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‘Paper Chase’ JA Newspaper Film

By David Yamaguchi
The North American Post

Mark Nakakihara Zentoku Foundation introduces Paper Chase Photo DY

On October 28, about 60 people gathered at Northwest Film Forum to watch the Seattle premiere of “Paper Chase” (2021). The film script was written by Ellen Endo of “Rafu Shimpo.”

Among the bullet points of what I learned:

• Today, eight Japanese American community newspapers survive from 29 in their heyday. These include “Nichi Bei Weekly” (S.F., 1899), NAP (Seattle, 1902), “Rafu Shimpo” (L.A., 1903), “Hawaii Hochi” (1912), “Pacific Citizen” — published by the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL, L.A., 1929) — “Hawaii Herald” (1942), “Chicago Shimpo” (1945) and “NikkeiWest” (San Jose, 1992). In Canada, there is “Nikkei Voice” (1987).

• Even Rafu — the aircraft carrier of the dwindling fleet — has been in financial trouble in the recent past. I would not have guessed this given the larger size of the L.A. JA community.

Today, there are “Soy Source,” “Lighthouse” and “Jungle City” (online) to serve the analogous information needs of Seattle-area Shin-Issei, the current generation of Japanese immigrants. According to Misa Murohashi, past NAP editor, these transplants need such sources to guide their first decade here, much as the grandparents of Sansei today needed newspapers like Rafu and NAP.

Yet nationally, the question that remains is, do JAs still need the information that papers like Rafu and NAP provide? While perhaps no longer “necessary,” does the community news reporting add sufficiently to our quality of lives that readers are willing to continue supporting it financially?

Background on the Zentoku Foundation, which brought “Paper Chase” to Seattle, is available from Daijiro Don Kanase, “Bridging the Cultural Gap with Stories: The Zentoku Foundation” (discovernikkei.org, 2020).