Yuri Kochiyama

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Yuri Kochiyama


Yuri Kochiyama was a Maoist who "straddled black revolutionary politics and Asian American empowerment movements" according to her obituary in the LA Times.[1] Yuri Kochiyama and her comrade Richard Aoki were Japanese members of the Black Panther Party. From 1971 to 1975 Yuri Kochiyama converted to Islam as a Sunni Muslim, oftentimes training with Safiya Bukhari under Imam Rasul Suleiman, who was a security guard for Malcolm X.[2]

Yuri Kochiyama died at 93 in Berkeley, California.

Of importance to KW readers and researchers who want to track the radical activities of Kochiyama during her lifetime, KW has found that she sometimes used "Mary Kochiyama" to identify herself on radical/Marxist fronts lists of sponsors and supporters as can be found under "Kochiyama and the Socialist Workers Party" further down this section. Her birth name was "Mary Yuriko Nakahara" and her married name became "Mary Yuri Kochiyama", "Mary Kochiyama" and/or "Yuri Kochiyama." She married Bill Kochiyama, a WW2 veteran from the famous 442nd Regiment of Japanese-Americans.

Background

Yuri Kochiyama was the daughter of immigrants who was forced to live in an internment camp during World War II. She "married a Japanese American GI she had met during the war and in 1960 moved with him to Harlem, where she raised a large family and joined her poor black and Puerto Rican neighbors to fight for better schools and safer streets." During an interview in 1972, Yuri Kochiyama explained how Malcolm X influenced her to stop fighting for "racial integration" in lieu of separatism, which was, how she described it, "total liberation."

A totally sympathetic book about her, entitled "The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama: Heartbeat of Struggle", was written by Diane C. Fusino, Un. of Minnesota Press, 2005. It totally destroys any attempts to whitewash her communist, black revolutionary extremism, and anti-America background and life after WW2.

Google Celebrates Yuri Kochiyama

On May 19 2016, the popular search engine Google featured Yuri Kochiyama on their daily "Google Doodle" feature. The tribute vastly downplayed Kockiyama's radical history:

"It’s with great pleasure that Google celebrates Yuri Kochiyama, an Asian American activist who dedicated her life to the fight for human rights and against racism and injustice. Born in California, Kochiyama spent her early twenties in a Japanese American internment camp in Arkansas during WWII. She and her family would later move to Harlem, where she became deeply involved in African American, Latino, and Asian American liberation and empowerment movements. Today’s doodle by Alyssa Winans features Kochiyama taking a stand at one of her many protests and rallies.
Kochiyama left a legacy of advocacy: for peace, U.S. political prisoners, nuclear disarmament, and reparations for Japanese Americans interned during the war. She was known for her tireless intensity and compassion, and remained committed to speaking out, consciousness-raising, and taking action until her death in 2014."[3]

Kochiyama and The Wilfred Burchett 60th Birthday Committee

Mary Kochiyama was listed on the "Sponsors List" (in formation) of the wholly-created and owned "The Wilfred Burchett 60th Birthday Committee" formed by the Maoist-oriented "Guardian newspaper (US). This appeared in a notice of the same title announcing "A Burchett Antiwar Chest Campaign" that the Guardian had set up for Burchett, an identified KGB agent, identified member of the Australian Communist Party and Red Chinese operative. The full story about Burchett and this Birthday Committee can be found in his KW page.

The list of "Sponsors" read like a "Who's Who" of the Hanoi Lobby, the Communist Party USA and its fronts, as well as of Maoist-oriented Marxists, one or two identified Soviet WW2 spies in the US, well-known Hanoi supporting professors Arthur Kinoy, Corliss Lamont, Russ Nixon, Sidney Peck, Franz Schurman, Stanley Sheinbaum, and Howard Zinn. Jane Fonda and top Soviet supporter actor Ossie Davis were the "chairmen" of the affair, while Guardian leaders/writers Irving Beinin and Abe Weisburd were the "coordinators". Davis was replaced by identified CPUSA member Annette Rubinstein when he was unable to serve as chairman.

Kochiyama and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP)

The name "Mary Kochiyama" is found on the "Endorsers of the November 20, (1971) demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco", As of October 29, 1971 - List In Formation - Organizations for identification, on P. 7 under "New York" endorsers. No identification of her organizational affiliations was listed.

The "November 20, 1971" Vietnam protest was organized by the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party (SWP) aided by its' youth arm, the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA). By this time in 1971, the ideological split in the so-called "Anti-Vietnam Movement" or "Peace Movement" had become irreconcilable between the Trots of the SWP and the Soviet Union/Stalinists of the "Communist Party USA" (CPUSA). Details of this infighting were found in the House Internal Security Committee 4 volume hearings of 1971 entitled "The National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC) and the Peoples' Coalition for Peace and Justice (PCPJ).

[Most of the signers of this list of endorsers were not communists or Marxist, but a review of the SWP/YSA members showed that they were the dominant faction in this list and that could not be a coincidence, especially since one of the New York signers was Linda Jenness, "1972 presidential candidate Socialist Workers Party" (p. 7) along with Mary Alice Waters, editor of "The Militant", the official newspaper of the SWP, as well as several other key SWP/YSA leaders.

Kochiyama and the Republic of New Africa

In 1973, the House Internal Security Committee (HISC) published a summary report on Marxist/radical attempts and penetrations of the American penal system, the results of 4 volumes of hearings (testimonies) held that year.[4].

In it was a section on the maoist/Marxist Republic of New Africa (RNA), an extremely violent small black organization that succeeded an earlier one led by Maoist/Castro supporter Robert F. Williams known as the Revolutionary Action Movement in the 1960's. The RNA planned on establishing a black, Marxist nation (5 states in the South), within the U.S. RNA members were responsible for several major terrorist operations in the U.S. over the years.

Within this HISC report were descriptive sections on Marxist/Communist and ethnic extremist organizations and their publications. On pages 40-41, the report stated:

"The New African"

"The New African", 395 Clinton Avenue, 2D Brooklyn, N.Y., 11238, is published monthly by the Ministry of Information, and is the official organ of the Republic of New Africa. The subscription rate is $6 per year. Editor: Ibidun Sundiata (RNA Minister of Information). Staff: Yuri Kochiayama (sic) (N.Y.) Kochiyama, Chumaimari (Miss.), Ky (sic) Farin, Awausi.

The August 1972 issue listed the New African Creed, its "Declaration of Independence" and oath.

The paper regularly features a page entitled "From Behind the Wall--Letters from Prisoners of War." These letters from so-called "prisoners of war" are described as "today's most radical thoughts and words of wisdom." They allegedly "radiate" from prisoners whose "words of inspiration and fire will keep the constant glow needed in the struggle. This page is a salute to them." who according to the commentary were "not merely 'political prisoners' a circumstance in a racist capitalist society--but prisoners of war, brothers and sisters who chose to become 'enemies of the state' and were captured."

Hard Times Conference

In 1976 Yuri Kochiyama for Puerto Rican Solidarity Committee National Board attended the Weather Underground and Prairie Fire Organizing Committee organized Hard Times Conference Jan 30 - Feb 1 at the University of Chicago.[5]

July 4th Coalition

The July 4th Coalition (J4C) was created by the Weathermen Underground Organization (WUO) and its above arm the Praire Fire Organizing Committee (PFOC), along with the pro-Castro, Marxist Puerto Rican Socialist Party (PRSP) in order to disrupt the Philadelphia celebration of America's 200th founding birthday. Among the leaders of this Marxist/terrorism-supporting mélange was Yuri Kochiyama, identified as National Committee for Defense of Political Prisoners[6].

On pp. 99-100 of the SISS hearing on "Threats to the Peaceful Observance of the Bicentennial", there was reprinted a statement of the J4c entitled "The American Revolution Continues", with their view of America and their plans for a communist struggle to destroy it. On pages 100-101, there was a "Partial List of Endorsers" of the statement and protest, including Yuri Kochiyama, New York, N.Y. The list was literally a "Who's Who" of the Marxist movement including leading members of the "Hanoi Lobby", "Castro Lobby", PLO Lobby", the Marxist American Indian Movement, the black Marxist extremists, and key members of the CPUSA's legal fronts.

Kochiyama and the Maoist Communist Workers Party

Kochiyama's name appeared on a "Partial List of October 17 Forum Endorsers" with a "political prisoners' supporter worker" identification, for the October 17, 1980 "Forums" tour of the widows of the slain Communist Workers Party (CWP) members killed in the Nov. 3, 1979 shootout with the KKK in Greensboro, N.C. Her name appeared in this notice in the October 22, 1980 edition of the "Guardian", the maoist-oriented US weekly, P. 19, entitled "Full Conviction Of Klan/Nazi Murderers! Stop Government Repression"! announcing the various stops that these Maoist women and men would be making around the U.S. during October 1980.

19th Venceremos Brigade

Yuri Kochiyama in photo with Malcolm X after he was shot via Life Magazine
Yuri Kochiyama travelled to Cuba with the 1988, 19th Venceremos Brigade;
It had always been my dream to go to Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade, but I didn't think that would be possible as I was in my sixties sixty seven years old to be exact when I applied. I didn't think that anyone as old as me would be accepted, but I later found out there were others even older than I was! I filled out my application, turned it in, and was accepted. I thank my husband for being supportive and helping me with the funds needed and taking care of the family while I was away.
I was also very grateful to Vilma Ramirez, a Chilean activist who kept encouraging me to try and apply. I was surprised to learn that of the 149 North Americans comprising the 19th Venceremos Brigade, some fifteen were senior citizens. The 1988 Brigade to Cuba ranged in age from fifteen to eighty-one.
After Cuba's victory, so many activists wanted to see what a socialist country would be like. The Venceremos Brigade, a left wing solidarity organization, developed work brigades to give grassroots organizers and activists an opportunity to go to Cuba to work together with the people there and experience first hand their way of living. It was such a golden opportunity to work, study, and learn about global liberation struggles and socialism in Cuba. There are still Brigades going to Cuba today.
Under the slogan "No More Contras Anywhere," the Brigade represented a broad cross section of students, workers, professionals, and retirees from all over the U.S. The gender breakdown included seventy two women and sixty nine men; the ethnic composition was sixty two whites and seventy-nine people of color (thirty-eight Latinos, thirty-two Blacks, three Middle Easterners, three Native Americans, and three Asians). The wide array of Brigadistas, however, was unified in their praise and admiration of Cuba's concerted efforts through self determination, its continuous struggle against the vestiges of racism and colonialism, and its effort to build a solid foundation for nurturing tomorrow's new socialist men and women.
The host organization, Cuban Institute for Friendship (ICAP), was instrumental in setting up tours and meetings, handling logistics, and recruiting speakers, translators, and camp work crew who were all exemplary hosts/ hostesses and emissaries of friendship.
An unexpected highlight for many Brigadistas, especially the Blacks, was the brief encounters with the highly esteemed, recognized folk hero, Black revolutionary Assata Shakur. Seeing Shakur and her daughter looking well and strong was heartwarming. Another delight for us was the quick meeting with Don Rojas, the former press secretary for Grenada's beloved martyred Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, on the last night of our stay. [7]

Malcolm X conference

Safiya Bukhari (left), Rasul Suleiman (center) with Yuri Kochiyama (right)
A conference, Malcolm X: Radical Tradition and a Legacy of Struggle was held in New York City, November 14 1990.

The "Malcolm X in New York" panel consisted of;

Chairperson:

Panel:

  • Yuri Kochiyama, Activist, close associate of Malcolm X
  • Bill Epton, Activist, author of The Black Liberation Struggle Within the Current World Struggle[8].

Serve the People Conference on Asian American Community Activism

The 1998 Serve the People Conference on Asian American Community Activism featured a mix of roundtable discussions, designed to provoke thought and debate on "large" questions facing all activists, and workshops and panels designed for activists in similar areas of work to open lines of communication with one another and to share lessons garnered through struggle. The choice of speakers was based primarily on their grassroots community work but also on concerns to have diverse geographic, ethnic, gender, and generational representation. A highlight of the conference was the opening panel on "Interracial Unity and the Struggle for Liberation," in which longtime, history-making activists Grace Lee Boggs and Yuri Kochiyama espoused upon why they have remained committed to revolutionary politics for decades.

With years of dedication to the Black Freedom Movement, both Boggs and Kochiyama served as living examples of the importance of unity among people of color. Boggs shared theoretical and practical insights from her highly praised autobiography Living for Change, which was a popular seller at the conference. Kochiyama brought the capacity crowd to its feet with her impassioned call to "Serve the people at the bottom... the people at the top don’t need your help!" They were joined by local activists Leon Watson and Bill Gallegos, veterans of the African American and Chicano movements, respectively. This inspirational opening plenary served to impart a radical tone to the proceedings and to bring out the best in participants, allowing the conference to maintain a pleasantly non-sectarian atmosphere throughout. The next morning, veteran activists of numerous since-dissolved cadre organizations engaged in a friendly yet critical conversation on the legacy of the Asian American Movement with some admittedly having not made contact with one another for upwards of 25 years. Overall, "Serve the People" provided an opportunity to interact with some of the most prominet community activists from around the country including Anannya Bhattacharjee of New York’s Workers Awaaz, Debbie Wei of Philadelphia’s Asian Americans United, Eric Mar of the Bay Area’s Asian Pacific Islanders for Community Empowerment, Jane Bai of New York’s Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence, Joe Navidad of BAYAN-International, Kent Wong of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Meizhu Lui of Boston’s Health Care for All, Miriam Ching Louie of Berkeley’s Women of Color Resource Center.[9]

War Times

In January 2002, a group of San Francisco leftists, mainly involved with STORM or Committees of Correspondence, founded a national anti-Iraq War newspaper[10] War Times.

Endorsers of the project included Yuri Kochiyama.

Not In Our Name

In August 2004 Yuri Kochiyama endorsed an anti “Bush Team” Protest at the Republican National Convention in New York, organized by Not In Our Name, an organization closely associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party[11].

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

In 2008 Yuri Kochiyama of Republic of New Afrika (RNA), Oakland, CA signed a statement circulated by the Partisan Defense Committee (PDC), a front for the Trotksyite Spartacist League (SL), calling for the release of convicted “cop-killer” Mumia Abu-Jamal.[12]

Dream of Equality awardee

Yuri Kochiyama is a past recipient of Asian Americans for Equality's annual Dream of Equality award.[13]

References