Nisei Naysayer
The Memoir of Militant Japanese American Journalist Jimmie Omura
James Matsumoto Omura Edited by Arthur A. Hansen


Contents and Abstracts
1 Bainbridge Island Beginnings, 1912–1923
chapter abstract

This chapter covers the historical roots of James Omura's family in Japan and its uneven development and tragic division on Bainbridge Island, Washington. It emphasizes anti-Japanese discrimination on Bainbridge Island and explores the challenging experiences of Omura's family members in both the United States and Japan. Finally, the chapter portrays Omura's primary school education and his active and successful participation in baseball.

2 Pacific Northwest Coming of Age, 1923–1933
chapter abstract

This chapter charts James Omura's departure from his home at age thirteen to work in the Alaska canned salmon industry. It traces his junior high school experience living in Pocatello, Idaho, his work there as a "schoolboy" to support himself, and his fledgling experience in journalism and starring role on Pocatello's championship American Legion baseball team. The chapter concludes with Omura's high school experiences at both Bainbridge High School and Seattle's Broadway High School, from which he graduated in 1932, and spotlights his activities in journalism and sports, along with his mounting difficulties in social situations and interpersonal relations.

3 Dateline California, 1933–1940
chapter abstract

This chapter details the development of Omura's career in journalism, first as the short-tenured editor of the Los Angeles-based New Japanese American News, and then, in San Francisco, as the editor of the New World Daily, coeditor of the New World Sun, and columnist for the Japanese American News, edited by Larry Tajiri. It also provides a window into life within these two cities during the Great Depression, especially in the Japanese American community, with emphasis on the sphere of Japanese American journalism. This chapter depicts the origins and intensification of Omura's feud with the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) leadership (particularly Saburo Kido). In addition, the chapter narrates Omura's cross-country odyssey as a train-hopping tramp, and his return to employment as a migrant agricultural laborer in Washington and California, and later as a packer and buyer in San Francisco's floral industry.

4 Showdown in San Francisco, 1940–1942
chapter abstract

This chapter discusses Omura's creation and operation of Current Life, a magazine devoted to Nisei arts, literature, and politics, for which his wife, Caryl Omura, served as business manager and publicist. It also spotlights Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and its impact upon the Japanese American community within the San Francisco Bay Area. The chapter also deals with Omura's role in the political struggle among Japanese Americans over what position to take on the governmental decision to exclude Nikkei from the West Coast and incarcerate them in inland detention centers. Omura urged protest and resistance, while the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) leadership and its allies advocated accommodation and cooperation. The JACL leaders obsequiously testified to this effect at the Tolan Committee hearings, while Omura's testimony criticized the JACL for misleading the Japanese American community and scored the impending U.S. policy of stripping wartime Nikkei of their civil rights.

5 Denver Disputes and Concentration Camp Dissent, 1942–1944
chapter abstract

This chapter contains Omura's resettlement to Denver, including his establishment of a free employment service for Nikkei resettlers and his 1942–43 journalistic contributions to two free-zone Japanese American newspapers in Denver, the Colorado Times and the Rocky Nippon/Shimpo. The core of the chapter deals with Omura's continuing skirmish with the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) leaders, especially Mike and Joe Grant Masaoka. In addition, the chapter reviews the 1942–43 anti-JACL dissent, protest, and resistance that occurred within select War Relocation Authority (WRA)-detention camps, particularly the Heart Mountain camp in Wyoming.

6 Rocky Mountain Resistance, 1944
chapter abstract

This chapter discusses Omura's four-month editorship of the Rocky Shimpo and the series of editorials he wrote in support of the organized draft resistance movement at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, which led to his removal as the newspaper's editor by the U.S. government. It also depicts Omura's 1944 indictment and imprisonment on the grounds of his being a coconspirator with the leaders of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee to aid and abet violation of the Selective Service laws, and his later acquittal on November 1, 1944, from this charge by a federal court in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Finally, the chapter treats Omura's allegation that Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) leader Minoru Yasui was a government informer, who along with the JACL-oriented editorial staff of the Heart Mountain Sentinel newspaper was determined to see Omura imprisoned for his journalistic support of the draft resistance movement at Heart Mountain.

7 Down and Out in Denver, 1944–1945
chapter abstract

This brief chapter serves to dramatize the degree to which Omura's wartime actions, including his trial for conspiracy to frustrate the military draft, rendered him a pariah in the Denver Japanese American community. He was not only stripped of his journalistic vocation but also virtually blackballed from any employment connected with the Denver Japanese American community.