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Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, March 9, 2001

Book cover

Memoir offers glimpse
of Hawaii politics
after WWII


Bullet "From Kona to Yenan:
The Political Memoirs of Koji Ariyoshi

Edited by Alice and Edward Beechert (University of Hawai'i Press
with the Center for Biographical Research); 226 pages, $19

By Burl Burlingame

A dedicated friend of the working man in a way that some labor leaders today cannot fathom, Koji Ariyoshi spent his life as a gadfly enraging the Big Five companies that ruled Hawaii.

As a writer and editor of the pro-labor newspaper Honolulu Record, a stevedore and flower-shop owner, Ariyoshi was one of the "Hawaii Seven" targeted by the FBI. And as a decorated soldier in the U.S. Army, he served as a liaison in China, becoming friends with future leaders like Mao Zedung and Chou En-Lai.

"From Kona to Yenan: The Political Memoirs of Koji Ariyoshi," just published by University of Hawaii Press with the Center for Biographical Research, brings together a series of autobiographical sketches written by Ariyoshi for the Honolulu Record. The result is a fascinating glimpse into Hawaii's turbulent political period following World War II.

And what a life: Ariyoshi grew up on an isolated Kona plantation, went to work on San Francisco's waterfront, was interned at Manzanar, served in the Army, organized labor and wound up in Honolulu courtrooms defending the U.S. constitution.

There's a publication party celebrating "From Kona to Yenan" at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Judiciary History Center, on King Street across from Iolani Palace. Guests will include editors Edward and Alice Beechert, activists Ah Quon McElrath, Davianna McGregor of the UH and Guy Fujimura of the ILWU. Information: 956-3774.

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