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Your Call

Every Japanese American WW2 prisoner finally named in 1000-page book

Kristen Murakoshi

On this edition of Your Call, Professor Duncan Ryūken Williams discusses his extraordinary 3 year project to track down the names of every Japanese American who was forcibly incarcerated during World War II.

While researching Japanese American incarceration, Williams discovered there was no single comprehensive list that named each individual who was forcibly removed from their home and taken to camps across the country. It was generally accepted that over 100,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned, but Williams realized their unique names and stories were at risk of being lost over time.

With a team of a dozen researchers and 100 volunteers, Williams set about creating that list. The result is the Ireichō, a sacred book with the names of 125,284 Japanese American prisoners.

The Ireichō is over 1,000 pages long and weighs 25 pounds. It’s housed at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles as part of the Irei: National Monument for the World War Two Japanese American Incarceration. Thousands of visitors have come to the museum to honor formerly incarcerated individuals and loved ones by placing a Japanese hanko, or carved stamp, under their names.


Duncan Ryūken Williams, Soto Zen priest, USC professor of Religion and East Asian Languages & Cultures, director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture, and author of American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War


Japanese American National Museum: Ireichō

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Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular media roundtable guest in 2001. In 2019, the San Francisco Press Club named Your Call the best public affairs program. In 2017, The Nation named it the most valuable local radio show.