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Hiroshige, Akira

Biography:


Akira Hiroshige was born March 13, 1922, in Stockton, California, the only child of Matsujiro and Sato, who were immigrants from Japan. However, Immigration records for Sato Hiroshige reveal that Matsujiro had an adopted son, Ryoichi, in Japan. According to WRA records, Hiroshige and his mother traveled to Japan shortly after his birth and returned to San Jose to join Matsujiro Hiroshige in 1933. Matsujiro worked as a truck farmer and the family moved often while Hiroshige was growing up, as his father sought out land to rent and farm. Though Matsujiro was fairly successful as a farmer despite his inability to own land because of California’s Alien Land Laws, the family lost everything when they were evacuated and incarcerated at Heart Mountain. Though Hiroshige was limited in his social and extracurricular activities because he helped his father with farmwork, he graduated high school, was a Boy Scout, and was trained in auto mechanics and woodworking before being sent to Heart Mountain. They arrived at the Pomona Assembly Center on May 20, 1942, and Heart Mountain on August 22, 1942. They lived in apartment 1-2-B. Hiroshige answered No to Question 27 and Yes to Question 28 of the 1943 loyalty questionnaire. While in camp, Hiroshige was often employed to help support his parents, both of whom fell ill during their incarceration. Hiroshige was arrested for draft evasion on April 7, 1944, convicted in June and sentenced to three years in the federal prison at McNeil Island, Washington. In May 1945, Reverend Ernest Chapman from Ogden, Utah, agreed to serve as his sponsor for parole. While Hiroshige was in federal prison, his parents, neither of whom spoke English, attempted to stay at Heart Mountain for as long as possible because of their limited financial resources and their desire to be reunited with their son before attempting to begin life anew. They left Heart Mountain just four days before the camp closed on November 10, 1945. Akira Hiroshige died on August 21, 1985, in California.

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