This article was initially published on June 3, 2014 as original content for Discover Nikkei, a global online resource for Japanese emigrants and their descendants. Discover Nikkei is a project of the Japanese American National Museum.
In 1935, the Japanese Mutual Aid Society of Chicago began purchasing burial plots at Montrose Cemetery on the city’s North Side. Due to discriminatory policies of the time, Montrose was one of only a few cemeteries in the area that would inter the remains of deceased persons of Japanese ancestry. In 1937 the Mutual Aid Society erected a Japanese Mausoleum and in 1938 began hosting an annual Memorial Day commemoration.
The majority of Japanese Americans in the Chicago area today are descendants of late 19th and early 20th century immigrants who, along with their American-born children, fell victim to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which forcibly removed all persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast in 1942, spreading them among ten concentration camps further inland.