Kimura, Jim Tatsuya


Jim Tatsuya Kimura was born on July 8, 1920, in Sunnyvale, California, to Tsuji and Shinzo. He was the third of four children born to the couple, though the oldest child, a daughter, died in infancy. Shinzo, Kimura’s father, took night classes to learn English and was a fairly successful truck farmer until his death in 1934. Despite the hardships the family faced following Shinzo Kimura’s death, the family was able to stay afloat. Kimura’s older brother, Arata, graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California and enlisted in the Army in June of 1941. He eventually served as a Staff Sergeant with the 522nd Artillery battalion of the 442nd RCT. Kimura’s younger brother, George, graduated from high school and began college at San Jose State University, before his education was briefly put on hold while the family was forcibly removed and incarcerated. Kimura graduated from Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, California, in 1938 and returned home to work on the family’s berry farm full-time. According to his mother, Kimura sacrificed his own potential for higher education because he knew that one brother would have to be the worker and he believed he had less interest in college than his brothers. Kimura’s mother described him as “a good worker, responsible, and very honest.”

Jim, George, and Tsuji Kimura were forcibly removed and arrived at the Santa Anita Assembly Center on May 28, 1942. They arrived at Heart Mountain on September 15, 1942. While at Heart Mountain, Kimura worked as a dishwasher in the mess hall and later in the motor pool. He did not leave for seasonal work, at least at first, in part because Arata Kimura had written Kimura and his mother and recommended that he stay at Heart Mountain where it was safer. George Kimura, meanwhile, relocated to a university in Illinois, where he continued pursuing an engineering degree. When asked about Kimura’s decision not to submit to the draft, his mother shared that, when the family was forcibly removed, Kimura was resentful of the fact that his brother was in the military yet they were still forced out of their home. He most likely would have submitted to the draft, or even voluntarily enlisted, if they had not been forcibly removed. Further, Mrs. Kimura shared that, while she was very proud of her son in the Army, she felt that she, as a widow, needed one of her sons left home. Kimura was arrested for violation of the Selective Service Act on April 7, 1944. He was tried and convicted in June 1944 and sentenced to three years in the federal prison at McNeil Island, Washington. Kimura was released in July 1946 and pardoned by President Harry Truman on December 24, 1947. Jim Tatsuya Kimura died on May 7, 1986, in Santa Clara, California.