Utah Nippo (newspaper)

Japanese American newspaper published in Salt Lake City, Utah, from 1914 to 1991. It is notable for being one of just four Japanese American newspapers in the continental United States that published through the World War II years, since it was located outside the West Coast restricted area.

Early History

The Utah Nippo was founded by Issei Uneo Terasawa (1881–1939), who had migrated to the United States from Nagano prefecture in 1905 and who had been farming in the Salt Lake City area since 1909. Also a correspondent for the San Francisco based Shin Sekai newspaper, Terasawa began the Nippo as a Japanese language daily with a Buddhist orientation, since the existing Japanese language newspaper in Salt Lake City, the Rocky Mountain Times , had a Christian orientation. Building a circulation of over 800 within a year of its 1914 founding, it later acquired and merged with the Times in 1927 and went from a daily to publishing three times a week in 1932. In the meantime, Terasawa married Kuniko Muramatsu (1896–1991), a young woman also from Nagano prefecture, in 1921 and became a leader in the local Japanese American community, active in the Japanese Association and helping to raise money for a new Buddhist temple building. The couple had two daughters, Kazuko and Haruko. However, on April 24, 1939, Uneo Terasawa died suddenly of pneumonia. Kuniko decided to stay on in Utah and continue to run the paper. Later that year, an experimental one-page English section appeared on September 1. [1]

World War II

As with other Japanese American community institutions, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the Nippo into crisis. After publishing issues on December 8 and 10, 1941, the FBI shut the paper down on the 11th, though unlike many community leaders, Kuniko was not interned. On February 25, 1942, wartime authorities allowed the Nippo to resume publication as a way to keep Issei informed of wartime developments. Editor Terumasa Adachi was ordered to print only translations of articles from American newspapers, though this later came to be loosely enforced. Each issue of the paper was also to reviewed by government censors. Nippo chronicler Haruo Higashimoto reports that the paper published a good amount of original material in its Japanese section, including literary work, some of it submitted by Japanese Americans incarcerated in American concentration camps, along with editorials he describes as "overwhelmingly precautionary." [2]

The English section became a regular feature during the war years. In her analysis of the content of the English section, Sarah Fassmann argues the the wartime English language editorial stance of the paper "encouraged all Nikkei to promote the war effort, support democracy, work hard, and remain positive about the future," while also also muting criticism of the curfew and of restrictive housing covenants and other discrimination Japanese Americans faced locally. The paper also printed criticisms of Nikkei who behaved "badly"—particularly young people who were seen as too conspicuous in their pursuit of leisure—going so far as to limit ads for Nisei parties and dances that weren't fund raisers for war-related causes. It also extensively covered Japanese American Citizens League activities and demonstrated "a pro-JACL editorial bias." [3]

All of the three Japanese language papers in the continental U.S. allowed to publish during the war—the other two were the Rocky Nippon/Rocky Shimpo and Kakushi Jiji/Colorado Times —saw their circulations swell as many Issei inmates began to subscribe to them, considering them a more reliable source of news than the various newspapers published in the concentration camps. [4] The Nippo saw its prewar circulation of less than 1,000 rise to 10,000 during the war, necessitating new equipment and a more than doubling of its staff. When the war ended and the camps closed, the circulation fell back to around 4,000 in 1946 and gradually declined subsequently as the wartime swelling of the Salt Lake City Japanese American population declined and the ranks of the Issei diminished. [5]

Postwar and Legacy

Despite the declining circulation after the war, the Nippo soldiered on. In 1966, it faced another crisis when Salt Lake City's Japantown—including the Nippo's offices—were to be torn down to build the Salt Palace sports arena. Though the family contemplated ending the paper, they ultimately decided to move to a new location and continue.

As the circulation of the Nippo continued to shrink—it was down to 600 by 1983—and it began publishing just twice a week in 1975 and monthly in 1987, the now elderly Kuniko Terasawa became something of a celebrity in both Japan and the United States. She was active in establishing a sister city relationship between Matsumoto, Japan, and Salt Lake City and was the subject of a Japanese language biography as well as profiles in local and national media, including People magazine. She was also honored by both the Japanese government and the JACL. She continued to work on the paper until her death in 1991 at the age of 95. [6]

In 1993, her daughters presented a set of the newspaper to the Matsumoto Central Library; another set is at the University of Utah. A complete set of the wartime editions of the paper has been published in seven volumes in Japan. [7]

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

For More Information

Fassmann, Sarah B. "'Super Salesmen' For the Toughest Sales Job: The 'Utah Nippo,' Salt Lake City's Japanese Americans, and Proving Group Loyalty, 1941–1946." M.A. thesis, Utah State University, 2012.

Higashimoto, Haruo. "Assimilation Factors Related to the Functioning of the Immigrant Press in Selected Japanese Communities." Ph.D. dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1984.

———. "The Utah Nippo and World War II: A Sociological Review." 2004. Revision of paper read at the 19th Annual Conference of the Association of Asian American Studies, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2002.

" Kuniko Muramatsu Terasawa. " Utah History to Go.

Moriyasu, Haruko Terasawa. "The Utah Nippo." In Japanese Americans in Utah . Edited by Ted Nagata. Salt Lake City: JA Centennial, 1996. 149–50.


  1. Haruo Higashimoto, "The Utah Nippo and World War II: A Sociological Review," 2004, revision of paper read at the 19th Annual Conference of the Association of Asian American Studies, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2002; Haruko Terasawa Moriyasu, "The Utah Nippo," in Japanese Americans in Utah , edited by Ted Nagata (Salt Lake City: JA Centennial, 1996), 149–50.
  2. Moriyasu, "The Utah Nippo ; Higashimoto, "The Utah Nippo and World War II, 11.
  3. Sarah B. Fassmann, "'Super Salesmen' For the Toughest Sales Job: The 'Utah Nippo,' Salt Lake City's Japanese Americans, and Proving Group Loyalty, 1941–1946," (M.A. thesis, Utah State University, 2012), quotes from pages 49 and 99.
  4. Arthur A. Hansen, "Cultural Politics in the Gila River Relocation Center, 1942-1943." Arizona and the West'" 27 (Winter 1985), 345n27; Larry Tajiri, "The Foreign Language Press," The Pacific Citizen , April 24, 1957, reprinted in Pacific Citizens: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and Japanese American Journalism in the World War II Era by Larry and Guyo Tajiri, edited with an introduction and notes by Greg Robinson (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012), 248.
  5. For circulation figures, see Haruo Higashimoto, "Assimilation Factors Related to the Functioning of the Immigrant Press in Selected Japanese Communities" (Ph.D. dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1984), 112 and Higashimoto, "The Utah Nippo and World War II, 7; Moriyasu, "The Utah Nippo .
  6. Moriyasu, "The Utah Nippo"; "Kuniko Muramatsu Terasawa," Utah History to Go, http://historytogo.utah.gov/people/utahns_of_achievement/kunikomuramatsuterasawa.html ; Jerry Johnston, "70 Years of Picking Type at the Utah Nippo," Desert News , June 12, 1985, C1, C3, http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=336&dat=19850612&id=ElNTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=BIQDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5791,5166151 ; Ron Arias, Cathy Free, "Tireless Kuniko Terasawa Is the Force Behind a Newspaper Almost No One Can Read," People , Sept. 25, 1989, http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20121270,00.html , all accessed on July 16, 2014.
  7. Joel Campbell, "Sister City in Japan Gets Copies of Utah Nippo," Deseret News , Aug. 27, 1993, accessed on July 16, 2014 at http://www.deseretnews.com/article/306923/SISTER-CITY-IN-JAPAN-GETS-COPIES-OF-UTAH-NIPPO.html?pg=all ; Moriyasu, "The Utah Nippo .

Last updated Dec. 19, 2023, 3:22 a.m..