HORSE: A Female President in the USA


(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on July 2, 2011.)


Before I pound out another word, I have to pause here to congratulate the English staff of the Rafu for putting out another edition of the annual Graduation Issue in which JAs who have received their diplomas from high schools, junior colleges, colleges and universities were honored.

Having been on the “other side” of newspaper publishing before I became just a columnist, I know how much time and work that goes into publishing a special feature like the Graduation Issue.

It’s not only putting together the many advertisements placed by proud parents, relatives and friends congratulating the new grads, but gathering the names of those who graduated from their schools at the various levels of education.

I know when I was engaged in “that end” of the publishing business at the old Kashu Mainichi, I had to stay late into the night and arrive early in the morning to put together “special editions.”

Of course, if I may boast, it was a little tougher at the Kashu because we didn’t have a large staff working on the English section of the newspaper.

At any rate, hats off to Editor Gwen and her staff for the wonderful job they did on the 2011 Graduation Issue.

If I said that one day there will be a Yoshinaga serving as grand marshal of the Nisei Week Parade, those hearing the comment might say, “Horse, you’ve been standing in the sun too long.”

Fortunately for those who attend the Nisei Week Festival parade this year, the Yoshinaga in this case will be Japanese American civil rights activist Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig, not related in any way to the blabbering Rafu columnist.

The parade is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 14.

In naming Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig as the grand marshal, Rev. Mark Nakagawa, Nisei Week Foundation president, was quoted as saying, “Honoring our community heroes locally and globally is the unified theme that epitomizes this year’s cultural festival.”

At the same time, the festival also named long-time Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda as the parade marshal.

Just curious, but I wonder if I could apply for the job of driving the convertible in which Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig will ride during the parade. Heh, heh.

NEED A DRIVER?: George Yoshinaga is behind the wheel as Nisei Week Queen Em (Kato) Yamada, above, waves to the crowds at the 12th Nisei Week Parade and a few years later for swimming champion Tsuyoshi Yamanaka.

In past years, I’ve had the opportunity to drive convertibles carrying Nisei Week Queen Em (Kato) Yamada during the 12th festival and Japanese Olympic swimming champion Tsuyoshi Yamanaka during the 21st.


In those days there weren’t too many folks around to help out in the festival, which accounted for guys like me participating as chauffeurs.

Thought it might be nice to have a Yoshinaga driving a grand marshal named Yoshinaga through the streets of Little Tokyo.

On the other hand, if Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig heard that the person driving her car was Yoshinaga Horse, she may not show up. Heh, heh.

Speaking of driving a car, there’s a move on again to restrict elderly California drivers from getting a license to operate a vehicle.

This is the result of a traffic accident the other day in which a woman driver, age 90, hit the gas pedal in her car instead of the brake and plowed into a nursing home, killing two people.

Since I am getting into the woman’s age bracket (in a few years), I wondered about my own driving skills. I’d like to think I can drive as well as I did, say, 40 years ago.

I started driving when I was 15 because we lived on a farm and I could drive a truck around.

In recent years, as those who follow my writing know, I have been driving to Vegas frequently.

I don’t think my driving skills have waned. I do get a little more tired on long trips and have to take a break more frequently. However, I don’t think I’m at a point where I can’t distinguish between the brake and gas pedal.

One thing for sure. If one is up in age and gets into an accident, his/her license is in jeopardy.

I had a friend who reached 90 and was still driving. However, like the woman who mistook her gas pedal for the brake, he rammed into the front of a store. When the police investigated the accident, they took his license from him and he could no longer drive.

So, I would drive him wherever he wanted to go. He didn’t have any other means of transportation.

My brother, who hit 92, was still driving but he voluntarily gave it up even though the DMV issued him a license when he was 90.

I think I’ll take my own survey with Nisei drivers who are over the age of 85 and see what they think about older people being denied licenses.

I’m sure most of them think like I do. We aren’t that great because of our age, but we adjust to the change by exercising more caution and anticipating what could happen because our reflexes have slowed a bit.

Otherwise, I hope they don’t take my license away based only on age. I’m up for renewal this month, so I’ll give a report on how it turned out.

Well, most thought the U.S. wouldn’t elect a black president for a long period of time. Barack Obama changed all that.

Now the question seems to be, “Will America elect a female president?”

Bursting on the scene is Michele Bachmann from Minnesota, who might be the female candidate to do the trick.

And she may be facing off another female candidate, Sarah Palin, who was a vice presidential candidate in the last election.

Both are Republicans. As a registered Republican myself, all I can say about the pair is, “Ugh.”

Well, I guess I can always change my political affiliation. If not, I would be leaning towards Bachmann over Palin.

If the GOP picks Palin as their candidate, I would guess that we will be stuck with Obama for four more years.

Oh yeah, in case some of you may not know, my favorite jockey, Corey Nakatani, is now riding at the Arlington track in Chicago.

And for a jockey who couldn’t get more than a couple of mounts a day, Nakatani rides in almost every race on the nine-race card.

The other day he finished in the money five times with two wins.

So, why did the local racing community turn their back on him when he can still ride so well?

Hope one of the local turf writers will look into Nakatani’s being cold-shouldered on the Southern California circuit.

I know my small betting doesn’t make any difference in the “handle” at the local tracks, but since Nakatani went east, I haven’t been frequenting the local tracks.

In fact, for the first time in recent memory, I didn’t go to the races even once at the recent Santa Anita meet.

And, I haven’t been to the Hollywood Park track since Corey left.

I don’t know about the rest of you who may tinker around with your PC, but I get a lot of stuff on mine and every once in a while, something really catches my eye and I hope that everyone can see it.

The other day, a reader sent me one entitled “Aruki Tsuzukeyou.”

It’s one of the most moving videos I have ever seen.

It’s about a young Japanese girl who was born with no arms and one leg and how she adjusted as she grew up.

In the finale of the video, she sings a song with a beautiful voice and no trace in her happy face about her handicap.

What an inspiration her video could be to those who might be facing a similar handicap.

Anyone who might be interested in this video, contact me and I’ll see if I can forward it to your computer.

However, since I often say that I’m not too great with my computer, I may have to ask my son to handle any of the requests. He’s got a master’s degree in electrical engineering.

Don’t ask me what my report card looked like in school.

Those of you who may on occasion visit Los Angeles’ Chinatown know that nothing has changed in the area over the years.

I guess the same can be said about our J-Town, which we call Little Tokyo.

Well, it’s not the case in New York City.

Not too long ago, when the phrase “New York’s Chinatown” was used, it meant only one thing: A district in Lower Manhattan near Canal Street.

It’s no longer the case. When New Yorkers talk about “Chinatown,” they could be referring to as many as six heavily Chinese enclaves.

Ditto for Koreatown. It was known as a commercial zone in Midtown Manhattan but now is part of Flushing and Queens, where tens of thousands of Koreans have moved. It now looks like suburban Seoul.

And did you know that they now have an area called “Little Tokyo”?

Move over, Los Angeles.

The various Asian groups more commonly associated with the West Coast are now surging in New York City.

For the first time, the Asian population in New York has topped one million. That’s right. One million.

This means that Asian New Yorkers may win more political representation, government assistance and public recognition.

A Chinese community organizer said, “We are 13 percent of the city’s population and we are one million strong and we are not going away.”

Of course, the Asian community is very diverse, speaking more than 40 languages and dialects.

And, older immigrants may have lingering prejudices against other nationalities, rooted in historic rivalries.

Finding common ground among so many constituents is a constant tension within the various ethnic groups.

I guess in this respect, Los Angeles is completely different.

Each ethnic group has its own area, and they are spread out.

There’s Koreatown, Chinatown and Little Tokyo, none blending in with the other, although a number of Koreans have entered into J-Town in recent years.


George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.



1 Comment

  1. You might have credited The New York Times for its excellent feature, from which you lifted all that material on Asian American life in NY.

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