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Asm Phil Ting Secures $4.5 Million in State Funding For Historic Japantown Language School

For immediate release:
Asm Phil Ting Secures $4.5 Million in State Funding For Historic Japantown Language School

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) today announced $4.5 million from the California budget to transform Kinmon Gakuen’s auditorium into a premiere community space. This state funding for the 114-year-old Japanese language school kicks off a multi-phase rehabilitation that ensures the preservation of Japantown history.

“Japantown residents and their families have endured so much pain since immigrating to San Francisco. We must make it right by investing in their community. Revitalizing a neighborhood asset gives visitors a chance to connect and learn about the area’s history,” said Ting.

Kinmon Gakuen was originally established in 1911 to teach Japanese language, culture and tradition to the children of Issei pioneers, as they began their new life in the United States. It later served as an actual school of general instruction when racism against Japanese school children was at its worst. In 1942, the site then became a processing center, as the City’s Japanese residents were sent to U.S. concentration camps during the war. If those families decided to come back, their lives were again up-ended in the 1960’s/1970’s, due to redevelopment that demolished homes, businesses and community life. Today, the school continues to hold Japanese language and cultural classes, but it never really recovered from the past turmoil.

“We are honored to receive our initial finding from Assemblymember Ting. He recognizes the lack of public resources available to for AAPI communities. Under his leadership, he has secured sorely needed and deserved financial support for our organizations and communities statewide,” said Paul Osaki, Executive Director and former student of Kinmon Gakuen.

“Because of Assemblymember Ting’s leadership and clear understanding of the needs of our community, we have been able to launch our capital campaign to immediately start our project without further delay,” said Shinichi Seino, Kinmon Gakuen’s Board President.

As Assembly Budget Chair during the height of the pandemic, Ting led efforts to pass the AAPI Equity Budget, which allocated nearly $250 million over three years to Asian American Pacific Islander organizations and communities to help stop hate incidents, strengthen safety initiatives and bolster resources that foster greater understanding.

On top of that, Ting secured additional funds specifically for Japantown. In 2021, the center’s Buchanan Mall received $5 million for a much needed makeover. The following year, the Peace Plaza redesign project received $6 million to help with unexpected costs.

Kinmon Gakuen’s auditorium is slated to begin renovations within a month.