Art (Isamu) Shibayama, civil rights champion of the Japanese Latin Americans, died peacefully with family by his bedside on July 31 in San Jose, Calif. He was 88.
Born in Lima, Peru in 1930, Shibayama was 13 years old when he, along with his family, was kidnapped and transported to the United States. Immediately upon their arrival in New Orleans, they were arrested by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and transported to Crystal City, Texas, where they were held hostage, to be used in prisoner of war exchanges with Japan.
In 1946, a year after the war ended, Shibayama’s family was finally released from captivity, only to find themselves stranded in the United States because Peru refused to take them back.
They fought deportation to Japan and were allowed to remain in the United States on condition that they obtain the support of a sponsor.
Shibayama finally achieved legal alien status in 1956. It wasn’t until 1972 that he was finally allowed to become an U.S. citizen.
He is survived by his wife, their two children, and by three brothers and one sister.