General APA, Japanese American

In memory of George Aratani

George Aratani

By Sara Schreck, Spring 2013 intern

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center is greatly saddened by the recent passing of Japanese American entrepreneur and philanthropist George Aratani, who passed away at the age of 95 on February 19, 2013.

Born May 22, 1917, Aratani was an extremely generous donor to foundations and organizations that promote Japanese American culture and education.  “Aratani was a philanthropic leader in the Asian Pacific American community who supported many important projects,” says Konrad Ng, Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. One organization Aratani and his wife, Sakaye, contributed to was the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, which has regularly supported the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Aratani and his wife were interned under Executive Order 9066 during World War II due to wartime anxiety and racism toward those of Japanese ancestry.  Aratani has been quoted as saying, “It is my philosophy to help the ones hurt by the mass evacuation.  I myself lost the family business.”(Hirahara and Kwan, 277). He is survived by his wife, Sakaye, two daughters, and extended family.


  • “George Aratani.” Densho Encyclopedia, 20 Feb. 2013. Web.
  • “George Tetsuo ARATANI Obituary.” Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2013. Web.
  • Hirahara, Naomi, and Shelley Kwan, eds. Fifty Years, 50 Stories: Celebrate All Things Keiro. Los Angeles, CA: Keiro Senior HealthCare, 2010.

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