In the records of history, certain individuals emerge as beacons of integrity, their narratives interwoven with principles that transcend temporal and cultural boundaries. Michi Nishiura Weglyn, a distinguished Japanese American writer, activist, and journalist, stands as one such luminary, embodying the essence of integrity in the face of historical injustice.
Michi Nishiura Weglyn's life was indelibly marked by the dark chapter of American history known as the forced removal/incarceration* of Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II. Born in 1926, she experienced firsthand the repercussions of Executive Order 9066 signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. This order sanctioned the forced removal of some 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans (almost ⅔ were American citizens) which included both of my parents and their families. Weglyn's family, like many other Japanese families, was uprooted and forcibly removed into temporary detention facilities* and later illegal detention centers*, an experience that etched an indelible mark on her conscience. During those years and thereafter, she felt that the injustice needed to be rectified and dedicated her life to righting that wrong.
Her journey towards becoming a champion of justice commenced with her groundbreaking book, "Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America's Concentration Camps." Published in 1976, this seminal work delved into the obscured corners of history, laying bare the harsh realities and injustices faced by the Japanese and Japanese Americans during their incarceration. It stood as a testament to her unwavering commitment to truth and integrity.
Weglyn's activism surpassed the mere recounting of historical events; it was about rectifying the wrongs of the past. Her dedication to seeking justice for those who had suffered was unwavering. The Echoes of Bushido, the ethical principles of Samurai in ancient Japan, resound in her tireless pursuit of righteousness. Bushido, with its emphasis on integrity, righteousness, and loyalty, finds a contemporary exponent in Weglyn's advocacy.
The principles of Bushido, “The Way of the Warrior,” highlight traits such as righteousness, courage, benevolence, respect, honesty, honor, and loyalty. These values, interwoven into the fabric of Japanese culture, mirror the universal concept of integrity. Weglyn's steadfast commitment to truth and justice aligns seamlessly with these ideals, underscoring that integrity is an ageless principle that knows no cultural boundaries.
Michi Nishiura Weglyn's legacy transcends her written words. Her life serves as a testament to the enduring power of integrity in the face of adversity. Reflecting on her journey, it becomes evident that integrity is not a passive virtue; it is a force that propels individuals to stand against injustice, even when prevailing societal currents dictate otherwise.
Through her advocacy and adherence to the principles of integrity, Michi Nishiura Weglyn remains a guiding light for those navigating the complex terrain of morality and justice. Her life and work echo the timeless wisdom of the Bushido code, proving that integrity is not a relic of the past but a compass that can guide us through the challenges of the present and into a more just future. In the shadows of injustice, Weglyn's legacy stands tall, reminding us that the pursuit of integrity is a noble journey that transcends time and circumstance.
Dintino, Maria, et al. “Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America's Concentration Camps by Michi (Nishiura) Weglyn (American Woman Writer 1926-1999).” Nasty Women Writers, 19 April 2022, https://www.nastywomenwriters.com/truth-be-told-years-of-infamy-the-untold-story-of-americas-concentration-camps-by-michi-nishiura-weglyn-1926-1999/. Accessed 30 November 2023.
Pace, Eric. “Michi Weglyn, 72, Who Wrote Of Interned Japanese-Americans (Published 1999).” The New York Times, 2 May 1999, https://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/02/nyregion/michi-weglyn-72-who-wrote-of-interned-japanese-americans.html. Accessed 30 November 2023.
Whaley, Lori Tsugawa. Let the Samurai Be Your Guide: The Seven Bushido Pathways to Personal Success. Tuttle Publishing, 2020.
*National JACL Power of Words II Committee. “Power of Words Handbook: Euphemisms and
Preferred Terminology” - Japanese American Citizens League, (April 2013) 14.