Nisei yearbook graphic

USC Seeks the Families of Nisei Students

In the months after Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, all of USC’s Japanese-American students—known as Nisei—were forced to leave the university and enter internment camps. Now, in the spirit of reconciliation, USC is attempting to identify all of its WWII-era Nisei students, so the university may confer posthumous honorary degrees upon them—and present these degrees to their families.

University leaders are currently reviewing digitized images of handwritten records, photos and correspondence to identify an estimated 121 students. It is a painstaking process, one that is greatly aided by the USC Asian Pacific Alumni Association, which is reaching out to the families of USC’s Nisei students. We are making headway, but we also need your help.

What happened to our Nisei students was a grave injustice. With your assistance, we can accord them the respect and dignity they deserve.

Possible Nisei Students

A list of Nisei students we believe attended USC in 1942. Please email us if you have any information about their family members. Check back regularly for updates.

As of December 15, 2021

Hayao Abe
Steven Abe
Gladys Aoki
George Fujii
Joe Fujikawa
Nobuko Fujiki
Yasushi Hara
Harry Higa
Yutaka Inadomi
Tomoo Inouye
Yorisada Kagawa
Herb Kawahara
Edward Koyama
William Kuratani
Yeiki Matsui

Daisuke Dike Nagano
Kazuo Nomura
George Nonoshita
Cherry Obayashi
Jim Okura
Jiro Sagata
James Sakamoto
John Sakamoto
Fred Suto
Naoshi Suzuki
Lucy Taguchi
Ken Uyesugi
Chiyoko Yamaguchi
Eiji Yamamoto
George Yokoyama

Confirmed Nisei Students

Nisei Students – Class of 2022

Frank Fujio Chuman (story)
Henry Ema
Ryuchi Fujii
John Masao Fujioka
Floyd Kaoru Fujiu
Kiyoshi Fujiwara
Harry Fukayama
Toshio Furukawa
George John (Ryoichi) Furutani
Toru Thomas Haga
Kameko Hatanaka
Kei Hori
Yoshiharu Inadomi
Victor Nobuyuki Ito
Shigeru Kanemaki
Sidney Isao Kashiwabara
Wayne Masato Kato
Nelson Yuji Kitsuse
Henry Kondo

Alice Yemiko Kurata
Theodore Tatsuya Matsushima
Raymond Kanameimura
Fred Fukuki Nishi
George Teruo Nishida
Tadashi Ochiai (story)
Jiro Oishi
Masao Oki
Kenneth Shoichi Ozaki
James Shigeo Sasaki
Midori Sato
Kunihiko Seki
Tomio Sugano
Francis Sueo Sugiyama
Ichiro Takahashi
George Tanbara
Roy Hideo Yamamoto
Yoneo Yamamoto
Isami Sam Yamashita

Nisei Students – Class of 2012

Yuriko Hirooka Kumai
Iwao George Kawakami (story)
Yoshiteru Gary Kikawa
Yutaka Kody Kodama
Roland Yoshiharu Kamachi
George Mio

Ryo Munekata
Setsuko Matsunaga Nishi
Hitoshi George Sameshima
Satsuyo Watanabe Tanaka
Frank Takashi Tofukuji

This is a partial list. Please check back regularly for updates.

Further Reading and Videos

rock garden dedication

USC dedicates quiet rock garden in honor of university’s Nisei students

The contemplative space off Trousdale Parkway commemorates the Japanese American students who were forced into detention centers right after the U.S. entered World War II.

Senior Nicole Kawakami, center, will be graduating with her DDS degree from USC like her mother Ruth Kawakami, right and her Uncle Kent Ochiai, left, did. Three generations of Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC graduates pose for a photograph, Feb. 11, 2022. (Photo/Gus Ruelas)

With mixed emotions, three generations of one Trojan family close a chapter in history

Niki Kawakami will be the fifth in her family to earn an advanced USC degree — but her grandfather was cheated of his during World War II. Eighty years later, a gap in justice is closing.

photo from Japanese internment

A family’s old steamer trunk holds links to a dark period in the nation’s history

The 80th anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which unjustly sent thousands of Japanese Americans to confinement camps, offers a chance to reflect on past mistakes and to consider what it means to be American.

group photo of Nisei students

Overcoming war, detention and racism, 104-year-old Trojan receives honorary degree

Frank Chuman, who was among the Japanese American students forced to leave USC in 1942 and live in a detention facility, has received an expedited honorary degree and a video greeting from President Folt.

Nisei yearbook image

80 years after being forced to leave USC, a degree of honor for the Nisei

Though commencement never came for more than 100 Japanese American students who were forced into internment during World War II, the university will at last issue posthumous degrees in their names.

Nisei transcripts image

USC embarks on a “digital archeological dig” to identify WWII-era Nisei students

Digitized images of handwritten records, photos and correspondence are helping university leaders identify students forced to leave USC in 1942. Ghosts leave few clues, but a determined university effort is under way to right a historic wrong and find descendants.