Katsuro Miho


Name Katsuro Miho
Born August 10 1912
Died January 19 1995
Birth Location Honolulu, HI
Generational Identifier

Nisei

Attorney, past president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and the Urasenke Tea Society, and former vice chairman of the Statehood Commission for Hawai'i.

Background

Katsuro Miho was born in Wailuku, Maui, on August 10, 1912, the second son of the seven children of Katsuichi and Ayano Miho. Katsuichi, who was the former principal of the Fujisaki Elementary School in Hiroshima, was recruited in 1910 to be the principal of the Keāhua Japanese school and head the Wailuku Hongwanji Academy. Miho's family sent him to live with relatives in Japan when he was ten and during his year there, he became fluent in Japanese. Miho graduated from Maui High School where he was a member of the debate team and after receiving a Japan imperial scholarship, he attended the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He continued his education at George Washington University School of Law in Washington D.C., and after graduating, returned to Hawai'i in 1938. Upon his return, Miho took the Hawai'i Bar exam and out of sixteen applicants, Miho was one of five who passed making him the seventh Japanese American attorney to practice in the territory.

World War II

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, officials apprehended his father Katsuichi at his home in Kahului, Maui. He was first taken to Sand Island (detention facility) and then sent to Camp Livingston (detention facility) and Fort Missoula (detention facility) as he was a prominent member of the Japanese community as a former teacher, store and hotel operator, and volunteer for the Japanese Consulate. According to Miho, "My father left home that day, thinking that he was going to be killed. To his family, he said: 'Don't do anything that will bring shame to the family and the Japanese race. Do your best no matter what. Keep your self-dignity.'"[1] Despite his father's pro-Japanese views, Miho recalled that his father instilled in his children loyalty to America that remained unshaken during the war: "My father repeated what he always told us: 'My country is Japan, but your country is the United States. No matter what happens to me, your country is the United States.'"[2] Thus, during the war, three Miho brothers—Katsuro, Katsuaki, and Katsugo—decided to volunteer for military service. Their brother, Katsuzo was a student at Yale University so he did not enlist. After the three brothers enlisted, some federal officials talked about releasing their father in their care. "But," Miho recalled, "my father wouldn't leave unless the twenty or so others interned from Maui could leave too. All or nothing."[3]

After enlisting, however, Miho was soon rejected by military officials due to his bad eyesight. While Katsuzo and Katsugo were sent to Schofield Barracks to basic training in March 1943 and later Camp Shelby, Mississippi, as part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Miho became involved with the Emergency Service Committee to promote the loyalty of Japanese in the Islands. Meanwhile, his sisters, Hisae, Rosaline Tsukie, and Fumie were residing in Japan when the war broke out and the family was scattered in Hawai'i, the United States, and Japan.

Postwar Activities and Accomplishments

With the conclusion of the war, Miho worked for the Hawai'i Statehood Commission, and the City Planning Commission. He also campaigned tirelessly to allow Issei to become naturalized American citizens and his goal was finally achieved in 1952. Six years later, Miho also became the president of the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce that had transitioned to become an organization of mainly Nisei businessmen. By this time, Miho was a prominent attorney in Honolulu and had formed the law firm of Fong, Miho, Choy, and Robinson and practiced law alongside his brother Katsugo who also became an attorney. In August 1959, shortly after Hawai'i became a state, Miho became the co-chair of the Hawai'i statehood celebration committee and was involved in the planning of the various statehood events. He was also the president of the Urasenke school of tea from 1959 to 1969 and for many years served as the senior legal counsel to the Japanese Consulate. For his service to promote friendship and understanding between Japan and Hawai'i, the Japanese government awarded in him the "Kun San Tou Zuihoo Sho" Imperial decoration.[4] Miho passed away on January 18, 1995 in Honolulu and was survived by his wife Jayne Fusako and sons Jon and David.

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

For More Information

Suzuki, Kei. "Katsuro Miho." Hawaii Herald, Jan. 1, 2010, B-5.

Footnotes

  1. Tomi Kaizawa Knaefler, Our House Divided: Seven Japanese American Families in World War II (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1991), 32-33.
  2. Knaefler, 33.
  3. Knaefler, 33.
  4. Kei Suzuki, "Katsuro Miho," Hawai'i Herald, Jan. 1, 2010, B-5.