Jacomcu: Japanese American Community Credit Union


Most credit unions are the result of an unfulfilled need for service. Suspicion and distrust also entered the initial picture that eventually evolved into our JACom Credit Union.

Our story goes back to 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor turned public opinion against all Japanese living in the United States, even against the Nisei (American born Japanese). Within just a few months after the outbreak of war, President Roosevelt's Executive Order #9066 dated February 19, 1942, moved all Japanese from the Pacific Coast to one of ten hastily built relocation camps in the inland states.

When they were finally released from the camps in 1945, anti-Japanese sentiment was still strong. Homeless in their own country, they were broke and without a source of credit. The housing shortage in Southern California was very severe in post war Los Angeles. Housing and job discrimination was pervasive. It was almost impossible to rent living quarters and few had enough money to buy a home.

In 1945, among those who were temporarily housed at the Centenary Methodist Church, a group banded together and started a Tanomoshi Club which was a neighborhood aid program based on mutual trust and compassion for the welfare of the group. Each Tanomoshi Club member contributed an equal share into a monthly "pot" and at its monthly meetings; any member in need of a financial loan would make a bid for the month's pot.

An initial group of 11 people (Morio Hayashida, Fukunosuke Kusumi, Motoki Murakami, Kiyoshi Momii, Tarojiro Nishimoto, Maoji Nitta, Shichiro Oba, Kotaro Sakakura, Justus Sato, Fusachika Satogami, and Yonetaro Shigemi) started a Tanomoshi Club and made a pledge to help each other to purchase homes of their own. The group quickly grew to 30 people. The Tanomoshi Club met at the home of Kiyoshi Momii on 37th Street and later the group moved to the garage of Fukunosuke Kusumi on 7th Avenue. By 1950, only six had not owned their own property.

Gaining strength in both members and assets, it was deemed advisable to incorporate as a California Credit Union. In June of 1951, the charter was received and the L.A. Southwest Japanese Credit Union was born. Fukunosuke Kusumi's garage became the initial office of the Credit Union. With about 45 members, its goal was, as it still is today, to service the financial needs of our ever growing membership. By the end of the calendar year, the Credit Union's assets had grown to approximately $64,000 with 235 members.

The results of the Credit Union’s first state audit conducted by the Department of Corporations were not good. Finding fault after fault, the state auditor, in a letter dated September 9, 1952, advised that the Credit Union should not engage in any further business. Rather than giving up, our dedicated founders worked hard to rectify all of the problems and on October 07, 1952, the Credit Union received word from the state agency that the restrictions to engage in business had been removed.

With the number of members quickly growing, it was decided in May 1954 that the Credit Union would rent a room at $50 a month above Kay's Hardware Store which was then under construction. In September of that year the Credit Union moved into room #2 at 3324 West Jefferson Boulevard, which it shared with the L.A. Southwest Gardeners Association.

By the end of 1955, the Credit Union had reached its 1000th member with assets of almost $400,000. The 1000th new member, Mrs. Haruko Shima, was honored with a commemorative gift.

JACom Credit Union continues to grow and evolve with the focus set on serving the financial needs of our membership. Highlighting moments include...