The Chicago Shimpo Celebrates Its 70th Anniversary
Its Articles Depict A History of US-Japan Relations
• The Chicago Shimpo celebrated its 70th anniversary
on November 14 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago-Arlington Heights,
and about 110 people attended. A witty M.C.,Donna Gerlich, guided the
• In her greeting remarks, Yoshiko Urayama, President
of the Chicago Shimpo, said that she was overwhelmed by a great number
of events when she took a look at the past 70 years of the articles. “The
articles depict the stories of our ancestors to strive to become better
citizens or residents in Chicagoland and the Midwest. The articles also
tell the stories of our community people’s efforts to promote mutual understanding,
do businesses, and enjoy bilateral benefits between the U.S. and Japan,”
• Deputy Consul General Keiko Yanai congratulated the
Chicago Shimpo and said that the paper would have been read regularly
for years and years, and every issue existed on paper or microfilm, which
offered remarkable windows to the Japanese and Japanese American Communities
• Edward Grant, President of the Japan America Society
of Chicago, spoke about the Chicago Shimpo’s role in institutions, original
record, and activity purpose.
• Mayor Thomas W. Hayes of Arlington Heights welcomed the Japanese community as a valued community partner, which has contributed to the quality life in the Village. He also congratulated the Chicago Shimpo as the only English/Japanese bilingual paper in the area, and said that Shimpo has done its mission very well. One of the Shimpo’s missions is to take a role to deepen the mutual understanding between the U.S. and Japan as one of the bridges between the two countries.
• Tetsuya Terada, Chairman of the Japanese Chamber of
Commerce and Industry of Chicago, paid tribute to Ryoichi Fujii, the founder
of Shimpo, for establishing a newspaper in a difficult time after WWII.
He also praised the successive presidents and staff members to continue
the paper for years.
• Taka Urayama, President of the Taka Information Technologies and a computer consultant for Shimpo, made a toast, and a luncheon was served. During the luncheon time, articles from the past 10 years were screened.
• After the luncheon, guest speaker Hajime Ozaki, Bureau Chief of Kyodo News in New York, spoke about “70 years of Post-War US-Japan Relations.” The Kyodo News has three bureaus in the U.S., and about 20 journalists from Japan have reported on politics, economics, and social affairs in the U.S.
• After Ozaki’s speech, the Chicago Shimpo made a presentation
on “US-Japan Relations through the 70 year history of the Chicago Shimpo.”
“70 years of Post-War US-Japan Relations”
• There used to be a dozen Japanese papers in existence
in the U.S., but only four including Chicago Shimpo survived. The causes
of the disappearance were mainly the change in communities and change
of media from paper to digital media.
• In the second half of his speech, Ozaki spoke about
two American scholars. One is John W. Dower, historian in MIT. His book
“Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II” became a best seller
• About Dower
• About Curtis
• What is happening among young people now?
• Ozaki brought his concern about young Japanese people, who don’t know about the war that happened between the U.S. and Japan, during a discussion with Dower. Dower said that American youths were the same. A high-school teacher was explaining WWII and how the U.S. fought with Japan. A student questioned about which side won the war. While Ozaki thought the story would not represent everything of the youth, he also said, “It tells you how far we have come 70 years after the war.”
• US-Japan Alliance
• The US-Japan Alliance has become stronger ever since
WWII, especially after Japan passed the security bills that enabled closer
ties of military alliance. Ozaki wondered whether the alliance could promote
the stability and security of the Pacific and the Northeast Asia. “There
are a handful of issues that shall be addressed properly to promote peace,
security, and prosperity,” he said.
Excerption from “US-Japan Relations through the 70 year history of the Chicago Shimpo”
• In November 1945, Christian church alliance with Buddhist
churches started to help Japanese people by sending 5,500 pounds of clothes,
550 pairs of shoes, and $700 in cash to Japan.
• In 1946, a Sumo tournament was held at Chicago’s south side Lake Park. This event drew public attention to the Japanese culture.
Restart of US-Japan relations after WWII
• In August 1950, the Japanese government sent a trading group to the World Exhibition held at Navy Pier. It was the first group to attend such an Exhibition after WWII. It was not successful because the group could not get enough information and local support. The group said that lighters, glass products and toys sold well, but textile goods did not because of the price fluctuations due to the Korean War. However, attending the Exhibition was not a complete failure. The next year would be better, the group said.
• In December, The McCarran-Walter Immigration and Naturalization
Act allowed Japanese to immigrate to the US.
• On February 3, 1954, the date of Japan Airlines first
flight to San Francisco. The twice weekly flight service began.
• In 1961, Japan Club, a pre-organization club of JCCC, was founded. Tomen and Japan National Tourist Organization opened Chicago offices.
Rapid development of US-Japan business relations and busy exchange of business missions
• In May, 1965, Kikkoman International opened its Chicago
• In 1966, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chicago (JCCC), was founded. The first chairman was Ryujiro Tanaka of Marubeni Iida.
• In 1968, Yasukawa Electric America opened its Chicago
office. Mitsui Senpaku Osaka Shosen promoted its small office to the Chicago
• In 1970, Kamatsu America Corp. opened an office in
• In 1985, 166 members of “Asia Trade Mission” headed
by Illinois governor James Thompson visited Japan.
Expanding US-Japan cultural exchanges
• In 1960, many festivals were held in the US to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the US-Japan Treaty of Amity. In Chicago, the Japan America council donated 20 cherry trees to Chicago’s botanical garden.
• In 1968, in celebration of Meiji’s 100th anniversary,
the 25th remembrance of the Japanese American’s evacuation and to promote
goodwill for US-Japan relations, the Japanese community donated 300 cherry
blossom trees to the City of Chicago and planted them in Lincoln Park.
• Sumitomo Bank and Sanwa’s offices were promoted as
a Chicago branch and started bank services to customers.
• In 1981, the first Japan Day was held at the Botanic Garden. A wide range of Japanese culture was introduced.
• In 1984, the Chicago City Council discussed the possibility of a short term loan from the Japanese-American community because of its huge deficit. Mitsubishi Bank offered the interest of $3.1 million. On the other hand, First National Bank in Chicago offered $158.2 million. The council took a vote on the loan from Mitsubishi Bank, and the voting went 13 to2 in favor. Two aldermen strongly opposed it citing Pearl Harbor and the US-Japan war. The Japanese and Japanese-Americans reconfirmed the existing prejudice against Japan. The Chicago Shimpo printed an angry editorial rebutting the two aldermen.
Communities and Japanese Companies
• The Chicago Symphony Orchestra announced that 2 firms
related to Toyota Automobile donated $500,000.
• In 1990, Motorola donated $750,000 to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to make its Japan tour possible. The CSO needed $1.25 million additional funds to meet the total budget of $2.15 million for this Japan tour. Hearing of the budget problem, Motorola had offered their donation.
• US-Japan cultural exchange programs contribute to business development
• The Consulate General of Japan at Chicago held its first Japanese speech contest at the Holiday Inn Center.
• The JET program began. Three thousand candidates nationwide applied to the program; 500 were selected. Seventy-seven applicants were selected from the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago’s jurisdiction. The Japanese government was planning to expand the JET program if it worked well.
• The Chicago Shimpo donated copies from the first issue to the 12/1969 issue to the Illinois State Library in Springfield. Those copies were kept as microfilms. Over 1000 newspapers are on file and Chicago Shimpo became the first Japanese newspaper in the collection.
• In 1996, promotional campaigns of Japanese Sake began in the US. A Sake taste testing event was held at the Benkei Restaurant in Chicago where 200 people gathered.
US-Japan exchange events continued
• In 2005, Shozo Sato’s English kabuki “Lady Macbeth” was performed at the Shakespeare Theatre from March 11 to May 1. It was the first performance in a major venue, and Sato’s former student made it possible.
• Haruki Murakami’s, “After the Quake” began at the Steppenwolf Theatre from the end of November. The background music was only a cello and koto (Japanese strings). The koto player was Jeff Wickman.
• In 2006, the City of Chicago remembered Pearl Harbor on December 7 at Navy Pier. About 10 survivors as well as other veterans and their families, attended the memorial ceremony. One of the survivors answered Chicago Shimpo’s interview and said, “(The feelings for Japan) were terrible. Now that generations have passed, we will not forget what the place was like.” After 65 years have passed, he said, “Well, It’s over. My friend is in Japan now. We are not the same people from that time during the war.”
• The year of 2014 started with the article that the City of Chicago has kept a promise between Chicago and the Japanese government for 120 years after Ho-o-den was donated to Chicago as a symbol of friendship. Robert Karr has been working to revive the premises of Ho-o-den and the surrounding area as Phoenix Garden. One hundred and twenty cherry trees were already planted in the area.
• The entire article is available in the book “US-Japan
Relations through the 70 year history of the Chicago Shimpo”. To obtain
the book, send your request with $5 shipping and handling fee to the Chicago
Shimpo at the address below.