Koji Ariyoshi (1912 - 1976) was an Hawaii activist.
Koji Ariyoshi was born on a coffee plantation in Kona.
Stay in Georgia
Already interested in Communist ideas at the University of Hawaii, Ariyoshi won a scholarship to the University of Georgia in the 1930s. In Georgia, Ariyoshi lived with the leftist parents of Communist sympathizer and Tobacco Road novelist, Erskine Caldwell.
Because he was in the mainland at the outbreak of WWII, he was interned at Manzinar relocation camp, where he enlisted in the Army and was assigned to Yenan China as an interpreter and U.S. military observer.
Ariyoshi joined the WW2-era Military Intelligence Service/OSS—predecessor to the CIA—and used his language skills to land himself a position as U.S. military liaison to Communist forces in China—working personally with Mao Zedong.
Ariyoshi was a member of the "Dixie Mission" to Yenan, the HQ of the Chinese communist forces in the 1940s. Ariyoshi spent nearly two years in China as an officer of an all-Nisei psychological warfare unit. The unit's job was to direct propaganda against the Japanese civilians and troops in China at the time.
Working for China-US "friendship"
Immediately after the war, Koji Ariyoshi worked in China and then New York City with accused "Amerasia" spy John S. Service and Ed Rohrbough -- who would become business manager of the Honolulu Record -- in an effort to steer U.S. policy towards the Communists and against the Nationalists. Rohrbough had edited a U.S. Office of War Information newspaper in Fukien, China during the war.
The Record had been founded just after the first prosecution of Communists began. From its first issue it had dedicated massive amounts of space to defending fired Communist schoolteachers John Reinecke and Aiko Reinecke who would later become two of the Honolulu Seven. Shortly after the Honolulu Seven convictions were reversed, the paper folded. Ariyoshi then opened a flower shop and became known as “the Red florist.” But a decade later he was back in action leading the 1970 establishment of the Ethnic Studies Department at UH Manoa