By TOMOKO NAGAI and ELLEN ENDO, Rafu Shimpo
TORRANCE — A police investigation is under way following the discovery of a racist note posted on the door of a local Japanese-owned business.
The typed letter, which threatened the establishment and demanded, “Go back to Japan you monkey,” was discovered on June 15 by an employee.
The letter goes on, “Here is America. We don’t need anything you sell. We are going to bomb your store if you don’t listen, and we know where you live.”
In an interview with The Rafu Shimpo, the owner, who asked that his name and the name of the business be withheld, said the racist note specifically insulted Japanese cuisine.
“I have no idea who did this to us. But I have a sense that it may be someone who hates Japanese cooking and the way that Japanese food culture is penetrating into American homes,” the owner said, speaking in Japanese.
“We are not a restaurant. We are a specialty store that sells Japanese cooking tools that are used at home.”
He opened the store in 2011 after decades of running a business in Japan and selected Torrance as the location after visiting the South Bay on vacation.
The store is located in a quiet residential area of Torrance, in a mall with many Japanese specialty stores. However, he noted that his customers are 80 to 90 percent white.
According to Sgt. Alexander Martinez of the Torrance Police Department, a crime report has been taken and investigators are reviewing security camera video throughout the shopping center where the store is located.
As of the time of the interview, the business owner had not received any updates from the police on the progress of their investigation. The store continues to operate normally.
This latest hate crime comes on the heels of recent racially motivated verbal and physical attacks on Asian and Pacific Islander Americans by a woman identified as Lena Hernandez of Long Beach, last seen at Wilson Park.
Speaking to NBC4 reporter Rick Montanez, Hiro, an employee of the store, says he is still in shock over the racist threat.
He wants to ask the perpetrator: “What we did wrong to you? Did we (do) something to you? We are Asian. Asians matter too.”
Hiro added, “I know it’s a hate crime. I don’t know about if they just don’t like Japanese or Asian, because we’re selling authentic Japanese tools. I am disappointed to see such a poster, because I love America.”
In an alert to Japanese-speaking residents, the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles described the incident and the owner’s concerns for the safety of his employees and customers.
Citing the racist rants in the park, the consulate noted that it is important to be aware that such incidents can happen even in a relatively safe area such as Torrance.
The consulate urged Japanese nationals who experience or hear about such attacks report them immediately.