Minatani, James Masaichi


James Masaichi Minatani was born on February 15, 1910, in Toppenish, Washington, to Issei parents, Suyematsu, a farmer, and Tsuru (Morita). He spent his grammar school years, from 1916 to 1921, in Japan. His brother, George Satoshi, was born in Japan in 1918. After returning to Washington, Minatani attended Toppenish High School, graduating in 1932 and beginning work as a farmer. Minatani and his brother visited their parents in Japan in 1939 and returned to the United States in February 1940. On March 18, 1940, Minatani married Ayako Tsubomura. Their first child, Janet Shizumi, was born on February 7, 1941.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the family was forced into the Portland Assembly Center, arriving on June 4, 1942. On September 1, 1942, they arrived at Heart Mountain, where their second child, Steven, was born on September 7, 1942. They lived in apartment 22-4-D. While incarcerated at Heart Mountain, Minatani left for seasonal work in Idaho. He answered No to Question 27 and Yes to Question 28 on the 1943 loyalty questionnaire. He was called for a pre-induction physical on March 23, 1944. Presumably, he failed to appear.

Minatani was arrested on April 7, 1944. He was tried and convicted in June 1944 and sentenced to three years in federal prison. Minatani’s third child, Kazuko, was born on November 15, 1944. George Minatani left Heart Mountain for work in Nyssa, Oregon, on July 19, 1945. Ayako and the three Minatani children left Heart Mountain for Seattle on November 6, 1945. He was pardoned on December 24, 1947, by President Harry Truman. 

By 1950, Minatani was farming in Owyhee, Oregon, and he later had a farm in Moses Lake, Washington. James Masaichi Minatani died on May 10, 1981 in Spokane.