Fred Kinzaburo Makino


Name Fred Kinzaburo Makino
Born August 27 1877
Died February 17 1953
Birth Location Yokohama
Generational Identifier

Issei

Newspaper publisher and community activist who fought for the rights of Japanese in Hawai'i.[1] Makino was born in Yokohama, Japan in 1877 to a British trader, Joseph Higgenbotham, who died when Makino was four, and a Japanese mother from Kanagawa prefecture, Kin Makino. Scholar Tom Brislin describes Makino as "no stranger to scrapes—he grew up an outsider in two cultures." According to Brislin, Makino "grew up in the Japanese traditions of his mother but fluent in the English language of his father."[2] He came to Hawai'i in 1899 to join his brother in operating a small store and after working on two plantations, moved to Honolulu and opened Makino Drug Store in 1901.

As Japanese immigrants were prohibited from practicing law, Makino began dispensing legal advice in a law office above the store and became familiar with the legal challenges facing the Japanese community. Makino helped to found the Zokyu Kisei Kai, or the Higher Wage Association, during the 1909 strike along with Nippu Jiji editor Yasutaro Soga. In 1909, they were imprisoned together for several months for supporting the "First Great Strike" on the plantations and an increase in wages for Japanese laborers. At that time, both Soga and Makino advocated organized resistance and Soga had expressed deep sympathy for the plight of Japanese workers, criticizing plantation owners for their apparent lack of understanding and for their inhumanity. Later, Soga adopted a more conciliatory position vis-à-vis whites in Hawai'i, advocating "harmony between the Japanese and the Americans" rather than social protest or legal action.[3] Soga's policy, which was representative of the position held by many leaders in the Japanese community, was at odds with the stance adopted by Makino who had begun to publish the Hawaii Hochi in 1912 as the voice of Japanese laborers. Thereafter, Makino and Soga turned into bitter rivals who publicly debated various issues facing the Japanese in Hawai'i including the Japanese language school controversy, the fight for citizenship rights, continued labor disputes, and sensational Japanese criminal cases like the Fukunaga murder and Massie case.

Despite his activism on behalf of Japanese immigrants, Makino was one of the few Japanese leaders who was never incarcerated during World War II although the military government had taken over the Hawaii Hochi and other Japanese language newspapers. In 1949, Makino suffered a heart attack from which he never fully recovered and he died in 1953 at the age of seventy-six. Currently, the Hawaii Hochi still publishes as the lone remaining Japanese language daily in Hawai'i. It also produces the Hawaii Herald, a separate exclusively English publication that continues to provide important coverage of news within the Japanese American community in Hawai'i.

Authored by Kelli Y. Nakamura, University of Hawai'i

For More Information

Brislin, Tom. "Weep Into Silence/Cries of Rage: Bitter Divisions in Hawaii's Japanese Press." Journalism and Mass Communication Monographs 147 (December 1995): 1-29.

Center for Labor Education & Research, University of Hawai'i, West O'ahu. CLEAR Biographies of Hawaii Labor History Figures. http://clear.uhwo.hawaii.edu/LaborBios.html

Compilation Committee for the Publication of Kinzaburo Makino's Biography. Life of Kinzaburo Makino. Honolulu: n.p., 1965.

The Hawaii Herald: Hawaii's Japanese American Journal. "About the Herald." http://thehawaiiherald.com/about/

Kotani, Roland. The Japanese in Hawaii: A Century of Struggle. Honolulu: The Hawaii Hochi, 1985.

Shiramizu, Shigehiko. "Ethnic Press and Its Society: A Case of Japanese Press in Hawaii." KEIO Communication Review 11 (1990): 49-71.

Footnotes

  1. Research for this article was supported by a grant from the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities.
  2. Tom Brislin, "Weep Into Silence/Cries of Rage: Bitter Divisions in Hawaii's Japanese Press," Journalism and Mass Communication Monographs 147 (December 1995): 6.
  3. Shigehiko Shiramizu, "Ethnic Press and Its Society: A Case of Japanese Press in Hawaii." KEIO Communication Review 11 (1990): 64.