Hawaii Hochi (newspaper)
The Hawaii Hochi, one of the largest Japanese-language newspapers in Hawai'i was founded on December 7, 1912. Initially published in Japanese, in 1925 an English section called the "Bee Section" was added for the growing Nisei readership. Under the ownership of Frederick Kinzaburo Makino, the Hochi played a critical role in events within the Japanese community, publicizing issues such as the 1909 and 1920 strikes and the Japanese language school controversy. 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 events, news, and issues within the Japanese American community in Hawai'i.
Background of Frederick Kinzaburo Makino
Frederick Kinzaburo Makino was born in Yokohama, Japan, on August 27, 1877. His father, Joseph Higgenbotham, was a merchant/trader from Manchester, England. His mother was Kin Makino from Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. His father died in September 1881, when Makino was only four years old, and not much is known about Makino's formal schooling, aside from his ability to read, write, and speak both English and Japanese. In 1899, at the age of twenty-two, Makino came to Hawai'i to join his two brothers, who had emigrated earlier, and immediately went to Na'ālehu to work at his brother's general store. In short succession, he worked for the Kona Sugar Company and then the Honoka'a Sugar Company as a bookkeeper.
In 1901, he left the Big Island and moved to Honolulu, where he opened the Makino Drug Store at the corner of Nu'uanu Avenue and Hotel Street. Two years later he married Michiye Okamura of Kauai in April 7, 1903 and opened a "law office" above his drug store. At that time Japanese immigrants faced numerous immigration and other legal problems but there were no Japanese lawyers. Although Makino did not possess a law degree, he served as a consultant for them.
The 1909 Strike and the Establishment of the Hawaii Hochi
In 1909, Japanese workers initiated a strike on the island of O'ahu which "in every respect . . . was the most important labor conflict that had ever occurred in Hawaii up to that date." It marked a fundamental shift from previous labor movements in its character and impact, as it extended far beyond the plantations to involve the planter elite, high-ranking government authorities, and influential leaders within the Japanese community. Unlike previous strikes, this particular work stoppage was the result of nearly eight months of deliberations, meetings, and discussions by Japanese plantation workers on the issue of their salaries and their need to increase them. It was also remarkable for its scope and scale, as it became an island-wide strike involving Japanese laborers from the various plantations on O'ahu. This strike not only resulted in nearly $2,000,000 in losses for plantation owners, but also led to Makino's arrest, along with prominent Japanese newspaper reporters and editors including Nippu Jiji editor Yasutaro Soga, whom officials charged with conspiracy to initiate violence on behalf of their cause. They were held responsible for the various riots and disturbances that occurred during the strike. Ultimately, the planters broke the strike but made a number of concessions to laborers, including higher wages, better housing facilities, and improved sanitation conditions. However, it was the leaders of the strike who bore the brunt of the planters' wrath. They were tried and found guilty of conspiracy, sentenced to ten months in O'ahu Prison, and fined $300.
After his release from prison, Makino became dissatisfied with the leadership of the Japanese community, particularly Soga's conciliatory attitude toward planters. In December 1912, Makino founded the Hawaii Hochi to present an alternative perspective in the Japanese community and in the first issue stressed its "non-party and independent status" to protect the "rights and interests of the Japanese." During the early years of its publication, the Hawaii Hochi ran into a number of difficulties, as none of his employees, including Makino himself, had any experience in publishing a newspaper. Often Makino was unable to pay his rent, telephone bill, and his employees' salaries. He even had difficulty purchasing printing paper. Eventually, Makino was forced to pay cash for everything because no one was willing to extend him credit. Undaunted, Makino sold his drugstore inventory below wholesale prices to raise funds, diverted income from his law practice to pay for newspaper expenditures, and his wife even sold the pigs that she had raised in the backyard of their Mānoa residence.
The Activism of the Hawaii Hochi
Despite a difficult start, the Hawaii Hochi under the leadership of Makino became one of the most active organizations that supported various causes in the Japanese community. Soon after its founding, the newspaper began criticizing immigration officials who forced Japanese picture brides and their grooms to be married en masse in a Christian ceremony upon arrival. As a result of these protests, the director of immigration ended this practice of these "assembly line" marriages. The Hochi also spearheaded efforts to gain citizenship for Japanese soldiers who fought for the United States during World War I; as a result, 400 veterans became United States citizens. In 1919, the Hochi appealed for the unity of Japanese and Filipino workers in their common grievances against plantation owners that came to fruition in the 1920 strike. During that same period, the Hochi became active in the language school controversy as Japanese language schools became subject to increasingly discriminatory rules and regulations that led to the closure of many schools. Makino himself led the legal challenge against these regulations and in 1927 the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that these regulations of language schools were unconstitutional. The Hochi also became involved in two high profile crimes involving Japanese defendants—the Myles Fukunaga case and the Massie Trial—that to Makino seemed to illustrate the existence of a dual system of justice that privileged the rights of whites at the expense of ethnics.
As part of the Hochi's efforts to broaden its community reach, in 1925 Makino introduced an English section, called the Bee for its sting. The Bee specifically appealed to Nisei who preferred to read news events in English. Bee editor George Wright was an Ohio mining engineer who moved to Hawai'i in 1917 as a machinist for the navy and was fired in 1925 for union activities. During his career at the Hochi, Wright developed into an accomplished journalist who was most famous for bringing the topic of the language schools before the English-reading public. According to newspaper scholar Helen Geracimos Chapin, both the English and Japanese sections of the Hochi became highly readable when it "adopted the tabloid form, which came into its own in the United States in the 1920s, its half-sheet format featuring big headlines and lots of photos."
World War II and the Legacy of Makino
Despite the activism of the Hochi under the leadership of Makino, Makino was never arrested or interned during World War II. Some have claimed that the "FBI was afraid that if they arrested Makino without good cause, he might file a lawsuit against them after the war." Others have argued that in the process of investigating Makino, authorities realized that Makino's "opinions and actions were always independent and the authorities could find no relation between Makino and the Japanese government" and thus could not find cause to arrest him. Scholar Masayo Umezawa Duus also attributed Makino's lack of internment to the fact that after the war began, Makino reportedly met with Robert Shivers, head of the FBI's Hawai'i office for a number of "clandestine meetings." While no one is sure about the purpose of these meetings, Makino was never arrested although he himself had expected the possibility. During the war the Hawaii Hochi was renamed the Hawaii Herald in an attempt to deflect anti-Japanese sentiment. However, it eventually returned its original banner of the Hawaii Hochi in January 1952.
After the war, the Hochi's editorials were distinctly less radical than before, in part due to the deaths of three important people to Makino and the staff of the newspaper. On May 24, 1931, Kosaka Hoga, who had been editor-in-chief from 1915 to 1930 died suddenly. Joseph Lightfoot, a lawyer who had worked on behalf of Makino and his causes including the language school controversy, also died shortly after the winning of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case. Finally, during the war, George Wright, the paper's English editor since 1925, died on December 10, 1944. Five years later, after returning from a trip to Maui, Makino suffered a heart attack and never fully recovered. On February 17, 1953, at the age of 76, he died at Queen's Hospital leaving behind a beloved wife and a formidable legacy of activism in the press. More than 1,000 attended the Buddhist funeral service for Frederick Makino. Even the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, which once fought the Hochi over its coverage of events in Hawai'i, placed Makino's photo and obituary on page one.
The Hawaii Hochi Today
Japanese newspaperman Konosuke Oishi of the Shizuoka Shimbun purchased the Hawaii Hochi in 1962 and decided that Hawai'i's Japanese American community needed a publication of its own for the growing population of Nisei, Sansei, and Yonsei who could not read Japanese. Oishi and Hawaii Hochi's president and publisher Paul S. Yempuku created a new Hawaii Herald in March 1969 as a weekly eight-page tabloid for an English audience and had a four year run. The Hawaii Hochi still publishes today as the lone remaining Japanese-language daily in the Islands.
A new all-English, twice-monthly version of the Hawaii Herald debuted in 1980 and is now in its 32th year. The Herald's comprehensive and varied coverage chronicles the past achievements and events and current concerns within the Japanese American community. In addition to articles written by award-winning writers and journalists, calendars and community focus items relating to the Japanese American community continue to keep the community abreast of relevant events and activities.
For More Information
Chapin, Helen Geracimos. Shaping History: The Role of Newspapers in Hawai'i. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1996.
Duus, Masayo Umezawa. The Japanese Conspiracy: The Oahu Sugar Strike of 1920. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999.
Fourth Report of the Commissioner of Labor on Hawaii, 1910. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1911.
Fred Kinzaburo Makino: A Biography. Honolulu: n.p., 1986?.
The Hawaii Herald. "About the Herald." http://thehawaiiherald.com/about/.
Hawaii Hochi Printing. http://www.thehawaiihochi.com/.
"Rites Slated Tomorrow for F. K. Makino." Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 18, 1953, 1.
Sakamaki, Shunzo. "A History of the Japanese Press in Hawaii." Master's thesis, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 1928.
Shiramizu, Shigehiko. "Good Old Days of the Press: Two Great Men in the Japanese Community." Paper presented to Hawaii Newspaper Project Reporter "Political Role of Newspapers in Hawaiian History" (Honolulu: sn, 1986): 1-13.
Shiramizu, Shigehiko. "Ethnic Press and Its Society, A Case of Japanese Press in Hawaii." Keio Communication Review 11 (1990): 49-71.
Wakukawa, Ernest. A History of the Japanese People in Hawaii. Honolulu: The Toyo Shoin, 1938.
- Ernest Wakukawa, A History of the Japanese People in Hawaii (Honolulu: The Toyo Shoin, 1938), 169.
- Fourth Report of the Commissioner of Labor on Hawaii, 1910 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1911), 62.
- Shigehiko Shiramizu, "Ethnic Press and Its Society, A Case of Japanese Press in Hawaii," Keio Communication Review 11 (1990): 64-65.
- Helen Geracimos Chapin, Shaping History: The Role of Newspapers in Hawai'i (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1996), 144.
- Fred Kinzaburo Makino: A Biography (Honolulu: n.p., 1986?), 5.
- Masayo Umezawa Duus, The Japanese Conspiracy: The Oahu Sugar Strike of 1920 (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999), 335.
- "Rites Slated Tomorrow for F. K. Makino," Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 18, 1953, 1.