Sugita, Toyoji


Toyoji Sugita was born on April 12, 1924, in Fresno, California, to Taichi Sugita and Momoyo Tanaka, who were from Hawaii. He had an older brother, Koichi. Sugita attended school, both American public and community Japanese schooling, in Los Angeles. Sometime during his childhood, Sugita’s father died. His mother remarried and took his stepfather’s name, Tanaka. Sugita attended Lincoln High School and worked for the grocery department at the Norwood Market in Hollywood. During the forced removal, the Tanaka-Sugita family arrived first at the Santa Anita Assembly Center on May 8, 1942, and then at Heart Mountain on September 8, 1942. They lived in apartment 30-2-D. While held at Heart Mountain, Sugita continued his education, graduating from Heart Mountain High School in February 1943. Sugita was a staff artist and technician for Echoes, the Heart Mountain High School newspaper. He answered No to Question 27 and Yes to Question 28 on the 1943 loyalty questionnaire. Sugita had plans to work outside of the camp during the summer following graduation, but these plans were upset by the arrival of a draft notice shortly after graduation. He was tried in the second group of draft resisters in July 1945, convicted and sentenced to two years in federal prison. Sugita was pardoned on December 24, 1947, by President Harry Truman. After prison, he lived in Los Angeles with his mother, stepfather, and brother’s family and worked at a produce stand. Sugita married Lillian Kato in Los Angeles on August 31, 1952. Toyoji Sugita died on June 27, 2015, in Los Angeles.