Tohoru Isobe, president of the Japanese American Korean War Veterans (JAKWV), announced Monday that the names of four Japanese Americans who were killed in action (KIA) during the Korean War are to be added to the Japanese American Korean War Memorial Monument in South Korea.
They are: Herman B. Kamai, Arthur Kenolio, Masao Tayama, and George Toro, Jr.
JAKWV is currently contracting to have these names engraved on the Korea memorial. The names have already been placed on the Japanese American Korean War Memorial Monument in the Japanese American National War Memorial Court at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo.
In 2001, the JAKWV dedicated the Japanese American Korean War Memorial Monument in Imjin-Gak Memorial Park, at P’aju City in South Korea, with 247 known Japanese American KIAs’ names listed. Among the more than 300 people who attended the dedication ceremony were 112 JAKWV members and their families, and friends and families of the KIAs from the U.S. and Canada. Also present were various Korean federal, state and local government entities, U.S. government representatives, Korean War veterans, news media, and the U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Division commander, division band and personnel.
Imjin-Gak Memorial Park, located just south of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, has 1.2 million visitors each year.
Unlike World War II, where Japanese Americans were placed in segregated units, all minorities were integrated into all American military units during the Korean War. These units included African Americans, Japanese Americans, and Puerto Ricans, who were segregated in World War II. In addition, there were South Koreans who were placed into the frontline American units to augment them.
When the KIA listing for the Korean War monuments was first made, only those with Japanese surnames were listed, since part-Japanese Americans with other than Japanese surnames could not be identified as Japanese. Subsequently, other KIA Japanese Americans were discovered, as well as part-Japanese Americans whose Japanese ethnicity were verified, so their names were placed on the Korean War memorial monument in Los Angeles.
In 2008, four more KIA names were added to the memorial in Korea: Henry Enoka, Moses E. Kuni, Frederick Nobutoshi Pestana, and Yoshihiko Tengan. Over 200 people attended a ceremony at Imjin-Gak, including 102 JAKWV members, relatives and friends who came from the U.S. and Canada. With the help of the 2nd Infantry division commander, division band and personnel, as well as Korean college students from Busan, the memorial was rededicated.
With the addition of the latest four names, the names of 255 Japanese Americans who gave their lives for the freedom of South Korea are listed on the Japanese American Korean War memorial monuments in Los Angeles and in South Korea.