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Santa Ana College Seeks Former Japanese American Students Interned in WWII

California Nisei Diploma Project
California Nisei Diploma Project
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

(Santa Ana)— Santa Ana College (SAC) is seeking 22 Japanese American students who attended the college in the early 1940s and were forced to interrupt their education when Executive Order 9066 sent Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II. The college hopes to bestow honorary degrees on these students or their family members at this year’s spring commencement.

If anyone has any information about the whereabouts of the following individuals, please contact Mark Liang, SAC associate dean of admissions and records, at 714-564-6040 or

  1. Luis Kiyotaka Aihara
  2. Tommy Tamio Furukawa
  3. George J. Higashi
  4. Shizuko Ikeda
  5. William Nabaru Kobayashi
  6. Masao Frank Masuda
  7. Kiyoshi Elden Minato
  8. Charles Y. Miyada
  9. Sunao N. Murakami
  10. Paul Murata
  11. Tom Hitoshi Nagamatsu
  12. Violet Fumiko Nagamatsu
  13. Migaki Nakamura
  14. Mitsuko Ochi
  15. Minoru Otsu
  16. Gladys Tsutaye Otsuka
  17. Rakumi Sasaki
  18. Kazuo Sato
  19. Mary Ayako Watanuki
  20. Michiko Yamada
  21. Mitsuo Yoshida
  22. Lily Yuriko Yoshimi

AB 37, which became law on October 11, 2009, requires California’s public college and university systems – University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges – to retroactively grant an honorary degree to any student of Japanese American descent, living or deceased, who was forcibly removed and subsequently incarcerated during World War II.

“It’s never too late to right a wrong,” said Santa Ana College President Erlinda J. Martinez, Ed.D. “This is our college’s opportunity to honor those former students who didn’t have the chance to finish what they started at Santa Ana College. We want to honor their sacrifice and present them with their long overdue diplomas.”

Between 1942 and 1945, the U.S. government forced more than 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes, farms, schools, jobs and businesses, in violation of their constitutional civil rights and liberties. The hysteria brought on by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 became a catalyst for challenging the loyalty of all citizens of Japanese descent.

For more information, please contact Mark Liang, associate dean of admissions and recordsat or 714-564-6040 or visit .

About the Rancho Santiago Community College District

The mission of the Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD) is to respond to the educational needs of an ever-changing community and to provide programs and services that reflect academic excellence. Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon College are public community colleges of RSCCD, which serve the residents of Anaheim Hills, East Garden Grove, Irvine, Orange, Santa Ana, Tustin and Villa Park. Both colleges provide education for academic transfer and careers, courses for personal and professional development, customized training for business and industry, and programs to train nurses, firefighters and law enforcement personnel.


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