Category Archives: News

William Hohri questions legality of drafting Japanese Americans from camp

For the past several months, writer William Hohri has been developing the theory that it was illegal under the Selective Service Act of 1940 for the U.S. government to draft young Japanese American inmates while in the custody of the War Relocation Authority.

He published his argument in the January 2005 issue of The Objector, in an article titled, “Free Us Before You Draft Us.” He writes, “Someone was violating the law. And it was not the resisters. It’s about time we recognized this.”

William shares with us a talk for today that he says for one reason or another was undelivered:

Day of Remembrance – UC Santa Barbara – 2005

For the purposes of this talk, I’d like to change “Day of Remembrance” to “Day of Reconsideration.” Of course, we have already reconsidered the name of the camps from “Relocation Center” to “internment camp” or “concentration camp” or “prison camp.” I would like us to reconsider the military conscription of young men from the camps. Was it legal? Was military service via the draft an act of patriotism by the draftee or an act of illegality by our government?

In entry 5 of the IV-F classification section of the Selective Service Act of 1940, one reads this requirement, (I quote) “Is being retained in the custody of criminal jurisdiction or other civil authority.” (End of quote.) [emphasis mine] Were we internees “being retained in the custody of . . . other civil authority”? If we were, we should have been classified IV-F, as unsuited for military service. We were, instead, classified I-A, as suited to take subsequent steps, including the physical examination, to be accepted or rejected for military service. Most of the draft resisters resisted by refusing to take their physical exams.

Well, had we been retained in the custody of civil authority? The first place I looked for my answer was in my dog-eared, nth Xeroxed copy of The Evacuated People: A Quantitative Description, written by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the War Relocation Authority.

Section one begins with, (I quote) “Some 120,313 persons of Japanese descent came under the custody of the War Relocation Authority between May 8, 1942 (the date the Colorado River Relocation Center opened) and March 20, 1946 (the date Tule Lake closed).” (End of quote) So according to our government, the War Relocation Authority, had served as “other civil authority” that had held us in its custody. Hence, the draft age men should have been classified IV-F and not been draft eligible until they were no longer being held in camp and were living in free America.

Of course, the definition for this custody resides in Executive Order 9066 plus one of two Public Proclamations. Why the Public Proclamations? Well, if you read E.O.9066 carefully, you will notice that it only seems to order exclusion. The powers of the President of the United States delegates the power (I quote) “to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion.” (End of quote)

Note that the main verbal expression is “may be excluded.” This is followed by legally undefined subordinate verbs, “to enter, remain in, or leave.” Of course, we remember E.O. 9066 by remembering it on or near the date of its being signed by President Franklin Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. But the subordinate verbs are implemented and legally defined in two Public Proclamations, number 8 and WD-1. WD-1 seems to be the most precise and does implement “to enter,” “remain in,” and “leave.” (Note: proclamation 8 applied to camps within the jurisdiction of the Western Defense Command, while WD-1 applied to camps further inland in the states of Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas.) These proclamations were published several months later in August and October of 1942.

[Please note in advance of the following quotation that “War Relocation Project Areas” is the term used for “camp sites.”]

Paragraph b of WD-1 states, “All persons of Japanese ancestry . . . are required to remain within the bounds of said War Relocation Project Areas are required to remain within the bounds of said War Relocation Project Areas at all times unless specifically authorized to leave . . . .”

Thus, when E.O.9066 is combined with these proclamations, the relocation centers become detention camps. And the inmates of the camps are being held in the custody of the U.S. government and their young men should have been classified IV-F.

So, on this Day of Reconsideration, we should reconsider what it meant when 315 draft resisters tried to challenge the propriety of conscripting young men into military service after forcing them, with their families, into detention camps. They were charged with committing an illegality and punished accordingly. This is how most of us felt for the last 60 years. But they were, in fact, not violating the Selective Service Act of 1940. It was our government that was committing the illegality.

Review: “Born in the USA” by Frank Chin

cover of Born in the USAMy review of Frank Chin’s book on the resistance, Born in the USA, is now published in the special “A Tribute to Miné Okubo” issue of Amerasia Journal, Volume 30:2, 2004. It is available for $13 per issue plus tax and $4 handling from: UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press, 3230 Campbell Hall, Box 951546, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1546. For more information, call (310) 825-2968, e-mail [email protected] or visit the center’s Web site.

By special permission, you can also read it here:

A story told in Born in the USA has journalists James Omura and Larry Tajiri prowling the hills of pre-war San Francisco late at night, dreaming about which of them would write “The Great Nisei Novel.” It would be an epic that spanned the immigration of their Issei parents and the appearance of the second-generation Nisei as a new breed of American.

Little did they know how war with Japan would soon interrupt that social progress and place them on opposite sides of Japanese America’s response to expulsion and incarceration: whether to cooperate or resist.

Read the rest of the review. I would love to hear your response to the review or the book itself. Just use the Contact Us link above or leave a Comment below.

News updates in 2004

An archive of news updates from our home page in 2004:

Update: Thursday, January 1, 2004
We start the new year by catching up to the passing of one of the earliest supporters of this project. Brooks Iwakiri passed away on Nov. 6 in the Burbank area at the age of 82. Brooks was among the first private donors to support the initial production of our film. It was his support that, among other things, allowed us to travel to Los Angeles and film a marathon interview session with the Heart Mountain resisters and James Omura. That session in the dance studio of Jeanne Nakano and Dick Obayashi in 1994, in between stops for the planes flying overhead, provided most of the sound cuts that appear in the finished piece. In the case of Omura, Art Emi and Dave Kawamoto, those interviews came just in time. Brooks believed in us and in the cause of restoring the good name of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee. Many of the resisters attended his funeral on Nov. 15 at Fukui Mortuary. It’s Brooks’ name and that of his wife Sumi that appear in the underwriting credits at the top of our show. Brooks always enjoyed a good laugh and we were lucky to keep in touch with him over the years. Our condolences to Sumi, his son Vince, and the rest of his family. He will be missed.

Another passage to report, that of Nisei poet Toyo Suyemoto. John Streamas writes from Bowling Green State University in Ohio:

   Hi, Frank. I have some sad news to pass along. I have received word from friends in Columbus that my dear friend Toyo Suyemoto has died. I don’t know many details, but I know that her health has been failing for years due to a variety of ailments. Last summer when my wife Val and I visited her, she told us that her weight had declined to 80 pounds and her height had shrunk to 4’6″. But still she was sharp and lucid as ever. On January 14 she would have turned 88 years old.
I spoke with her on the phone just last Wednesday.
I know that Lawson Inada and Frank Chin tried for years to persuade her to send them a manuscript of her poems, so that they might get them published as a book. She never managed to do this, and so she never published a book in her lifetime. People will have to take Lawson Inada’s word in the 1995 article in The Nation that Toyo is Japanese America’s poet laureate. Three or four years ago Lawson Inada spent several days in Ohio, visiting with Toyo and interviewing her. I know that Toyo felt affection and respect for them.
Even in her old age, Toyo was a feisty and strong-willed person. When I told her a few years ago that I had been approached by the Dayton chapter of JACL, she went into her anti-JACL lecture mode, denouncing the organization’s wartime politics and swearing she would never join. She saw your film and admired it very much. She also had a great sense of humor and managed to make many artist-friends, including Val.
I wish you could have met her. She was a remarkable person. Val and I will miss her very much.
–John

Mr. & Mrs. Mits KoshiyamaUpdate: Sunday, February 1, 2004
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.

I 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 forNisei poet Toyo Suyemoto, “on the early afternoon of Saturday, March 6, probably on the campus of the Ohio State University.”

cover art for Born in the USADetails 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 linkto Deep Discount DVD.

Update: Monday, February 23, 2004
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. Read his obituary in the Fresno Bee. 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.

Update: Monday, March 15, 2004
Congratulations to Alan Nishio of the old National Conference of Christians and Jews in Long Beach for arranging for Heart Mountain resistance leader Frank Emi to literally receive the “keys to the city” at a Day of Remembrance ceremony there last month. Read the story, “Former Internee Tells Story of Resistance,” from the Long-Beach Press Telegram. Thanks to Alan for providing the link, and also this other online interview with Frank from the War Times that uses photos and a story from this site.

Frank Emi with Long Beach vice-mayor Frank ColonnaUpdate: Friday, March 19, 2004
The National Conference for Community and Justice, formerly the National Conference of Christians and Jews, has just put out a news release on their Feb. 19 tribute to Heart Mountain resistance leader Frank Emi and the presentation to him of the “key to the city” of Long Beach. Surprised but pleased to hear that clips from our documentary were shown at the event.
There’s also astory, “Former Internee Tells Story of Resistance,” from the Long-Beach Press Telegram. Thanks to Alan Nishio for organizing the tribute and Annette Kashiwa and Martha Nakagawa for providing the photos. Click on the photo for an enlarged view. See also an older online interview with Frank from the War Times that uses photos and a story from this site.

The next Tule Lake Pilgrimage will focus on Citizens Betrayed [pdf file], the 5,589 renunciants at Tule Lake whose story is often confused with that of the Fair Play Committee. Barbara Takei, who has been doing work on the renunciants along with Judy Tachibana, has issued details about the 4th of July weekend event.

Update: Monday, April 12, 2004
Writer and scholar Frank Chin is offering you, the readers of this site, a series of scripts that boldly bring to life issues of Japanese American art and literature, all tied tightly around the questions of loyalty, betrayal and resistance in WW2. He says the scripts can be read or performed in class, and used in conjunction with his recent compilation of oral history, research and original insight, Born in the USA.He has sent three scripts so far. You can download them here as Adobe Acrobat files [requires free Adobe Reader] and print them out just as they came out of his Powerbook. He says the first script serves as an introduction to the series. They are framed as proposals for a conference at the Japanese American National Museum and suggest actors that might be used for the readings; you can read them for yourself and pick out anything you find useful:

Chin is also drumming up support for publication and distribution of a resisters newsletter. He points out that 2004 is the 60th anniversary of the institution of Selective Service for the Nisei inside the camps, the rise of draft resistance inside 8 of the ten camps, the formation of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, and their arrests, trials, convictions, and the start of their prison terms. As he puts it, “The object is to prod Japanese America into taking over their history, art, and Japanese American criticism.”

About 40 people turned out on March 27 at the Boston Public Library for what sounds like a spirited panel on the resisters, as part of the Organization of American Historians annual conference. Read the full workshop description or download a printable press release. Thanks to Cherstin Lyon from the University of Arizona for distributing our posters and fliers there and for sending this update. Cherstin also sent some photos we will post shortly:

Frank Chin delivered an animated presentation about the literature and cultural treatment of Japanese in the white press, novels and music before the war setting up pre-war racism. He discussed the early rifts between people like Mike Masaoka and James Omura over how AJAs should respond to the war and proposals for evacuation and internment.

Frank Emi delivered his own personal take on the costs (both economic and personal) of evacuation, and the events and circumstances that led him to resist the draft. He ended with his experiences in prison, mentioned others he met in prison and ended with a bit on the JACL apology, reiterating that the JACL should issue an apology to all AJAs for their role in the entire evacuation process. If the United States government could do it, why not them?

I introduced the lesser known resisters, those who resisted as individuals and posed the question — why both during the war and after did some criticize those who resisted as individuals of just dodging the draft? For wasting their time? For committing acts of lawlessness that would have no great effect at all? I compared the full range of resistance to the abolitionists before the Civil War and related the actions of all who resisted internment — no-no boys, strikers, petitioners, resisters — to the “revolutionary tradition” in America. I ended with stories about the Hopi draft resisters those Nisei resisters from Topaz and Amache and even Gordon Hirabayashi himself met in prison and explained how the Hopis welcomed the resisters into their “family” symbolically with a hair-washing ceremony.

Dean Hashimoto ended with his own personal understanding of internment as a child of a Nisei who had been interned at Amache. A Sansei himself, Hashimoto learned in school that internment was justified and just, which both disturbed and puzzled him. He worked as a law student on the Korematsu case in the 1980s and explained that despite the ruling of a lower court, the Korematsu case is still technically “good” law. He urged the audience that we should never forget that it is like a loaded weapon waiting to be used and related the importance of remembering internment and continuing the conversation to the current political situation with enemy combatants, the USA Patriot Act and the continued survival of Korematsu.

The discussion that followed was engaging and at times heated. Some high school teachers mentioned the importance of teaching the story to their students, a former internee expressed his reluctance about the tone of the panel that seemed to demonize the JACL and suggested that we all be forgiving of wartime misjudgments (this received some fairly heated responses from Chin). One audience member insisted that there were no concentration camps, only benign ” relocation centers” which turned into a shouting match which Art Hansen quickly brought back under control and redirected the conversation. And one student, who was quite taken by the story of the Hopi resisters’ alliance with the Nisei resisters wanted to know on a more personal level how much fluidity there was between those who resisted and those who served in the military which opened up interesting responses and stories where individual families were divided over their decisions and responses to the draft.

Over all, the session was quite productive and the audience stayed a full extra half hour to discuss the issues and finally had to be kicked out of the library as it had already closed.

Update: Wednesday, April 14, 2004
cover: Drawing the LIneCongratulations are in order to the narrator of our documentary, poet Lawson Fusao Inada, for being named a 2004 Guggenheim Fellow. The prestigious fellowships are awarded to men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. David Ishii Bookseller says he called Lawson after reading the Guggenheim Foundation ad in the New York Times and that he was the first to actually confirm for Lawson that he’d won.

Lawson was with us in Wyoming in 1995 when we shot video of Heart Mountain resister Yosh Kuromiya sketching the mountain at the site of the old camp, a shot that never made it into our final cut. As we worked I remember Lawson kneeling and examining the earth and the stones, and that moment and that image of Yosh sketching inspired the title piece of his most recent book, Drawing the Line (Coffee House Press, 1997). You can read the poem and see a photo of Yosh at his draftsman’s table in camp, at our PBS Online site. This is a good time to catch up to Frank Chin’s recent observation about the importance of Lawson’s work, inspired by their recent joint appearance at the resisters workshop at the University of Oregon:

I was in Eugene with Emi and Inada and it came to me that Lawson’s book was the first book of poetry in 60 years to deal with the resistance. Where are the Japanese American writers? Where are the Japanese American poets? Where are the Japanese American critics? Yes there are JA writers but no Japanese America. Why? Why 60 years later does a JA poet step forward to show the emptiness of JA writing and poetry of the last sixty years? What happened 60 years ago?

Lawson Inada is a Japanese American poet who is curious about his people’s history and goes out to meet it. He doesn’t mistake himself for history, and wait for his appreciative people to come to his door bearing gifts. Japanese American film makers have used him for his voice and his meter in their work, as a narrator.

He has accompanied me on my researching the resisters and Jimmie Omura and joined the CARP/AIIIEEEEE! boys in publishing NO-NO BOY. The last two remarkable books LEGENDS FROM CAMP and DRAWING THE LINE have thrust Lawson’s work to the foreforent of Japanese American history …. if his people have the heart and guts to claim their history that is. DRAWING THE LINE about Yosh Kuromiya at Heart Mountain is the first book of poetry about the resistance movement at Heart Mountain ever -in 60 years. Did the blacks take 60 years to generate a poet to write about slavery? After the Civil War did it take 60 years for the whites (from the North or the South) to get it together to write about the Civil War? Of course white poets wrote about the Civil War –before during and after-but Japanese America has only one daring only one (not) chickenshit only one poet of the period that still tries the conscience of Japanese America. It’s as if Lawson Inada were all the poets of the Civil War including Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg 60 years after the war. The audience was the people, and the people embraced their work.

What holds the Japanese Americans back? What crushed the poetry and fiction of Toyo Suyemoto and Toshio Mori and the critical organ of James Omura? What disintegrated poetry, fiction, criticism from activism and Japanese America? I feel silly saying it, but the JACL/camp 442nd, of course. From Mike Masaoka to his brother-in-law Norman Mineta.

The resisters, and Frank Emi, have reached out to the people, James Omura reached out to the people; now Lawson Inada reaches out to the people. It’s up to the people to accept what’s being offered.

Frank Chin

Update: Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Two upcoming resister events have just been announced for this fall.
The first being talked about for September takes note of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship recently awarded to the narrator of our documentary, poet Lawson Fusao Inada. Writer Frank Chin envisions the following event:

On Sept. 8th (a Wednesday) at 7pm at the old General Lee’s in Chinatown there will be a party to install a Kwan Kung and celebrate Lawson Inada and the Japanese American writers whose work he has championed.

The title poem to DRAWING THE LINE is about Yosh Kuromiya who, at 19, resisted the draft from Heart Mountain concentration camp on constitutional grounds. He became a part of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee’s draft resistance, when he refused an offer by the JACL’s Min Yasui (a paid “Confidential Informant” of the FBI) to drop the charges against him in return for his testimony against Frank Emi.

The fact that Mike Masaoka’s entire staff of the JACL were the first generation of FBI “Confidential Informants” was revealed in my book BORN IN THE USA….

The JA’s have published only two (three if you count Ed Miyakawa’s self published novel TULE LAKE) works about the camps and the (anti-JACL) resistance in the sixty years since the war. The two works are, John Okada’s NO-NO BOY (1957) and Lawson Inada’s DRAWING THE LINE. What if the blacks took sixty years to write about slavery and Nat Turner and Harriet Tubman? What if the Jews had taken sixty years to write about the holocaust and left the Jewish Ghetto Police and the Judenradt and other traitors of ghettos to non-Jewish writers?

John Okada and Lawson Inada and Ed Miyakawa TULE LUKE, a novel self published in the 70’s are the only Japanese Americans that have dealt with the camps, the JACL betrayal of civil rights and the resisters who stood for civil rights –in the sixty years since the camps.

Paul Vangelisti, head of the writing program at Otis College of Art & Design has a deal with the owners of the former General Lee’s, a bar in Chinatown … to use the bar as a reading venue. Chinatown across Hill Street from the old General Lee’s has turned the old curio shops into a series of galleries. A few curio shops remain, like Gim Fong’s shop Fong’s that has been at the same location since this movie set Chinatown was built.

My daughter Betsy invited me to a reading at General Lee’s, renamed “The Mountain.” … I noticed that The Mountain didn’t have a Kwan Kung. One of the three owners was at the bar, and I mentioned Kwan Kung was in all the shops in Chinatown, and being a bar, they should have a Kwan Kung like the old General Lee’s….I called Paul Vangelisti and arranged to take him on a solo tour of Chinatown tong temples, restuarants and curio shops and book stores to prove how well known Kwan Kung was among Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and Chinatown …

They want to officially open the Mountain with an installation of Kwan Kung and a revival of a community Asian American writers, actors, and critics such as used to exist in Japanese America around James Omura and his magazine CURRENT LIFE, until WWII and the JACL shut Japanese American culture down.

Legal conference invitationThe second event announced for this fall also takes note of the 60th anniversary. Judgments Judged and Wrongs Remembered: Examining the Japanese American Civil Liberties Cases of World War II on their Sixtieth Anniversary,” will bring together a number of lawyers and legal scholars November 5 and 6, 2004 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. It’s a conference jointly sponsored by by the University of North Carolina School of Law, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, and the Japanese American National Museum. Download their invitation card [99K .pdf], and read theirpress release:

On December 18, 1944, the United States Supreme Court decided the landmark cases of Korematsu v. United States and Ex parte Endo, the first of which approved of the forced eviction of 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes, and the second of which struck down their continued incarceration after the government had recognized their loyalty. Over the months leading up to December 18, 1944, judges and juries in the lower federal courts across the western United States heard hundreds of criminal prosecutions of young apanese American men who sought to turn their conscription into the military from behind barbed wire into legal test cases of the lawfulness of their confinement.

On the occasion of their sixtieth anniversary of these cases, this conference will provide a rich and varied opportunity to reflect on their meaning, their legacy and their continued relevance to the world of today. It may well be the last major gathering at which at least some of the participants in the cases (especially litigants and law clerks) are still living and able to share their recollections. The emphasis of the conference will be on the legal cases themselves, rather than on the larger incarceration story that is their backdrop. For this reason, the conference will be of special interest to lawyers, judges, and others with interest or expertise in the law and legal history.

The conference will begin on Friday afternoon, November 5, 2004, in the Great Hall of the Japanese American National Museum, at about 2:00 p.m. That afternoon’s panel will provide a historical grounding for the conference by presenting as panelists a number of surviving participants in the legal cases. These will include litigants, law clerks to judges who decided the cases, and attorneys from the team that secured coram nobis writs in the 1980s for the men who had been wrongfully convicted during the war. A reception will follow.

That evening, after a break for dinner, there will be performances in the Great Hall of a dance piece by Gordon Hirabayashi’s son Jay and a play by Minoru Yasui’s daughter Holly. Both pieces are artistic interpretations of the artists fathers’ legal battles against curfew, eviction, and incarceration.

The conference will resume on Saturday morning, November 6, 2004, with a continental breakfast and the first of the two academic panels. Scholars including Greg Robinson (U. of Quebec), Patrick Gudridge (U. of Miami School of Law), Art Hansen (Cal State Fullerton and JANM), Eric Muller (University of North Carolina School of Law), and John Q. Barrett (St. John’s University School of Law), will examine the historical setting of the various Japanese American civil liberties cases.

A keynote address will be delivered before lunch by the Honorable A. Wallace Tashima, a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Tashima, the highest-ranking Japanese American judicial officer in the nation, spent several of his childhood years at the Poston Relocation Center and has recently published pointed and moving comments about these World War II cases in the pages of the Michigan Law Review.

A box lunch will be provided for conference attendees, for them to consume at their leisure during the noon hour.

After lunch, the panels will resume. A second panel of academics will address the legacy of the World War II civil liberties cases for the post-9/11 world. These scholars will include Roger Daniels (U. of Cincinnati, emeritus), Jerry Kang (UCLA Law School), Eric Yamamoto (U. of Hawaii Law School), Frank Wu (Howard U. Law School), Margaret Chon (Seattle U. Law School), Donna Arzt (Syracuse U. Law School), Neil Gotanda (Southwestern U. Law School), and Natsu Taylor Saito (Georgia State U. School of Law).

The final panel of the day promises to be moving. Children of men who fought the incarceration in court will speak about the personal legacy of the decisions their fathers made sixty years ago. Panelists will be Karen Korematsu (daughter of Supreme Court litigant Fred Korematsu), Jay Hirabayashi (son of Supreme Court litigant Gordon Hirabayashi), Holly Yasui (daughter of Supreme Court litigant Minoru Yasui), Kenji Taguma (son of a draft resister from the Granada Relocation Center), and Carol Hoshizaki (daughter of a draft resister from the Heart Mountain Relocation Center).

The conference will end late in the afternoon on Saturday, November 6, 2004.

Here finally are two photos from the resisters panel on March 27 at the Boston Public Library, as part of the Organization of American Historians annual conference. Click on the images to see an enlarged view of the panel featuring(left to right) Dean Hashimoto, Cherstin Lyon, Frank Emi, Frank Chin, and Art Hansen, and the second photo ofFrank Emi speaking. Thanks to Frank Emi’s daughter, Kathleen, for providing them.

Update: Wednesday, May 12, 2004
The following obit appears in today’s Nichibei Times (thanks to Kenji Taguma for passing it along). This comes as very sad news as Kozie Sakai was one of the very first angels for our Resisters Video Project, as it was known back then at the start. My mother in Santa Clara knew Kozie
socially from their shigin folk singing club, long before I came to know him as a friend of the Heart Mountain resisters who came to their trial in Cheyenne, Wyoming and sent letters back to camp to Frank Emi, one of which is now immortalized on pp. 446-448 of Frank Chin’s Born in the USA. His photo in which he appears to the left of Frank Emi was one of the images we used as one of our ITVS publicity shots:

SAKAI, KOJI passed away in Mountain View, CA on May 8, 2004. Born in Alviso, CA, he was 91. Koji was also known as Kozie Sakai. He was a restaurant owner for 20 years (Kozy’s Grotto) and lived in this area all his life. He was a past member of The Lion’s Club; The Mountain View Buddhist Temple, the Tri-City Association and the Kinyu Ginshi Kai.

Beloved husband of Tayeko Sakai; loving father of Yukiye Sakai, Akio Sakai, Aileen (Paul) Yoshida, and brother of Fusaye (the Late John) Miyamoto, Itsuye Sakai, Gingo Sakai, Tomoye (Ben) Ishikawa, the Late Kitao (Miyo) Sakai and Yoshiye (the Late Ken) Ishikawa. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

Friends are invited to attend a service May 13, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. at the Mountain View Buddhist Temple, 575 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA. Commital Service May 14, 2004 at 10:00 a.m. at Alta Mesa Memorial Park, Palo Alto, CA. Arrangements by Cusimano Family Colonial Mortuary.

Update: Monday, June 7, 2004
The story of the draft resisters and the JACL apology is briefly mentioned in today’s Seattle Times profile of our good friend Tom Ikeda, founder of the online Densho Project here in Seattle. Read “Old stories open new chapter of Ikeda’s life” by Florangela Davila, who I spoke with years ago about the resisters and JACL:

Initially classified as “enemy aliens,” some of these citizens eventually were allowed in the military and served in the legendary 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team. Others resisted the draft, arguing they couldn’t serve a country that had incarcerated them.

The different actions caused a rift within the Japanese-American community that wasn’t publicly mended until two years ago, when the Japanese American Citizens League, which once had said the draft resisters should be charged with sedition, formally apologized to them.

Ikeda knew and accepted both perspectives. His father, Victor “Junks” Ikeda, is a WWII veteran; his father-in-law, Frank Yamasaki, resisted the draft.

Update: Monday, August 2, 2004
It’s with deep sadness that we learn tonight of the passing of Dr. Clifford Uyeda, last Friday after a long bout with prostate cancer. Kenji Taguma reports there is to be a meeting Tuesday in San Francisco to discuss his service. Clifford rose to national prominence for his championing of the case of Iva Toguri, the so-called “Tokyo Rose,” and later as president of National JACL for his leadership on the then-struggling notion of redress for the WW2 incarceration of Japanese Americans. In that role he said “yes” when we in Seattle asked JACL for support for the first-ever “A Day of Remembrance” redress event at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. Cliff authorized $2,000 from what I recall was a $12,000 national budget, demonstrating his belief in our ability to break the ice and kick-start a national movement by proving Nisei no longer needed to fear a white backlash by remembering the camps and standing for redress with their families. And of course Clifford gave us a long interview for “Conscience and the Constitution” in which he uttered the memorable line that JACL’s wartime leaders “strongly felt and believed that they were doing the right thing, and yet they were doing the wrong thing. They were really a government agent, that’s all they were.” Clifford always did the right thing, and he will be missed. See the longer version of the interview he gave us in Frank Chin’s Born in the U.S.A.

Update: Wednesday, August 4, 2004
More details received today on the passing of Clifford Uyeda:

Dear resisters and friends:

I have some sad news to report, which most of you have heard already: Dr. Clifford Uyeda passed away on Friday after a long bout with prostate cancer.

The memorial service is on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2004 at the JCCCNC here in SF’s Japantown. Mits Koshiyama has agreed to speak from the perspective of a Nisei draft resister. Other speakers are John Tateishi of the national JACL, Rosalyn Tonai of the National Japanese American Historical Society, Karl Matsushita of the JA National Library, George Araki, and others yet to be confirmed. Steve Nakajo of Kimochi will emcee. I’ve been asked to give an overview of Clifford’s life and some personal comments as well.

As you know, Clifford hosted an early forum on resisters, and was vocal in his support of resisters throughout the years.

There is a little more detail below on his service and donation information. Please feel free to forward it to whoever you think may be interested.

Kenji G. Taguma

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Clifford Iwao Uyeda, a noted human rights activist, died on July 30, 2004 in San Francisco. He was 87. Uyeda was a past national president of the Japanese American Citizens League and a past president of the National Japanese American Historical Society. Born January 14, 1917 in Olympia, Washington to Matsutaro and Kimiyo Uyeda, he made innumerable contributions to various organizations as well as human rights and social justice issues. Loving husband to Betty Uyeda; brother-in-law to Sachiko Uyeda, Edward and Cherie Nakamura, and Hiroshi and Emiko Miyake; uncle to Katherine Uyeda, Richard Uyeda, Donna Baba, Gail Haslett, Stan Miyake and Gary Miyake. Memorial services will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 7 p.m., the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, 1840 Sutter St. in San Francisco’s Japantown. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in his honor may be sent to National Japanese American Historical Society, 1684 Post St., San Francisco, CA 94115.

Update: Friday, September 3, 2004
What’s our film editor, Lillian Benson, and our co-producer, Shannon Gee, been up to lately? Next week on many PBS stations you can see their new documentary, “All Our Sons,” which premieres appropriately enough on Sept. 11 on WNET/13 in New York City:

graphic: All Our SonsFramed by the events of September 11th, ALL OUR SONS-FALLEN HEROES OF 9/11 tells the story of the twelve Black firefighters who gave their lives along with 332 other emergency personnel in the World Trade Center tragedy. There are now only 312 Black firefighters in the New York City Fire Department out of a total force of 11,350. They make up 2.7% of the fire department, in a city where 24.5% of the population is Black and nearly 50% is minority. The fire department is the city’s least diverse municipal work force. In sometimes wrenching, exclusive interviews seven parents, one spouse and two representatives of the FDNY remember their loved ones and colleagues.Narrated by Alfre Woodard.

Clifford UyedaThe memorial tribute to Clifford Uyeda on August 18 yielded some interesting stories. Follow the links to read Kenji Taguma’s presentation at the service, where he speaks openly about being the son of an Amache draft resister, and his story about the servcie in the NichiBei Times. Then read Frank Chin’s novelistic perspective on the same event. Eyewitnesses say Frank just “fills in the blanks with his own material” when he misheard or misunderstood something, but that’s always been part of his charm, right? We corrected the name of Wayne Maeda for clarity. Here’s also a link to a printable version of the memorial service program [pdf, 107K].

Update: Tuesday, September 7, 2004
The Mountain BarCalling all ye Asian American hipsters of the real and the fake. The place to be Wednesday, Sept. 8th is going to be The Mountain Bar (left), “Chinatown’s haven for art-damaged hipsters, according to LA.com, and “a molten red bastion of bohemian cool,” according to Los Angeles Citysearch. The address is 475 Gin Ling Way, in L.A.’s Chinatown between Hill and Broadway Streets.

That is to be the scene for Frank Chin’s long-planned gathering of “actors, activists and artists” to celebrate two things: the awarding of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship earlier this year to the narrator of our documentary, poet Lawson Fusao Inada, and the legacy of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee.

What’s actually happening today at the birthplace of Jimmie Omura, on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, is not so exuberant. Read today’s Seattle Times, “Debate lingers over internment of Japanese-Americans,” to see how the ghost of Lillian Baker lives on in her sleek new clone, Michelle Malkin, in the Bainbridge school system. Walt Woodward would be ashamed. More on that later, with the latest from William Hohri.

Update: Wednesday, October 6, 2004
Frank Chin, Momo Yashima, Paul Tsuniishi (obscured), Frank Emi, Yosh Kuromiya, Lawson InadaThe call went out to all ye Asian American hipsters of the real and the fake, and about 50 turned out Sept. 8th at The Mountain Bar, what LA.com calls “Chinatown’s haven for art-damaged hipsters, and “a molten red bastion of bohemian cool,” according to Los Angeles Citysearch. It was the scene for Frank Chin’s long-planned gathering of “actors, activists and artists” to celebrate two things: the awarding of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowshipearlier this year to the narrator of our documentary, poet Lawson Fusao Inada, and the legacy of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee.

Frank Chin with Kwan Kung, Paul Vangelista, Sam HoiSo there was Fair Play Commitee leader Frank Emi, resister Yosh Kuromiya, and Lawson (above left) to meet with writing students from Otis College of Art & Design and other assorted hipsters. Excerpts were read from Chin’s Born in the U.S.A.(Rowman & Littlefield, 2002) by Chin, actress Momo Yashima, supporter Paul Tsuneishi, with Yosh introducing Lawson’s reading of Drawing the Line (Coffee House Press, 1997), based on the day Lawson accompanied us to Heart Mountain to shoot B-roll of Yosh sketching the mountain at the site of the old camp. Read the poem and see a photo of Yosh at his draftsman’s table in camp, at our PBS Online site. Read more about the dedication of the Kwan Kung figurine with Paul Vangelista, head of the writing program at Otis College, and Sam Hoi (above right). Thanks for the video stills by Curtis Choy, director of the work-in-progress, “What’s Wrong with Frank Chin?”

Rich Wada reports that Chin is also coming to Northern California to give one of his few public readings from Born in the U.S.A., which features interviews conducted with our documentary, with much more focus on the WW2 government collaboration by the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). The reading isSaturday, October 30 at 1:00 p.m. at the new AACP bookstore at 529 East Third Avenue in San Mateo. See the directions. Frank Chin writes, “Here is something to run to provoke people to come to or stay away from my reading:”

Michelle Malkin’s book is no threat to Japanese American history. She grants that the JA’s as Americans had the right to protest and resist the camps in the courts any way they could.

The real danger is that the traitors of Japanese America the JACL and the 442nd (from camp) will convince JA’s that betrayal of the JA’s to get them to go into camp and the betrayal of civil rights was necessary for the 442nd to “earn” back their civil rights overseas fighting for the Euopreans whille their own people were held hostage to assure their loyalty.

The JACL surrendered JA civil rights entered the camps with assimilation in mind. The JA’s have married themselves out of existence the NY Times of last month noticed.

The JACL continues to reject the fact that they won back in court all the JA civil rights. The books that list the defense of civil rights only list the cases of the resisters. Not a word of the JACL.

The JACL claim that they were cowards and draft dodgers though they can’t name one coward or draft dodger. But we can name several JACLers were were liars and secretly worked against JA and civil rights. Mike Masaoka and the entire staff of the JACL were “confidential agents” for the FBI.

The known JACL were proud to have been traitors and cowards. You see the names of the cowards and traitors on buildings and statues around J-towns across the country. The volunteers and draftees from camp following the lead of Mike Masaoka, the No 1 volunteer, were the cowards of camp. They may have been heroes on the battlefield, but they sacrficed their parents and their people to be free to fight for the freedom of whites overseas. And yet they claim their betrayal and the 442nd saved JA civil rights. when the lawbooks make it clear, that the JA’s have their civil rights today only because the resisters stood up for them.

But to date no Japanese American has dared to be seen in public thaking a resister for JA civil rights and shaking his hand. Not one in sixty years. The JACL has had a deathgrip of JA writing and publishing so that not book on the camps and the resistance has appeared in 60 years. Not one JA has had the courage to curse the JACL for the traitors they continue to be and praise the resisters for the return of JA civil rights. What if the blacks had taken 60 years to write about slavery and the resistance to slavery? What if the Jews had taken 60 years to write about the Holocaust and the resistance to the Holocaust? Would we respect them?

Malkin poses no threat to the race, civil rights or the respect that America holds for the JA. But the continued JA silence in the mounting noise of American histories of the JACL, James Omura, Kioyshi Okamoto, Frank Emi seems to confirm the Times conclusion that JA is extinct and the few of them alive are chicken.

The only JA to write about the camps and the character of the resistance is a poet. He doesn’t pose behind the title of “Historian” He is just a poet. Lawson Inada is the poet and DRAWING THE LINE is the book. The book is about Yosh Kuromiya, who was interned at Ht. Mt. and was 19 when he resisted the draft and is now in his seventies and has yet to be thanked by a Japanese American. Other Americans have already shaken hands with the resisters. It’s the JA that are reluctant, that are afraid or non-existant.

Chin dismisses the danger of Malkin’s new book, In Defense of Internment, and the traction it has gained among Fox News Channel devotees and historical revisionists eager for a means to inflame racial and cultural fears. For a full-bodied critique of the Malkin book, see Professor Eric Muller’s 18-post blog revealing the flaws in her work. Read the recent Seattle Times, “Debate lingers over internment of Japanese-Americans,” to see how the ghost of Lillian Baker lives on in Malkin, her sleek new clone, in the Bainbridge school system. Walt and Millie Woodward would be ashamed.

Update: Monday, November 1, 2004
Legal conference invitationFrank Emi, Yosh Kuromiya, and two children of resisters, Kenji Taguma and Carol Hoshizaki, are among those speaking at theNov. 5-6 conference.Judgments Judged and Wrongs Remembered: Examining the Japanese American Civil Liberties Cases of World War II on their Sixtieth Anniversary.” The program brings together a number of lawyers and legal scholars at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. It’s a conference jointly sponsored by by the University of North Carolina School of Law, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, and the Japanese American National Museum. Download their invitation card [99K .pdf], read their press release, and then use the registration form [1.1 MB PDF].

Update: Monday, November 8, 2004
The Judgments Judged and Wrongs Remembered: Examining the Japanese American Civil Liberties Cases of World War II on their Sixtieth Anniversary” conference is now over. The program brought together a number of lawyers and legal scholars at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. You can read the presentation from Heart Mountain resister Yosh Kuromiya, who sent us his text, “The Trial of the 63 (or Uncle Sam plays Dirty Pool),” along with this note:

We just had our “Judgments Judged and Wrongs Remembered” seminar organized by Eric Muller. Frank Emi, Gene Akutsu and I represented the draft resistance cases and were well received (politely, at least). I’m sending you, by attachment, the full text of my talk. I believe there is information in it that is pertinent to citizens’ rights and issues involving deceptive governmental policies which impacted present day attitudes within our community. Thanks, Yosh

Update: Sunday, November 14, 2004
resisters at conferenceOriginal Heart Mountain resister Yosh Kuromiya sends a photo from the Judgments Judged and Wrongs Rememberedconference. Click on the photo to see the enlarged view of (back row, left to right): Dan Kubo (resisters’ son), Frank Emi (Heart Mountain), Jimi Yamaichi (Tule Lake), Gene Akutsu (Minidoka), Ken Yoshida (Amache), (front row, left to right): Joe Yamakido (Jerome), Noboru Taguma (Amache), Tak Hoshizaki (Heart Mountain), Fred Korematsu of Supreme Court test case fame, and Yosh Kuromiya (Heart Mountain).

Update: Thursday, November 25, 2004
This just in from Don Nakanishi at UCLA. Let’s see if Judge Tashima mentions the resisters in his speech:

C-SPAN To Nationally Broadcast Keynote Address from Recent “Judgments Judged and Wrongs Remembered” conference this SATURDAY, November 27, between 7 – 8 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

C-SPAN will nationally broadcast the powerful keynote address by the Honorable A. Wallace Tashima, Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeal, at the recent “Judgments Judged and Wrongs Remembered” conference this SATURDAY, November 27, between 7 – 8 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

Judge Tashima gave the speech at a conference that was held in Los Angeles on November 6, 2004 on the 60th anniversary of the major U.S. Supreme Court cases challenging the curfew and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Judge Tashima is a California native who was interned as a child in an Arizona camp with his family. He later attended UCLA for his undergraduate studies, and then Harvard Law School. He was elevated to the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

The conference was co-sponsored by the University of North Carolina Law School, UCLA Asian American Studies Center, and the Japanese American National Museum.

Update: Saturday, November 27, 2004
book cover: Altered Lives, Enduring CommunityThe Nisei resisters are given academic consideration on a par with that shown the Nisei WW2 veterans in a new social study of the Japanese American community in Seattle. Altered Lives, Enduring Community: Japanese Americans Remember Their World War II Incarceration by Stephen Fugita and Marilyn Fernandez, just published by the University of Washington Press, studies the “Life Course Trajectory” of the Nisei based on surveys and the video interviews collected by Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project directed here in Seattle by Tom Ikeda and crew.

In their chapter on “Military Service and Resistance” the authors analyze their data to show that before camp the resisters had “substantially lower occupational aspirations,” came from families with fewer socioeconomic resources, and had fewer Japanese Americans best friends, compared to the veterans. That sounds about right. During our interviews we found that the resisters came more often from farm families and thus closer to the land, and were not the more educated, professional types who went into JACL.

The authors find that after the passage of sixty years the resisters have closed the gap with the veterans in terms of personal income and educational or occupational achievement, and have just as many Japanese American best friends. But they also find that compared to the veterans, the resisters belong to fewer Japanese American organizations, are less likely to attend a Japanese American church or kenjinkai event, and are half as likely to belong to an organization of any kind. From this data the authors draw this “provisional picture of the impact of the war on the resisters:”

“Our data are consistent with anecdotal reports that resisters have been, by and large, shunned by the Japanese American community and that the effects of this are still observable, even though their actions have been lauded by many in the community in recent years. Difficult choices made during their incarceration almost sixty years ago still reverberate for these incarcerees today.” (104)

The book has quotes from Minidoka resisters Frank Yamasaki and Gene Akutsu, younger brother of Jim Akutsu, as well as from Heart Mountain resistance leader Frank Emi. Also noteworthy is their inclusion of an image we would have put into our documentary had we known of this existing copy, that of a post-Pearl Harbor Oath of Allegiance created by Mike Masaoka and the National JACL as a kind of “citizen ID” card complete with passport photo, thumbprint, and voluntary forswearing of any known or unknown allegiances to the Japanese enemy. It was all to no avail, of course, as the government swept both citizen and alien into the detention centers and then the permanent camp. But it was an ominous precursor to the Loyalty Oath the government would then try to administer inside camp and fuel the distrust for the later draft resistance.

Steve and Marilyn were here in Seattle last weekend for a Town Hall Seattle forum sponsored by Densho. You can read the coverage of the event in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Seattle’s Japantown remembered.” You can watch streaming video of the entire event, including Steve and Marilyn’s academic presentation, by clicking on this link for The Seattle Channel, and scroll down about one-third of the way to the link for Community Ties: Memories of Japantown dated Nov. 22, 2004 [requires free RealPlayer].

Resisters panel at Organization of American Historians conference

Resisters panel at OAH conference
(left to right) Dean Hashimoto, Cherstin Lyon, Frank Emi, Frank Chin, and Art Hansen at Boston Public Library

About 40 people turned out on March 27 at the Boston Public Library for what sounds like a spirited panel on the resisters, as part of the Organization of American Historians annual conference.

Frank Emi speaking
Frank Emi speaking at Boston Public Library

Click on the images to see enlarged views of the panel and of Frank Emi speaking. Frank Emi’s daughter, Kathleen, provided the photos.

Read the full workshop description or download a printable press release. Thanks to Cherstin Lyon from the University of Arizona for distributing our posters and fliers there and for sending this update:

Frank Chin delivered an animated presentation about the literature and cultural treatment of Japanese in the white press, novels and music before the war setting up pre-war racism. He discussed the early rifts between people like Mike Masaoka and James Omura over how AJAs should respond to the war and proposals for evacuation and internment.

Frank Emi delivered his own personal take on the costs (both economic and personal) of evacuation, and the events and circumstances that led him to resist the draft. He ended with his experiences in prison, mentioned others he met in prison and ended with a bit on the JACL apology, reiterating that the JACL should issue an apology to all AJAs for their role in the entire evacuation process. If the United States government could do it, why not them?

I introduced the lesser known resisters, those who resisted as individuals and posed the question — why both during the war and after did some criticize those who resisted as individuals of just dodging the draft? For wasting their time? For committing acts of lawlessness that would have no great effect at all? I compared the full range of resistance to the abolitionists before the Civil War and related the actions of all who resisted internment — no-no boys, strikers, petitioners, resisters — to the “revolutionary tradition” in America. I ended with stories about the Hopi draft resisters those Nisei resisters from Topaz and Amache and even Gordon Hirabayashi himself met in prison and explained how the Hopis welcomed the resisters into their “family” symbolically with a hair-washing ceremony.

Dean Hashimoto ended with his own personal understanding of internment as a child of a Nisei who had been interned at Amache. A Sansei himself, Hashimoto learned in school that internment was justified and just, which both disturbed and puzzled him. He worked as a law student on the Korematsu case in the 1980s and explained that despite the ruling of a lower court, the Korematsu case is still technically “good” law. He urged the audience that we should never forget that it is like a loaded weapon waiting to be used and related the importance of remembering internment and continuing the conversation to the current political situation with enemy combatants, the USA Patriot Act and the continued survival of Korematsu.

The discussion that followed was engaging and at times heated. Some high school teachers mentioned the importance of teaching the story to their students, a former internee expressed his reluctance about the tone of the panel that seemed to demonize the JACL and suggested that we all be forgiving of wartime misjudgments (this received some fairly heated responses from Chin). One audience member insisted that there were no concentration camps, only benign ” relocation centers” which turned into a shouting match which Art Hansen quickly brought back under control and redirected the conversation. And one student, who was quite taken by the story of the Hopi resisters’ alliance with the Nisei resisters wanted to know on a more personal level how much fluidity there was between those who resisted and those who served in the military which opened up interesting responses and stories where individual families were divided over their decisions and responses to the draft.

Over all, the session was quite productive and the audience stayed a full extra half hour to discuss the issues and finally had to be kicked out of the library as it had already closed.

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.

In memoriam: Brooks Iwakiri and Toyo Suyemoto

We start the new year by catching up to the passing of one of the earliest supporters of this project.

Brooks Iwakiri passed away on Nov. 6 in the Burbank area at the age of 82. Brooks was among the first private donors to support the initial production of our film. It was his support that, among other things, allowed us to travel to Los Angeles and film a marathon interview session with the Heart Mountain resisters and James Omura. That session in the dance studio of Jeanne Nakano and Dick Obayashi in 1994, in between stops for the planes flying overhead, provided most of the sound cuts that appear in the finished piece. In the case of Omura, Art Emi and Dave Kawamoto, those interviews came just in time.

Brooks believed in us and in the cause of restoring the good name of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee. Many of the resisters attended Brooks’ funeral on Nov. 15 at Fukui Mortuary. It’s his name and that of his wife Sumi that appear in the underwriting credits at the top of our show. Brooks always enjoyed a good laugh and we were lucky to keep in touch with him over the years. Our condolences to Sumi, his son Vince, and the rest of his family. He will be missed.

Another passage to report, that of Nisei poet Toyo Suyemoto. John Streamas writes from Bowling Green State University in Ohio:

I have some sad news to pass along. I have received word from friends in Columbus that my dear friend Toyo Suyemoto has died. I don’t know many details, but I know that her health has been failing for years due to a variety of ailments. Last summer when my wife Val and I visited her, she told us that her weight had declined to 80 pounds and her height had shrunk to 4’6″. But still she was sharp and lucid as ever. On January 14 she would have turned 88 years old.

I spoke with her on the phone just last Wednesday.

I know that Lawson Inada and Frank Chin tried for years to persuade her to send them a manuscript of her poems, so that they might get them published as a book. She never managed to do this, and so she never published a book in her lifetime. People will have to take Lawson Inada’s word in the 1995 article in The Nation that Toyo is Japanese America’s poet laureate. Three or four years ago Lawson Inada spent several days in Ohio, visiting with Toyo and interviewing her. I know that Toyo felt affection and respect for them.

Even in her old age, Toyo was a feisty and strong-willed person. When I told her a few years ago that I had been approached by the Dayton chapter of JACL, she went into her anti-JACL lecture mode, denouncing the organization’s wartime politics and swearing she would never join. She saw your film and admired it very much. She also had a great sense of humor and managed to make many artist-friends, including Val.

I wish you could have met her. She was a remarkable person. Val and I will miss her very much.

— John

News updates in 2003

An archive of news updates from our home page in 2003:

Update: Saturday, Jan. 11, 2003
A memorial service will be held later today in Riverside, California for Grant Emi, the son of Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee leader Frank Emi. Grant passed away on Jan. 4th after a battle with stomach cancer.

The photo at right shows Frank with Grant as a baby in camp, just as Frank was learning about the Constitution and Bill of Rights from Kiyoshi Okamoto and helping him develop a group to provide information to the young men who were receiving draft notices inside an American concentration camp. Emi was arrested and tried for conspiracy to counsel draft evasion.

Grant grew up to have four children of his own. He took part in our second ceremonial homecoming for the resisters in 1993, at the Centenary United Methodist Church in L.A.’s Little Tokyo. It was called “The Return of the Fair Play Committee,” and in it Grant was able to honor his father’s wartime stand by re-enacting Frank Emi’s interrogation by Heart Mountain project director Guy Robertson and project attorney Donald Horn.

By phone, Frank says he’s feeling very sad, and our thoughts are with him and his family. Due to the service, Frank will not be attending today’s party for two books on the Heart Mountain resisters at Reikai’s Kitchen, in Little Tokyo Towers. Due to the service, Frank will not be attending today’s booksigning for two books on the Heart Mountain resisters at Reikai’s Kitchen, in Little Tokyo Towers. This is something William Hohri organized after getting turned down by two other Little Tokyo institutions that were reluctant, he says, because the topic of the two books is “controversial.” Read William’s article.

Update: Monday, February 10, 2003

“A scary time for civil liberties.” That’s the headline in today’s Seattle newspapers following yesterday’s Day of Remembrance event, “Civil Liberties Denied: After December 7 and September 11,” sponsored by the Densho Project at Seattle Town Hall. It featured civil rights attorney Dale Minami and a raw personal testimony from a 21-year old Syrian student who told an eerily familiar story of FBI agents bursting into her home to arrest her and her family following September 11th.  Read all about it in today’s Seattle P-I and Seattle Times. In about a week I hope to be able to link to a RealMedia streaming video of the entire event, as presented by King County government access cable TV station that I now manage. As the nation prepares for war, this event as have many others show the parallels between the Japanese American incarceration and Homeland Security today.
KEN LAMBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Nadin Hamoui, 21, a Syrian student, breaks down yesterday while describing how she and her parents were detained after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. She spoke at a program on civil liberties sponsored by Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

“Conscience and the Constitution” will screen at another Day of Remembrance observance in New York City on Saturday, March 8, at the Japanese American Association of New York. The screening is being organized by Tsuya Yee, granddaughter of none other than writer/historian William Hohri.

On a lighter note, the film will also be seen at the Spaghetti Junction Urban Film Festival in Atlanta sometime between Feb. 26 and March 1. Festival organizers have chosen to screen “Conscience” as part of a tribute to our celebrated film editor, Lillian Benson, A.C.E., the first African-American woman inducted into the prestigious American Cinema Editors guild. It’s a well-deserved honor and our congratulations to Lillian, who found the emotional core in the reels of video we brought to her, and took what was essentially a book and turned it into a visual experience.

Update: Monday, March 3, 2003

You can now watch a 1-hour, 11-minute RealMedia streaming video of “Civil Liberties Denied: After December 7 and September 11,”, sponsored by the Densho Project at Seattle Town Hall [free RealOne Playerrequired]. See the entire event [71 minutes,free RealOne Playerrequired], or jump directly to Nadin Hamoui’s story

Update: Monday, March 10, 2003
Memorial services are being held later today for Joe Norikane, a good and funny man who resisted the draft from the Amache, Colorado concentration camp and was imprisoned with 44 other Nisei resisters at a federal labor camp northeast of Tucson, Arizona. Friends remember him as a man who spoke from the heart with a great sense of conviction and humor. He came to the Heart Mountain resisters homecoming in Los Angeles in 1993 and handed me an envelope of photos. I took one look and realized they were the only known photos of Fair Play Committee founder Kiyoshi Okamoto, taken just after the war while he, Joe, and the Kubota’s were living at a Wyoming boarding after the war, just after their release from prison. They were the photos we used in the film. The memorial service will be held Monday, March 10, at 2 p.m. at Walnut Grove Buddhist Church, 1405 Pine St. Inurnment will be at Sacramento Memorial Lawn. Thanks to Martha Nakagawa for the photo and Kenji and J.K. for the details.

Japanese American journalists J.K. Yamamoto and Kenji Taguma (left to right) lit some candles at the recent Day of Remembrance ceremony in San Francisco. The Associated Press circulated the photo to the left nationwide. Kenji dedicated his candlelighting to the memory of Nisei journalist James Omura, the number one enemy of the JACL in wartime and the only Nisei journalist to editorialize in support of resisters like Joe.

“Conscience and the Constitution” has just been booked in Honolulu for several showings at the Restaurant Row 9 Theaters art house as part of a series held in connection with a University of Hawaii conference commemorating the 442nd RCT and 100th Battalion from Hawaii, and civil liberties before and after the war.

Update: Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Sounds like the Day of Remembrance observance in New York City last weekend was a great success. Thanks to them for screening our film:

“Thanks for all your help and advertising of our event … Everyone was really moved by the film and the subject matter. Many sansei too were moved (and yonsei like me too). After the film, we had planned on just going right into our potluck and social time, but people really wanted to talk about the film, so we had a group discussion for awhile. It was great!”
— Tsuya Yee (the organizer)

“The DOR event was wonderful thanks to your film. Even old timers were moved by it. There were around 60 people…maybe more and they all wanted more information about it.”
— Julie Izuma (co-chair)

“It was a hit. I was very moved by the stories of the men and their families, both struggling against our government, then the struggle within the community. It’s a great history lesson to show how people fought in other types of battlefields.”
— Stan Honda

Update: Sunday, March 16, 2003
Our posting of the obit for Amache resister Joe Norikane drew the attention of the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco East Bay Area, which phoned us for a quote which you can read online, “WWII resister humble but strong-willed,” and reprinted the photo below which was taken by Martha Nakagawa.

Update: Friday, April 4, 2003
At the University of Hawaii they’re gathering this weekend for a conference commemorating the 442nd RCT and 100th Battalion from Hawaii, and civil liberties before and after the war. “Conscience” will screen on the dates below at the Restaurant Row 9 Theaters art house as part of a series held in connection the conference. The program is called “On the Home Front” and also on the bill are Bob Nakamura’s “Toyo Miyatake:Infinite Shades of Gray,” and John Esaki’s “Words Weavings & Songs.”

Friday & Saturday, April 4 & 5 at 1:30 p.m.
Monday, April 7 at 7 p.m.
Sunday & Tuesday, April 6 & 8 at 4:30 p.m.
Restaurant Row 9 Theaters
500 Ala Moana Boulevard

Update: Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Well, the war has come and apparently the war has gone and the feared mass backlash against Americans of Mideast descent did not materialize. Does that make our obligatory role as watchdogs of civil liberties any less vital? That’s one of the topics I hope to address in the keynote address next week at the White River Valley JACL scholarship banquet. Just two months ago, following the Feb. 9 Day of Remembrance event in Seattle, you’ll remember the headlines here were “A scary time for civil liberties.” You can watch a RealMedia streaming video of that event, “Civil Liberties Denied: After December 7 and September 11,” sponsored by the Densho Project at Seattle Town Hall [free RealOne Player required], as presented by the King County government cable TV station I now manage.

Update: Monday, June 2, 2003
Answered a few questions for some students in this year’s National History Day competition, and this one came last week from a 10th grader in Pennsylvania.

Dear Mr. Abe,
In your opinion, do you think what happened to the Japanese Americans (internment) can happen today?

Thanks, Julie

To help answer that, I suggested she take a look at my keynote address to the White River Valley JACL banquet held April 30th.

Coming up on June 23 and 24 we will be conducting fourworkshops for instructors in the Prince William County Public Schools in Manassas, Virginia. We will be showing clips from “Conscience…” and leading discussions around the question, “Who writes history?”

Earlier this year we noted the passing of Amache resister Joe Norikane. The family sent along some very nice notes that offer more insight into the character of a good man:

Thank you for your touching tribute to my father. I do not think that he liked all of the attention, but he thoroughly enjoyed talking with people who were interested in the story of the Resisters. Thanks again for remembering him.

Sincerely, Joey Norikane

Thank you very much for having Joe’s obituary and also acknowledging that  he gave you the picture of Mr. Okamoto for your very informative and educational documentary, Conscience and the  Constitution. I really felt warm inside to see  him included in the resisters.com. Ditto for our children. Many people didn’t know he was one of the resisters. I didn’t know  until about 15 years after we were married. When he did tell me I told him I’m glad he protested the draft  because I too believed it was unconstitutional….We miss him every day.

Sincerely, Mrs. Norikane

Update: Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Another summer teachers workshop coming up, this one at Seattle Universityorganized by multicultural leader Mako Nakagawa, with the theme, “Democracy in America: Then and Now.”

Update: Thursday, September 4, 2003
Writer Frank Chin has finally obtained a host for a meeting in his effort to find an audience for his recent book, “Born in the U.S.A.” The date is February 20, 2004, at the University of Oregon at Eugene. Taking part will be Chin, Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee leader Frank Emi, Jim Hirabayashi, younger brother of curfew violator and draft resister Gordon Hirabayashi, and Ashland poet Lawson Inada. Chin writes, “We will be making presentations on the JACL betrayal of civil rights and the resisters who went to court in defense of civil rights.”

An informal poll of likely readers of the book, who own the book, has not yet turned up anyone who has actually read it. Stores also don’t stock the book, so the best way to find out for yourself what’s in it is to order it online through Amazon.com. The book draws from interviews conducted for Conscience and the Constitution and his other years of extensive research. If you’ve read it and have some reactions, by all means please email us.

News updates in 2002

An archive of news updates from our home page in 2002:

Update: Monday, January 2, 2002
Happy New Year. 
The issue of racial profiling is still with us: see yet another quote from me in a recent Sacramento Bee story, “Reality meets rhetoric over race profiling.”

Update: Tuesday, January 22, 2002
Organizers of the JACL public ceremony to present its formal apology for suppressing wartime resistance are still trying to nail down a date and the money to stage it. The latest date mentioned is April 28th but that evidently conflicts with the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage. Read an earlier message from ceremony co-chair Andy Noguchi; Resisters.com is supporting the event at the Silver level.  A number of veterans groups have lined up to attack JACL.  Japanese America remains an interesting place to live.

Our public television presenter, the Independent Television Service, has just revamped its Web site and given us a clean-looking page for our show.  There is now also a link to the PBS.org TALKBACK page where you can leave a comment about our show or ask a question of producer Frank Abe or resisters Yosh Kuromiya and Tak Hoshizaki.  And see a video preview of our program.  I hope to get more resources online soon in response to the many students who have posted questions recently. We do have two short video clips from our film now online in our STUDY CENTER.

ITVS has also just commissioned producer Rob Mikuriya to create by July an interactive Web project that connects the experiences of Japanese Americans in the early 1940s with those of Arab Americans today through a series of personal stories told through audio, photos and Flash animation.  Read the press release.

Update: Thursday, February 7, 2002
Big headline in the Pacific Citizen just received: “JACL Postpones Resisters Ceremony: May is Possible New Date for Event.”  They’re looking for a room, a speaker, and a budget. Read the story.  Also, read the letter and formal resolutionfrom last summer from the Japanese American veterans in Sacramento attacking JACL for its apology ceremony. Someday we’ll have to discuss the logic of their argument.

Students at the University of Illinois in Chicago promise “refreshments and education will be served” at a Feb. 18th Day of Remembrance screening of our film in the Montgomery Ward Gallery.  The JACL has collected a list of Day of Remembrance events nationwide on their site.  I will be present at two other upcoming screenings of our film at the San Diego Public Library on March 3rd, and the Bellevue Art Museum, east of Seattle, on March 14th.

Update: Wednesday, February 13, 2002
In the Seattle area, please tune in this Friday for a half-hour “Day of Remembrance” interview on KBCS-FM:

Friday, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. on Voices of Diversity, on KBCS-FM, 91.3:
Voices of Diversity has dedicated our entire show to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 which unjustly forced thousands of Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II in 1942. Local director and filmmaker Frank Abe is interviewed about his documentary “Conscience and the Constitution,” which looks at this distrubing episode in American history. Abe’s “Conscience and the Constitution” will screen on March 14 at the Bellevue Art Museum. Voices of Diversity is hosted by Kevin P. Henry.

Update: Friday, February 22, 2002
Launched on Tuesday just in time for this year’s Day of Remembrance is a new online resource for students and teachers, the Densho Educational Website.  Bookmarkwww.densho.org for a digital archive that holds a little more than 110 interviews (over 200 hours of recorded video) and 980 historic photos and documents. Think of it as the Japanese American equivalent of Steven Spielberg’s  Survivors of the Shoah Visual History project.  This launch represents six years of work by Director Tom Ikeda and his talented staff.  I am proud to have made one tiny contribution with the interview of Issei Seattle redress pioneer Shosuke Sasaki.  Congratulations Tom and crew.

The Pacific Citizen now reports a confirmed date for the JACL “Resisters of Conscience” ceremony: Saturday, May 11th, at around 1:30 p.m, at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.  Keynote speaker is Congressman Mike Honda, and they hope to at least get a video message from Sen. Daniel Inouye, who has spoken on his desire to see respect for those who resisted the draft to protest incarceration.  I am planning to be there.  Read the previous Pacific Citizen story on the various postponements of this program.  If you can support this program with a donation, organizers Andy Noguchi and Patty Wada would be grateful.  Also, read the letter and formal resolution from last summer from the Japanese American veterans in Sacramento attacking JACL for its apology ceremony.

But before that, look for our film at the San Diego Public Library on March 3rd, and theBellevue Art Museum near Seattle on March 14th. Download the San Diego flyer [318K .pdf]outlining a series of internment related programs from now through April. Also, thanks to LeeAnn Kim at San Diego AAJA for posting a notice right on top of the San Diego Asian Film Festival website.

Update: Wednesday, April 17, 2002
Please join us at Mills College in Oakland on Monday, April 22nd at 7 p.m., in Stern Hall, room 100. I’ll be joined at this screening not only by resister Mits Koshiyama, but also by Amjad Obeidat from American Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism. Sponsored by the Ethnic Studies  Department, the Women’s Studies Program, and the Asian Pacific Islander Sisterhood Alliance of Mills College.

Update: Saturday, April 20, 2002
Just received a letter from Frank Emi, the leader of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, responding to yet another newspaper attack in the weeks leading up to the JACL’s public ceremony apologizing for its suppression of Emi and wartime resistance. Check back in a day or two so I can get it scanned and posted, but right now I’m leaving for Oakland.

Update: Monday, April 29, 2002

Just as he did 58 years ago in camp, Frank Emi has gone back to his typewriter to answer a written attack on him and the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee. The upcoming JACL public ceremony apologizing for its suppression of wartime resistance is meant to bring some measure of reconciliation and healing of divisions in the Japanese American community, and in the long run it may accomplish that, but in the short term it’s certainly prompted the revival of some old myths and misconceptions about the nature of the resistance. Read Sus Satow’s op-ed pieceas published, uncorrected, in the April 11 Rafu Shimpo newspaper, then read Frank Em’s reply sent the next day to the Rafu and Pacific Citizen.

Meanwhile, only two more weeks until the JACL “Resisters of Conscience” ceremony on Saturday, May 11th, at 1:30 p.m, at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. Here’s the latest update received April 27th from organizer Andy Noguchi:

Thanks for helping to publicize the Resister Recognition & Reconciliation Ceremony on your web site. Plans are finally shaping up well with support building.

We currently have 13 resisters or family representatives planning to attend, with Frank Emi and Yosh Kuromiya slated to speak on behalf of the resisters. We are hoping to have several other resisters and family members attend, also. We’re also including a family representative speaking, Dan Kubo, son of the late Yoshi Kubo, an Amache Resister. Additionally, we have two individual veterans speaking: Marvin Uratsu of the M.I.S. of N. Calif. and Warren Tsuneishi of the J.A.V.A.

Besides yourself, exhibitors will include Emiko Omori (Rabbit in the Moon), Eric Muller’s representative with his book (Free to Die for Their Country), and a representative of William Hohri (Resistance: Challenging America’s Wartime Internment of Japanese Americans).

The community is being very generous in making donations to carry out this overdue program. The total is currently over $10,000.

Thanks for all your efforts to educate the public on the importance of the resisters. I’ve been mentioning to resisters and their families your plans to attend and have your video there. Several have said it needs to get out to the public even more.

See you May 11th – Andy

Update: Saturday, May 4, 2002
The upcoming JACL public ceremony apologizing for its suppression of wartime resistance is taking on a life of its own. The Associated Press ran the story nationwide yesterday, under the title, “Japanese Group to Give Draft Apology“. Several San Francisco TV stations and print journalists are planning stories. Organizers have issued an updated flyer [Word doc, 392 KB]. And Bay Area PR professional Keith Kamisugi has just put out a JACL press release and created a special event website, “Nisei Resisters of Conscience of World War II Recognition and Reconciliation Ceremony,” at www.resisters.net with details of the program on May 11 and a map. Several students have e-mailed to ask if they needed an invitation to attend. Well, none is required, but resisters.net does have an online e-vite invitation form for you to accept.

Update: Monday, May 6, 2002
The JACL press release was picked up by PoliticalCircus.com – said to be a popular APA political Web site. The Associated Press ran the story nationwide yesterday, under the title, “Japanese Group to Give Draft Apology,” and Aiko Herzig reports a short brief from it ran in the Washington Post.

Update: Tuesday, May 7, 2002
If you can bear to read them, here is a near-complete list of links to recent opinion columns, letters to the editor, claims and counterclaims provoked by the imminentNisei Resisters of Conscience of World War II Recognition and Reconciliation Ceremony this Saturday in San Francisco. For full details and a map to the event, visit the JACL’s Resisters.net site. The articles below appeared in slightly different forms in the Pacific Citizen, Nichi Bei Times, and Rafu Shimpo newspapers. The key article may be the most recent one, provided by scholar Eric Muller.

An Open Letter to the Draft Resisters, Their Supporters and the National JACL Leadership,” by Loren M. Ishii
Pacific Citizen, March 15- April 4, 2002
Nichi Bei Times, March 16, 2002

Regarding the VFW, the JACL and the Draft Resisters,” by Takasumi Kojima
Nichi Bei Times, March 23, 2002

Who Are The Resisters of Conscience?” by Sus Satow
Pacific Citizen, April 5-18, 2002
Rafu Shimpo, April 11, 2002

Reply to Sus Satow,’
by Frank S. Emi, Member, Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee
Nichi Bei Times, April 12, 2002
Pacific Citizen, April 19-May 2, 2002

The JACL Image and the Resisters of Conscience Ceremony,”
by Fred Oshima, Nichi Bei Times Columnist
Nichi Bei Times, April 12, 2002

Donations Show Support for Resisters Ceremony, Organizers Say,” by Tracy Uba, Pacific Citizen Writer/Reporter
Pacific Citizen, April 19-May 2, 2002

Who are the Resisters? An Answer,” by Mits Koshiyama
Letter to the Editor” by Steven J. Doi
Nichi Bei Times, April 30, 2002

The Final Word From a Nisei Post” by Loren M. Ishii
Commander’s Column,” by Loren M. Ishii
Nichi Bei Times, May 1, 2002

To Resist or to Comply: A Human Dilemma,” by Eric L. Muller
special to the Pacific Citizen, May 3-16, 2002
Nichi Bei Times, May 2, 2002

Update: Friday, May 10, 2002, 5 p.m.
KRON-TV, Channel 4 in San Francisco, has put its story on the JACL apology online with a video clip. Read the story here, then follow the link to the video clip. You’ll see video from our film that we furnished them, including a clip from the Central California JACL meeting that rejected the apology in 1999, and reporter Vic Lee consulted our script to make his point about the resisters who served in the Korean War. KGO’s Heather Ishimaru says her story on the resisters is set to air on Channel 7 at about 6:11 p.m. tonight. Thanks Keith for getting our B-roll to them. See you all tomorrow in the City.

I gave an interview that’s now online at the Asian Diversity Web site. And overnight or early Saturday check the Voice of America site for a link to a radio interview with myself, Paul Tsuneishi, and some of the resisters. 

Update: Saturday, May 11, 11 p.m.
Twelve years ago it would have been unthinkable to see the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee admitted as a group to a JACL meeting, much less be the center of honor and attention, but that’s just what happened earlier today. More than 300 people, many of them family and friends of the Nisei WW2 draft resisters, filled the gym at the San Francisco Japanese American Community and Cultural Center. Come back after 9 a.m. Sunday morning and I hope to have more details on Frank Emi and Yosh Kuromiya’s extraordinary statements.  Come back in about two weeks and I hope to be able to post some streaming video clips shot by filmmaking veteran Curtis Choy.

Update: Sunday, May 12, 9 a.m. (with updated links to news coverage)
Our film ends with the on-screen tag, “In July 2000, the national Japanese American Citizens League voted to apologize for its suppression of wartime resistance. Several JACL old-timers walked out in protest.”  On Saturday, about 300 people, many of them family and friends of the resisters, filled the gym at the San Francisco Japanese American Community and Cultural Center for the Nisei Resisters of Conscience of World War II Recognition and Reconciliation Ceremony. The event was remarkable for a number of reasons:

  • The event captured the imagination of the media locally, nationally, and even worldwide. Effective outreach by Keith Kamisugi and his Resisters.net site caught the attention of editors who framed this as another WW2 “sixty years later” reconciliation story. Japanese NHK-TV was there, as was the Wall Street Journal and many local broadcast and print media.
  • The event succeeded in drawing out 21 draft resisters from Heart Mountain, Amache and even the lone resister from Jerome, Joe Yamakido, who told me he just wanted to see it but didn’t want to be introduced. We got his name to the organizers, and after he came up to receive his ceremonial gift and returned to his seat high in the bleachers, his daughter gave him a big hug and wiped away her own tears. It was also a shock to finally get to meet George Kurasaki, Halley Minoura, Bob Nagahara, and other Heart Mountain resisters who are in the courtroom photo but never wanted to come out in public until now.
  • JACL National President Floyd Mori and Executive Director John Tateishi demonstrated tremendous grace and leadership in following through with a very visible public ceremony. Within the roles they play in the community they took a great risk in fulfilling the membership’s mandate to hold a public ceremony, when they could have just gone through the motions with a few words at the next convention, or at the resisters symposium in Wyoming last spring. Twelve years ago it would have been unthinkable to see the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee admitted as a group to a JACL meeting, much less be the center of honor and attention. Even when Frank Emi and Mits Koshiyama spoke at the 1994 JACL convention in Salt Lake City, there was an uneasy air about the invitation and a local white scholar was brought in to mediate the proceedings. In the 20th century a convention resolution deemed ill-advised by the Nisei old guard would have simply been redirected or undermined by JACL leadership. By following their own consciences, and the mandate of their members, Mori and Tateishi have elevated the JACL of today to a new level of credibility as the civil rights organization it has strived to be since resettlement.

Resistance leader Frank Emi and draft resister Yosh Kuromiya graciously acknowledged the reconciliation.  But what may have been lost in the good feelings of the moment, which several journalists did not miss, was that Emi and Yosh raised the stakes by calling on JACL to consider apologizing to the entire community for its policy of compliance with expulsion and initial waiver of civil rights for an entire people. Come back by mid-week and I will scan and post Emi’s entire statement, but here is his closing:

“I wish to extend my appreciation to the JACL for sponsoring this ceremony. As a civil rights organization, I believe it is a step in the right direction.

Having said that, I think it would be entirely appropriate for JACL to go one step further and hold a similar program directed towards the Japanese American community for the excesses committed by wartime JACL leaders, such as acting as informants for the government causing many innocent people to suffer, as recorded in the Lim Report.

I believe such action would finally put to rest, JACL’s unholy ghosts of the past and would be a worthy way to start the 21st century.

The United States government apologized for their wartime excesses.  Can JACL do less?”

That was unexpected, but on reflection it is typical Frank Emi. Never afraid to take a stand. It is his image, by the way, at the top of this page. Come back in several weeks and I hope to be up and running with a few streaming video clips shot by filmmaking veteran Curtis Choy.

These links to the news coverage that is available online were updated on May 22:

Update: Tuesday, May 22, 2002
See and hear Sen. Daniel Inouye speak on behalf of reconciliation with the Nisei draft resisters, in exclusive comments to this Web site [4.7 MB] in Seattle on May 5, a week before his videotaped statement with the same message was delivered to the JACL apology ceremony. This video clip was fittingly shot by Phil Sturholm, the videographer on our film. Click on the image to play a RealMedia file, which requires the free RealOne player(Due to our current lack of a RealMedia server, the entire file will download first, so this is not recommended for dial-up users.)

We depend on the Nikkei vernaculars for the real story, and now  Martha Nakagawa of the Pacific Citizen and Kenji Taguma of the Nichi Bei Times have written the most knowledgeable reports yet on the JACL reconciliation ceremony. Read the PC’s “Historic Apology Marks First Step in Reconciliation Between JACL and Resisters of Conscience” and the Nichi Bei’s “Historic JACL Ceremony Recognizing WWII Resisters Called a “First Step” in Reconciliation.” The Associated Press sent award-winning news photographer Paul Sakuma to the ceremony, and you can see four of his photos online.

And now an unusual offer has come our way. In the wake of the JACL reconciliation ceremony, writer Frank Chin is offering visitors to Resisters.com a preview of his forthcoming book on the Heart Mountain resisters and the JACL. It comes with a challenge to Japanese American writers and journalists:

I think you can use your website as a temporary magazine to encourage the emergence of a body of Japanese American critics and historians — to tell things form the Japanese American or Asian American point of view, in plain language

I want to give the flavor of the book. Your readers have the facts. I’m trying to open them up to the art of — for lack of a better phrase — The Great Japanese American Novel. You can use James Omura, the section of talking about the great JA novel with Larry Tajiri, as intro.

We are presenting here an exclusive 48 page excerpt from the 444-page copyrighted book, Born in the USA: A Story of Japanese America 1889-1947, by Frank Chin. It is an epic vision modeled on John Dos Passos’ The USA Trilogy and consists of four “books:” “Japanese America — The Issei,” “The Nisei Dream,” “Dec. 7, 1941/The Closing Papers,” and “Them And Us.” The work is largely drawn from original documentary sources, but the opinions expressed in Mr. Chin’s work are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of this Web site or its owner. The excerpt will only be online for a limited time, to be replaced by other chapters. The link has now been removed.

Update: Friday, June 7, 2002
Just when you thought the dust had settled from the May 11 JACL ceremony to reconcile with its WW2 suppression of camp resistance, we have one more round of letters to the editor in the Pacific Citizen, including a special note from one of the resisters:

Also, Rich Wada tipped us off to one radio piece that is still online, a personal commentary by Kenji Taguma, English editor of the Nichi Bei Times and son of an Amache resister.  He spoke on KQED-FM’s Pacific Time broadcast on May 16.  Scroll down to the fifth story.

Update: Saturday, June 28, 2002
“Conscience” will be screened on July 4th at the 2002 Tule Lake Pilgrimage during the long ride to camp on each of the ten buses departing from Washington, Oregon and California.  Pilgrims will have another chance to view it during “rest” times and optional activities. The theme for this year’s pilgrimage is, appropriately enough, “Patriotism and Loyalty Revisited.” The film is also screening again in Seattle during “Afest: Through the Lens,” the first film festival sponsored by the Northwest Asian American Theater, sometime in July.

Update: Monday, July 29, 2002
Another pair of Seattle screenings is set for early August. “A-Fest: Through the Lens,” is a showcase for local filmmakers, and the first film festival sponsored by the Northwest Asian American Theatre. Screenings are at Theatre Off-Jackson on Sunday, August 4th at 1:30 p.m. and Thursday, August 8th at 7:30 p.m.

Update: Wednesday, August 21, 2002
Interest remains high in the so-called “Lim Report,” the Research Report prepared for the Presidential Select Committee on JACL Resolution #7, submitted in 1990 byDeborah K. Lim. I wrote in 1990 about how the Japanese American Citizens League commissioned the report, then tried to bury it when they saw the direction it was taking (“Report Says Wartime JACL Leaders Collaborated“). Heart Mountain resistance leader Frank Emi called on JACL to address the issues raised in that report, even as JACL was apologizing to Emi and others last May for its suppression of wartime resistance. So in response to several requests, we’ve added a special link to the full text of the unexpurgated report and the introduction written by William Hohri.

Update: Thursday, August 29, 2002
This Web site has been one of the two places on the Internet where you can download an uncensored copy of the so-called “Lim Report,” the Research Report prepared for the Presidential Select Committee on JACL Resolution #7, submitted in 1990 by Deborah K. Lim. Now, with no fanfare, you can obtain in book form, free of charge, the report that details the JACL’s role of cooperation and collaboration with government exclusion orders in 1942. It’s all somewhat mysterious, but the Lim Report has been self-published with the author’s permission. I received my copy Tuesday. No publisher is named anywhere, but thanks to whoever was responsible for alerting readers to the online version here at Resisters.com. William Hohri outlines the history of this book in his latest Rambler’s Nemesis column published yesterday in the Rafu Shimpo newspaper.

Update: Saturday, August 31, 2002
We can finally present you with a 70-secondQuickTime video clip of Heart Mountain resistance leader Frank Emi’s remarks on May 11, 2002, challenging the Japanese American Citizens League to address the question of its wartime collaboration with incarceration, even as the group was apologizing to Emi and others for its suppression of wartime resistance. Click on the image on the right, you will need to download the free Quicktime Player.

In this first clip, Emi makes reference to what’s commonly known as “The Lim Report.”

Update: Monday, Dec. 2, 2002
In his latest Rambler’s Nemesis column in the Nov. 30th Rafu Shimpo newspaper, writer William Hohri reports the social ostracism against the Heart Mountain resisters continues in Southern California and Little Tokyo. It’s the kind of nonsense that makes me glad I live in Seattle. William says he did succeed in organizing a party for two books on the Heart Mountain resisters at Reikai’s Kitchen, in Little Tokyo Towers at 455 E. Third Street, on Saturday, January 11, 2003, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

See our new page devoted to the story of the JACL apology to the Heart Mountain resisters.

Update: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2002
Thanks for visiting if you saw our ad [pdf: 414 KB] Friday in the Nichibei Times or Rafu Shimpo newspapers. A new shipment of tapes just arrived and we can send them to arrive before Christmas.

Another Pearl Harbor anniversary has also arrived, but it’s no longer the day that Japanese Americans go into hiding thanks to redress and the reversal of lingering stereotypes that began with the first Day of Remembrance. A Day of Remembrance committee in New York City is planning a screening of our film on Saturday, March 8, 2003, organized by Tsuya Yee, who happens to be the granddaughter of none other than writer/historian William Hohri. Details to come.

Just added is a 73-second QuickTime clip of the actual words of apology from National JACL President Floyd Mori. The image is muddy and due to an error in editing there is distracting double audio in places, but it will be awhile before we can recut it.

Update: Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2002
I was wondering what holiday message I could possibly post, when along comes this from writer Frank Chin:

What, the JACL made a statement defending civil rights? (Tateishi: “JACL Calls for Lott Resignation,” December 19, 2002) They’re against the Bush administrations chipping away at the rights of Arab Americans and Islamists? Don’t trust the JACL.

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is an organization of hypocrites. On Xmas Eve of 1947 they vilified  263 prisoners of concentration camps who had resisted the draft and the campaign of JACL backing the government camps and racist policies.

In 1942 Mike Masaoka, the JACL leader, announced, “The National JACL stands unalterably opposed to test cases to determine the constitutionality of the military regulations at this time. We have reached this decision unanimously after examining all the facts in light of our national policy of ‘the greatest good for the greatest number.'” [read the full original document online at PBS.org — ed.]  No mention is made of the resisters’ heroic stand against the camps and JACL stand against the resistance and their support of the camps as places where the Japanese Americans could “re-earn their citizenship.” In the words of their leader, Mike Masaoka, “Moreover, no group of Americans ever had their liberties handed to them on a silver platter. They had to work, to sacrifice, to suffer for them. And, because of that work, that sacrifice, that suffering, citizenship means more to them today than ever before.”

Norman Mineta had his brother-in-law’s words emblazoned on the Monument to the Nisei of WWII in Washington. Not those words, but heavily edited words that thank the government for the camps. The JACL has never repudiated Mike Masaoka’s stand against Japanese American civil rights and has never repudiated their stand in favor of the camps and the racist policies against the Japanese Americans. They are obviously the same organization they were in 1942.  They still aspire to lure their people longing to secure their civil rights, into their web, where they will betray them.

The JACL’s objections to the government’s current flirtations with racism is a rip off of the resisters stand during camp, in a bid to prove themselves a civil rights organization. But they were not a civil rights organization, they were a government agent in a civil rights disguise. And they still are.

Of course they can change. Simply admit Mike Masaoka was a government shill and repudiate him. Dump their policies of 1942 to 2002. Change their name.

Merry Xmas. — Frank Chin

To talk back, use our message board on the Internet Movie Database. Want to read more like this? He’s not for everyone, but Chin’s new book on the Heart Mountain resisters and what he likes to call the JACL betrayal of Japanese America has just been published and is now on sale online through Amazon.com. It’s a thick book, 432 pages, and draws from interviews conducted for Conscience and the Constitution and much other work. Send your comments if you’ve read it.