An online fundraiser for the Hitoshi “Harry” Kajihara Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established by Anne Chilcott of Ventura County JACL.
Ken Inouye, past national president of the JACL, once stated, “Harry Kajihara is the considered the ‘Father of Redress.’ A former JACL national president and a long-time resident of Ventura County, Harry Kajihara was part of the core group of JACLers who particularly in the 1980s worked to organize the Japanese American community to urge Congress to pass what would later become the 1988 Civil Liberties Act. This act provided an apology and reparations to members of the Japanese American community who were incarcerated by the U.S. government during World War II.”
Kajihara was a Nisei born on March 12, 1928 in Oyster Bay, Wash., as the son of a fisherman. In 1941, at age 13, he was president at his school and played shortstop before he and his family were incarcerated at Tule Lake. His family’s radio and camera were considered contraband and confiscated.
After the war, he worked as a civilian engineer for the military and later, as a professor of engineering and mathematics at Ventura College.
As stated by The Los Angeles Times, “In 1980, Kajihara reactivated the long-dormant Ventura County chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League with the hope of rallying local support for compensating internees. He then embarked on the fundraising that absorbed him until his election as national president.”
Kajihara, along with Japanese American members of Congress, was pictured with President Ronald Reagan when he signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 on Aug. 10 of that year.
Kajihara passed away on Dec. 3, 2019. Survivors include his wife, Itsuko Janet Kajihara; three daughters, Claudia Kajihara, Julia Miyamoto, and Alicia Mashiko; sons-in-law, Alan Miyamoto and Kenji Mashiko; five grandchildren, Kevin, Kimberly and Kari Miyamoto and Richard and Mitchell Mashiko. A memorial service was held on Jan. 11, 2020, at Oxnard Buddhist Temple.
The chapter’s goal is to raise $5,000 for the scholarship fund. For more information, go to: https://gofund.me/d8dbaed9