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Koji Ariyoshi

Koji Ariyoshi
Born 1914
Hawaii, United States
Died 1976
Hawaii, United States
Occupation Nisei, labor activist, sergeant
Koji Ariyoshi
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Sergeant

Koji Ariyoshi (有吉幸治) (1914–1976) was a Nisei, Labor activist, and a Sergeant in the United States Army during the Second World War.


  • Early life 1
  • The Second World War 2
    • The Dixie Mission 2.1
    • Other Wartime Activities 2.2
  • Post-war life 3
  • Koji Ariyoshi on film 4
  • Book 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Ariyoshi was born in Erskine Caldwell, Ariyoshi became determined to ease the plight of the sharecroppers he met, and to improve labor conditions for the working class.

In 1941, Ariyoshi graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism (A.B.J.) from the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. After graduation, Ariyoshi traveled to San Francisco where he befriended Karl Yoneda, a founder of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. On December 7th, 1941, the Japanese navy attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and soon after, Ariyoshi was placed in the Manzanar War Relocation Center, a Japanese American internment camp.

The Second World War

Ariyoshi met and married his wife, Taeko Ariyoshi, at Manzanar. He decided to help the war effort by working as a language specialist with the United States Army Military Intelligence. He was soon transferred out of the internment camp and into India, Sri Lanka, and Burma because of his ability to translate Japanese. While stationed in the British Colonies, Ariyoshi witnessed what he believed to be the inequality of the colonial system. He was later transferred to China, where he was exposed to the Communist movement.

The Dixie Mission

While stationed at the Dixie Mission in Yan'an, Ariyoshi met and worked with both Chinese and Japanese Communists, including Mao Zedong and Sanzo Nosaka. His primary duties in Yan'an were to learn more about the Communist efforts to train Japanese prisoners of war, translate Japanese source materials, and develop Allied propaganda against the Japanese. In China, Ariyoshi saw the differences between the peasants' meager lifestyle under the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communists, and left China with an appreciation for what Communism, or at least, progressive socialism could accomplish.

Other Wartime Activities

Koji came into contact with members of the Korean independence movement, and Japanese dissident Kaji Wataru.[1]

Post-war life

Ariyoshi returned to Hawaii in 1948 and, inspired by the progressive Japanese language paper, Hawaii Hochi, began publishing a labor-oriented newspaper, the Honolulu Record.


In 1958, Ariyoshi was forced to close his newspaper due to lack of funds. He became a Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and a television documentary on Chinese arts and crafts, which helped to repopularize cloisonne in this country. He was a founder of the Hawaii-China People's Friendship Association to improve relations between China and the United States. He served on the national steering committee of the U.S. China Friendship Association from its founding in 1974 until his death.

Later in life, Ariyoshi began teaching at the University of Hawaii in the Ethnic Studies department. In 1976 the Hawaii legislature honored Ariyoshi for his life's work, and apologized for the things done to him in the McCarthy era. Koji Ariyoshi died later that year, and an annual award in his name was established by the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship to honor an outstanding figure in promoting U.S.-China friendship.

Koji Ariyoshi on film

On May 5, 2005, Koji Ariyoshi was featured in the Biography Hawaii series airing on PBS Hawaii. The documentary featured original footage of Ariyoshi during his time in Yen'an and explored his persecution during the 1950s.


  • Hugh Deane (editor), Remembering Koji Ariyoshi: An American GI in Yenan (Los Angeles: U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association, 1978).
  • Koji Ariyoshi, From Kona to Yen'an: The Political Memoirs of Koji Ariyoshi, Beechert, Edward D., and Alice M. Beechert, eds, (Honolulu, HI: U of Hawaii Press, 2000).
  • Carolle J. Carter, Mission to Yenan: American Liaison with the Chinese Communists 1944-1947 (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1997).
  • Hugh Deane, Good Deeds & Gunboats: Two Centuries of American-Chinese Encounters (San Francisco: China Books & Periodicals, 1990).

See also


  • Newspaper biography of Koji Ariyoshi.
  1. ^ From Kona to Yenan: The Political Memoirs of Koji Ariyoshi by Koji Ariyoshi Page 107 - 134

External links

  • episode.Biography HawaiʻiInformation on the
  • Review of episode and feature on Ariyoshi.
  • National Park Service article on Manzanar with comment on Ariyoshi.
  • Honolulu Record full archives (pdf)
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