News updates in 1998

An archive of news updates from our home page in 1998:

Update: July 29, 1998
Starting this week we will provide news about our progress towards completion. On July 19th we completed our first rough cut, and it came in just under one hour. We hope to collect the rest of the film and stills that we need throughout the fall, and fix the script in spots, so that we can proceed to the final cut and music scoring by early winter. 

  • Thanks to all the talented composers who have replied to our notice in the Film Music Jobwire. I am overwhelmed by the number of replies we have received and need time to sort through them and make some decisions. I have sent personal replies to those of you who contacted me through our e-mail address, and am trying to return calls to those who have telephoned.
  • If you have a photo of Mr. Kiyoshi Okamoto of Hawaii, or have a lead on finding any relatives, please contact us immediately!
  • I am excited to have finally found relatives of Mr. Ben Wayake, who had remained a mystery to those of us working on this story for the past decade. Watch this space for a paper on him written by his grand-niece, a recent graduate in history from UCLA.

Update: August 6, 1998

From: John Streamas

I’ve spent just a bit of time looking at your website, and I can’t wait to see the finished film. I’m drawn to your work partly because you’ll be looking at JA resistance that was unpopular with even “mainstream” JA sentiments. I’m frustrated by the fact that even the “silence breakers” of the 1970s seem too politely to pay scant attention to resistance, which implies either that such resistance was wimpy or that it hardly happened. So far only Frank Chin and his AIIIIIEEE colleagues have openly confronted mainstreamers with it in any extended way.  Otherwise there seems to be a reluctance to critique any aspect of the JA community. Apparently your project will go far toward correcting some imbalances.  

I’m in American Culture Studies and Ethnic Studies here at Bowling Green State University, and (for what it’s worth) I’m 0.5 generation JA, born in Tokyo (my mother is a 1950s Japanese war bride) and coming here—to Ohio!–as a very young infant. 

I subscribed recently to the CLPEF list, shortly after receiving a research grant from the CLPEF toward my dissertation.  As I envision it, my dissertation will be a bit critical of some parts of the community. I think the problem of accommodationism extends beyond the JACL, and so I hope to write a “cultural studies” analysis that will examine internees’ literature and art, but also issues of class, divisions of labor, and how possibly the government might have manipulated these, as if to create a “model minority” even in camps. Anyway, I’m tinkering with a bunch of ideas and angles. I’ll use part of the grant support to visit the west coast, to interview some JAs and to look into some archives. After reading your website’s opening statement, I feel encouraged and emboldened for my work. 

John Streamas
American Culture Studies/Ethnic Studies
Bowling Green State University

From: Eric Muller 
[email protected]

I have just visited your website and thought it was high time for me to introduce myself to you.  My name is Eric Muller.  I am an associate professor of law at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (until a few weeks ago at the University of Wyoming).  I am in the midst of researching a book about draft resistance by interned Japanese-Americans during World War II, focussing extensively but not exclusively on the Heart Mountain experience.  I have heard your name and wonderful things about you from several of the men I’ve interviewed for my project, including Jack Tono, George Nozawa, Mits Koshiyama, and others. 

My interest in the story of the internment and the resisters comes both from my having spent a good deal of time in Wyoming and from my own personal background as the grandson of someone who was interned at Buchenwald during World War II on account of being Jewish. 

Again, congrats on a lovely website.   

We welcome your comments, and will publish as many as we can.  In between work on our rough cut, we are still working on an interactive message board where you will be able to post messages and see replies.  

Update: August 20, 1998

This just in… courtesy of Kenji Taguma.

Hawaii Vets Recognize Nisei Draft Resisters
Nichi Bei Times, Wednesday, August 19, 1998

OAHU, Hawaii – In a groundbreaking attempt for reconciliation for one of the most divisive Japanese American community issues, a Hawaii Nisei veterans group has decided to recognize and honor those who refused to comply with a government draft order during World War II. 

During World War II, the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee and other Nisei draft resisters refused to comply with a military draft unless their parents were released from camp, their citizenship status was clarified, and they were allowed to serve in non-segregated units.

On Aug. 3, the board of directors of the 442nd Veterans Club of Oahu – the largest of any World War II Japanese American veteran organizations – passed the resolution to give recognition and commend the members of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee for their “unswerving effort to uphold the Constitution of the United States, the restoration of their civil rights and their fight for justice and democracy.”
Continue this article here

Update: Sept. 30, 1998

Jim Akutsu 1920-1998
Sad news to report: Hajime Jim Akutsu passed away last week, Sept. 22nd. His son Phillip says it happened very fast. Services were last Sunday at Seattle Buddhist Church.

Jim resisted the draft out of Minidoka and was widely regarded as the model for Ichiro Yamada in John Okada’s novel, NO-NO BOY. Jim’s interview is currently in the script for our final cut.

As soon as we get information on where to send remembrances, we will post it here. I’m sure that cards can be sent to the family home.

Update: Oct. 16, 1998
Ben Wakaye in 1950A blank space in the history of the Heart Mountain draft resistance is finally given a face with the discovery of a photograph and biography of the last “missing man:” treasurer Ben Wakaye of San Francisco. 

Ben passed away in 1952 but he is remembered by his great-niece, Amy Fujimoto. She has shared with us a paper she wrote for the history program at UCLA. She is now working in advertising with Los Angeles Magazine. The photo is courtesy of Ben’s older sister, Kiyono Tominaga. 

See “Ben Wakaye: A True American” by Amy Fujimoto. 

Now, if anyone has a photo of Mr. Kiyoshi Okamoto of Hawaii, or has a lead on finding any relatives, please contact us immediately!

Update: Oct. 20, 1998
Essay by Kiyoshi Okamoto
Highlights of the federal court files from both trials of the Heart Mountain resisters are now available on-line! With little fanfare, the National Archives on-line Information Locator (NAIL) on September 8th posted 34 multi-page documents from the trial of the original 63 resisters (U.S. vs. Shigeru Fujii et. al., U.S. District Court Case #4928), and the subsequent trial of the seven Fair Play Committee leaders and journalist James Omura (U.S. vs. Kiyoshi Okamoto, et. al., Case #4930).

Click here and scroll down about eleven screens to the box titled, “Criminal Case Files of the United States District Court, 1890-1949. Our thanks to Archives Specialist Eric Bittner of the Rocky Mountain Region of the National Archives for picking the papers to be scanned and posted.

Update: November 6, 1998
The SiegeWhatever the flaws of the new film, The Siege, it brings alive the issues that concern us in our show. After seeing the fictional but very realistic roundup of Arab Americans in Brooklyn as a result of terrorist attacks in New York City, and their detention in an empty football stadium complete with shiny new razor wire and cyclone fencing, my teenage daughter said, “I didn’t believe it could really happen, but now I kind of see how it could.” The film’s official website asks, “At what point does the protection of the country’s citizens conflict with the protection of their rights? … How quickly will the country abrogate the Constitution?…” There’s an almost identical line in an earlier draft of our script.

Update: November 27, 1998
STATUS OF OUR SHOW: After getting feedback on our first rough cut we are now restructuring our script to clarify the storyline and strengthen our characters. We still expect to have a fine cut completed by early next year.

In the meantime, congratulations go to these Civil Liberties Fund projects:

  • Tom Ikeda, Scott Oki, and the staff of “Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project,” based here in Seattle, for their succcessful preview last weekend at the historic Nippon-kan Theater. When this project goes public and on-line you will be astonished at the interactive, multi-media archive they are creating. They are preserving videotaped oral history interviews with camp survivors, much like the Shoah Project for Holocaust survivors.
  • Emiko and Chizu Omori, for their film, “A Question of Loyalty,” a personal memoir and family story that also examines the resistance in camp. Here’s the news from Chizu: Guess what! We got accepted for showing in the Sundance Film Festival! This is so exciting we’re trying to tell everybody. Thanks so much for your support of this project. We’re Utah-bound!
  • Ann Noble of Cora, Wyoming, for distributing her new CD-ROM, The Heart Mountain Relocation Camp Story on CD-ROM, to all Wyoming high schools, colleges and libraries. It’s a multi-media look at the Heart Mountain experience from the perspectives of both the internees and their white neighbors, with a helpful timeline.

Update: December 7, 1998
Couldn’t let Pearl Harbor Day pass without making note of it …. “the day Japanese Americans go into hiding,” as Frank Chin once remarked. But that was back in the 70’s and before the Days of Remembrance and redress. Now we’re on TV and the Internet. And we’ve heard back from the author of “Concentration Camps or Summer Camps?”

From “Robert Ito” <[email protected]>

Thanks for posting my article on your fantastic website. What a great resource! I’ve already downloaded the articles from the LA and HI papers, and really enjoyed the piece that Amy did on her uncle’s involvement in the Fair Play Committee. I had no idea she had done work in that field…thanks for bringing that important research paper to my attention.

Re your question about the MoJo piece: it is an original work done for the Mother Jones online magazine, so your credit is fine as is. I’ll also keep up with your website for further information about your film. Sounds like a great project, and you’ve certainly assembled a fine group of talent to work on it. I hope you’ll let me know when you get ready to air the piece.

Thanks again for posting my article…it’s quite an honor.

Best wishes, Robert Ito

Check out Robert’s article about the new generation of historical revisionists on the Internet. One of the subheads is titled “Web of Infamy.” The author adds, “I’ve been intrigued by the late Lillian Baker for some time (her exploits have been covered in papers like the Rafu), and so was interested to find that her legacy was continuing to live on thanks to the internet.” He’s an assistant editor at Los Angeles Magazine.

And let’s hear YOUR comments about this site. As soon as I finish the current rewrite of our script I promise to get a comment form and guestbook posted. In the meantime, contact us.

Update: December 16, 1998
Welcome to those of you finding us for the first time through our new link in Yahoo! You had to drill down 8 levels through Arts=>Humanities=>History=>20th Century=>Military History=>World War II=>Internment Camps=>Japanese American to find us, so please bookmark this site now. You’ll find a handful of camp websites on-line, but few that are updated as frequently or are as willing to take a critical look at Japanese American history.

This site captures the latest news relating to the history of Japanese American incarceration in World War II, focusing on the story of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, the largest organized resistance inside American concentration camps. Our major project is a one-hour video documentary for public television that is now in post-production.

Closer to the time our show airs, this site will expand into an on-line study guide and interactive resource center that makes the primary documents referenced in the program available to you… everything we wanted to put in the script but couldn’t fit into the square box that is television. Again, welcome, and please let us hear from you.

Sure, leave a comment. All questions answered.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.