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Kenjiro Akune Personal Collection
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Collection Overview
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The collection consists of manuscripts, military publications, correspondence, and audio/visual materials of Kenjiro Akune. This collection focuses on the military service of Akune and other Nisei soldiers during World War II. The collection also touches on Akune's post-World War II activities, Go For Broke National Education Center events taking place between the 1990s-2000s, and Nisei veteran reunions and interviews.
Kenjiro Akune was born in Turlock, California on July 3, 1923. He grew up on a farm with his eight brothers and sisters. When he was 10 years old his mother died, so his father moved him and his family to Japan for a few years. He continued his schooling in Japan until the age of 15, then he and his older brother, Harry, moved back to the states. He worked as a schoolboy, and was later taken in by a Japanese farming family, the Saisho’s, whom he was staying with when the war broke out. After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the enactment of Executive Order 9066, he and the Saisho family were forcibly removed to the Merced Temporary Detention Facility and later, to the Granada (Amache) Concentration Camp. While at Granada Concentration Camp, Ken volunteered to join the service and was recruited into the Military Intelligence Service due to his knowledge of the Japanese language. Ken underwent basic training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, and was also sent to military language training in Minneapolis, Minnesota at Camp Savage and Fort Snelling. In January 1944, he was sent to the China-India-Burma Theater and was assigned to the Office of War Information. He interrogated Japanese prisoners of war to retrieve information about the Japanese Imperial Army, which was used in propaganda pamphlets that were given to Japanese soldiers during the war. The war in the Pacific ended in July 1945, and Ken was discharged home. However, he wanted to return to Japan to spend time with his family (his sister, younger brother, and father were living in Japan during the war). He decided to sign up through civilian services to work as a linguist with the occupation forces, where he was assigned as a translator to the war crimes trials -- among these was the Tojo Trial. While in Japan, he met and married his wife. They moved back to the states in 1949, and settled in Gardena, California to raise a family. Ken Akune has been an integral part to the Go For Broke National Education Center organization since it first began in 1989. He is one of the founding members and among the most active Nisei veterans within the organization. He has contributed to the creation and construction of the organization’s monument in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.
4.34 linear feet
This collection is available for research upon request.