T. Scott Miyakawa


Name T. Scott Miyakawa
Born November 23 1906
Died August 2 1981
Birth Location Los Angeles
Generational Identifier

Nisei

Pioneering Nisei sociologist and first director of the Japanese American Research Project (JARP). Miyakawa was born in Los Angeles on November 11, 1906 and graduated from Los Angeles High School. He went on to Cornell University, graduating with a degree in industrial engineering. But like other highly educated Nisei of that time period, he was unable to land a job with an American company due to rampant racial discrimination and ended up working for the South Manchurian Railway's New York office as the assistant to the Japanese manager from 1931 to 1940 and in Manchuria in 1934–35. When the railway closed its New York office in 1940, he worked in marketing and public relations for small company.

With the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was not interned despite his position. With journalist Larry Tajiri and others, he formed a "Temporary Committee on Japanese-Americans" to advocate for the rights of Nisei. In 1944, he moved to Michigan as a lecturer at the University of Michigan and took an academic position at Boston University in 1946. He completed his Ph.D. in sociology at Columbia in 1951. He was also one of the founders of the New England Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL).[1]

Interested in the history of Japanese Americans and in U.S.–Japan trade, he began collecting material on these topics in the 1950s. When the JACL began the JARP project in the early 1960s, Miyakawa became the first director of the project in 1962 serving in that position until 1965. He also co-edited the pioneering anthology East Across the Pacific: Historical and Sociological Studies of Japanese Immigration and Assimilation with Hilary Conroy that was published in 1972. In addition to his published writings on Japanese Americans, he was also working on a manuscript on Issei on the East Coast and Japan/US trade in the late 19th century.

Miyakawa remained at Boston University until 1972. He subsequently taught at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, chairing the sociology department there. He passed away on August 2, 1981. His papers are held at the UCLA. There is a T. Scott Miyakawa Memorial Prize in Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, that is presented to a graduating undergraduate sociology major.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Conroy, Hilary, and T. Scott Miyakawa, eds. East Across the Pacific: Historical and Sociological Studies of Japanese Immigration and Assimilation. Santa Barbara, Calif.: American Bibliographical Center-Clio Press, 1972.

"Dr. Miyakawa of Boston U. Directing Mammoth Task to Publish 'Issei Story.'" Pacific Citizen, Oct. 6, 1961, 4.

Finding aid to Tetsuo Scott Miyakawa Papers, 1946–1981, Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA, http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf4v19n99h/entire_text/.

Miyakawa, T. Scott. "Early New York Issei: Founders of Japanese-American Trade." In East Across the Pacific: Historical and Sociological Studies of Japanese Immigration and Assimilation. Edited by Hilary Conroy and T. Scott Miyakawa. Santa Barbara, Calif.: American Bibliographical Center-Clio Press, 1972. 156-86.

Sakata, Yasuo. "T. Scott Miyakawa (1906–81) and Japanese American History." Amerasia Journal 8.2 (1981): v–viii.

Footnotes

  1. Greg Robinson, "Introduction: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and the Pacific Citizen," in Pacific Citizens: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and Japanese American Journalism in the World War II Era, edited, with an introduction and notes by Greg Robinson (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012), xxv; Greg Robinson, After Camp: Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life and Politics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 49; Pacific Citizen, May 22, 1948, p. 6.