Nisei (二世, "second generation") is a Japanese language term used in countries in North America and South America to specify the ethnically Japanese children born in the new country to Japanese-born immigrants (who are called Issei). The Nisei are considered the second generation and the grandchildren of the Japanese-born immigrants are called Sansei or third generation. (Ichi, ni, san are Japanese for "one, two, three"; see Japanese numerals.)
Although the earliest organized group of Japanese emigrants left Japan centuries ago, and a later group settled in Mexico in 1897, the four largest populations of Japanese immigrants and their descendants live in Brazil, Canada, Peru, and the United States.
Some US Nisei were born after the end of World War II during the baby boom. Most Nisei, however, who were living in the western United States during World War II, were forcibly interned with their parents (Issei) after Executive Order 9066 was promulgated to exclude everyone of Japanese descent from the West Coast areas of California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. It has been argued that some Nisei feel caught in a dilemma between their Nisei parents and other Americans. The Nisei of Hawaii had a somewhat different experience.
In the United States, two representative Nisei were Daniel Inouye and Fred Korematsu. Hawaiian-born Daniel Ken Inouye (井上 建 Inoue Ken) was one of many young Nisei men who volunteered to fight in the nation's military when restrictions against Japanese-American enlistment were removed in 1943. Inouye later went on to become a U.S. Senator from Hawaii after it achieved statehood.
Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu (是松 豊三郎 Korematsu Toyosaburō) was one of many Japanese-American citizens living on the West Coast who resisted internment during World War II. In 1944, Korematsu lost a U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the wartime internment of Japanese Americans but gained vindication decades later. The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, was awarded to Korematsu in 1998. At the White House award ceremonies, President Bill Clinton explained, "In the long history of our country's constant search for justice, some names of ordinary citizens stand for millions of souls. Plessy, Brown, Parks ... to that distinguished list, today we add the name of Fred Korematsu."
The overwhelming majority of Japanese Americans had reacted to the internment by acquiescing to the government's order, hoping to prove their loyalty as Americans. To them, Korematsu's opposition was treacherous to both his country and his community. Across the span of decades, he was seen as a traitor, a test case, an embarrassment and, finally, a hero.
Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside Japan, estimated to number more than 1.5 million (including those of mixed-race or mixed-ethnicity), more than that of the 1.2 million in the United States. The Nisei Japanese Brazilians are an important part of the ethnic minority in that South American nation.
Among the approximately 80,000 Peruvians of Japanese descent, the Nisei Japanese Peruvians comprise the largest element.
Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians have special names for each of their generations in North America. These are formed by combining one of the Japanese numbers corresponding to the generation with the Japanese word for generation (sei 世). The Japanese-American and Japanese-Canadian communities have themselves distinguished their members with terms like Issei, Nisei, and Sansei which describe the first, second and third generation of immigrants. The fourth generation is called Yonsei (四世) and the fifth is called Gosei (五世). The Issei, Nisei and Sansei generations reflect distinctly different attitudes to authority, gender, non-Japanese involvement, and religious belief and practice, and other matters. The age when individuals faced the wartime evacuation and internment is the single, most significant factor which explains these variations in their experiences, attitudes and behaviour patterns.
The term Nikkei (日系) was coined by a multinational group of sociologists and encompasses all of the world's Japanese immigrants across generations. The collective memory of the Issei and older Nisei was an image of Meiji Japan from 1870 through 1911, which contrasted sharply with the Japan that newer immigrants had more recently left. These differing attitudes, social values and associations with Japan were often incompatible with each other. In this context, the significant differences in post-war experiences and opportunities did nothing to mitigate the gaps which separated generational perspectives.
|Issei (一世)||The generation of people born in Japan who later immigrated to another country.|
|Nisei (二世)||The generation of people born in North America, Latin America, Australia, Hawaii, or any country outside Japan either to at least one Issei or one non-immigrant Japanese parent.|
|Sansei (三世)||The generation of people born to at least one Nisei parent.|
|Yonsei (四世)||The generation of people born to at least one Sansei parent.|
|Gosei (五世)||The generation of people born to at least one Yonsei parent.|
In North America since the redress victory in 1988, a significant evolutionary change has occurred. The Nisei, their parents and their children are changing the way they look at themselves as individuals of Japanese descent in their respective nations of Canada, the United States and Mexico.
There are currently just over one hundred thousand British Japanese, mostly in London; but unlike other Nikkei terms used centered from Japan to distinguish the distance from Japanese nationality elsewhere in the world, these Britons do not conventionally parse their communities in generational terms as Issei, Nisei, or Sansei.
The second generation of immigrants, born in Canada or the United States to parents not born in Canada or the United States, is called Nisei (二世). The Nisei have become part of the general immigrant experience in the United States and Canada to become part of the greater "melting pot" of Americans and Canadians. Some Nisei have resisted being absorbed into the majority society, largely because of their tendency to maintain Japanese interpersonal styles of relationships.  --
Most Nisei were educated in Canadian or American school systems where they were taught Canadian or American national values as national citizens of those countries of individualism and citizenship. When these were taken away in the early 1940s, the Nisei confronted great difficulty in accepting or coming to terms with internment and forced resettlement. Older Nisei tended to identify more closely with the Issei, sharing similar economic and social characteristics. Older Nisei who had been employed in small businesses, in farming, in fishing or in semi-skilled occupations, tended to remain in blue-collar work. In contrast, the younger Nisei attended university and college and entered various professions and white-collar employment after the war. This sharp division in post-war experiences and opportunities exacerbated the gaps between these Nisei.
The kanreki (還暦), a traditional, pre-modern Japanese rite of passage to old age at 60, was sometimes celebrated by the Issei and is now being celebrated by increasing numbers of Nisei. Rituals are enactments of shared meanings, norms, and values; and this Japanese rite of passage highlights a collective response among the Nisei to the conventional dilemmas of growing older. Aging is affecting the demographics of the Nisei. According to a 2011 columnist in The Rafu Shimpo of Los Angeles, the obituaries showing the number of Japanese Americans in their 80s and 90s — Nisei, in a word — who are passing is staggering"
The Japanese-born Issei learned Japanese as their mother tongue, and their success in learning English as a second language was varied. Most Nisei speak Japanese to some extent, learned from Issei parents, Japanese school, and living in a Japanese community or in the internment camps. A majority of English-speaking Nisei have retained knowledge of the Japanese language, at least in its spoken form. Most Sansei speak English as their first language and most marry people of non-Japanese ancestry.
An illustrative point-of-view, as revealed in the poetry of an Issei woman:
By Meiji parents
Emigrants to Canada
The Nisei were raised to be
Of whom they could be proud.— Kinori Oka, Kisaragi Poem Study Group, 1975.
There was relatively little inter-marriage during the Nisei generation, mainly because the relocation and the war intervened exactly at a time when the group was of marrying age. Identification of them with the enemy by the American public, made them unpopular and unlikely candidates for inter-racial marriage. Beside this, they were thrown, en masse, into camps with others of the same ethnicity, causing the majority of Nisei to marry other Nisei. This is why third generation Sansei are mostly still of the same racial appearance as the Issei, who first immigrated to the U.S. The Sansei generation has widely inter-married in the post WWII years, with estimates of such unions at over 60 percent.
When the Canadian and American governments interned West Coast Japanese in 1942, neither distinguished between those who were citizens (Nisei) and their non-citizen parents (Issei).
World War II serviceEdit
Japanese American redressEdit
In 1978, the Japanese American Citizens League actively began demanding be taken as redress for harms endured by Japanese Americans during World War II.
In 1980, Congress established the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) The commission report, Personal Justice Denied, condemned the internment as "unjust and motivated by racism rather than real military necessity".
In 1988, U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided for a formal apology and payments of $20,000 for each survivor. The legislation stated that government actions were based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership". The Civil Liberties Act Amendments of 1992, appropriating an additional $400 million in order to ensure that all remaining internees received their $20,000 redress payments, was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush, who also issued another formal apology from the U.S. government.
Japanese and Japanese Americans who were relocated during WWII were compensated for direct property losses in 1948. These payments were awarded to 82,210 Japanese Americans or their heirs at a cost of $1.6 billion; the program's final disbursement occurred in 1999.
Japanese Canadian redressEdit
In 1983, the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) mounted a campaign demanding redress for injustices during the war years. NAJC hired Price Waterhouse to estimate the economic losses to Japanese Canadians resulting from property confiscations and loss of wages due to internment. On the basis of detailed records maintained by the Custodian of Alien Property, it was determined that the total loss totalled $443 million (in 1986 dollars).
In 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney gave that long-awaited formal apology and the Canadian government began to make good on a compensation package—including $21,000 to all surviving internees, and the re-instatement of Canadian citizenship to those who were deported to Japan.
The number of nisei who have earned some degree of public recognition has continued to increase over time; but the quiet lives of those whose names are known only to family and friends are no less important in understanding the broader narrative of the nikkei. Although the names highlighted here are over-represented by issei from North America, the Latin American member countries of the Pan American Nikkei Association (PANA) include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, in addition to the English-speaking United States and Canada.
- John Fujio Aiso (1909–1987), an American military leader, lawyer, and judge
- Steve Aoki (1977– ), Japanese American electro house musician
- Francis Fukuyama (1952– ), philosopher and political economist
- Alberto Fujimori (1938– ), President of Peru, 1990-2000
- Luiz Gushiken (1950–2013), Brazilian politician and activist
- Barney F. Hajiro (1916–2011), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Mikio Hasemoto (1916–1943), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Joe Hayashi (1920–1945), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Shizuya Hayashi (1917–2008), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- William Hohri (1927–2010), political activist.
- Daniel K. Inouye (1924–2012), Senator from Hawaii, Medal of Honor recipient World War II
- James Iha (1968– ), guitarist, ex-member of alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins
- Yeiki Kobashigawa (1920–2005), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Yuri Kochiyama (1921–2014), civil rights activist
- Ford Konno (1933– ), Olympic gold medalist (1952, 1952) and silver medalist (1952, 1956) swimmer
- Tommy Kono (1930–2016 ), Olympic gold medalist (1952, 1956) and silver medalist (1960) weightlifter and only lifter to have set world records in four different weightlifting classes
- Robert T. Kuroda (1922–1944), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Ben Kuroki (1917–2015), only Japanese American U.S. Army Air Forces aircrew member to fly combat missions in the Pacific theater in World War II
- Mike Masaoka (1915–1991) leader of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)
- Spark Matsunaga (1916–1990), US Senator from Hawaii
- Hiroshi Miyamura (1925– ), US Medal of Honor recipient in Korean War
- Norman Mineta (1931– ), former Congressman from California and Secretary of Transportation
- Wataru Misaka (1923– ), became the first player of Asian descent and the first non-Caucasian to play in the NBA in 1947
- Pat Morita (1932–2005), television and movie actor nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1984
- Kaoru Moto (1917–1992), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Sadao Munemori (1922–1945), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Kiyoshi K. Muranaga (1922–1944), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Mirai Nagasu (1993– ), U.S. Figure Skating champion in 2008 and Olympic bronze medalist
- Masato Nakae (1917–1998), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Shinyei Nakamine (1920–1944), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- William K. Nakamura (1922–1944), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- George Nakashima (1905–1990), furniture and cabinetmaker
- Joe M. Nishimoto (1920–1944), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988), sculptor and landscape architect
- Allan M. Ohata (1918–1977), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Apolo Anton Ohno (1982– ) Olympic gold (2002, 2006), silver (2002, 2010), and bronze (2006, 2010) medalist speed skater.
- John Okada (1923–1971), Writer
- James K. Okubo (1920–1967), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Yukio Okutsu (1921–2003), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Frank H. Ono (1923–1980), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Santa J. Ono (1962- ), President University of Cincinnati and President University of British Columbia
- Kazuo Otani (1918–1944), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- Yoshinobu Oyakawa (1933– ), Olympic gold medalist (1952) in swimming
- George T. Sakato (1921–2015), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- James Shigeta (1929–2014), an American film and television actor
- Mike Shinoda (1977–), an American musician, rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, graphic designer, manager and film composer. Member of the American band Linkin Park.
- David Suzuki (1936- ), Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist.
- Shinkichi Tajiri (1923–2009), a sculptor
- Ted T. Tanouye (1919–1944), Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
- George Takei (1937– ), actor and gay rights activist best known for his role in the television series Star Trek
- Hisaye Yamamoto (1921–2011), a Japanese American author
- Minoru Yamasaki (1912–1986), architect best known for the New York World Trade Center "Twin Towers"
- Karl Yoneda (1906-1999), Communist labor activist
- George Yoshia (1922– ), California musician and teacher
- Asian American
- Asian Canadian
- Hyphenated American
- Japanese American Citizens League
- Japanese American National Library
- Japanese American National Museum
- Japanese Canadian
- Japanese Brazilian
- Japanese American internment
- Japanese community in the United Kingdom
- Japanese people
- List of Japanese Americans
- Model minority
- Nisei Baseball Research Project
- Pacific Movement of the Eastern World
- 100th Infantry Battalion (United States)
- 442nd Infantry Regiment (United States)
- Go For Broke Monument
- Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), "Japan-Mexico Relations"; retrieved 2011-05-17
- Miyoshi, Nobu. (1978). "Identity Crisis of the Sansei and the Concentration Camp", NIMH Grant No. 1 R13 MH25655-01.
- Lewis, Neil A. "President Names 15 for Nation's Top Civilian Honor", New York Times. January 9, 1998.
- Goldstein, Richard. Fred Korematsu, 86, Dies; Lost Key Suit on Internment, New York Times. April 1, 2005.
- Bai, Matt. He Said No to Internment, New York Times. December 25, 2005.
- MOFA, "Japan-Brazil Relations"; retrieved 2011-05-17
- US Census, "Selected Population Profile in the United States; Japanese alone or in any combination," 2005 Archived November 12, 2011, at the Wayback Machine; retrieved 2011-05-17
- McLellan, Janet. (1999). Many Petals of the Lotus: Five Asian Buddhist Communities in Toronto, p. 36.
- Ikawa, Fumiko. "Reviews: Umi o Watatta Nippon no Mura by Masao Gamo and "Steveston Monogatari: Sekai no Naka no Nipponjin" by Kazuko Tsurumi, American Anthropologist (US). New Series, Vol. 65, No. 1 (Feb., 1963), pp. 152-156.
- McLellan, p. 59.
- "What is Nikkei?" Japanese American National Museum.
- McLellan, p. 37.
- Ikezoe-Halevi, Jean. "Voices of Chicago: Day of Remembrance 2006," Discover Nikkei (US). October 31, 2006.
- McLellan, p. 68.
- Itoh, p. 7.
- Miyamoto, S. Frank. "Problems of Interpersonal Style among the Nisei," Amerasia Journal. v13 n2 p29-45 (1986-87).
- McLellan, pp. 36-37.
- Doi, Mary L. "A Transformation of Ritual: The Nisei 60th Birthday." Journal Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology. Vol. 6, No. 2 (April, 1991).
- Johnson, George Toshio. "Into the Next Stage: Japanese American Newspapers: Over and Out?" Rafu Shimpo (US). February 17, 2011.
- Kobayashi, p. 64.
- Dinnerstein, Leonard et al. (1999). Ethnic Americans: A History of Immigration, p. 181.
- Personal Justice Denied,
- 100th Congress, S. 1009, reproduced at internmentarchives.com].
- DemocracyNow: WWII Reparations: Japanese-American Internees
- Establishing Recognition of Past Injustices: Uses of Archival Records in Documenting the Experience of Japanese Canadians During the Second World War. Roberts-Moore, Judith. Archivaria: The Journal of the Association of Canadian Archivists, 53 (2002).
- Order-in-Council, P.C. 1665: Yesaki, Mitsuo. (2003). Sutebusuton: A Japanese Village on the British Columbia Coast, p. 111.
- Apology and compensation, CBC Archives
- National Association of Japanese Canadians: PANA Archived February 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- DiscoverNikkei: Aiso bio; retrieved 2011-05-17
- DiscoverNikkei: Fujimori bio; retrieved 2011-05-17
- Ferreira, Lenilson. "Son of conservative Japanese a star in Brazil's new leftist administration," Japan Times. December 24, 2002; retrieved 2012-12-3.
- Medal of Honor: CRS RL30011, p. 8. June 4, 2008.
- Medal of Honor: CRS RL30011, p. 9. June 4, 2008.
- Medal of Honor: CRS RL30011, p. 10. June 4, 2008.
- Japanese American National Museum (JANM): William Honri bio; Martin, Douglas. "William Hohri Dies at 83; Sought Money for Internees," New York Times (US). November 24, 2010;retrieved 2011-05-17
- Medal of Honor: CRS RL30011, p. 12. June 4, 2008.
- DiscoverNikkei: Kochiyama bio
- Svinth, Joseph R. (2000). "Tommy Kono". Physical Training.
- Yenne, Bill. (2007). Rising Sons: The Japanese American GIs Who Fought for the United States in World War II, pp. 1376-141.
- University of Utah, Mike M. Masaoka Photograph Collection, bio
- DiscoverNikkei: Matsunaga bio; retrieved 2011-05-17
- US Army Center of Military History, "Medal of Honor Recipients, Korean War"; retrieved 2012-12-13.
- DiscoverNikkei: Mineta bio; retrieved 2011-05-17
- "A Nisei in the NBA: The Wat Misaka Story". Hokubei.com. August 29, 2008.
- "Pat Morita, 73, Actor Known for 'Karate Kid' and 'Happy Days,' Dies", The New York Times, November 26, 2005
- Medal of Honor: CRS RL30011, p. 13. June 4, 2008.
- Tamashiro, Ben H. (March 15, 1985). "The Congressional Medal of Honor: Sadao Munemori". The Hawaii Herald.
- Gallagher, Jack (October 14, 2007). "Young star Nagasu has priorities in order". The Japan Times Online. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
- Medal of Honor: CRS RL30011, p. 14. June 4, 2008.
- Medal of Honor: CRS RL30011, p. 15. June 4, 2008.
- Saxon, Wolfgang. "George Nakashima Is Dead at 85; Designer and Master Woodworker," New York Times (US). June 18, 1990
- Brenson, Michael. "Isamu Noguchi, the Sculptor, Dies at 84", New York Times (US). December 31, 1988.
- Medal of Honor: CRS RL30011, p. 16. June 4, 2008.
- Medal of Honor: CRS RL30011, p. 17. June 4, 2008.
- Medal of Honor: CRS RL30011, p. 18. June 4, 2008.
- "Stories About USMS Swimmers: Yoshi Oyakawa". Retrieved October 12, 2007.
- Medal of Honor: CRS RL30011, p. 19. June 4, 2008.
- Murata, Alice (February 2006). "Shinkichi Tajiri : World Renown Sculptor". Chicago Japanese American Historical Society. Archived from the original on February 8, 2007.
- Medal of Honor: CRS RL30011, p. 20. June 4, 2008.
- George Takei Biography (1937-)
- Hadley, Jane (September 13, 2001), "Seattle architect created trade center as peace symbol", The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
- Yoneda, Karl (1983). Ganbatte: Sixty-Year Struggle of a Kibei Worker. UCLA Asian American Studies Center.
- Leonard Dinnerstein and David M. Reimers. (1999). Ethnic Americans: A History of Immigration. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-11189-8
- Hosokawa, Bill. (2002). Nisei: The Quiet Americans. Boulder: University Press of Colorado ISBN 978-0-87081-668-0
- Itoh, Keiko. (2001). The Japanese Community in Pre-War Britain: From Integration to Disintegration. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7007-1487-2
- McLellan, Janet. (1999). Many Petals of the Lotus: Five Asian Buddhist Communities in Toronto. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-8225-1
- Moulin, Pierre. (2007). Dachau, Holocaust, and US Samurais: Nisei Soldiers First in Dachau? Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1-4259-3801-7
- Tamura, Eileen and Roger Daniels. (1994). Americanization, Acculturation, and Ethnic Identity: The Nisei Generation in Hawaii. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-06358-9
- Yenne, Bill. (2007). Rising Sons: The Japanese American GIs Who Fought for the United States in World War II. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-35464-0
- Yoo, David and Roger Daniels. (1999). Growing Up Nisei: Race, Generation, and Culture Among Japanese Americans of California, 1924-49. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-06822-5
- Moulin, Pierre. (1993). U.S. Samurais in Bruyeres : People of France and Japanese Americans: Incredible Story. Luxembourg: CPL Editions. ISBN 2-9599984-0-5
- Asahina, Robert. (2007). Just Americans: How Japanese Americans Won a War at Home and Abroad. New York: Gotham Books. ISBN 1-59240-300-X
- Harrington, Joseph D. (1979). Yankee Samurai: The Secret Role of Nisei in America's Pacific Victory Pettigrew Enterprises. ISBN 978-0-933680-11-1
- McNaughton, James. (2006). Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During World War II. Washington, D.C. : Department of the Army.
- Sterner, C. Douglas (2008). Go For Broke: The Nisei Warriors of World War II Who Conquered Germany, Japan, and American Bigotry. Clearfield : Utah American Legacy Historical Press. ISBN 978-0-9796896-1-1
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Internment of Japanese-Canadians.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Japanese American internment.|
- Japanese American National Museum; JANM generational teas
- Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC
- Japanese American Citizens League
- Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Northern California
- Japanese American Community and Cultural Center of Southern California
- Japanese American Historical Society
- Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project
- Japanese American Museum of San Jose, California
- Japanese American Network
- Japanese-American's own companies in USA
- Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives
- Online Archive of the Japanese American Relocation during World War II
- Photo Exhibit of Japanese American community in Florida
- Nikkei Federation
- Discover Nikkei
- Summary of a panel discussion on changing Japanese American identities
- The War: Fighting for Democracy: Japanese Americans
- “The War Relocation Centers of World War II: When Fear Was Stronger than Justice”, a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan
- U.S. Government interned Japanese from Latin America