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.

Gag order lifted on lawsuit to stop the fence at Tule Lake

Little news emerged in the past year from the effort to stop the fence at Tule Lake — a three-mile long airport fence that would block access to the “hallowed ground” of America’s worst concentration camp.

Now we have some insight into why: according to a series of tweets from the Tule Lake Committee, the federal judge overseeing the case has lifted a gag order on the case, and the committee is raising funds for what could be the last leg of this long legal journey. We’ve kicked in, you can too. Here’s the thread unroll from @SaveTuleLake:

Profile pictureTHREAD: It has been over a year since the Tule Lake Committee filed a civil rights complaint in Federal Court to stop the sale of the Tulelake Municipal Airport to an entity that vows to expand aviation activities on the site.

We now have an important update. /1

First, some background: This rural airstrip occupies 2/3 of the residential area of the Tule Lake concentration camp where 27,000 Japanese Americans were unjustly imprisoned during WWII. It is a sacred site where 331 of us died from illness, harsh conditions, and despair. /2

In July 2018 the city of Tulelake disposed of the 358-acre Tulelake airport, giving the property to the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma for the token sum of $17,500. The Tule Lake Committee offered $40,000, an offer that was ignored. /3

Given multiple irregularities in the transaction, the Committee filed a Federal civil rights lawsuit to challenge the transfer.  In September 2018, our case went before a U.S. Magistrate Judge for discussion of voluntary settlement. /4

The Magistrate Judge foresaw litigation in our case continuing for decades, in a drain of time and money for all parties. The Judge recognized that the only long-term solution was to move the airport to another location. /5

So the Judge directed the Tule Lake Committee to obtain evidence that the government would accept the airport property for preservation purposes. /6

For most of the past year, the Tule Lake Committee was silenced by gag orders that prohibited us from issuing press releases or making public comments on this case, as we sought the needed evidence while fighting interference from the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma and their lawyers. /7

Despite the interference, we obtained evidence from past and present National Park Service officials and are prepared to challenge the airport giveaway. The gag orders were removed last month. /8

While we hope to work with leaders of the Oklahoma Tribe to diversify and benefit the region’s economy, the Tribe’s leaders gained acceptance by working against us, promising to develop aviation in self-proclaimed “white man’s country.” /9

Such activity is incompatible with preservation and will desecrate the one-half square mile where our families lived and died during WWII. /10

The Oklahoma Tribe says their goal is returning to their ancestral homeland, a 5,000 square mile area, but their fixation on destroying the one parcel important to Japanese Americans remains a mystery. /11

Equally bewildering, the Oklahoma Tribe’s leaders are fighting against Native American Tribes in the Klamath Basin who are struggling to protect ancestral habitat and endangered sacred fish. /12

This brings us to the latest developments.

We expect the Judge to issue a ruling in our civil rights lawsuit very soon, which will allow our lawyers to move ahead and prepare our case for trial. /13

We are fortunate to have a team of talented attorneys who are volunteering significant time and effort to litigate our case. However, we expect trial expenses that include witness interviews and travel, court reporter services for depositions, and research and consultants. /14

We need your HELP. Please give generously at Your donation is a vote of confidence that will help us continue fighting to protect Tule Lake and the historical legacy it represents. /15

UW Press blogs on American Book Award for “JOHN OKADA”

Thanks to M’Bilia Meekers at the University of Washington Press for sharing this blog post, “John Okada: The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy” wins the 2019 American Book Award!”  Continue reading UW Press blogs on American Book Award for “JOHN OKADA”

“JOHN OKADA” among winners of 2019 American Book Awards

We’ve just learned that JOHN OKADA is one of the winners of the 2019 American Book Awards. This honor is especially meaningful as it comes from the Before Columbus Foundation which, as its name suggests, recognizes “literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community” and is “a writers’ award given by other writers.”

Our thanks to Ishmael Reed, Justin Desmangles, and Shawn Wong for their lifetime of work to sustain the Foundation. Continue reading “JOHN OKADA” among winners of 2019 American Book Awards

Interview with Thomas Girst on new German translation of “No-No Boy”

German coverCongratulations to author and cultural manager Thomas Girst for providing the literary and historical commentary appended to the new German translation of John Okada’s No-No Boy. 

Girst is the author of the 2015 academic study, Art, Literature, and the Japanese American Internment: On John Okada’s “No-No Boy,” and he reveres Okada’s work as much as anyone. Girst’s fine epilogue provides the context of the WW2 incarceration experience for the German reader, and a close reading of Okada’s text. Continue reading Interview with Thomas Girst on new German translation of “No-No Boy”

Campaign launched to support UW Press edition of “No-No Boy”

Buyer beware: The edition of No-No Boy published by the University of Washington Press is the only edition authorized by the family of John Okada. The largest publisher in the US is now opportunistically exploiting a loophole in the copyright to bring out its own unauthorized knock-off. Continue reading Campaign launched to support UW Press edition of “No-No Boy”

“The Lim Report” now back online: the Mueller Report of its time

The Lim Report book coverThanks to your requests, we’ve spent some time to make “The Lim Report” available online once again. In many ways, it was the Mueller Report of its time.

Deborah Lim’s work was explosive for the details she revealed of  JACL cooperation and collaboration with the government in our own wartime incarceration, its suppression of resistance, and its demonization of the no-no’s and renunciants at Tule Lake. Continue reading “The Lim Report” now back online: the Mueller Report of its time

“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). Continue reading “JOHN OKADA” and the Day of Remembrance in New York City

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

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.

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

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