An endowed research fund in the amount of $1 million has been established at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center through the estate of the late Dr. Sanbo Sakaguchi, and his late wife, Kazuko.

Dr. Sakaguchi and his wife,
Dr. Sanbo and Kazuko Sakaguchi

The Dr. Sanbo and Kazuko Sakaguchi Research Fund in Japanese American Studies will support students, community-based partnerships and a wide range of research-related activities.

“The remarkable gift from Dr. and Mrs. Sakaguchi will only strengthen our excellence in Japanese American studies,” said David K. Yoo, director of the center and a professor of Asian American studies. “Students, scholars and community-based partners will benefit in perpetuity from the generosity of the Sakaguchi family.”

Sanbo Sakaguchi earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA in 1939 and then attended medical school at Marquette University in Wisconsin. During that time, his family in California was incarcerated along with nearly 120,000 other Japanese Americans on the West Coast during World War II.

Upon his return to the Los Angeles area following the war, Sakaguchi married Kazuko (Kay) Furuta, whom he met after a chemistry class while he was a student at UCLA. The couple maintained a strong connection to UCLA for the rest of their lives, remaining devoted fans of Bruin athletics and earning a spot on the Hall of Fame donor wall.

The Sakaguchis were pillars of the Japanese American community, especially in the San Fernando Valley, where Dr. Sakaguchi and his sister, UCLA alumna Dr. Mary Sakaguchi Oda, practiced medicine for nearly 50 years. The Sakaguchi family supported a wide range of activities for youth, including judo, and the main hall of the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center was recently named for Dr. Sakaguchi.

“On behalf of my brother Sanbo and sister-in-law Kay, I am pleased that their gift will support the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and its fine work for many years to come,” said Dr. Bo Sakaguchi.

Yoo said the Asian American Studies Center is proud that the Sakaguchi Research Fund will join two academic prizes — one undergraduate and one graduate — established previously by Dr. Mary Sakguchi Oda for the study of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The center also acknowledges UCLA alumna Akemi Kikumura Yano, a visiting scholar at the center, for her assistance in securing this gift.

Founded in 1969, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center is the nation’s largest research center of its kind, with nearly 60 affiliated faculty members from across the university. For more information, visit the center’s website,

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