Humbled and a little embarrassed by this online recognition from the Asian American Journalists Association and friend Lori Matsukawa — but worthwhile if it encourages AAJA members to embrace their role in the newsroom and pitch stories that shine a light on our diverse communities — just as Lori has done so effectively in her position on air. Also worth it if it helps call attention to the film and the story of the Heart Mountain resisters and all the resisters in camp and the courts.
Frank Abe is a film director and producer, who also serves as director of communications for the King County Executive in Washington.
Abe worked as a reporter for KIRO Newsradio, the CBS affiliate in Seattle, and also helped start the Asian American Journalists Association in Seattle. He was also a founding member of the Asian American Theater Workshop in San Francisco.
He also works in film, and served as the producer and director of the award-winning PBS documentary, “Conscience and the Constitution.”
“Don’t let his pleasant demeanor fool you. Behind the smile is a volcanic force for justice.
Frank Abe continues to inspire me decades after I met him because he will not let injustice stand.
He never got over the fact that Japanese American men who resisted wartime incarceration during WW2 had their history wiped out.
Radio reporter/producer by day, documentary producer by night, Abe helped organize the first “Day of Remembrance” media event and went on to direct “Conscience and the Constitution” a labor of love that took him ten years.
‘Between ‘shikata ga nai’ It Can’t Be Helped and ‘Go for Broke’ Give 110 Percent, there was no tolerance for a third option, resistance,’ says Abe.
Long shunned by some in the Japanese American community as cowards who wouldn’t volunteer for the Army, Abe discovered resisters were men who stood against oppression and violation of their constitutional rights. For that, they were imprisoned for the duration of the war.
Abe went on to work as director of communications for two County Executives, co founded the Seattle Chapter of AAJA and served as national vice president for broadcast for National AAJA.
Even today, he continues to organize workshops and work with academics to tell the resisters’ stories. Abe feels the question for Japanese Americans is not ‘Why didn’t you resist,’ but ‘Why did you turn your backs on those who resisted?’”
— Lori Matsukawa, KING TV Anchor