Rafu Shimpo

About Rafu Shimpo

Published every weekday bilingually in Japanese and English for over 100 years, Rafu Shimpo 羅府新報 (L.A. Japanese Daily News) is the longest running Japanese-American newspaper in the United States

Rafu Shimpo was founded in 1903 to support the small but growing Japanese community in the Little Tokyo area of Los Angeles, California. In 1926 Rafu Shimpo introduced an English language section in the Sunday edition. By the 1940s Rafu Shimpo was the most widely circulated paper in the region.

Once World War II started, Publisher H. Toyosaku Komai was arrested by the FBI on December 7, 1941 and the paper was forced to cease publication. He was shuttled to assorted federal prisons before a final transfer to Santa Fe, New Mexico. In his absence, his eldest son Akira took charge of the newspaper until Akira and the majority of the Komai family were interned at the Manzanar camp near Granada, Colorado for the remainder of the war. With Akira’s foresight to hide expensive printing equipment and ensure the rent was paid, the publisher quickly revived the business after the war, and capitalized on being the first Japanese-American newspaper to resume publication in January of 1946.

The paper outlasted all its local competitors and grew to become the most important newspaper among Japanese-American communities throughout the United States.

Why Rafu Shimpo is Important to Researchers Today

Rafu Shimpo rests squarely at the scholarly intersection of Japanese history and the Japanese-American émigré community—especially in California, with its unique coverage of news, community history, and announcements of births, marriages, and deaths.

Scholars of Japanese history and émigré communities will find this to be a valuable source for research with full search capabilities. Media and literary scholars will appreciate the rich archival history of the paper, with full high-quality page images (including photos, graphics and advertisements) from every issue available.

Rafu Shimpo Digital Archive, Accessible Online

The Rafu Shimpo Digital Archive contains all obtainable published issues from 1914 to the present, with the archive growing to include an additional year’s worth of content on an annual basis. The database is 100% full-text searchable utilizing Optical Character Recognition and contains the full image of each page. If users see mistakes in the rendered text, there is an option for crowd-source text correction. Database users may switch the interface to display in Japanese or English.

The Rafu Shimpo Digital Archive is a one-time purchase that includes an institutional subscription to rafu.com, the newspaper’s website, giving full access to current issues.