Masuo Yasui letter to Sagoro Asai, 1946 January 18

Letter from Masuo Yasui to Sagoro Asai, 1946 January 18 安井益雄から浅井佐五郎への手紙 1946年1月18日 English translation of a letter from Masuo Yasui to Sagoro Asai, 1946 January 18

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Coll 956

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Masuo Yasui letter to Sagoro Asai, 1946 January 18


  • 1946-01-18 (Creation)


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The collection consists of a three-page letter, in Japanese, from Masuo Yasui to Sagoro Asai, written shortly after Yasui was released from incarceration in January 1946. In the letter, Yasui thanks Asai for his friendship, and describes his sadness over the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. He makes reference to an incident in which the American Legion post in Hood River, Oregon, removed the names of Japanese American soldiers from a local monument. He praises Asai's son Masami for having served in the U.S. military and for returning to Hood River despite white residents' opposition to the return of any Japanese Americans. He also shares his own hope to return to Hood River.

In addition to the original letter and its envelope, the collection includes transcripts in the pre-World War II Japanese writing system and modern Japanese characters, and a translation to English, all of which were made by Yoko Gulde in 2022.

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General note

Biographical note: Masuo Yasui was born in 1886 in Nanukaichi, Japan, the youngest of three sons. He immigrated to the United States in 1903, where he worked on railroads with his father and brothers, who had come to the U.S. before him. In 1908, he moved to Hood River, Oregon. There, he opened a general goods store with his brother Renichi Fujimoto (1883-1965). Yasui also operated agricultural businesses as an orchardist and a grower of strawberries and asparagus. By the 1920s, he was a prominent member of the local community, and often acted as an intermediary between Japanese American and white residents of the area.

Yasui married Shidzuyo Miyake (1886-1960) in 1912; the couple had nine children.

On December 12, 1941, five days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by Japan, Yasui was arrested by the F.B.I. The U.S. government alleged that awards Yasui had received from local Japanese Americans and from the Japanese government in 1935 and 1940 respectively were proof of disloyalty to the United States, and classified him as an "enemy alien," incarcerating him in a facility in Montana. He was subsequently moved to incarceration facilities in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and New Mexico. He was not released until January 1946. By that time, he had lost his properties and businesses, which the family had been forced to sell. Most of Yasui's family members were incarcerated at the Pinedale Assembly Center and then the Tule Lake Relocation Center, both of which were in California.

After his incarceration, Yasui lived in Denver, Colorado, and then in Portland, Oregon. He committed suicide in 1957.

Source: "Stubborn Twig," by Lauren Kessler (Corvallis, Oregon: Oregon State University Press), 2005.

General note

Biographical note: Sagoro Asai (1880-1969) immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1904, and became an orchardist in Hood River, Oregon. He was a friend of local Japanse American businessman Masuo Yasui (1886-1957).

Sources: Vital records and biographical information on; information provided by Tara Asai, Sagoro Asai's granddaughter.

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  • Citation: Masuo Yasui letter to Sagoro Asai, Coll 956, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

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