|Born||October 23 1910|
|Died||March 27 1970|
|Birth Location||Taipei, Taiwan|
An Episcopal priest, Reverend Daisuke Kitagawa was one of the first Japanese Americans to publish a detailed memoir about the incarceration. Known by many as "Father Dai," Reverend Kitagawa served as both a spiritual and community leader at Tule Lake concentration camp, and became an important catalyst for the growth of the Japanese American community in Minneapolis. 
Daisuke Kitagawa was born in Taihoku City, Japan (now known as Taipei, Taiwan) on October 23, 1910, the oldest son of Reverend Chiyokichi Kitagawa, a missionary affiliated with the Anglican Church in Japan. In 1928, Kitagawa enrolled in St. Paul/Rikkyo University, one of Japan's leading schools of theology. One of his instructors, the Bishop of Kyoto Shirley H. Nichols, mentored Kitagawa. After completing additional training at Central Theological College in Tokyo, Kitagawa began work as a minister, spending four years in the city of Fukui, Japan. In 1937, Kitagawa decided to continue his education at the General Theological Seminary in New York. Although Kitagawa focused on his theological studies in the period that followed, he occasionally connected with the Japanese communities of New York City. After two years of training, Kitagawa graduated from the seminary. On June 16, 1939, the Episcopal Church officially ordained Kitagawa as a deacon.
Priest in Kent, Washington
In September 1939, Kitagawa received his first assignment as a resident minister of St. Paul's Church in Kent, Washington. As minister to the Japanese communities of the White River Valley, Kitagawa worked hard to build up his parish amid the staunchly Buddhist majority of the community. As part of his duties, he assisted the Japanese minister of St. Peter's Church in Seattle, serving as head of the church’s youth program.
On Sunday, December 7th, 1941, Kitagawa led an early morning service at St. Paul's Church. In addition to his normal sermon, he later recorded, Kitagawa added a prayer in the names of President Franklin Roosevelt , Secretary of State Cordell Hull (in his memoirs, he mistakenly referred to the Secretary of State as Henry Stimson ), and the Japanese envoys sent to D.C., in the hope that a peace settlement could be achieved. After dinner that evening, Reverend Kitagawa learned of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Immediately, he went to work helping the fear-stricken community. He met with families who had relatives detained by the FBI during the mass arrests of community leaders. He volunteered his services to the FBI as an interpreter for the interrogation of arrested Issei men.
One night, as Kitagawa was returning home after consoling various families, his car was hit by a drunk driver. As he searched for a phone to report the incident to the local sheriff's office, an army officer appeared. The officer interrogated Kitagawa, then took him into custody. When Kitagawa told the officer he had left the lights on at home by accident, the officer responded, "I doubt very much that the planes of your country will come this far." The next day, after learning from the residents of Kent of Kitagawa's upstanding reputation as a Christian minister, the officer informed Kitagawa that he was releasing him. 
When news of the evacuation order arrived at Kent, Reverend Kitagawa closed St. Paul's Church and prepared to join his congregation in camp. He noted in his memoirs that even though select Christian leaders protested the forced removal policy in the press and before Congress, he felt disappointed by the lack of organized action taken by Christian groups to oppose the incarceration.
On May 10, 1942, Reverend Kitagawa and other Japanese Americans departed the White River Valley by train for the Pinedale detention center near Fresno, California. While at Pinedale, Kitagawa continued to lead services for Christians incarcerated there. Kitagawa later recalled that he preached his best sermons while at Pinedale, and noted that services were well attended as inmates became more religious during their confinement. On July 4th, Kitagawa penned a special message that ran in the center's newspaper, the Pinedale Logger . Kitagawa praised the community for coming together and extolled the importance of making the best of the situation.
In September 1942, the army closed Pinedale detention center and sent Kitagawa and other inmates to the Tule Lake concentration camp. Upon arrival, Kitagawa immediately began working on organizing Sunday school classes. He collaborated with his friends, Methodist ministers Andrew Kuroda and Shigeo Tanabe, on organizing Protestant religious activities in camp.
As Kitagawa later noted in his memoirs Issei and Nisei , life in Tule Lake proved more stable than in the " assembly centers " but also more challenging. Kitagawa was in a unique position, as he shared a homeland and language with the immigrant generation, but was barely 30 years old, the same age as the older Nisei, and had many Nisei parishioners. Kitagawa paid particular attention to the needs of the Issei, who suffered from what he described as deteriorating morale, as forced removal and confinement had robbed their lives of a sense of purpose. At the same time, Kitagawa observed, the Nisei proved more optimistic as a result of being acclimated to life in the United States, but were similarly disoriented as a result of their incarceration. 
Kitagawa was a prominent figure at Tule Lake. The diary of one Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS) staffer described Kitagawa as beloved by Issei and Nisei alike. As a bachelor, the staffer noted, Kitagawa constantly received attention from Issei mothers hoping to introduce their daughters to him. At times, Kitagawa opposed the government on behalf of Japanese Americans. As testament of his leadership skills, Tule Lake incarcerees elected Kitagawa to be part of the camp's Planning Board in November 1942. The Planning Board, which was composed entirely of Issei leaders, represented the camp's seven wards and served as an alternative board to the temporary community council supported by the War Relocation Authority (WRA). As their youngest member, Kitagawa proved to be a dedicated leader, and was described by S. Frank Miyamoto as "brilliant." 
In 1943, Tule Lake was visited by staffers from the Office of War Information , who called on Kitagawa and other community leaders to record a message to Japan that confirmed that they received fair treatment. The OWI's goal was to improve the treatment of American prisoners of war in Japanese hands. However, Kitagawa pointed out that most of the incarcerated were American citizens, while the other community leaders complained of the hardships of camp life they faced. The proposed message was ultimately cancelled.
Nonetheless, a number of recalcitrant incarcerees despised Kitagawa, and the reverend remained in danger of violent attacks. During the registration crisis of February 1943, several members of the Planning Board were beaten for taking pro-WRA stances. One resident witnessed several attacks on Kitagawa, with disgruntled residents throwing garbage at him while calling him inu , or dog. S. Frank Miyamoto noted that when a group of men approached Kitagawa with the intent of beating him, Kitagawa managed to win the group over and escape.  Because of persistent threats against Kitagawa, a guard accompanied him during business hours, a practice which only heightened his reputation as pro-administration.
Tired of threats, Kitagawa and other ministers searched for an opportunity to escape camp. In June 1943, Kitagawa received approval from the WRA to leave Tule Lake to take a two-month tour of various cities where Japanese Americans leaving camp had resettled. His trip, which took him to Minneapolis, Chicago , Cleveland, and Kansas City, gave him the chance to meet with resettlers and see the work of religious organizations, such as the Church of the Brethren’s hostel in Chicago. Even after he returned to Tule Lake in August 1943, Kitagawa sought an opportunity to leave permanently. According to James Sakoda , the WRA asked Kitagawa to stay at Tule Lake as long as possible to help with quelling disputes among the camp population. 
Fort Snelling and the MIS
In September 1943, the Federal Council of Churches hired Kitagawa as field secretary for their Committee on Japanese American Resettlement, providing him a chance to leave permanently. On October 31, 1943, Reverend Kitagawa left Tule Lake for the East Coast–days before violent protests broke out and martial law engulfed the camp. As part of his duties, Kitagawa made several trips to cities across the U.S., including Boston, Denver, New York , and Chicago. One such trip took him to the Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming, where he met with Buddhist priest Reverend Gyomei Kubose on issues related to resettlement. During his tours of the Midwest, Kitagawa met Fujiko Sugimoto, a Nisei student at Heidelberg College. The two married in Chicago on July 1, 1944.
In July 1944, Reverend Kitagawa received an assignment from the Federal Council of Churches to serve as chaplain for the Military Intelligence Service's school at Fort Snelling . Following the suggestion of Major Paul Rusch, Colonel Kai Rasmussen specifically requested Kitagawa, both because of his knowledge of Japanese culture and his ability to understand the issues plaguing Nisei soldiers who recently arrived from camp. From July 1944 until April 1946, Kitagawa provided guidance and moral support to soldiers based at Fort Snelling. Reverend Kitagawa organized regular talks in addition to his weekly mass. One of Kitagawa's speakers, his former mentor, Bishop Shirley Nichols, gave a presentation at Fort Snelling in part because his son was among the soldiers being trained for translation work.
In April 1945, as the West Coast reopened to Japanese Americans, Reverend Kitagawa returned to the White River Valley to investigate local attitudes regarding resettlement. In a report to the WRA, he stated that resettlers would be warmly welcomed in the area, despite the hostility of the Washington state government towards them. Kitagawa noted that many Christian leaders were helpful in encouraging locals to welcome back their former Japanese American neighbors.
Even as he served the MIS, Kitagawa was named minister of a Japanese Christian Church in Minneapolis, He soon emerged as a leading figure in the resettlement of Japanese Americans to the Twin Cities area. Reverend Kitagawa spoke before local community organizations, schools, and churches. (One of the speakers who appeared alongside Reverend Kitagawa was then-Army Captain Spark Matsunaga , a future U.S. senator from Hawai'i). Kitagawa also worked with the St. Paul Resettlement Committee to open a hostel for Japanese American newcomers.
In 1946, Reverend Kitagawa sponsored the creation of the Twin Cities chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League . On June 1, 1949, Reverend Kitagawa officiated at the opening of a Minneapolis Nisei Center at 2200 Blaisdell Avenue. Throughout his time in Minneapolis, Reverend Kitagawa rose to prominence among the Japanese American community as an influential spiritual leader and community organizer. He also became known for officiating dozens of weddings of Fort Snelling soldiers and new resettlers in Minneapolis.
Civil Rights Work
During the late 1950s and 1960s, Reverend Kitagawa immersed himself in the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement. On April 24, 1963, Kitagawa spoke before the United States Conference for the World Council of Churches. In his speech, made before 200 church leaders, Kitagawa stated that black Americans had cast a vote of "non-confidence" towards white Christian leadership, and argued that neutral, well-meaning white Christians were just as harmful as outspoken racists in perpetuating racism. The speech caught the attention of multiple publications, including the New York Times , as well as several papers throughout the Deep South.
On July 4, 1963, Kitagawa joined several hundred other protestors in picketing at Gwynn Oak Park, an amusement park on the outskirts of Baltimore, in protest of its segregation policy. Kitagawa, Episcopal Bishop Daniel Corrigan, and 283 other protestors were arrested by Maryland police and charged with trespassing. Among those arrested included famed civil rights activist Michael Schwerner, who, along with James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, was later murdered in Mississippi by the Ku Klux Klan for helping African Americans register to vote. The protest was a key event in the Civil Rights Movement, and was later dramatized by Baltimore native John Waters in his 1988 comedy Hairspray .
Kitagawa continued to call for more action from the Episcopal Church. On July 22, 1963, the Globe and Mail of Toronto quoted Kitagawa stating that the Episcopal church is on "the verge of losing its soul" by maintaining itself as a lily-white institution.
At the height of his career, Kitagawa authored two books. The first, titled The Pastor and the Race Issue , was published in 1965 by Seabury Press. Echoing his previous work for the World Council of Churches, he called for a less paternalistic view of missionary work. Kitagawa made clear in his first book that racism was an issue plaguing both the U.S. and the world, and he offered guidance towards more self-conscious missionary work for ministers dealing with different groups. 
The second book, his memoir titled Issei and Nisei: The Internment Years , was published by The Seabury Press in 1967. Perhaps his most famous book, Issei and Nisei would become one of the first memoirs of the incarceration. In it, Kitagawa provided a study of the challenges that faced both the Issei and Nisei during the incarceration, based on his own observations. Kitagawa dramatized the disillusionment felt by the "no-no's" and their internal conflict over their American identity. Issei and Nisei was also one of the first memoirs of a religious leader in camp, and highlighted the importance of faith for Japanese Americans during the incarceration. 
On Friday, March 27, 1970, Reverend Daisuke Kitagawa died unexpectedly in Geneva, Switzerland, at the age of 59. His sudden death shocked many, and his body was brought back to New Jersey to be interred in Hackensack, New Jersey. He was survived by his wife, Fujiko, and son John, who also became an Episcopal priest. His death was reported by the New York Times , the Pacific Citizen , and the Rafu Shimpo .
For More Information
Flewelling, Stan. Shirakawa: Stories from a Pacific Northwest Japanese American Community . Foreword by Gordon Hirabayashi. Auburn, Wash.: White River Valley Museum, 2002.
Kitagawa, Daisuke. Issei and Nisei: The Internment Years . New York: Seabury Press, 1967.
" The Reverend Daisuke Kitagawa, 1910–1970 ." In "The Church Awakens: African-Americans and the Struggle for Justice." Online exhibition, The Archives of the Episcopal Church.
van Harmelen, Jonathan. " Daisuke Kitagawa: Civil Rights and Anti-Racism Activist: Part 1. " Discover Nikkei, May 8, 2022.
———. " Daisuke Kitagawa: Civil Rights and Anti-Racism Activist: Part 2. " Discover Nikkei, May 9, 2022.
Yasutake, Rev. S. Michael. "Fr. Kitagawa's 'Issei-Nisei' Shows Compassion for Kibei." Pacific Citizen , Apr. 24, 1970, 4.
- An earlier version of this article appeared on Discover Nikkei. See: Jonathan van Harmelen. "Daisuke Kitagawa: Civil Rights and Anti-Racism Activist: Part 1." Discover Nikkei, May 8, 2022.
- Daisuke Kitagawa, Issei and Nisei: The Internment Years. (New York: Seabury Press, 1967), 43 - 45.
- Kitagawa, Issei and Nisei, 92-95.
- S. Frank Miyamoto, "The Tule Lake Report, Ch. IX." BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder R 20.65:4, Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (hereafter JERS) Papers, Bancroft Library.
- S. Frank Miyamoto,"Chapter X. The Registration Crisis Tule Lake." BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder R 20.36:2, JERS Papers, Bancroft Library.
- James Sakoda, "The Segregation Program in Tule Lake." BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder R 20.90:3, JERS Papers, Bancroft Library.
- Daisuke Kitagawa, The Pastor and the Race Issue. (New York: Seabury Press, 1965).
- Kitagawa, Issei and Nisei.
Last updated Sept. 2, 2022, 2:34 p.m..