The years of World War II were traumatic for Kuniyoshi. Immediately after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the US government reclassified Kuniyoshi as an “enemy alien,” impounded his bank account, confiscated his camera and binoculars, and restricted his travel outside New York City. Nonetheless, he remained a fervent believer in the democratic system and a fierce opponent of Japanese militarism. He worked actively to support the Allies, recording radio broadcasts to the people of Japan for Voice of America and making propaganda drawings for the Office of War Information.
Curator of the exhibitions Joann Moser writes about "The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi" (April 3–August 30, 2015), the first solo exhibition of Kuniyoshi’s work presented in the United States in twenty-five years.
“Yas,” as Kuniyoshi was affectionately known, enjoyed a large circle of friends and moved easily among artists who worked in a variety of styles. He was outgoing and congenial, whether interacting with his fellow artists professionally or socially.