Daizo Sumida


Name Daizo Sumida
Born August 7 1887
Died December 30 1961
Birth Location Hiroshima, Japan
Generational Identifier

Issei

Daizo Sumida (1887-1961) was a prominent Issei business and community leader in Hawai'i who authorities incarcerated due to anti-Japanese sentiment during World War II.

Background

Daizo Sumida was born in 1887 in Hiroshima prefecture's Niho village and was the son of a farmer. He immigrated to Hawai'i in November 1904 after his older brother, Tajiro, who had arrived in the Islands in 1898, encouraged him to leave Japan to help him run his new liquor import and wholesale company. Sumida, who was in high school at the time, quit school and immigrated to Hawai'i. During the day, he attended classes at Iolani School, a college-preparatory private school founded in 1863, and at night took English classes at the Young Buddhist Association.

Business Experience

In 1908, Tajiro opened the Honolulu Japanese Sake Brewing Co. in Pauoa Valley to meet the growing demands of the immigrant population that was frustrated by the high prices of sake imported from Japan. Although Hawai'i's warm climate was initially a deterrent, Tajiro built a cooling facility capable of duplicating Japan's cold winters and began successfully brewing sake. When Tajiro learned that the territory of Hawai'i would soon be under Prohibition, he left the business in Sumida's care and returned to Japan where he established Sumida Shōkai, a trading company that the two brothers—one in Japan and the other in Hawai'i—would run. In Hawai'i, Sumida transformed the company into T. Sumida & Co., a general merchandise, grocery import, and wholesale business and converted the sake's brewery's chilling facilities into an ice-making business. Despite the reduction in profit during Prohibition, the company's Diamond Shoyu subsidiary managed to survive. Eventually, Sumida built a three-story office building in Chinatown located at the corner of Maunakea and Pauahi streets and he operated the first Japanese business in Hawai'i to have an elevator capable of traveling up to the third floor.

When Prohibition was finally repealed in 1933, Sumida began importing sake again from Japan and changed the name of the company to Honolulu Sake Brewery and Ice Co. Ltd. He built a new concrete-wall sake storage facility and began producing popular brands such as Daikoku Masamune, Takara Masamune, and Takara Musume. He also played a critical role in establishing Pacific Bank in 1913 and was the bank's president from 1933 until the outbreak of World War II. Sumida additionally served as a board member of the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (now known as the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce) from 1919 and was elected two terms as Chamber president in 1933 and 1938. Further, Sumida chaired the Imperial Memorial Gift Building Construction Committee that was established to utilize the 10,000 yen donation that Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako had given two years earlier to construct a memorial building within the Japanese Hospital, now known as Kuakini Hospital in Liliha. Construction began in 1936 and the structure was completed in 1939.[1]

War Experience

Due to Sumida's prominent role as a business and community leader within Hawai'i's Japanese population, authorities arrested Sumida in February 1942 and interned him first at Sand Island and later Santa Fe, New Mexico.[2] Sumida would not be allowed to return to Hawai'i until December 1945.[3] His brother, Tajiro who was in Japan during the war, also suffered from misfortune as he lost his fledging coffee business in Taiwan and Saipan. In 1950, Tajiro passed away and Sumida, who did not have any children of his own, adopted Tajiro's third son, Shinzaburo who worked at Sumida's business in Hawai'i.

In the postwar period, Sumida worked tirelessly to rebuild the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce that authorities had shut down during the war. He also served as president of the Young Buddhist Association and the Hawaii Kiin (a go, or Japanese checkers club), and was on the board of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii. In 1955, he became the first president of the newly formed Hawaii Hiroshima Kenjinkai and as an editorial in the Honolulu Advertiser noted, "while building good will between the ethnic groups was one of Sumida’s aims, he did not stop there. When a community need appeared he did something about it."[4] One year later Emperor Hirohito awarded him The Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Rays for his years of service and many contributions to the Japanese community.

In July 1961, Sumida suffered a stroke in July and died in December. Upon his death, he was conferred the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. Sumida was survived by his wife Fusayo, son Shinzaburo, and three grandchildren.[5]

Authored by Kelli Y. Nakamura, Kapi'olani Community College

For More Information

Suzuki, Kei. "Daizo Sumida." Hawai‘i Herald, Oct. 5 2007, C-4.

Footnotes

  1. Kei Suzuki, "Daizo Sumida," Hawai'i Herald, Oct. 5 2007, C-4.
  2. Sumida was also mentioned as a possible "hostage" in a secret plan that General George S. Patton prepared as chief of U.S. Army intelligence in Hawai'i between 1935 and 1937. Michael Slackman, "The Orange Race: George S. Patton, Jr.'s Japanese-American Hostage Plan," Biography 7.1 (Winter 1984), 11.
  3. Yasutaro (Keiho) Soga, Life Behind Barbed Wire: the World War II Internment Memories of a Hawai'i Issei (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2008), 34.
  4. "Daizo Sumida," Honolulu Advertiser, Jan. 3 1962, B-2.
  5. "Daizo Sumida Dies; Noted Isle Japanese," Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Jan. 1, 1962, 2.