Kathy Nishimoto Masaoka

Kathy Nishimoto Masaoka was born and raised in multicultural Boyle Heights. The Vietnam War and Asian American Studies at University of California, Berkeley in the late ’60s were important influences on her values. Since the 1970s, she has worked on youth, workers, and housing issues in Little Tokyo, and Japanese American redress. Currently Co-chair of the Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR), she served on the Editorial Team for the book, NCRR: The Grassroots Struggle for Japanese American Redress and Reparations, helped to educate about the camps through the film/curriculum, Stand Up for Justice, and worked on the NCRR 9/11 Committee to help build relationships with the American Muslim community through programs like Break the Fast and Bridging Communities. 

She represented NCRR to support the rights of Korean and other minorities in Japan and is involved with Nikkei Progressives, Vigilant Love, and the Sustainable Little Tokyo project, and working on issues such as reparations for Comfort Women and Black folks, the rights of immigrants, and Little Tokyo’s future. 

Married to Mark Masaoka, she has a daughter, Mayumi, and a son, Dan, and grandsons, Yuma and Leo.

Updated August 2021

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Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column

Owed to Amy

To borrow from the title of one of this month’s features, the theme for this month is all about paying homage to one of our most beloved writers, Amy Uyematsu. Amy has been writing and teaching for decades and is going through the fight of her life right now—and what is a community-based poetry column if not a platform to support the best energies and wishes possible for the better health of one of our own poets?

You will see Amy’s poems throughout the lifespan of this column and much more importantly, through her incredible collection of work featured in …

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Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column

Mothers—affection, lost & found

This month, we take a somewhat different turn, in presenting some prose from longtime community organizer and LA-native, Kathy Nishimoto Masaoka, and a piece meant for the spoken word stage from Hawai‘i-born/Torrance-raised educator, Kurt Yokoyama-Ikeda. They both sent in pieces about their mothers and I found a yearning, discovery, and ode to their affection, however uniquely expressed over time. The pieces left me hoping they will continue to write and explore even more even about their mothers and how we find and express affection…enjoy.

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Kathy Nishimoto Masaoka was born and raised in multicultural …

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Watershed Moment in Japanese American Civil Rights History: Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, commonly called the Commission Hearings of 1981

Back in 1981, VC (Visual Communications) and NCRR, then known as the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations, worked very closely together to record the events and activities of the campaign to win redress for Japanese Americans incarcerated in camps during World War II. People like Duane Kubo and Steve Tatsukawa, two of the early staff of VC, had participated in the fight against redevelopment in Little Tokyo and helped to link the work of VC to what was happening in the community. As active members of NCRR as well, they helped to gather VC volunteers to film …

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