All posts by Frank Abe

Producer/director of CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION, now available as a Two-Disc Collector's Edition DVD with two hours of new bonus features on the largest organized resistance to the WW2 incarceration of Japanese Americans.

“JOHN OKADA” and the Day of Remembrance in New York City

The Japanese American community in each city is unique, but the team effort in New York City that is JAJA (Japanese Americans and Japanese in America) is truly special. Julie Azuma provides the space but everyone pitches in bring potlock, set up, and clean up. The collective energy really brings everyone together, and the audience focus is amazing. We had a lively discussion of the life and work of Photo: Susan McCormac HamakerJohn Okada in a living room setting, and the night was made more special with the presence of John’s niece, Beverly Okada of Long Island (seated next to me on the sofa with the vest).

speakers and hosts at UConn DOR

On Feb. 21, Floyd Cheung and I had a very warm welcome speaking about JOHN OKADA at the University of Connecticut’s Day of Remembrance.  Greg Robinson was snowed in and participated via Skype. Thanks to Cathy Schlund-Vials, Jason Oliver Chang, and staff of the UConn Asian and Asian American Studies Institute for having it run so smoothly.

Photo: Nancy MatsumotoRounding out the week, a  great crowd of more than 120  turned out for the 40th anniversary of the Day of Remembrance at the Japanese American United Church near Chelsea in New York. Thanks to Michael Ishii and Tsuya Yee for having me in to speak about creating the very first Day of Remembrance in Seattle. It provided the opportunity to single out two pivotal figures in the early days of the redress campaign: Mike’s uncle David Ishii, and Tsuya’s grandfather William Hohri. The potluck social afterwards was something else, so many familiar faces and new friends. New York Newsday covered the event and embedded a video that included our remarks inside their report, “Japanese-American internment camps of WWII recalled in NYC.”

A busy week, thanks to all who came to listen.

New York Day of Remembrance events

Full house for Los Angeles book launch of “JOHN OKADA”

photo by Nancy OdaAngelenos react to a rainstorm as Seattleites do to snow: it’s an excuse to stay indoors. So we have many thanks to all those who braved the rain in Los Angeles last week to come to our JOHN OKADA launch events at USC, UCLA, and the Japanese American National Museum.
photo by Cory Shiozaki
The full house of 250 that packed the Tateuchi Democracy Forum at JANM was especially fun.  The discussion was lively and it was a real treat to see so many friends there, including Martha Nakagawa, Naomi Hirahara, Karen Tei Yamashita, Nobuko Miyamoto, Tak Hoshizaki,  and Masumi Izumi even flew in from Japan for the weekend.  Our special guests for the event were John Okada’s children from Pasadena, Dorothea Okada and Matthew Okada, who contributed so much time in the writing of their father’s biography.

Discover NIkkei logo

In advance of the event, we had the pleasure of being interviewed by Kimiko Medlock for JANM’s Discover Nikkei blog, in a piece titled, “No-No Boy Author John Okada, Rediscovered.

Rafu Shimpo articleThe day before, Greg and I met with Duncan Ryuken Williams and students at the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture.  It was an auspicious day for Duncan, as he had just received the first copies of his new book on Buddhism inside the camps, American Sutra: A Story of Freedom and Faith in the Second World War.  Look for Duncan to speak in a city near you; the book hits shelves, appropriately enough, on February 19.

Valerie Matsumoto, Karen Umemoto, Frank Abe, Kelly Fong

Finally, it was an honor to meet and converse with three brilliant leaders and scholars who are putting their stamp on the Asian American Studies program at UCLA. With Valerie Matsumoto, Karen Umemoto, and Kelly Fong, we had the venerable Faculty Club all to ourselves, prior to my presentation to Kelly’s AAS 103 research students.

Thanks to all for making LA a hit.

John Okada featured in new MIS film, “The Registry”

It was a quintessentially Okada-esque rainy day in 2015 when Midwest filmmakers Bill Kubota and Steve Ozone came to Seattle to talk with me about John Okada.

I’d known Bill from our mutual support on his film on Ben Kuroki, Most Honorable Son, and my film, Conscience and the Constitution, which featured Kuroki. He and Steve were doing a new film on the Military Intelligence Service, and they wanted to know more about Okada’s service in Guam with “The Flying Eight-Ball.”  We talked in my basement office, then ventured out in the rain to see the clock tower at King Street Station where the novel opens.

You can see what a nice job they did in this clip from The Registry.


The Registry screens in two cities on Saturday, Feb. 23 — at the Seattle Asian American Film Festival, Broadway Performance Hall, and at the Nichi Bei Foundation’s Films of Remembrance program at the New People Cinema in San Francisco’s Japantown. Bill and Steve will be taking questions at the Nichi Bei event.

Events coming up for the first half of 2019

Thanks to all who came to hear us speak in 2018. The schedule for the first half of 2019 is shaping up as an even busier one, with events for JOHN OKADA, CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION, and a look back at the first Day of Remembrance.  For updates on this calendar, please always check the Upcoming Events page on the main menu. Continue reading Events coming up for the first half of 2019

The first Day of Remembrance, Thanksgiving Weekend 1978

Forty years ago on Thanksgiving weekend, we gathered at Sick’s Stadium in Seattle’s Rainier Valley to kick-start the popular campaign for Japanese American redress.

Here’s the inside story of how it all came together, and where it led. Thanks to Natasha Varner for commissioning this piece for the Densho Blog.

The First Day of Remembrance, Thanksgiving Weekend 1978

Retracing the steps of the Minidoka draft resisters

While in Idaho for a symposium, I took the opportunity to research settings for the forthcoming graphic novel on camp resistance, in particular the places where the draft resisters from Minidoka were jailed and put on trial in September, 1944.

Ada County Courthouse, Boise

With the Friends of Minidoka — Hanako Wakatsuki, Mia Russell, and Kurt Yokoyama Ikeda — we started at the Ada County Courthouse, where Jim and Gene Ada County Courthouse interiorAkutsu and the other draft resisters were brought from camp and held in the old jail on the top floors. We could still see the iron grates over the windows, from where they could look out. The top floors are now sealed off from the public. Continue reading Retracing the steps of the Minidoka draft resisters

See video of Seattle book launch for “JOHN OKADA”

The Seattle book launch for JOHN OKADA was a fun one, thanks to the 85 people who joined us to celebrate the legacy of the Seattle novelist and help launch our new book on his life and unknown works.

speakers on panel Continue reading See video of Seattle book launch for “JOHN OKADA”

“Resistance, Resettlement, and Redress”

Frank Abe at podiumI’m no lawyer, but I could not say no when the Case Western Reserve Law Review asked for a piece based on our EO9066 panel last November.

The symposium offered me the opportunity to revisit the McDonald Maternity Hospital in Cleveland where I was born, just a block from the Western Reserve campus, and explore my own pre-history of the postwar resettlement of my father out of Heart Mountain and into the Midwest. Continue reading “Resistance, Resettlement, and Redress”

The first reviews are in for “JOHN OKADA”

Two early reviews, a podcast, and a Facebook Live video. First, thanks go to Edgar-Award winning novelist Naomi Hirahara for taking the time to comment on our book.

cover of Nichi Bei Times Nikkei literary pioneer re-examined reviewed by Naomi Hirahara, Nichi Bei Weekly, July 19. 2018

It’s an extremely readable book, a must-have companion piece to Okada’s novel … Abe, who lives in Okada’s early stomping grounds of Seattle, wrote the precise, well-researched 100-page biography of the author.

Continue reading The first reviews are in for “JOHN OKADA”

Lawsuit filed to block transfer of Tule Lake Segregation Center land

UPDATE: On August 27, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California denied, without prejudice, the Tule Lake Committee’s motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).  The order allows the Tule Lake Committee to file a renewed motion for
a TRO, which the Tule Lake Committee is preparing to file, and directs additional support on particular issues, according to a TLC news release, which added:

Continue reading Lawsuit filed to block transfer of Tule Lake Segregation Center land