Martha Miiko Nakagawa, a long-time community journalist, researcher and advocate, passed away on the morning of July 28 at Los Angeles General Medical Center. She was 56.
Nakagawa attended Stanford University, where she received a bachelor of arts in Asian studies with a minor in Japanese in 1989. Her activism blossomed while she was there when she was arrested during a campus wide protest demanding a more robust Asian American Studies program.
Nakagawa was a journalist for more than 30 years, working for Asian Week, Pacific Citizen and The Rafu Shimpo and contributing to other community publications, including Nikkei West, Hawaii Herald, Nichi Bei Times, Hokubei Mainichi and Nichi Bei Weekly.
The Japanese American National Museum issued the following statement on Aug. 23, 2023:
JANM Mourns the Passing of Martha Nakagawa
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) mourns the passing of Martha Nakagawa, an activist, journalist, writer, and researcher who was dedicated to unearthing groundbreaking stories in the Nikkei community. A native of Gardena, California, she earned her BA in Asian Studies and minor in Japanese from Stanford University. For over thirty years she worked for the Pacific Citizen, Rafu Shimpo, and Asian Week, and contributed to the Hawai‘i Herald, Hokubei Mainichi, Nichi Bei Times, Nichi Bei Weekly, and Nikkei West. A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, August 27, 2023, at 11 a.m. at Fukui Mortuary in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo neighborhood.
“Martha was a courageous journalist who made a significant contribution in many areas including adding to the canon of understanding and interpreting Japanese American history, documenting community voices of resistance, and raising awareness about community activities, issues, and news. Her loss reverberates throughout the community and we will miss her greatly,” said Ann Burroughs, President and CEO of JANM.