ISLAND HISTORY: Everyone Knew “Joe” Shiramizu – Part 2: “Lihue Plantation News” Editor

After graduating 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 could call him a field worker in modern terminology, but actually what they wanted me to do was help la luna, the foreman. He was a tall, tall, handsome Filipino. And his crew of nine, they were known as tinkerers. They did it all. Cut the cane, hapai and go load the cane, fix the tracks, lead a mule team, everything. And what they needed was someone who could read and write. To keep time, so that they can be paid.

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

“It was an internal publication. I was editor and wrote 99% of it. And then I used a whole slew of reporters from various departments, the store, the factory, the auto store. So we did all of this and I had to put this paper together including the photographs. He won several important awards. But what he was actually doing was meeting a need. The plantation realized that there was a need for pure communication, you know, from management down to the grassroots, the employees. And that was the official media. As long as I had something to do with it, I insisted that it was to improve relations with the community, relations with employees. And I never forgot it. Everything was relationship oriented.

In his spare time, “Joe” also moonlighted at The Garden Island newspaper, first as a sports journalist, then as a sports editor for Charlie Fern (1892-1995), who worked for the newspaper from 1922 to 1966.

Eventually, “Joe” was promoted to personnel management and industrial relations, and retired from the 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.

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