In memoriam: Fred Hirasuna

Fred Hirasuna appears in our documentary near the end, standing at the Central California District JACL meeting speaking against any apology to the Heart Mountain resisters. Despite our differences, he graciously invited us to his home in Fresno in 1998 where he told us about his attending the very first JACL convention in 1930. We first heard last week from Martha Nakagawa:

I was just informed that Fred Hirasuna passed away last week. Fred was probably the oldest JACL member (he was in his 90s) and was staunchly against national JACL issuing an apology to the Nisei draft resisters. His feeling was that in times of war it was okay for the U.S. government to ignore constitutional rights. I think now Clarence Nishizu may be the oldest JACL member.

The Frank Chin road show evidently continues with word of another panel on the resisters now scheduled for the Boston Public Library on March 27 at the Organization of American Historians annual conference. Read the full workshop description or download a printable press release. Cherstin Lyon from the University of Arizona writes:

The Organization of American Historians has invited Frank Emi, Frank Chin, Art Hansen, Martha Minow and myself to present a roundtable discussion on the Nisei draft resisters and both the limits and possibilities of recent JACL reconciliation attempts.

Art Hansen will preside, and guide the discussion following the presentations. Frank Emi will begin with his perspective on the resistance and constitutional matters during the war as well as some of his thoughts on the limits of reconciliation. I will speak on resistance that took place in other camps, like that of the Tucsonians from Topaz and Amache, and the community of resisters that they formed by holding reunions and developing life long friendships with each other after the war. I will also comment on some of the other wartime prisoners that the Tucsonians met while in prison who had been convicted of other forms of civil disobedience, like Hopi conscientious objectors and Gordon Hirabayashi, whose case against evacuation and curfew went before the Supreme Court.

Frank Chin will be presenting work from his new book, Born in the U.S.A., as well as his thoughts on the roots of the conflict between “Americanized” JACLers and those who developed a strong, complex Nisei identity before the war, many of whom became resisters in one form or another during the war. Martha Minow will comment based on her extensive research on the Holocaust and reconciliation attempts that followed WWII. Minow is an extremely prolific author on the law and social justice, and is Professor of Law at Harvard University. A formal invitation has been extended to Floyd Mori, president of the JACL, to attend the roundtable and respond from the JACL point of view.

Frank Emi receives the key to the city

Frank Emi receives key to the city of Long Beach
Frank Emi with Long Beach Vice-Mayor Frank Colonna

Congratulations to Alan Nishio of the National Conference for Community and Justice, formerly known as the National Conference of Christians and Jews, for arranging for Heart Mountain resistance leader Frank Emi to literally receive the “key to the city” at the Day of Remembrance ceremony in Long Beach.

Read the story, “Former Internee Tells Story of Resistance,” from the Long-Beach Press Telegram, and more details in the news release from the NCCJ.

I was surprised but pleased to hear that clips from our documentary were shown at the event. Thanks to Annette Kashiwa and Martha Nakagawa for providing the photos. Click on the photo for an enlarged view.

Thanks also to Alan for providing  this other online interview with Frank Emi from the War Times, which uses photos and a story from this site.

Day of Remembrance 2004 screenings

Screenings are set this Tuesday, Feb. 3, at the Rockridge Branch Library in Oakland and around Feb. 14 in New York City for their Day of Remembrance ceremony. The Oakland screening is sponsored by the “Not In Our Name” anti-military campaign and accompanied with a group discussion.

Mr. and Mrs. Mits KoshiyamaI want to thank resister Mits Koshiyama and his wife (right) for coming to the funeral of my sister Patricia on Jan. 25 at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple. Pat passed away on Jan. 18 after a lengthy illness. Mits drove up from San Jose to offer comfort, and his presence meant so much to me.

John Streamas writes from Bowling Green that a memorial service has been set for Nisei poet Toyo Suyemoto, “on the early afternoon of Saturday, March 6, probably on the campus of the Ohio State University.”

Details are now online for the Feb. 20-21 symposium hosted by the University of Oregon’s Center for Critical Theory and Transnational Studies. The panel, “Japanese-American Internment and Its Contemporary Implications,” features an opening talk by writer Frank Chin and a panel on camp experiences with Chin, Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee leader Frank Emi, Jim Hirabayashi, younger brother of curfew violator and draft resister Gordon Hirabayashi, Ashland poet Lawson Inada, and Peggy Nagae. Chin writes that he will “be making presentations on the JACL betrayal of civil rights and the resisters who went to court in defense of civil rights.” His newest book, Born in the USA, draws from interviews conducted for Conscience and the Constitution and his other years of extensive research. The book is not carried in bookstores but you can order it online from Amazon.com by using this link. Our review of the book is scheduled for publication in the fall issue of Amerasia Journal. Incidentally, Frank’s landmark play Year of the Dragon has just been issued on DVD; the best price I’ve seen is online is nearly half off list price by using this link to Deep Discount DVD.