Communities mourn closures of Hawaii Hochi, Hawaii Herald

Nov. 12—With the announcement of the upcoming closure of both the Hawaii Herald and the Hawaii Hochi, those with ties to the publications are expressing their sadness at the news.

With the announcement of the upcoming closure of both the Hawaii Herald and the Hawaii Hochi, those with ties to the publications are expressing their sadness at the news.

Some described their firsthand witness to the effects the publications had on the community, while others acknowledged the valuable role they played capturing the stories of the state's Japanese communities.

"We have received many comments from subscribers, Japanese companies in Hawaii, the Nikkei community, and many other people regretting the discontinuation of our publications, " Taro Yoshida, president of Hawaii Hochi Ltd., wrote in an email to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. "Considering the role and history that the Hawaii Hochi has played in the Hawaii Nikkei community for over 110 years, I could not make the decision to discontinue the publication so easily."

The Hawaii Herald, a bimonthly publication, announced last week that after 43 years, it would be publishing its final issue Dec. 1. Meanwhile, the Hawaii Hochi, a daily publication, announced Tuesday that its final issue would be published Dec. 7—the publication's 111th anniversary.

Yoshida, who has led Hawaii Hochi since 2015, said that the business had been in the negative since before he took on the position. However, the support of the publication's parent company, the Shizuoka Shimbun, allowed them to remain in business until now, he said.

Kristen Nemoto Jay, editor of the Herald since April 2022, said that she, too, couldn't help but notice the number of subscribers dwindling. The decreasing numbers became more prominent as subscribers' children would call her each month asking to cancel their late parents' subscriptions.

"Our main subscribers were in their 80s and 90s, and they were literally dying so we were losing those subscriptions, " Jay said. "I was having to have the task of therefore, attracting new subscribers, and that means reaching out to more of what my generation would want to read about."

Jay introduced the Herald's first Pride issue during her first year as editor of the publication, and saw an outpouring of gratitude in the feedback it received. But before she could branch out further, she received the news that the paper would close.

"We were just getting started with trying to move those conversations forward, " she said. "I naively thought we had more time."

For Jay, news of the paper's closure was a devastating blow. She recalled her first interaction with the publication in 2013, when a freelance writer interviewed her for an article. Jay began freelancing for the Hawaii Herald herself about four years afterward until later working her way up to editor.

Others with ties to the Herald and the Hawaii Hochi submitted testimonials to Jay since the publications announced their closure, and expressed their sentiments regarding the news.

"The editors, staff members, and writers eloquently promoted and communicated both the legacy and the exciting ongoing contributions of the Japanese and Japanese-adjacent community to the larger world, " wrote University of Hawaii professor emerita and longtime contributor to the Herald, Violet Harada. "Losing this voice leaves us with an irreplaceable void."

Colin Sewake, a longtime freelancer of the Hawaii Herald, wrote in his testimonial that the news of the Herald and the Hochi's closures had him overcome with sadness.

Meanwhile, Jodie Ching, former editor for the Hawaii Herald, wrote of how the publication helped her to more closely connect to her Japanese American heritage, culture, values and community over the years.

"The Herald team showed their aloha to our community by always asking how our publication could be of service, honor our ancestors, and continue their legacy and carry forward their values, " Ching wrote. "Stories will never end. We must continue to share our experiences with future generations."------Linsey Dower covers ethnic and cultural affairs and is a corps member of Report for America, a national serv ­ice organization that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under ­covered issues and communities.------