Tsuneji Chino


Name Tsuneji Chino
Born July 15 1881
Died February 27 1964
Birth Location Nakago-ken, Japan
Generational Identifier

Issei

Issei farmer and community leader. Tsuneji Chino (1881–1964) was one of the leaders of the Issei legal challenges to the California Alien Land Law in the early 1920s and a successful celery grower in Orange and San Diego Counties. Born in Nagano Prefecture in Japan and having attended college for a time, he came to the U.S. in 1905, eventually settling in Orange County, California. Given his education and English language ability, he became a labor contractor, then a farmer, and a leader of the local Japanese Association. In the latter capacity, he led efforts to challenge the alien land law that ended up going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately turned back the challenge and upheld the legality of the laws. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Chino was among the Issei community leaders arrested. He was first sent to the Tuna Canyon Detention Station, then to internment camps at Fort Missoula, Montana and Santa Fe, New Mexico. He returned to Southern California after the war and worked as a gardener in Santa Ana, California. He died in Santa Ana in 1964.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Estes, Donald H. South Bay Monogatari: Tales of the South Bay Nikkei Community. San Diego, California: Tecolote Publications, 1996.

__________. "Tsuneji Chino." In Encyclopedia of Japanese American History, An A-to-Z Reference from 1868 to the Present, Updated Edition. Edited by Brian Niiya. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001. 137–38.

Henry Kiyomi Akiyama oral history. In Issei Experience in Orange County, California. Historical and Cultural Foundation of Orange County, Japanese American Council, and California State University Fullerton Oral History Program, Japanese American Project. Interviewed by Arthur A. Hansen and Yasko Gamo, June 10, 29 and July 27, 1982. http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=ft4b69n873.]