Yuji Ichioka

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Yuji Ichioka
Yuji Ichioka.gif
Born(1936-06-23)23 June 1936
Died1 September 2002(2002-09-01) (aged 66)
OccupationHistorian of Asian American Studies
Known forCoined the term Asian American
Spouse(s)Emma Gee
Academic background
Alma materUCLA, UC Berkeley
Academic work
DisciplineAsian American Studies

Yuji Ichioka (June 23, 1936 – September 1, 2002) was an American historian and civil rights activist best known for his work in ethnic studies, particularly Asian American Studies and his participation in the Asian American movement. An adjunct professor at UCLA, he coined the term "Asian American" to help unify different Asian ethnic groups (e.g. Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, etc.), and was considered the preeminent scholar of Japanese American history.


Yuji Ichioka was born in 1936 in San Francisco, California. As a child, he was interned with his family at the Topaz War Relocation Center in Utah.[1] The family returned to San Francisco after their release from camp, and he finished grade school there, graduating from Berkeley High School in 1954. After three years of military service, Ichioka enrolled at UCLA, earning an undergraduate degree in history in 1962. The following year, he started a graduate program at Columbia University, studying Chinese history, but soon dropped out and instead worked for a social service agency in New York. In 1966, he took an extended trip to Japan, and upon his return he enrolled at UC Berkeley, receiving an M.A. in East Asian Languages and Cultures in 1968.[1] Ichioka later served as a senior researcher at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and Adjunct Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) from approximately 1969 to his death at the age of 66.

Ichioka founded the Asian American Political Alliance during his time at Berkeley and eventually coined the term "Asian American" to frame a new self-defining political lexicon.[1] (Before the adoption of this term, people of Asian ancestry were generally called Oriental or Asiatic.)[2] In 1969, Ichioka taught the first Asian American Studies course at UCLA and was named associate director of the university's newly formed Asian American Studies Center.[1] His seminal work, Issei: The World of the First Generation Japanese Immigrants, 1885-1924, won the 1989 U.S. History Book Award of the National Association for Asian American Studies.[2] Ichioka recorded subsequent research in the two books: A Buried Past and A Buried Past II.[3]

He died from cancer on September 1, 2002. He was survived by his wife of over 25 years, Emma Gee.[2] The Yuji Ichioka and Emma Gee Endowment in Social Justice and Immigration Studies was established in their name at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center.[4]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Yuji Ichioka. (1988). The Issei: The World of the First Generation Japanese Immigrant, 1885-1924. Free Press. ISBN 978-0-02-932435-6.
  • Ichioka, Y. (1990). "Japanese Immigrant Nationalism: The Issei and the Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1941". California History. 69 (3): 260–275, 310–311. doi:10.2307/25591553.
  • "Beyond National Boundaries: The Complexity of Japanese-American History". Amerasia Journal. 23 (2). 1997.
  • Compiled by Yuji Ichioka, Eiichiro Azuma. (1989). A Buried Past II: A Sequel to the Annotated Bibliography of the Japanese American Research Project Collection. Univ of California La Asian Amer. ISBN 978-0-934052-29-0.


  1. ^ a b c d Niiya, Brian. "Yuji Ichioka". Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Kang, K. Connie (September 7, 2002). "Yuji Ichioka, 66; Led Way in Studying Lives of Asian Americans". The Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ Kim, Ryan (September 12, 2002). "Yuji Ichioka: Asian American studies pioneer". San Francisco Chronicle.
  4. ^ "Completion of Ichioka-Gee Endowment to Be Celebrated". www.rafu.com. Retrieved 2019-03-04.

See also[edit]

  • Yuji Ichioka. Ed. by Gordon H. Chang ... (2006). Before Internment Essays in Prewar Japanese American History. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-5147-6.