History

Research

The Lil Tokyo Reporter is a narrative short film to bring to light and honor the major accomplishments of Sei Fujii, Issei pioneer, leader and publisher. He immigrated to America in 1903 and graduated from USC Law School in 1911. Unable to become an attorney because he was not an American citizen, he worked for decades with classmate J. Marion Wright, a civil rights attorney, to help the Issei and the Japanese American community with racially discriminatory legal issues. Their biggest legal victory was to appeal and win a United States Supreme Court decision in 1928, to allow Japanese doctors in Los Angeles to build the first Japanese hospital in the country. In 1932, community leader, Sei Fujii started publishing the Kashu Mainichi, a Japanese daily newspaper. He advised the Issei on how to best survive in America. He told them to put down roots and to encourage their Nisei children to fully participate in the mainstream community. When World War II started, Sei Fujii was among the first incarcerated in the Department of Justice Detention Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Upon his release, he purchased a small parcel of land to challenge the California Alien Land Law that since 1911, prevented aliens ineligible for citizenship from owning land in California. Under Fujii v. California, he and J. Marion Wright fought and appealed their challenge to the California Supreme Court. In 1952, the Court ruled that the California Alien Land Law was unconstitutional.

Sei Fujii was one of the outstanding Issei pioneers in America, but shamefully, very few people even know his name or what he did. The Lil Tokyo Reporter film is a nonprofit, mostly volunteer, but non-inexpensive venture intended to start the recognition of his leadership and deeds that greatly benefited the Japanese American community. We owe so much to him and all our Issei pioneers. They suffered greatly but persevered on behalf of their Nisei children and future generations. Please consider supporting and donating to this worthwhile cause.

California Civil Liberties Public Education Program Union Bank UCLA Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies George & Sakaye Aratani Foundation
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