HomeAsian AmericansJapanese American activist Alan Nishio passes away at 78

Japanese American activist Alan Nishio passes away at 78

Japanese American activist Alan Nishio has passed away at 78.

Rafu Shimpo, the largest Japanese-English language newspaper in the United States, announced the news of Nishio’s passing. The newspaper says he died on Dec. 27 at his home in Gardena, California, after a 17-year-long battle with cancer.

According to Rafu Shimpo, Nishio was born inside Manzanar, a World War II Japanese American concentration camp, on Aug. 9, 1945.

Nishio earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1966 and a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Southern California in 1968.

As an activist, Nishio fought for the development and recognition of the Japanese American community. He was one of the many leaders calling for Japanese Americans to receive redress and an apology from the U.S. government for their incarceration during World War II.

Throughout his life, Nishio has encouraged people to continue pursuing justice. In a 2020 interview with Glen Kitiyama at Nichi-Bei, he addressed the concerns of the younger generations:

GK: Sara Omura, a young middle school teenager, wrote a poem that questioned if anything has really changed in society with the rise of the alt-right nationalism. What do you say to young people who question where we are headed as a country?

AN: To quote Martin Luther King, Jr.: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ As a young person, I can understand how Sara can wonder how much things have changed. As someone who is on the other side of the age spectrum from Sara, I would say that progress is never linear moving along in one positive direction…”

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