Celebrating Agents of Asian Ancestry: JoAnn Sakato
JoAnn Sakato shares her experience as an FBI Special Agent of Asian ancestry.
I am JoAnn Sakato and I entered on duty in 1978. And I retired in 2002. I am fourth-generation Japanese American born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. I was the first Asian female FBI agent. I was also the first female agent from the state of Hawaii.
One Sunday I read an article about women in the FBI and I thought, "Oh, I can do that." So I applied and they were very happy to see me and I was very naïve. And of course I didn’t realize that would be the first Asian female agent.
In terms of being—the advantage to being a minority female in the FBI was that even I had the vision of a FBI agent as Efrem Zimbalist Jr. And so I could do interviews, I could work undercover and no one, it never crossed anyone’s mind that I would be a FBI agent. So that was a great advantage and I did work undercover in a number of roles and it was a good career.
I think I busted a couple of bubbles in the sense that as the first Asian female and as a Japanese female I think some of the agents expected a geisha. They expected someone to, who was very shy and retiring and reserved and soft spoken. And would say yes and not challenge people. Well, that’s not what they got when they hired me.
I’m pretty independent; always have been. And a funny story is that in the Los Angeles Field Office they would call me Dragon Lady. And I suppose in some context it could be a derogatory term. I decided to adopt that as my moniker. And I made it my own to the extent that I even had a personalized plate that said DRGNLDY and I guess I established a certain reputation for taking no prisoners. You know if you wanted to, I expected high things of myself. I expected good work, hard work. And I expected the same of others who interacted with me. And I think that I established a certain reputation of being rather harsh so others can probably tell you. But I adopted that and that was my persona. That was who I was and I wasn’t afraid of that. So I made it my own.
- 04.19.2017 — Wanted by the FBI: Top Ten Fugitive Bhadreshkumar Chetanbhai Patel
- 04.18.2017 — Newark Press Conference on Ten Most Wanted Fugitive Walter Yovany Gomez
- 04.12.2017 — Wanted by the FBI: Top Ten Fugitive Walter Yovany Gomez
- 03.27.2017 — Israel Legal Attaché Cary Gleicher Describes the FBI’s Role Overseas
- 03.27.2017 — Israel National Police General Describes Partnership with FBI
- 03.24.2017 — Seeking Information in Pasadena Cheesecake Factory Explosion
- 03.23.2017 — Wanted by the FBI: Missing Woman Amy Lynn Bradley
- 03.23.2017 — Agent Tam Dao Describes Joining FBI
- 03.23.2017 — Agent Hesham Elgamiel Describes Joining FBI
- 03.23.2017 — Agent Alfred Tribble, Jr. Describes Joining FBI
- 03.23.2017 — SAC Perrye K. Turner Describes Importance of Diversity
- 03.23.2017 — Agent Jenelle Janabajal Describes Joining FBI
- 03.21.2017 — Facebook Live Broadcast: Celebrating Black History Month
- 03.21.2017 — FBI Careers: Coolest Stories
- 03.10.2017 — Wanted by the FBI: Seeking Public Tips on Top Ten Fugitive Eduardo Ravelo
- 02.22.2017 — Voice of Unknown Subject in Indiana Double-Murder Investigation
- 02.21.2017 — Flag-Raising Honors Fallen Agent Edwin R. Woodriffe
- 02.13.2017 — Victim of Romance Scam Tells Her Story
- 02.13.2017 — Special Agent Christine Beining Describes Romance Scams
- 02.07.2017 — Facebook Live Broadcast: Women Special Agents