Yuri Kochiyama was a Japanese-American who was placed in an internment camp as a young adult during World War II and went on to a lengthy career as an activist. Kochiyama died in 2014, but Thursday’s Google Doodle honors her on what would have been her 95th birthday.
“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,” Google’s webpage for Thursday’s Doodle says.
This short summary substantially whitewashes Kochiyama’s career, though. Besides campaigning for reparations to interned Japanese-Americans (which were granted in 1988), Kochiyama’s career included frequent support for Communist revolution, black separatism, and anti-American terrorism.
A convert to Islam, after 9/11 Kochiyama was deeply critical of the U.S. war on terrorism and offered strong praise for Osama bin Laden. In a 2003 interview, she described bin Laden as a leader she admired, alongside Fidel Castro, Malcolm X, and Che Guevara.
“I thank Islam for bin Laden,” she said. “America’s greed, aggressiveness, and self-righteous arrogance must be stopped.” She argued that America’s goal in the war on terrorism was “taking over the world.”
Bin Laden wasn’t the only violent terrorist Kochiyama had sympathy for. She also declared she “completely support[ed]” the Shining Path in Peru, a violent Maoist insurgency implicated in numerous terrorist actions and atrocities. She participated in an occupation of the Statue of Liberty in 1977 that called for the release of four Puerto Rican terrorists who shot up the House of Representatives in the 1950s. She also solicited support for figures like Yu Kikumura, a member of the Japanese Red Army who was convicted in 1988 of planning to bomb a U.S. Navy recruitment office, and Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Black Panther who was convicted of murdering a Philadelphia policeman in 1981.
Besides her sympathy for armed revolutionaries and terrorists, Kochiyama also advocated black separatism, an ideology that seeks the creation of a separate black homeland in the United States. Towards that end, she was one of the few non-black individuals to join the Republic of New Afrika, a seditious group that claimed dominion over five states in the American South.
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