Beyond Prejudice: A Story of the Church and Japanese Americans (book)

Title Beyond Prejudice: A Story of the Church and Japanese Americans
Author Toru Matsumoto
Original Publisher Friendship Press
Original Publication Date 1946
Current Publisher Arno Press
Current Publication Date 1978
Pages 145
WorldCat Link

Early non-fiction account of the Christian Church's actions on behalf of Japanese Americans during their forced exclusion and incarceration written by a young Issei who was a staff member of a resettlement organization in New York.

In a brief 145 pages, Beyond Prejudice sets out to tell what author Toru Matsumoto calls "a story" and not "the story" of the church response to the incarceration. Matsumoto takes a more-or-less chronological approach, beginning with a chapter on the history of Japanese American Christian churches up to the war and actions of churches in aiding Japanese Americans in the period leading up to their being rounded up. Chapter two covers the Christian church in the concentration camps, including lengthy passages by Christian ministers Charlotte and Royden Susu-Mago at Tulare Assembly Center and Gila River , Rev. Everett W. Thompson on Puyallup Assembly Center and Minidoka , Rev. Lester Suzuki, and Rev. Sohei Kowta. Most of the remaining seven chapters focus on resettlement: the formation of organizations to aid resettlement in cities outside the restricted zone; the experience of early resettlers (whom Matsumoto claims consist of a disproportionate number of Christians); on hostels set up by Christian organizations; on the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council ; on church efforts to defeat a ballot initiative that would establish an alien land law in Colorado; and the issue of segregation versus integration of churches attended by Japanese Americans. Appendices include rosters of the leaders of the Committee on Resettlement of Japanese Americans and the Protestant Church Commission for Japanese Service as well as a list of hostels.

Toru Matsumoto (1913–79) escaped persecution as a Christian and anti-militarist in Japan, escaping to New York with his wife and son just prior to the war. Despite his politics, he was interned after the attack on Pearl Harbor, finally securing his release after almost a year. He subsequently took a job with the newly formed Committee on Resettlement of Japanese-Americans, begun by the Federal Council of Churches and Home Missions Council. In that position, he assisted many Japanese Americans in leaving the camps. Friendship Press published Beyond Prejudice in the spring of 1946; its jacket was designed by Nisei artist Ray Komai. Just a few months later, Matsumoto's memoir A Brother Is a Stranger (co-authored with Marion Olive Lerrigo) was published by The John Day Company.

The Pacific Citizen reported in September 1946 that Beyond Prejudice had sold out its first edition of 3,000 books and was now in a second edition. In 1978, it was among the titles reprinted by Arno Press as part of The Asian Experience in North America series.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Find in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration

For More Information

Robinson, Greg. The Unsung Great: Stories of Extraordinary Japanese Americans . Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2020.

Last updated Dec. 8, 2023, 7:47 p.m..