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Fred Kinzaburo Makino: A Biography—His Contributions to Society through the Hawaii Hochi - Part 2

Part 1 >>

The Establishment of the Hawaii Hochi

The 1909 strike resulted in a major upheaval of Honolulu’s Japanese language newspaper. Previously, the Hawaii Shimpo was the Islands largest Japanese paper, followed by the Hawaii Nichinichi Shimbun and the Nippu Jiji. However, because of the strike, the Nippu Jiji became the largest newspaper, as it supported the plantation workers, while the Shimpo and Nichinichi supported the HSPA.

However, shortly after that, Yasutaro Soga, publisher and the president of the Nippu Jiji, apparently changed his views and began to support the sugar companies. In his editorials, he urged the plantation workers to leave Hawaii if they could not obey the sugar companies, because Hawaii’s economy depended on the sugar planters. This meant that not only had Soga abandoned the workers’ interest—all three Japanese language newspapers now sided with the sugar planters.

The situation posed a problem for the workers, but no one dared to start another newspaper. All three existing newspapers were established in the late 1890s, and had survived the initial fierce competition among many newspapers. By early 1900, the three had established their own niches. Everyone knew how difficult it would be to start a new newspaper to compete against the top three. But after returning to his drugstore business, Kinzaburo felt something needed to be done, so he decided to begin publishing his own newspaper.

He worked tirelessly, and finally on December 7, 1912, the first edition of The Hawaii Hochi rolled off the presses. In reality, this was a rather reckless action, because none of his employees—including Makino himself—had any experience in any aspect of publishing a newspaper—editorial, advertising, or printing. Although everyone worked very hard, the paper ran into problems. Makino was unable to pay his rent on time, he couldn’t pay his telephone bill, nor his employee salaries. He even had difficulty purchasing the paper on which to print the newspaper.

The first sdition of The Hawaii Hochi was published on December 7, 1912 at its office at Maunakea and Pauahi streets.

Eventually, Makino was forced to pay cash for everything, because no one would extend him credit. The Hochi had fallen into an extremely difficult financial situation. Undaunted, Makino sold his drugstore inventory below wholesale prices in order to muster up the cash to pay the paper company for the paper needed to print that day’s edition. All of his income from his law practice also went to The Hawaii Hochi. Mrs. Makino even sold the pigs that she had raised in the backyard of their Manoa residence to help pay off the company’s debt. Only because it was such a small newspaper was it able to survive, aided by the Makinos’ sacrifice.

It was under these trying conditions that The Hawaii Hochi achieved some of its most notable accomplishments. The newspaper criticized the practice by immigration officials of forcing Japanese picture brides and their grooms to be married en masse in a Christian ceremony upon their arrival. Finally, after a few months of protesting by the Hochi, the director of immigration ended the inhumane and undignified “assembly line” marriage ceremonies.

In 1921, The Hawaii Hochi moved to this building on Queen Street, facing Pier 7.

Community Activist

Makino in his office at The Hawaii Hochi

At about the same time, Makino became very active in many social issues through his law office. He lent his support to help those who had arrived in Hawaii but had been refused landing rights, and were thus about to be sent back to Japan. He also helped those who had lived here but were to be deported.

A few years after the Hochi was established, it was filled with many “thank you” advertisements from people who Makino had helped.

One of the more colorful cases involved the deportation of Tatsuzo Kuramoto, a landlord who had unknowingly rented one of his houses to a prostitute. He was found guilty for aiding in prostitution and was ordered deported. Makino was asked to help. After his frantic efforts a stay was ordered by the court. But by that time, Kuramoto was already on a boat that had left Honolulu Harbor. Makino got hold of a motorboat and chased after the ship. He caught up with it just before it left Honolulu Harbor. Makino forced the ship to stop, pulled out the court document, and was able to free Kuramoto. The story of this dramatic rescue made headlines. The people whom Makino helped began supporting The Hawaii Hochi enthusiastically.

Part 3 >>

* This article was originally published by the Hawaii Hochi in commemoration of The Hawaii Hochi, Ltd’s 75th Anniversary.

© 1987 Hawaii Hochi, Ltd.

hapa hawaii Hawaii Hochi issei makino kinzaburo NikkeiMedia strike sugar plantation