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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 18, 2001

Earl Nishimura, JACL-Hawaii founder, dead at 94

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Earl K. Nishimura, an attorney and founder of the Japanese American Citizens League-Hawaii, died Tuesday in Honolulu. He was 94.

Nishimura was born Aug. 28, 1906, in Pu'uloa, O'ahu. His parents were Japanese immigrants and lived on several plantations.

A graduate of McKinley High School, Nishimura received a degree in agriculture from the University of Hawai'i. He went on to work with the Hawaiian Pineapple Co. and then served as county extension agent of the University of Hawai'i Agricultural Extension Service.

During his childhood, Nishimura became aware discrimination against Japanese Americans. Most companies did not hire Japanese, he said, and he was one of a few who were referred for a government job after graduating.

This had a lifetime impact on Nishimura, who championed the causes of Americans of Japanese ancestry.

In 1980, he founded the Japanese American Citizens League Hawai'i chapter. The organization was created in 1945 to fight for the rights of Japanese living in the United States and those who were sent to relocation camps during World War II.

Nishimura also worked to bring redress for World War II discrimination against Japanese Americans.

The movement led to the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, the federal apology that provided redress to about 82,000 Japanese Americans who were interned, sent to relocation camps or evacuated from their homes.

Nishimura received many awards for his tireless work, including the Japan Imperial Order of the Rising Sun. He also was president of the Gajimaru Club and member of the Thursday Luncheon Club.

Nishimura is survived by his wife, June; sons, Karl and Dean; daughters, Earlyn, Berlyn, and Frieda Hulse; step-daughters, Patricia Middleton and Candace Kukino-Russo; sisters, Mildred Kodani and Vivian Mizumoto; seven grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Service is Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Nu'uanu Congregational Church.