Reader Learns About Japanese Culture Through a Printed Paper

November 20, 2015 • Columnists, Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Thank you for the invitation that appeared in “A Letter From the Editor” in the October 16, 2015, issue of the P.C. that arrived in my mail today, October 24, 2015, to write to you with our “questions, objections and concerns” about switching the publication of the P.C. to digital only.

At the outset, I must say that over the decades, I have learned from the P.C. a great deal about the Japanese culture (into which I married in the mid-1960s), the experience of Japanese Americans during WWII, cultural events occurring all over the country, new books and films of interest and the passing of many who contributed with such dedication to the JACL goals including redress, cultural understanding, etc. When my husband died about 12 years ago, I decided to continue receiving the P.C. and read it regularly when it arrives.

I recall that we had a paper ballot to complete on the subject of switching to a  digital version of the P.C. a number of years ago, and I voted “no” to digital. Since that time, I did elect to take a professional weekly as digital only and discovered at the end of the year, only twice did I go out and look at it. At the next annual renewal of that membership,

I requested resumption of the paper version and have been reading it regularly each week ever since and find myself learning so much more (including items I would never search for) by browsing through the entire issue than squinting at my monitor. Also, printing out something like the P.C. every week would become very expensive in paper and cartridges for those of us who prefer to read a hard copy. Having written above how I feel about all-digital and what my experience has been, I should probably merely thank you again for asking for our opinions.

However, I will go on that I can appreciate the situation. We are told everywhere that going digital is the solution to costs, etc. Yet, when we have tried to do that where I work, the IT department gets ever bigger as data entry and retrieval is pushed down to staff members at the bench with no increase in that staff.

Is there a profile of the current readership of the P.C.? Are the majority of the readers in the over-65 category or older? Or, are the young people an increasing fraction of the readers? If the latter, what goals does JACL have to serve those younger people? Are they to educate about their cultural heritage and history of their parents and grandparents? Is the P.C. the best mechanism for that? Or is it better to work through the schools with special programs presented to all the students in the class or classes participating as have been done occasionally out here, but the pool of survivors of WWII is diminishing rapidly.

Just as I (who grew up in a very small town in the Midwest) knew nothing about the internment of Japanese Americans until I met my husband, I expect to this day there are many people living in the United States who know nothing about it, and surely education is a key to avoiding situations where history is repeated.

Maybe there is more in the regular press about historical events than I realize, for I did read “Train to Crystal City” this summer because of a book review in the Wall Street Journal a few days before I bought the book. I never knew about that effort to send families back to Japan, Germany and Italy during WWII even though some members were born in the U.S. I would hate to lose the coverage I find in the P.C.

Sincerely,

Lorraine H. Toji,
Sewell, N.J.

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