Yukio Tatsumi Retires After 27 Years as Terminal Islanders President

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Yukio Tatsumi, right, sings a duet with Charlie Hamasaki at last year's Terminal Islanders New Year's party. (Photo by Mario G. Reyes/ Rafu Shimpo)

Yukio Tatsumi, longtime president of the Terminal Islanders, will be honored at the group’s annual New Year’s luncheon on Sunday, Jan. 22, in San Pedro.

Tatsumi is retiring after serving the organization for 27 years. He became president in 1985, after the death of their first president, Bill Nakasaki, who had served since 1971. Min Tonai will be introduced as the new president.

During Tatsumi’s tenure, the Terminal Islanders erected and dedicated the elegant Terminal Island Memorial Monument on Terminal Island, designed by Michael Enomoto and Craig Biggi of Gruen Associates, to commemorate the pre-World War II existence of the Japanese fishing village on Terminal Island; and David Metzler produced and released a very authentic documentary film, “Furusato: The Lost Village of Terminal Island.”

The village started after the turn of the century and existed until Feb. 25, 1942, when under Executive Order 9066, all residents in the village were forced off the island with only 48 hours’ notice. They weren’t told where to go, but just get off of the island.

With all of the Issei fishermen arrested and jailed immediately after Pearl Harbor, it was mostly wives and children who were left. With an uncertain future, they had to dispose of most of their possessions to unscrupulous dealers, who took complete advantage of their dilemma. Also, most did not have cars, since everything was available in their village, so they were without transportation to leave.

Those without relatives and friends on the mainland to help them were rescued by Quakers, the Baptist church, the Japanese Buddhist and Christian churches, and Japanese community organizations, who provided them with transportation and/or shelter.

When all persons of Japanese ancestry, citizens and aliens alike, were mandated to be removed from the West Coast to various concentration camps, many of the Terminal Islanders decided to voluntarily go to Manzanar so they could be with their friends and relatives.

Upon returning from the camps, the Terminal Islanders found that their homes on Terminal Island had all been bulldozed by the Navy and no longer existed. And with the Issei unable to regain their fishing licenses, they scattered throughout the greater Los Angeles area, looking for work.

Upon formation of the Terminal Islanders in 1971, the annual New Year’s luncheon and the annual picnic gave them an opportunity to meet with their old Terminal Island friends again. Now with the passage of time, the number of Terminal Islander Nisei is rapidly dwindling, so it is their children who will be perpetuating the existence of this organization.

The Terminal Islanders’ New Year’s Celebration Luncheon for 2012 will be held at a new venue this year — the San Pedro Elk’s Lodge, 1746 Cumbre Dr., San Pedro. It is up on the hillside and has a fabulous view of Terminal Island.

All former Terminal Islanders, their relatives and friends are welcome to attend. Cost is $35 per person. The program will start at 12 p.m. and lunch will be served immediately following the short opening. The new president, officers, board members, committee chairs and members will be introduced. There will be entertainment and door prizes.

If you wish to attend, contact Asako Miki at (310) 326-8875 or send her an inquiry at 1823 W. 238th St., Torrance, CA 90501 as soon as possible, as seating may be limited.

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