Top 5 Japanese Americans You Don’t Want to Mess With

One Asian American stereotype is that we’re all meek and quiet. I’ve never been that guy. I’m loud and not afraid to say what’s on my mind.  And I’m not the only one. There have been loud and proud Asian Americans since we got here.

Here are my Top 5 Japanese Americans who will once and for all put the whole timid Asian stereotype to death. In fact, they will blow it out of the water.

#5: Ken Eto (AKA: Tokyo Joe or the “Jap”)
Ken was the highest ranking Asian American in the Italian mob. He ran the Asian gambling part of the business before he was shot three times in the head. He survived and turned government witness.

#4: Yuri Kochiyama
Yuri has spent the last 70+ years fighting for the rights of others. She is most well-known for befriending Malcolm X during the tumultuous civil rights struggles of the 1960s. She was the Asian American woman cradling Malcolm X’s head after he was assassinated.

#3: Frank Emi
Frank was one of the leaders of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee. He encouraged others to refuse to join the American military until their civil rights were returned to them. Frank served 18 months Leavenworth, Kansas.

#2: Sadao “Spud” Munemori
Let me just quote, Sadao’s Medal of Honor citation “…he made frontal, one-man attacks through direct fire and knocked out two machine guns with grenades. Withdrawing under murderous fire and showers of grenades from other enemy emplacements, he had nearly reached a shell crater occupied by two of his men when an unexploded grenade bounced on his helmet and rolled toward his helpless comrades. He arose into the withering fire, dived for the missile and smothered its blast with his body.” ‘Nuff said.

#1: Richard Aoki
Richard was one of the original members of the Black Panther party. He was their gun runner and eventually became the “Field Marshal.” Although there were a few other Asian Americans in the organization, he was the only one with a leadership position.

Did I forget someone? Let me know by leaving a comment!

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Author: Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.