Daily Journal Covers Pro Bono Effort to Win Posthumous Law License for Japanese Activist

June 1, 2017

A May 25 Los Angeles Daily Journal article quotes McGuireWoods Los Angeles – Century City partner Sidney Kanazawa on the importance of the California Supreme Court’s decision to posthumously grant Japanese immigrant and activist Sei Fujii admission to the California State Bar. Born in Japan, Fujii immigrated to the United States in 1903 and later earned his law degree from the University of Southern California, but was prohibited from becoming a lawyer due to his race and place of birth. Even without a law license, Fujii teamed with a fellow USC graduate, J. Marion Wright, and together they dedicated themselves to championing the civil rights of Japanese in America from 1911 until Fujii’s death in 1954. USC graduate Jeffrey Chin has created a short film titled “Lil Tokyo Reporter” that documents parts of Fujii’s story and he is working on a biography of Fujii’s life.

Kanazawa represented the Little Tokyo Historical Society and the Japanese American Bar Association pro bono in petitioning the court to admit Fujii to the state bar. The motion marked the 65th anniversary of the high court’s decision to overturn California’s Alien Land Law, which denied people of Japanese ancestry, born outside of the United States, the right to own or acquire property in California. Fujii was the lead plaintiff in a suit to invalidate the law.

In an article titled “Japanese immigrant gets posthumous law license,” Kanazawa commented, “In this time of division, Sei Fujii is an example of someone who fought very hard to bring people together, to bring understanding and compassion to people.” The article is available online to subscribers.