Taro Yashima


1908 – 1994


Who was Taro Yashima?

Taro Yashima was the pseudonym of Atsushi Iwamatsu, a Japanese artist who lived in the USA during World War II.

Iwamatsu was born September 21, 1908, in Nejima, Kimotsuki District, Kagoshima, and raised there on the southern coast of Kyushu. His father was a country doctor who collected oriental art and encouraged art in his son. After studying for three years at the Imperial Art Academy in Tokyo, Iwamatsu became a successful illustrator and cartoonist. At one point both he and his wife Tomoe went to jail for his opposition to the militaristic government. In 1939, they went to the United States to study art, leaving behind their son Mako. After Pearl Harbor, Iwamatsu joined the U.S. Army and went to work as an artist for the Office of Strategic Services. It was then that he first used the pseudonym Taro Yashima, out of fear there would be repercussions for Mako and other family members if the Japanese government knew of his employment. His booklet No Luck was by one account the most widely distributed piece of American propaganda circulated on the Pacific front during World War II. It was the story of a homesick Japanese soldier whose final journey home is in the form of ashes in a small wooden box. Taro Yashima spent some months of the war years in India on intelligence missions. During the war, he was a member of the Japanese American Committee for Democracy.

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Sep 21, 1908
Nejime, Kagoshima
Also known as
  • Atsushi Iwamatsu
  • Tarō Yashima
  • Yashima Tarō
  • Iwamatsu Atsushi
  • Taro Yashima
  • 八島太郎 Yashima Tarō
  • 岩松淳 Iwamatsu Atsushi
  • Mr. Iwamatsu
  • United States of America
  • Japan

on July 23, 2013


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