USC to grant honorary degrees to displaced Japanese students

For the children of the students, most of whom are deceased, this degree feels like “closing itself”, said Dr. Larry Fujioka, dentist in Hawaii. To him, this degree seemed “much more meaningful” to him than any recognition his father, John Masato Fujioka, one of the honored students, had received in the past.

He said the school’s previous attempts to honor displaced students, in 2008 and 2012, did not represent “a real apology and a real gesture on the part of the university to really understand what they had done” .

Dr Fujioka, 68, said his father “never had a grudge against USC, despite what they did.” He rarely spoke about what happened after Executive Order 9066, but he always wore his USC sweatshirt.

“He always felt like a USC man,” Dr. Fujioka said. “I think he would be very happy about that.”

Joanne Kumamoto has said her father, Jiro Oishi, would be very happy with the news, but for her, it’s a bittersweet moment. His father died in 2002, so he was not recognized at previous ceremonies.

“I’m really happy for my dad because I know this is something he really wanted,” Ms. Kumamoto, 76, said. As far as she can remember, he was proud to be a Trojan horse. He wore the school colors, Cardinal and Gold, and had season tickets to USC football and basketball games. It wasn’t until Ms. Kumamoto was in high school that she found out her father had not graduated from USC.

“Personally, I’m a little older, you know, sorry that didn’t happen sooner,” she said. “But I’m trying to stay positive because I think it’s a good step for USC”

Mr Kaji said a lot has changed since 2007, such as the new president’s openness to addressing racist chapters in USC history. But what has mostly changed is the context, he said.