A veteran California journalist is asking the Japanese American community for help in bringing new attention to a crucial period in the community’s history.

Paul Richter, an author and former Los Angeles Times journalist, is writing a book for the Simon & Schuster publishing house about the harsh laws and social discrimination faced by Japanese immigrant families in the early decades of the 20th century. He is hoping Japanese Americans will share what they know of their families’ experiences and what has been preserved in family letters and papers.

The Japanese immigrants who began arriving on the West Coast around 1890 soon faced a powerful exclusion movement that sought to halt immigration and bar them from the mainstream economy. Both the Issei and Nisei faced discrimination in jobs, housing and public services.

The anti-Japanese movement in the early decades laid the groundwork for the federal government’s imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Richter can be reached at goldenlandbook@gmail.com. 

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