San Jose’s Historic Japantown Monument Vandalized as Neighborhood Suffers From COVID

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Community members of San Jose’s Japantown discovered that a historic granite monument that honors Japanese immigrants was vandalized on Monday morning.

The defaced monument, which contains the tags “DEKO” and “JBF,” was found by family members of Jasmine Rast, owner of Roy’s Station Coffee and Teas, according to East Bay Times.

Rast said the defaced monument is just one of the many things the community has to deal with, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think everyone’s’ emotions are very raw right now,” Rast said. “All of the businesses are suffering due to COVID and everyone is trying to do the best we can to keep our heads above water and make a living.”

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The monument, known as the Issei Pioneer stone, honors the first-generation Japanese immigrants who traveled from Japan to Santa Clara Valley over a century ago. The stone is one of the three landmarks of such sentiment located on the corner of North Fifth Street and Jackson Street and was a gift from San Jose’s sister city, Okayama, Japan.

“Its strength and durability are a permanent tribute to the courage and perseverance of the Issei pioneers who settled in San Jose’s Japantown,” the Japantown Community Congress of San Jose page said.

The recent vandalism of the monument “reminds us all of this hopeful message that much like how the defaced monument stands tall, our community’s resilience and spirit will persevere,” Ryan Kawamoto, co-president of the Japantown Community Congress said.

Denouncing the incident and calling it “extremely disheartening,” Raul Peralez, the district’s City Councilmember, believes the incident was not racially motivated and was from a “well-known tagging crew that uses the moniker ‘JBF,'” KRON4 reported.

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Rast, her sister, and other businesses are gathering surveillance footage to submit to their local police department as evidence and to uncover the vandal.

“I don’t care where it is, when you’re out there defacing property, you are in the wrong,” Peralez said. “But when you go so far as to do it on a historic monument like this, in my mindset, that just takes it to a whole new low.”

The monument was cleaned the next day.

Featured Image via Roy’s Station Coffee & Teas

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