The Last Boat Out

Hikawa Maru on her maiden voyage on May 22, 1930. The Hikawa Maru was the only large Japanese ocean liner to survive World War II. ( Photo by Yokohama Dock Company, Public Domain )

Hikawa Maru on her maiden voyage on May 22, 1930. The Hikawa Maru was the only large Japanese ocean liner to survive World War II. (Photo by Yokohama Dock Company, Public Domain)


Joan Tomiko Seko at about 18 months of age with my mother Haruno. ( Courtesy photo )

Joan Tomiko Seko at about 18 months of age with my mother Haruno. (Courtesy photo)

    I had dual citizenship  American and Japanese. I had to make a choice and I chose American. I believe if you want to live in the United States and have all the benefits, you should have only an American citizenship.

    When I was four years old, my parents and I left Seattle to visit my ailing paternal grandmother in Hiroshima-ken, Japan. We lived there for over nine months and I became fluent in the Japanese language. The year was 1941.

    My father’s schoolmaster came to tell us World War II was imminent. If we wanted to return to the United States there were two ships leaving Yokohama Bay in just a few days. We rushed to Yokohama and were able to get berths on the Hikawa-Maru.

    We crossed the International Date Line one day before the second ship. We continued to the Port of Seattle. The second ship was not as lucky and had to turn back to Japan.

    When we were coming down the gangplank we noticed a lot of media greeting our arrival. I found out later we were the last ship to be allowed to return to the United States. We were grateful.

    After spending a week at immigration we went into the city of Seattle. Later in the day we decided to go see a movie downtown.

    We were surprised when the “Movietone News” came on, and we saw ourselves coming down the gangplank into the Port of Seattle. We were newsworthy and minor celebrities-although briefly.

    I guess we shouldn’t have celebrated so soon. 

    We were later put into horse stalls at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. We were awaiting the completion of our final destination at the internment camp called Minidoka, in Idaho.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Joan Tomiko Morishima Seko was born in June 1937, in Seattle. Her family was incarcerated in 1942 at Puyallup and the Minidoka WRA. She attended Garfield HS and the University of Washington. For 47 years, Joan and her husband Roy owned and operated Bush Garden-a historic Seattle International District restaurant.

2018 Tomodachi Honorees Strengthen US-Japan Tie

Phyllis J. Campbell and Ichiro Fujisaki. (Courtesy Photos)

Phyllis J. Campbell and Ichiro Fujisaki. (Courtesy Photos)


The Japanese Cultural and Community Centerof Washington is pleased to announce the 2018 recipients of the Tomodachi Award. Phyllis J. Campbell and Ichiro Fujisaki reflect the spirit of the award withtheir dedication to positive relations between the U.S. and Japan.

Campbell is Chairman, Pacific Northwest for JPMorgan Chase Northwest, one of the few women ofcolor serving as a senior executive of a major bank in the country. Campbell sits on the Diversity Advisory Board of Toyota North America and has served as a Director on the boards of Nordstrom Inc., Alaska Air Group and is Chair of the Board of the U.S.-Japan Council. Campbell has been a longtime advocate and mentor, supporting advancement for women inbusiness, particularly on Boards of Directors. Recently, Campbell has led workshops and made several speeches encouraging women in Japan to pursue opportunities in business, especially at the Board level.

Fujisaki served as Japan's Ambassador to the United States from 2008 – 2012. In his diplomatic career,he also served as Director-General of the North American Affairs Bureau in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs. He served in Jakarta, London, and Paris. He has specialties to the Northwest, having attended middle school in Seattle when his father, Masato Fujisaki, served as Consul General from 1960-1962. Duringa visit to the “J” in 2010, Fujisaki was delighted to see a calligraphy written in 1901 by his great-greatgrandfather Hirobumi Ito, who was Japan's first prime minister. Even in retirement, Fujisaki serves on the Board of Councilors of the U.S.-Japan Council. Most recently, Fujisaki has been accompanying young Japanese leaders, artists, and entrepreneurs to the U.S. to promote modern Japanese culture.

If you're interested in honoring Campbell and Fujisaki, learn more about their appearance at this year's Tomodachi event.