Japanese-American World War II Veterans Honoured in This Photography Project


A successful Kickstarter project wants to focus on the service of Japanese Americans during World War II, a lesser-told though critical story in the history of the United States military.

The Go For Broke Spirit Photo Book aims to capture the fighting bravery of one of World War II’s many storied bands of brothers, the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of WWII’s most decorated units on the US side.

After the start of the war with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by Japanese imperial military forces, the United States government began “relocating” American citizens of Japanese ethnicity away from their homes, mainly located on the Pacific coast in places like California.

This shameful aspect of the USA’s wartime history serves as a reminder of uncontrolled xenophobia and as a warning against such acts in the future and the US government has expressed regret for these actions.

The forced movement of ethnic Japanese people in the United States to the equivalent of incarceration camps in the more interior regions of the country impacted approximately 120,000 people and was authorized by presidential action from Franklin Roosevelt following the Hawaii attack.

Image via Shane Sato Go for Broke Kickstarter.

It is estimated that 62% of the incarcerated people were American citizens. As the war progressed, second generation Japanese immigrants, who were by and large citizens of the United States, were drafted by the United States military. It is these heroes that Shane Sato has focused on with his photography.

Shane Sato has photographed members of the Nisei, second generation veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service, of Japanese Americans for many years. Shane hopes to compile an expanded version of his existing work in a photo book that he is funding through Kickstarter.

The Go For Broke Spirit Photo Book’s first edition was produced entirely by Shane himself and with his own funds. This book only featured veterans from the west coast and Hawaii.

He thought Kickstarter would be the logical place to expand upon his vision, and he has met with wild success on the crowd fundraising platform, having raised $27,666 of an initial $25,000 goal.

Go For Broke Spirit Photo Book video.

For the Kickstarter-funded expansion of his book, Shane plans on traveling to the midwest and east coast regions of the United States to include stories from Japanese American veterans living there. The book will have more than 80 portraits of Japanese American veterans as well as their stories.

Describing his inspiration for his work, Shane says “Working with the vets has always fascinated me for two reasons. For one, being Japanese-American myself, I felt proud of the honor these men brought for all Japanese-Americans living in this country,” Shane shared on the Kickstarter campaign. “And second, I was struck by their humility. While small in physical stature, the accomplishments of these men were powerful and moved an entire generation. ”

You can check out the photo book's website here: https://www.thegoforbrokespirit.com/.

Image via Shane Sato Go for Broke Kickstarter.
Image via Shane Sato Go for Broke Kickstarter.

About Author

Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

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