Sakamaki Hall

SHUNZO SAKAMAKI (1906-1973), for whom Sakamaki Hall in named, was a prominent administrator and Asian history professor at the University of Hawaii, from 1936 until his retirement in 1970. He was born at Olaa, Island of Hawaii, the son of Juzaburo and Haru Sakamaki. The elder Sakamaki was an interpreter for plantation managers, and sided with management during the labor disputes of 1920. Juzaburo Sakamaki instilled in his children the importance of being loyal American citizens and this philosophy was to be a critical tenet throughout Shunzo Sakamaki's career. Shunzo Sakamaki received an undergraduate degree from the University of Hawaii. At the University he made his mark as debater (in 1927 his team defeated Oxford University), as an actor (he was cast in the first English-language Kabuki production in Hawaii), and he was active on the student council and the student newspaper. From 1928-30 he taught English at Doshisha University in Kyoto and in 1931 taught at Mid Pacific Institute. He traveled to Columbia University for a doctorate in history received in 1939.

University photo by Masao Miyamoto

The most controversial aspect of Sakamaki's career concerns his work with the FBI beginning in 1940 aimed at identifying Japanese Americans in Hawaii who should be considered dangerous in the event of war with Japan. He was on record as believing that Shinto priests in Hawaii should be interned. Although he believed that the vast majority of Japanese Americans in Hawaii were loyal to the United States, these early activities were to haunt him throughout his life. In addition to his career as an historian, he was a man of many interests. He loved sports and assisted many an academically-challenged student athlete. He engaged in a number of retail businesses in Honolulu . He was a capable administrator and served as dean of the University's summer sessions. A lasting gift to the University was his acquisition of the Hawley Collection, a rare and extensive collection of Okinawan materials. This he purchased on behalf of the University from the widow of Frank Hawley, a British researcher.

* Gusukuma, Chance. "Nisei Daimyo: The Life of Shunzo Sakamaki." (M.A. thesis, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1998)


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