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Tanabe, George Naoichi

Biography:


George Naoichi Tanabe was born on February 21, 1912, in Kawailoa, Hawaii to Yonehachi and Tame, who were both immigrants from Japan. He had a brother and three sisters. His parents sent Tanabe to Japan for school from 1918 to 1923. Tanabe moved to Los Angeles in 1928, where he worked in his brother-in-law’s grocery store for 13 years until he started his own grocery store in 1941 in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles. He married Harue Sugaoka on February 21, 1940, in Los Angeles, and they had a daughter, Florence, the following year. During the forced removal, Tanabe and his family were sent to the Santa Anita Assembly Center on May 8, 1942, and then arrived at Heart Mountain on September 8, 1942. They lived in apartment 30-15-F. He answered No to Question 27 and Yes to Question 28 on the 1943 loyalty questionnaire. Tanabe said he didn’t “wish to leave his family” in comments about his No answer. He received a leave clearance on July 7, 1943, to work on the Northern Pacific Railroad in Hatton, Washington. Tanabe was arrested on May 13, 1944, for violating the Selective Service Act. He was tried and convicted as part of the trial of 63 draft resisters and sentenced to three years in the federal prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Tanabe’s wife and daughter moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 7, 1945, and repeatedly petitioned federal officials to grant Tanabe parole. Tanabe was released from prison in July 1946 and pardoned by President Harry Truman on December 24, 1947. After the war, the family settled in Los Angeles and had two more daughters, while Tanabe ran a grocery store. George Naoichi Tanabe died in Los Angeles on January 16, 1996.

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