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.
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 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 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.

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