95.3 / 88.5 FM Grand Rapids and 95.3 FM Muskegon
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

MSU Professor documents atomic bomb impacts on Asian Americans

Cover of "American Survivors: Trans-Pacific Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" book
Naoko Wake
Cambridge University Press


Naoko Wake, a professor of history at Michigan State University is shedding light on the after effects of World War II for American atomic bomb survivors in her new book American Survivors: Trans-Pacific Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"We're a diverse society, so we shouldn't really surprise us that there are Japanese-American survivors and Korean American Survivors," she explained, "...Our family members who were experiencing the injustice of the war on the other side of the ocean.”

In her book, Wake talks intimately with Asian American survivors and the challenges they face will illness, immigration, trauma and more. There's been a push for more visibility and recognition of Asian American atomic bomb survivors in the eyes of the United States government, but Wake says the "perpetual foreigner" stereotype and mindset has hindered discussions.

"Some of the representatives in the state government said, 'you were our enemies,'" Wake explained, when talking about reparations requests put before legislators, "(that) is historically inaccurate, because many were U.S. born, U.S. citizens... That's exactly the kind of narrative that hinders American survivors' efforts."

Wake, who was born and raised in Japan, said she hopes the book will bring more visibility and understanding to the hardships American survivors face.

"I hope readers can see get to know these survivors and see the different expressions of exclusion, hatred and racism that make our society less than what it could be," Wake said. 

Related Content