Rocky Shimpo (newspaper)


Japanese American newspaper based in Denver, Colorado, that published from 1930 to the early postwar years. It was one of only four Japanese American papers that published through the war years, and was notable for its editorial stance that was sympathetic to the draft resistance movement at Heart Mountain under the leadership of its English section editor James Omura.

The paper was founded as the Rokki Nippon in 1930 as a Buddhist newspaper, and later became a tri-weekly in the late 1930s under the ownership of Shiro Toda, an Issei tailor and community leader in Denver. It engaged in a sometimes heated rivalry with the Colorado Times, which favored the Christian churches and had a more assimilationist editorial bent. It began its English section in October 1941.[1]

As was the case with the other four papers published outside the West Coast restricted area, the Rocky Shimpo enjoyed a boost in circulation during the war years, as many Japanese Americans in the concentration camps subscribed, believing the papers to be more reliable purveyors of news that mainstream or concentration camp based papers. But in early 1943, Toda was arrested and subsequently interned for the duration of the war, with the reins of the paper nominally turned over to his teenage daughter. At this time the paper also changed its name to the "Rocky Shimpo."

In 1944, James Omura, who had "voluntarily" resettled in Denver to avoid the concentration camps, became the English language editor. Omura's editorials that supported the draft resistance advocacy of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee led to he and Japanese section editor Noboru Hiraga being forced out of their positions at the paper by the government. Omura was replaced as English section editor by Roy Takeno, who supported Nisei compliance with the draft. Omura was subsequently arrested along with draft resistance leaders at Heart Mountain, though he was eventually acquitted.[2]

The newspaper continued in a diminished state after the war. Different sources give its end date as either 1951 or 1961.[3]

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Chin, Frank. "Come All Ye Asian American Writers of the Real and the Fake." In The Big Aiiieeeee!: An Anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American Literature. Edited by Jeffery Paul Chan, Frank Chin, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Shawn Wong. New York: Meridian, 1991. 1-92.

Hansen, Arthur A. "Return to the Wars: Jimmie Omura's 1947 Campaign against the Japanese American Citizens League." In Remapping Asian American History, ed. Sucheng Chan. Walnut Creek, Calif.: Altamira Press, 2003. 127–50.

———. "Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura's Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory." In Nikkei in the Pacific Northwest: Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians in the Twentieth Century. Edited by Louis Fiset and Gail M. Nomura. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005. 278–307.

Hosokawa, Bill. Colorado's Japanese Americans: From 1886 to the Present. Boulder: University of Colorado Press, 2005.

Mizuno, Takeya. "Federal Government Uses of the Japanese-Language Press from Pearl Harbor to Mass Incarceration." J&MC Quarterly 82.1 (Spring 2005): 148–66.

Hiraga, Shyoko, interview by Art Hansen and Frank Abe, September 28, 2012. Densho Digital Repository.

Yoo, David. Growing Up Nisei: Race, Generation, and Culture among Japanese Americans of California, 1924-49. Foreword by Roger Daniels. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

Footnotes

  1. Bill Hosokawa, Colorado's Japanese Americans: From 1886 to the Present (Boulder: University of Colorado Press, 2005), 125–27; Toshio Yatsushiro, "Native Issei Farmer, Hatasaka Family," report #116, Oct. 25, 1946, The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement: A Digital Archive, Bancroft Library, University of California, call number BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder W 2.08:3, accessed on June 5, 2015 at http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/jarda/ucb/text/cubanc6714_b314w02_0008_3.pdf; Arthur A. Hansen, "Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura's Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory," in Nikkei in the Pacific Northwest: Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians in the Twentith Century, edited by Louis Fiset and Gail M. Nomura (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005), 279.
  2. Eric L. Muller, Free to Die for Their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 93–94; Shyoko Hiraga interview by Art Hansen and Frank Abe, Denso Visual History Collection, Sept. 28, 2012, segment 15, accessed on June 5, 2015 at http://archive.densho.org/Core/ArchiveItem.aspx?i=denshovh-hshyoko-01-0015.
  3. According to the Guide to Colorado Newspapers, 1859–1963, compiled by Donald E. Oehlerts (Denver: Biographical Center for Research, Rocky Mountain Region, Inc., 1964), the paper's last issue was on June 6, 1961. This date is repeated in a number of sources. This date seems to be based on the holdings of the paper at the University of California, Berkeley; however, according the Berkeley library database, its holdings end on June 6, 1951. In his book Colorado's Japanese Americans: From 1886 to the Present (Boulder: University of Colorado Press, 2005, 135), Bill Hosokawa cites the end date as being in 1951.