving and exhibiting history of Japanese American
  • Japanese American writer, best known for her 1953 autobiographical memoir Nisei Daughter, which tells of the Japanese American experience in Seattle during
  • The Nisei Veterans Memorial Center is a non - profit organization, memorial, and community center, dedicated to Japanese American nisei veterans. It is
  • fan unproven fears of sabotage. As the war progressed, many of the young Nisei Japanese immigrants children who were born with American citizenship
  • ISBN 9781439642306 Tsuboi, Tony May 2013 Nisei War Memorial Monument Nisei Veterans Committee Newsletter, Nisei Veterans Committee, 63 5 Clarridge, Christine
  • in the United States Army Reserve. In World War II, the then - primarily Nisei battalion was composed largely of former members of the Hawaii Army National
  • The Japanese American Nisei Congressional Gold Medal is an award made for the Japanese American World War II veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion