Thomas Sakakihara

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Thomas Tameichi Sakakihara(榊原為一,Sakakihara Tameichi, 1900–1989), [1] [2] referred to locally as Tommy Sakakihara in person and in print, [3] [4] was a Japanese American politician from Hawaii, interned due to his ancestry during World War II.

Hawaii State of the United States of America

Hawaii is the 50th and most recent state to have joined the United States, having received statehood on August 21, 1959. Hawaii is the only U.S. state located in Oceania, the only U.S. state located outside North America, and the only one composed entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.


Political career

Sakakihara joined the Republican Party and first ran for political office in 1926. [5] He was elected to the legislature of the Territory of Hawaii in 1932, and served continuously then on for several terms. [6]

Republican Party (United States) political party in the United States

The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP, is one of the two major political parties in the United States; the other is its historic rival, the Democratic Party.

Territory of Hawaii organized incorporated territory of the United States, 1898–1959

The Territory of Hawaii or Hawaii Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from August 12, 1898, until August 21, 1959, when most of its territory, excluding Palmyra Island and the Stewart Islands, was admitted to the Union as the fiftieth U.S. state, the State of Hawaii. The Hawaii Admission Act specified that the State of Hawaii would not include the distant Palmyra Island, the Midway Islands, Kingman Reef, and Johnston Atoll, which includes Johnston Island and Sand Island, and the Act was silent regarding the Stewart Islands.

In 1941, Sakakihara was one of six Americans of Japanese ancestry serving in the territorial legislature. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was made a deputy sheriff of Hilo, but was later discharged from that position. [6] The intersection of Sakakihara's ancestry and rise to prominence set him up for negative attention from the US Army's Hawaii sub-command. He had earlier been listed on the Plan of Initial Seizure of Orange Nationals drawn up by George S. Patton between 1935 and 1937, among 127 other Japanese American community leaders. [7] Then on February 26, 1942, Sakakihara and roughly thirty other prominent Japanese "enemy aliens or suspected sympathisers" were arrested by the Army. [8] He was held at the Honouliuli Internment Camp until 1943; his release was conditional on a signed pledge not to sue the U.S. government for damages related to the internment. [6]

Attack on Pearl Harbor Surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

The Attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The attack, also known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor, led to the United States' formal entry into World War II. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

George S. Patton United States Army general

George Smith Patton Jr. was a General of the United States Army who commanded the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean theater of World War II, and the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

Unlike fellow legislator and Honouliuli internee Sanji Abe, Sakakihara returned to politics after the end of World War II; he and five other Japanese Americans were elected to the Hawaii territorial House of Representatives for 1947. [9] He was re-elected in 1948, along with fellow Japanese Americans Takao Yamauchi and Joe Itagaki. [10] He also served as one of the vice-presidents of the 1950 Hawaii State Constitutional Convention. [11] He found a strong political base among small sugar-growers. [12] Eventually, his long service and political support earned him a position as chairman of the legislature's Finance Committee. He was also instrumental in getting increased funding for the Hawaii Vocational College (later the Hilo branch of the University of Hawaii). [3] However, he and other Asian American Republicans lost their legislative seats in the Hawaii Democratic Revolution of 1954; Sakakihara himself was accused in a full-page ad in the Hilo Tribune-Herald by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union of taking salary kickbacks from his legislative workers. [5] [13]

Sanji Abe was a pre-World War II politician in Hawaii. He was the first Japanese American elected to the Senate of the Territory of Hawaii.

Hawaii Democratic Revolution of 1954

The Hawaii Democratic Revolution of 1954 was a nonviolent revolution that took place in the Hawaiian Archipelago consisting of general strikes, protests, and other acts of civil disobedience. The Revolution culminated in the territorial elections of 1954 where the long reign of the Hawaii Republican Party in the legislature came to an abrupt end, as they were voted out of the office to be replaced by members of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. The strikes by the Isles' labor workers demanded similar pay and benefits to their Mainland counterparts. The strikes also crippled the power of the sugarcane plantations and the Big Five Oligopoly over their workers.

Personal life and other activities

Sakakihara was born on July 17, 1900 in Hilo, Hawaii to parents Shinzo and Hisa (née Hagihara). [14] He gained familiarity with the law by working in the office of a local lawyer. [5] His law career culminated in 14 years of service as District Judge for the Big Island of Hawaii. [7] On April 15, 1933, he married Aileen Sadako Arizumi, with whom he had two children. [12] [14] Of small stature and build, he affected a dapper image, walking with a cane he admitted he did not actually need. His friends described him as aggressive and feisty. [3] He was said to be fond of Black & White whisky, and served it during his frequent parties at the Young Hotel. [4]

Black & White (whisky) Scotch whisky brand

Black & White is a blended Scotch whisky. It was originally produced by the London-based James Buchanan & Co Ltd founded by James Buchanan. Originally known as House of Commons, its nickname, referring to the black and white labelling, was eventually adopted as the official brand instead. The brand's motif was conceived by James Buchanan himself during the 1890s.

Alexander Young Building former building in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

The Alexander Young Building was a building in Honolulu, Hawaii built during 1900-1903 by Alexander Young (1833–1910), a Honolulu mechanical engineer and businessman from Scotland.

As late as 1970, Sakakihara was listed as a field representative for the office of Senator Hiram Fong. [15] He did not speak out publicly about his internment until February 1976, when the Honolulu Star-Bulletin interviewed a number of former Honouliuli internees for a front-page story about President Gerald Ford's rescindment of Executive Order 9066. [9] He died on February 22, 1989. [2]

United States Senate Upper house of the United States Congress

The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, which along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—comprises the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol, in Washington, D.C.

Hiram Fong American politician

Hiram Leong Fong, born Yau Leong Fong, was an American businessman and politician from Hawaii. The son of illiterate Cantonese immigrants, he overcame poverty to become the first Asian-American United States Senator, serving from 1959 to 1977. In 1964, Fong became the first Asian-American to run for his party's nomination for President of the United States. To date, he is the only Republican to ever hold a Senate seat from Hawaii and was the only Asian-American to seek the presidential nomination of the Republican Party until Bobby Jindal in the 2016 primaries.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin was a daily newspaper based in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. At the time publication ceased on June 6, 2010, it was the second largest daily newspaper in the state of Hawaiʻi. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, along with a sister publication called MidWeek, was owned by Black Press of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and administered by a council of local Hawaii investors. The daily merged with the Advertiser on June 7, 2010, to form the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, after Black Press's attempts to find a buyer fell through.


  1. Kawazoe 1968 , p. 319
  2. 1 2 "Thomas T. Sakakihara, 1989", Social Security Death Index , FamilySearch , retrieved 2012-10-24
  3. 1 2 3 Inouye & Kormondy 2001 , p. 43
  4. 1 2 "Political Sidelights" (PDF), Honolulu Record, 3 (41), p. 3, 1951-05-10, retrieved 2009-12-23
  5. 1 2 3 Whitehead 2004 , p. 194
  6. 1 2 3 Whitehead 2004 , p. 79
  7. 1 2 Buckingham, Dorothea Dee (2009-02-23), "General Patton's Hawaiian 'Internment List'", Hawaii Reporter, retrieved 2009-12-23
  8. "Japanese Arrested on Island of Hawaii: Army Holds 30 as Enemy Aliens or 'Suspected Sympathizers'", The New York Times, 1942-02-26, retrieved 2009-12-13
  9. 1 2 Whitehead 2004 , p. 83
  10. Aguiar 1997 , p. 274
  11. Whitehead 2004 , p. 191
  12. 1 2 Inouye & Kormondy 2001 , p. 44
  13. Inouye & Kormondy 2001 , p. 45
  14. 1 2 Kestenbaum 2009
  15. US Senate 1970 , p. 36

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