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.