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Joyce Nakamura Okazaki

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Joyce Okazaki

Joyce Nakamura Okazaki

75 years later, Japanese Americans recall pain of internment camps

Joyce Nakamura Okazaki (born July 29, 1934) is an American citizen of Japanese heritage who was forcibly removed with her family from their Los Angeles home and placed in the Manzanar War Relocation camp in 1942. She was photographed by Ansel Adams in both 1943 and 1944 for his book, Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese Americans. In the 2001 reprint of the book, Okazaki's photograph appeared on the book cover. She is the treasurer of the Manzanar Committee, an NGO which promotes education about the World War II incarceration of Japanese-Americans.



Joyce Yukiko Nakamura was born on July 29 1934 in Los Angeles, California to parents of Japanese heritage. Her mother Yaeko Kusayanagi was a US Citizen and her father, Genshiro Nakamura came to the US in 1916 when he was eleven years old. She attended school until second grade at Maryknoll School, where she studied both English and Japanese. On April 2, 1942, her family were restrained and taken to the camp at Manzanar, where they were imprisoned with other Japanese-Americans and lived in Manzanar for about two and a half years. During their forced detainment, Nakamura, her mother, and her younger sister were photographed by Ansel Adams. Her father was not in the photographs as he was away on the potato harvest during the 1943 photo shoot and during the second one, her father had already left camp permanently. In July 1944, her family left the camp after swearing a loyalty oath and her mother clearing an additional examination. As Kusayanagi's father had been arrested, not detained, she underwent additional questioning before being released. In Chicago, Nakamura attended both a parochial elementary school and a Catholic high school. She attended one year of classes at University of Illinois at Navy Pier and in 1952, Nakamura returned with her family to Los Angeles, where she attended UCLA and was in the Chi Alpha Delta sorority.

After graduating with a BS in business administration, Nakamura worked briefly at Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company and then went to work for the Department of Employment, where she remained for thirteen years. One of her projects while she was there was to rewrite the manual of Dictionary of Occupational Titles. In 1962, Nakamura met another Manzanar detainee, James Okazaki, whom she married in 1963. In the late 1980s Okazaki began working for the Los Alamitos School District, where she served in libraries and media centers for 20 years before retiring.

In 2000, Okazaki returned to the camp for the first time with her mother. Witnessing the dilapidated state of decay, she did not return for 4 years. In the interim, the National Park Service had developed the site adding an interpretive center and auditorium. Okazaki decided to join the Manzanar Committee and become more involved. Until her retirement, she attended meetings and events only, but after her retirement, she began speaking and conducting educational courses at various schools in the area, as well as volunteering at the center. Okazaki is the current treasurer for the Manzanar Committee, an NGO which promotes education about the World War II incarceration of Japanese-Americans.

Born Free and Equal

Adams' book, Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese Americans was published in 1944. In 1965, a second edition was printed with a foreword by Toyo Miyatake. In 2001, it was released again with one of the photos of Okazaki on the front cover and comments by her on the back flap.


Joyce Nakamura Okazaki Wikipedia

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