Updated: Oct 9, 2020
Born on May 19, 1921 in California, Yuri Kochiyama was a radical leftist Japanese American activist who dedicated her life to fighting for racial equity. Her fierce commitment to fighting for her community make her an admirable activist and historical figure.
Kochiyama’s birth time is unknown, so we don’t know the degree of her ascendant. But her sun was in Taurus, and at 28 degrees of the sign, finds itself in conjunction with the powerful fixed star, Algol. Representing the head of the Medusa, Algol is said to be one of the most challenging stars to have in aspect to a personal point in the birth chart. It speaks to the myth of Medusa, who in mythology was abducted and sexually assaulted by Poseidon. Medusa’s sisters then avenged these wrongdoings, however, and so the significations of Algol are both of experiences of violence and of the justice that, in a fair society, follows these wrongdoings.
Algol’s association with abduction is particularly pertinent to Kochiyama’s life experiences. In 1941, Kochiyama was a young adult living in Northern California with her parents. Following the Pearl Harbor bombings, FBI agents arrived at her home and arrested her father, assuming that because he was Japanese, essentially, he could be dangerous. Kochiyama’s father had health problems and became gravely ill while detained. He was released after six months, but died the day after his release. Soon after, Kochiyama and her family—along with hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans across the country—were detained in FDR’s relocation program. This act of horrific systemic racism and violence is akin to abduction; Kochiyama’s father was literally abducted from her family, and soon after her entire family was abducted from their home.
After being released from the camp where she was staying, Kochiyama married a man she had met while detained and had six children with him. In 1960, they moved to Harlem, where they joined various political organizations. Kochiyama was dedicated to advocating for the rights of Japanese Americans in particular but also people of color on the whole. She met and was inspired by Malcom X in 1963, and became close to him; she was present when he was assassinated.
One of Kochiyama’s main causes was advocating for reparations for Japanese Americans who had survived the relocation camps. This speaks to the more positive side of Algol: the ability to advocate for justice once a wrongdoing has been committed. Reparations as a form of justice suggest a concern with concrete, pragmatic forms of justice, which is also supported by Kochiyama’s chart. Her sun forms a trine to Jupiter and Saturn in Virgo, which together create conditions for a practical, earthly approach to social justice issues. Rather than advocating only for something symbolic, like a monument, Kochiyama fought to give survivors the financial resources they needed to fund their continued survival and wellbeing. Her advocacy for reparations was one of the forces that led to Reagan’s signing of the 1988 Civil Liberties Act, which granted $20,000 in reparations for Japanese Americans who had survived the camps. Kochiyama, inspired by that success, began to advocate for reparations to be paid to the Black community as well.
Kochiyama dedicated her life to equity and justice, drawing from her own experiences of abuse at the hands of the government. Her strength in the face of such adverse circumstances shows great tenacity, ideological commitment, and courage.