F.M. and Kuni Uyematsu, 1931

Mira Costa High School, 1401 Artesia Blvd. in Manhattan Beach, will dedicate a plaque on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 9:30 a.m. honoring the “Camellia King,” Francis Miyosaku Uyematsu. The public is invited to attend.

The monument shares the tragic story of Uyematsu, who was forced to sell the land where the school stands. The Issei had a thriving nursery business until the signing of Executive Order 9066 in February 1942.

The plaque reads, in part:

“After Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, as the U.S. government prepared to forcibly remove and incarcerate 120,000 Japanese Americans, Uyematsu, with few available options, sold 300,000 of his prized camellias under duress.

“Interned at Manzanar, the family donated 1,000 cherry trees for a park there, which Uyematsu cultivated throughout his years in camp. During detention, Uyematsu had to sell most of his Manhattan Beach land to sustain his business.

“In 1947, two years after the camps closed, and with his business still below pre-war levels, Uyematsu sold the last 40 acres of his Manhattan Beach land to the Redondo Union High School District for $60,000.”

In March, the Manhattan Beach School District Board of Education voted to fund $4,000 for the construction of the monument. Chuck Currier, former teacher at Mira Costa High School, was instrumental in the process. In an email to The Rafu, Currier said that camellias have been planted around the plaque.

“I have my fingers crossed that some will begin to bloom just in time for the dedication on the 30th!” he stated.

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