Oral History Interview with Reverend Newton Ishiura
Kibei male, born in 1918 in Hawaii. His father was a Buddhist priest serving a sugar plantation population. He was educated in the local schools and in his sophomore year of high school the family went to Japan and he graduated from a Lutheran related institution for children from foreign countries. He then graduated from a university in Kyoto, studying Buddhist traditions. In 1940 there was an all-Nisei conference in Japan. He heard others speak of the Japanese military. The Japanese police considered him to be an anti-Japanese thinker. He was ordered to report his activities to the police every three months. A friend at the American Consulate in Osaka warned him to return to America. In July 1941 he boarded a boat bound for San Francisco. That night going from Kobe to Yokohama, teams of Japanese police interrogated him, but his responses were acceptable and he was able to continue his journey. He was assigned to Buddhist churches in the Los Angeles area. When World War II began, all other priests in Los Angeles were arrested by the FBI. Newton was interned in the Santa Anita Race Track Assembly Center, where he became ill with tuberculosis. He was sent to Hillcrest Sanitarium where there were 168 Japanese persons and he conducted interfaith services for the patients. He was discharged to Gila River, Arizona Relocation Center and after a short stay, he left to work elsewhere. In 1943, he went to Yale University as an instructor in the Army Specialized Training Program, teaching the Japanese language. After the war, Newton was assigned to churches in Hawaii where he developed the Buddhist Wheel to be the symbol on gravestones of deceased soldiers. He also worked with the Boy Scouts to develop the Sangha Award merit badge and served on the National Board of Scouts. He developed the hospital chaplaincy program as well as serving as chaplain to the Hawaiian legislature. Newton was transferred to the Buddhist Church in Toronto, Canada in 1956. He increased the membership of his church, was involved in the Canadian Interfaith Committee supporting the rights of Indians, and became the first Bishop of the Buddhist Church of Canada in 1967. He related the treatment of Japanese Canadians by their government during the war. He was then assigned to the Buddhist Church in Berkeley, California where his wife died, and later to the Florin Buddhist Church.
Transcript available at Sacramento State University, Sacramento University Library
4 Tapes of 4
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