Harry Kitano, PhD

Harry Kitano, PhDHarry Kitano, PhD, spent his childhood in San Francisco, Calif., where his Japanese immigrant parents ran a hotel. His life and the life of Japanese Americans took a dramatic shift after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which resulted in an executive order to send Japanese immigrants to detention camps. Instead of completing his first year of high school, Harry Kitano and his family were sent to the Topaz internment camp in Utah, where they remained from 1942 to 1945. After his release Harry traveled the Midwest from Milwaukee to Minnesota. Along the way, he worked as a farmhand and a trombone player for several jazz bands.

Eventually he returned to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley to earn his BA in sociology, a masters in social work and then his PhD in psychology and education. After he completed his doctorate, Kitano obtained a position at UCLA where he remained for the duration of his professional career. At UCLA, Kitano held a joint faculty appointment in the department of social welfare and sociology. He has also served as co-director of UCLA's Alcohol Research Center and twice as acting director of Asian American Studies Center. Kitano has received numerous awards and honors from the academic community, including being the first recipient of the endowed chair in Japanese American studies at UCLA. Outside of UCLA, Kitano was a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii, Bristol, England, Whittier College and Yamaguchi University.

As a social scientist, Harry Kitano's work focused on the application of social theories and methods to the understanding of racial and ethnic conflict, cooperation and interactions, particularly among Japanese Americans. His studies of juvenile delinquency, interracial marriages and mental health and alcohol abuse among Asian Pacific Americans were groundbreaking in community research. Kitano has written several books, which include an in-depth analysis of the Japanese American experience entitled, "Japanese Americans: The Emergence of a Subculture." Kitano's last book, "Achieving the Impossible Dream: How Japanese Americans Achieved Redress," provides a record collection of the successful efforts in achieving a national apology for people of Japanese ancestry who were confined in internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Before his passing, Harry Kitano was also able to receive a special and personal redress when the San Francisco Board of Education awarded him a high school diploma.


Kang, K.C. (2002, October 24). Harry Kitano, 76; UCLA Professor, Expert on Race Relations. The LA Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/2002/oct/24/local/me-kitano24

Giovannoni, J.M. (n.d.) In Memoriam: Harry H.L. Kitano. Retrieved from http://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/inmemoriam/harryhlkitano.htm