Marii Kyogoku Hasegawa
As a result of her experiences in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, Marii Kyogoku Hasegawa devoted her life to promoting human rights, disarmament, and world peace, in part through the Richmond Peace Center, of which she was a co-founder.
Photograph courtesy of the Hasegawa Family.
The Library of Virginia honored Marii Hasegawa as one of its Virginia Women in History in 2018.
The Virginia Women in History Digital Trail is made possible by the Library of Virginia and American Evolution: Virginia to America, 1619–2019.
Backstory and Context
Born near Hiroshima, Japan, Marii Kyogoku Hasegawa (September 17, 1918–July 1, 2012) arrived in the United States as an infant when her father, a Buddhist priest, was sent to California. She earned a degree in home economics at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1938. After the United States declared war on Japan, she and her parents were forcibly removed from their home and sent to a Japanese internment camp in Utah. There she served as a social worker and managed a field kitchen, skills that led to her release in 1943. She found work in Philadelphia, where she married in 1946.
Deeply affected by her experiences in the camp and the United States' use of atomic bombs to end World War II in Japan, Hasegawa joined the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. During the 1960s she moved with her family to Richmond and joined the staff of the Virginia Office on Aging. She sat on the board of the Richmond Human Relations Council and was a founding member of the Richmond Peace Education Center. Through speaking engagements around the country, the soft-spoken Hasegawa shared her belief that freedom and social justice were necessary to achieve world peace. She served as president of WILPF's U.S. section (1971–1975) and was part of an international delegation of women who visited North Vietnam in 1973. In 1996 the Niwano Peace Foundation awarded Hasegawa its Peace Prize for her work in promoting peace and human rights worldwide. A documentary about her life, Marii Hasegawa: Gentle Woman of a Dangerous Kind, premiered in 2012.
Reprinted by permission of the Library of Virginia.