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ISLAND HISTORY: Everybody knew “Joe” Shiramizu – Part 2: ‘Lihue Plantation News’ editor

Following his graduation from Kaua‘i High School, “Joe” Shiramizu was hired by Lihu‘e Plantation as a timekeeper in the fields.

“My first job was, I guess you would call it a field hand in modern terminology, but actually what they wanted me for was to help the luna, the foreman. He was a big, tall, handsome, Filipino man. And his crew of nine, they were known as handymen. They did everything. Cut cane, hapai and go load cane, fix tracks, drive a mule team, everything. And what they needed was for someone who could read and write. To keep time, so that they could get paid.”

Then from 1952 to 1968, “Joe” was editor of the “Lihu‘e Plantation News.”

“It was an in-house publication. I was editor and I wrote 99 percent of the thing. And then I used a whole slew of reporters from various departments, the store, the factory, the automotive shop. So, we did all that and I had to put that paper together, including the photographs. It won several major awards. But what it did, really, was to fulfill a need. The plantation realized that there was a need for pure communication, you know, from the lips of management, to the rank and file out there, the employees. And that was the official medium. As long as I had something to do with it, I insisted it was aimed for improvement of community relationship, employee relationship. And I never forgot that. Everything was pointed to the relationship.”

In his spare time, “Joe” also moonlighted at The Garden Island newspaper, first as a sports reporter and later as sports editor for Charlie Fern (1892-1995), who was with the paper from 1922 to 1966.

Eventually, “Joe” was promoted to personnel management and industrial relations, and retired from Lihu‘e Plantation in 1973.

Chiyozo “Joe” Shiramizu was also elected to the Kaua‘i County Board of Supervisors in 1958 and served five terms on the board.

From 1969 to 1972, he served on the Kaua‘i County Council.

He and his wife, Shizuko, had two children, Cheryl and Merrie.
Source: The Garden Island

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