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Former Kamikaze Yukimasa Nishiyama Goes to College

• CATEGORIES: Features

While doing research on Maynard Roberts I happened upon the story of the first Japanese citizen who attended college after WWII. There’s no jeeps involved in this story, but I thought it was an interesting story and an unusual, gutsy move by the family of Robert Johnstone.

Yukimasa Nishiyama was a former Kamikaze pilot who won a scholarship from a family in Pennsylvania, a scholarship funded by the death of their son, Robert Johnstone, during WWII in the Pacific. It was the family’s way to honor their son by using the insurance money paid to them to fund the scholarship for a Japanese citizen to attend Lafayette College. They wanted to bridge the divide between the two countries.

His story made the news when he first arrived. In 1948 his story made the October 4th issue of Life Magazine, complete with photos. This story about Yukimasa was published in 1950:

Clipping from The Pomona Progress Bulletin -

January 23, 1950, article in the Pomona Progress Bulletin.

After college, Nishiyama went on to work for AMP, a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, company for three decades before retiring. You can read more about his life and experiences in this 1989 article.


September 14, 1989, in The Morning Call out of Pennsylvania


September 14, 1989, in The Morning Call out of Pennsylvania

I could not find any more information about his life following 1989.



2 Comments on “Former Kamikaze Yukimasa Nishiyama Goes to College

  1. Joe in Mesa

    Wow… what an amazing story.
    Thanks for posting, Dave… although I didn’t find a single Willys or jeep in there 😉

  2. David Eilers Post author

    🙂 … I heard similar comments from the two former German WWII soldiers I talked with (One who fought with the German North Army and one who fought in Africa, where he was captured). They were sure America and the allies were evil. The one who fought in Africa said so much propaganda was burnt into him that it took a year in a US work camp before he came to realize that all he knew about Americans was wrong. Both Germans became productive US citizens.

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