Rose Matsui Ochi

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Name Rose Matsui Ochi
Born December 15 1938
Birth Location Los Angeles
Generational Identifier


Takayo "Rose" Matsui Ochi was born in East Los Angeles on December 15, 1938. During World War II, Ochi's family was sent to Rohwer . It was in Rohwer that a Caucasian teacher gave her the new name "Rose," which she has used ever since. After the war, Rose lived for a year in Nevada with an uncle while her parents fought deportation for failing to maintain their business visas during their wartime incarceration in Rohwer. They were ultimately successful, and returned to Los Angeles with their children. In Los Angeles, Ochi finished school, earned her B.A. from UCLA and her M.S. from California State University, Los Angeles. After teaching secondary school, she went back to school to earn her J.D. from USC as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow. While serving as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow for the Western Center on Law and Poverty she won the landmark educational law reform case, Serrano v. Priest, serving as the co-counsel of record.

Ochi is well-known for becoming the first Asian American to serve at the assistant attorney general level where she advised President Bill Clinton on matters of race relations. In addition to her appointment by President Clinton, she also developed a distinguished career working for Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's office, serving on the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy (SCIRP) from 1979-83 under appointment by President Jimmy Carter, and for her service to the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) during the Redress movement . Ochi narrowly lost her race to become president of the JACL, losing by just two votes. She served for decades as pro bono counsel for Manzanar Committee , drafting their enabling legislation in 1970 and providing advice and behind the scenes political support throughout the Committee's efforts to protect Manzanar. After Manzanar was designated a National Historic Site in 1992, she continued to work side-by-side with Sue Kunitomi Embrey to mitigate opposition to the National Parks' development of the site.

Ochi was appointed to the Board of Los Angeles Police Commissioners in 2001, and later became the first executive director of the California Forensic Science Institute at the Los Angeles Regional Crime Center. She is now retired. Rose Matsui Ochi was awarded the Sue Embrey Legacy Award (also known as the "Baka Guts" Award) at the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage in 2012. [1]

Authored by Cherstin M. Lyon , California State University, San Bernardino

For More Information

Department of Justice. " Installation Ceremony for Rose Ochi and 1998 Community Relations Service Awards Presentations ," September 18, 1998.

Maki, Mitchell Takeshi, Harry H. L. Kitano, and Sarah Megan Berthold. Achieving the Impossible Dream: How Japanese Americans Obtained Redress. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999.

Manzanar Committee. Our History ."

Nakagawa, Martha. "The Shadow Warrior." Rafu Shimpo , July 8, 2011.

" Takayo "Rose" Matsui Ochi ." Rootsweb.

" Rose Ochi: Commissioner, Los Angeles Police Commission ." Los Angeles Community Policing Website.


  1. "Ochi to Receive Sue Embrey Award," Rafu Shimpo , April 12, 2012, accessed on July 28, 2015 at .

Last updated Jan. 23, 2024, 9:59 p.m..