Interview with James Akinobu Nakano

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Center for Oral History, Social Science Research Institute, University of Hawaii at Manoa
James Akinobu Nakano, seventh of eight children, was born in 1933, in Honolulu, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. His parents, Minoru and Sugano Nakano were immigrants from Fukuoka-ken, Japan. His father, Minoru Nakano, was a general contractor. He also owned rental homes and commercial property. Prominent in the community, Minoru Nakano entertained many at the large home that housed his parents, his wife, and children. Prior to World War II, some members of the Nakano family took trips to Japan. In December 1941, Minoru Nakano’s parents, two sons, and two daughters were living in Japan. In February 1942, Minoru Nakano was removed from his home by FBI agents. Initially incarcerated at the Sand Island Detention Center on O‘ahu, he was later sent to various facilities on the U.S. Mainland. By early 1943, the Nakano family in Hawai‘i—Sugano Nakano and three sons—was incarcerated, too. They were placed in Jerome War Relocation Center in Arkansas. As the center closed in 1944, Minoru Nakano joined his family. Having expressed a desire to return to Japan, Minoru Nakano and family were assigned to Tule Lake Segregation Center. At war’s end, a daughter was born at Tule Lake to Minoru and Sugano Nakano. By that time, Minoru Nakano and son, Jitsuo, were not in camp. While both were to go to Japan, Minoru Nakano decided to return to Hawai‘i. In the postwar, various family members, including James Nakano, were returned to the islands. Minoru Nakano resumed contracting—tearing down army barracks and building homes with the salvaged barrack lumber. James Nakano, completing his education in the islands, Illinois, and California, became an attorney. He practiced law in California and Hawai‘i. Retired now for several years, James Nakano resides in Hawai‘i. He has two daughters.
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