Producer/director of CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION, now available as a Two-Disc Collector's Edition DVD with two hours of new bonus features on the largest organized resistance to the WW2 incarceration of Japanese Americans.
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 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.
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.
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].
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 Americas 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.
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.)
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.
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.
An archive of news updates from our home page in 2001:
Update: Thursday, January 4, 2001
Cleveland, Ohio PBS station WVIZ has scheduled us for Thursday, January 18th at 11:00 p.m. WGBH/Boston has scheduled our show to air on Sunday, February 18th on Channel 44, with a preview screening at the station the day before, Feb. 17th from 2 to 4 pm. It includes a discussion sponsored by NewEngland JACL, the Asian American Resource Workshop and WGBH. Thanks to Margie Yamamoto of WGBH.See the complete broadcast schedule for the station nearest you. Your local PBS affiliate may be holding it for later broadcast, in which case please contact them to let them know of your interest. Find your local PBS station here.
Update: Monday, January 22, 2001 We can now share the good news that Heart Mountain resistance leader Frank Emi has finally been released from the hospital after a stay of several weeks due to pains caused by sublexation of his back and neck.
We may not have qualified for the Academy Awards, but our film has just been nominated for the “Oscarz” as Best Feature at the Ohio Independent Film Festival. Mark Dawidziak at The Cleveland Plain Dealer was nice enough to write a preview for our WVIZ broadcast last week, mentioning this honor and my own Cleveland roots. Sharon Maeda at the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church just alerted us to a thoughtful review she posted on their Web site last November. And also catching up to the review that filmmaker Greg Pak posted on his AsianAmericanFilm.com site.
Update: Monday, February 12, 2001
We are now accepting on-line credit card orders for our video through the PayPal system made popular by eBay and other e-commerce sites.
For the Day of Remembrance we will be in the Bay Area for several events: a screening and talk with the students at my alma mater, the University of California, Santa Cruz, on Tuesday evening, Feb. 20th, at Stevenson Dining Hall. It’s sponsored by the Japanese American Students Association. We’ll also be at all three screenings in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Marin of John Korty and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s FAREWELL TO MANZANAR for the 25th anniversary cast and crew reunion. It’s apt in that Jeanne was my housing officer at Cowell College when I was studying theater there, years before her book was published, and it was while researching my “JACL leader” part in that film (mostly by reading Prof. Art Hansen’s great article about the Manzanar Riot in Amerasia Journal, and talking with Edison Uno) that I first learned of the anti-JACL feeling inside camp.
Looking ahead, the Singapore Film Festival has accepted CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION for its Fringe Festival, from April 11 to 28. We’ve also been invited to screen and speak at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon on March 7th and Washington State University in Pullman on April 10th. Also working with the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles for an August 25th screening and panel with the resisters.
Update: Monday, February 26, 2001 The Big Muddy Film Festival in Carbondale, Illinois has selected CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION as a candidate for their John Michaels Memorial Award this coming Wednesday, February 28th, at 7:00pm at the Interfaith Center. The award recognizes films that promote human rights, peace and justice topics or environmental issues.
Update: Monday, March 5, 2001 Thanks for your calls and emails of concern. This production is based in Seattle and yes we survived Wednesday’s earthquake all right. As I told the Pacific Citizen and theNichibei Times, I was on the 8th floor of a new earthquake-safe building so I dove under my desk and as the shaking continued and grew more violent I just prayed the building would hold together. Our building was designed to flex so it felt like being below decks in a ship tossed at sea, and I momentarily felt seasick. Then I looked down to the street and saw the bricks fallen away from the Fenix Cafe, where Tom Brokaw would later stand to anchor the news, and for a moment thought it was the Big One. I spent the next 3 days on round the clock public information duty for King County. We were lucky.
And this just as I had placed our first newspaper ad for our home video in the March 2nd edition of the Pacific Citizen, which you can see here in a 170 KB Acrobat file, again designed by Robert Kato of San Francisco. Also preparing to screen and speak at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon this Wednesday, at 7:00 p.m at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art Auditorium.
Update: Tuesday, March 13, 2001 Thanks for the orders coming in from our first newspaper ad for our home video in the March 2nd edition of the Pacific Citizen, which you can see here in a 170 KB Acrobat file, again designed by Robert Kato of San Francisco.
The daughter of Heart Mountain resister Yosh Kuromiya is organizing a screening at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena. Miya Kuromiya is planning it for late April or early May. TheSingapore Film Festival has accepted the film for its Fringe Festival, from April 11 to 28. We’ve also been invited to screen and speak at Washington State University in Pullman on April 10th. Also working with the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles for a tentative October 27th screening and panel with the resisters.
Update: Tuesday, March 20, 2001 It was an audibly despondent ITVS staff member who called to inform us of the passing of former ITVS executive director James T. Yee, at the age of 53, after a long bout with cancer. This program would never have made it to PBS, and you would not have seen it, without Jim’s belief in this project and his personal support to provide us with finishing funds to hire our film editor and co-producer. His name does not appear in our broadcast credits because he insisted either all ITVS staff gets named or no one does, including himself. In his honor we are giving Jim the proper credit as our executive producer on our Emmy Award entry form. Read the tributes to him, and leave a message of your own on the ITVS Web site. Our condolences to his family at home and his friends at ITVS and NAATA.
Update: Thursday, March 29, 2001 The Athens International Film & Video Festival is screening us in their upcoming fest April 27 – May 5. Their theme this year: “Film Is Dead, Long Live Film.” It’s a project of the College of Fine Arts, at Ohio University, a “week-long celebration of independent, “outsider” cinema, video, and digital/multi-media.” You can see us listed in the schedule for the Singapore Film Festival in a very international mix of films, our Fringe Festival screening on Sunday, April 8th, at 4:00 p.m. at the Geothe Institute… just in case you’re in the neighborhood. I can’t go.. instead look for Laureen Mar and I to be speaking and screening at Washington State University at Pullman on Tuesday, April 10th, thanks to Alex Kuo.
Update: Monday, April 9, 2001 In Eastern Washington please come to our screening and talk at Washington State University in Pullman, titled “Who Writes History?,” Tuesday, April 10th, 3:00-5:00 p.m. at Todd Hall, Room 130. Our visit is sponsored by the Comparative American Cultures Dept. at the invitation of Prof. Alex Kuo. Then stick around for an evening reading by my wife, Laureen Mar, at 7:30 p.m. in the Bundy Reading Room on campus.
Update: Wednesday, April 18, 2001 New airdates just in…. must be Asian Pacific Heritage Month coming up.
May 6, 2001 12:00:00 PM MT KRMA DENVER CO 018
May 6, 2001 12:00:00 PM MT KRMJ GRAND JUNCTION-MONTROSE CO 186
May 6, 2001 5:00:00 PM PT KCET LOS ANGELES CA 002
May 11, 2001 8:00:00 PM ET WGBX BOSTON MA 006
May 14, 2001 12:00:00 AM ET WGBX BOSTON MA 006
May 25, 2001 11:00:00 PM ET WETA WASHINGTON DC 008
May 25, 2001 11:00:00 PM ET WCVE RICHMOND- PETERSBURG VA 060
May 25, 2001 11:00:00 PM ET WHTJ CHARLOTTESVILLE VA 193
May 27, 2001 10:30:00 PM ET WNED BUFFALO NY 044
June 1, 2001 11:00:00 PM ET WETA WASHINGTON DC 008
If you can help us spread the word in any of these cities, please do so and let us know!
Update: Wednesday, April 25, 2001 I’ll be in Chicago to speak at the 8th Annual Chicago Asian American Film Festival, Thursday April 26th, 7:00 p.m. at Loyola University’s Crown Center Auditorium, Lake Shore Campus, 6525 North Sheridan. I’ll be joined by the always-colorful Heart Mountain resister and retired longshoreman Jack Tono.
The Athens International Film & Video Festival is also screening us in Athens, Ohio at Ridges Auditorium, described as “located on the campus of a now defunct state mental health facility… the perfect place for presenting movies that challenge and inspire.” The date is Saturday, April 28th at 5:00 p.m.
The daughter of Heart Mountain resister Yosh Kuromiya is organizing a screening at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena. Miya Kuromiya is planning it for May 12.
Update: Wednesday, May 2, 2001 Our show will finally air in Los Angeles this coming Sunday, May 6th, at 5:00 p.m. on KCET, and that same day at noon on KRMA in Denver and KRMJ in Grand Junction, Colo. There was no time to mail postcards or do much publicity, so please spread the word. Oh, I see KCET scheduled us in front of Terri de Bono’s film on the 442nd, BEYOND BARBED WIRE. That should be an interesting transition for viewers. In Denver we lead into Loni Ding’s ANCESTORS IN THE AMERICAS.
The Pacific Oaks College screening has been moved back to the college, at 5 Westmoreland Place. The time is still Saturday, May 12th, 1:00 p.m. Miya Kuromiya is organizing this screening, and her father, Heart Mountain resister Yosh Kuromiya will be there for the post-screening discussion. Parking is available at two adjacent churches, but not in front of the Gamble house.
Thanks to Dr. Yvonne Lau for bringing me out to the Chicago Asian American Film Festival at Loyola University Lakeside campus in Chicago last week. We got good reviews in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Reader. I also taped two half hour interviews with her for her public access cable show called “ConversAsians.” Will post airdates when I get them.
Also, congratulations to William Hohri on the publication of his book on the resisters, called RESISTANCE. We received it in the mail today. Copies can be purchased at two locations:
Kinokuniya Bookstore, 123 Astronaut Ellison S. Okizuka St., Los Angeles, CA
90012, phone: (213)687-4480, e-mail: [email protected]
Update: Thursday, May 10, 2001 A Phoenix screening is set for Tuesday, May 29th. The Asian American Journalists Association of Arizona and the Arizona Asian American Bar Association have invited us to speak and screen. it will be at 7:00 p.m. at the Burton Barr Central Library auditorium, 1221 N. Central Avenue in Phoenix. For more details contact Lisa Chiu at the Arizona Republic.
Update: Wednesday, May 16, 2001
We’ve just learned our Japanese premiere will be at the Fukuoka Asian Film Festival from July 7th to the 15th. This is one we are most pleased with since both sides of my family come from Shinbaru; my mother went to Koga High School near Fukuoka, and my father’s brother still lives there.
We’ve also placed the show with a cablecaster in Canada. Historiais “a new French-language specialty television channel that offers a compelling and engaging blend of documentaries and original Canadian programming.” Historia is available to more than 1.8 million Quebec cable homes and nationally by satellite from Star Choice and ExpressVu. Les Chaînes Télé Astral and ALLIANCE ATLANTIS are equal partners in Historia.
Update: Thursday, May 24, 2001 “There are only two questions that Japanese American audiences have going into a screening of the new Disney movie, PEARL HARBOR: Am I going to get punched in the face by kids coming out of the theater looking for revenge? And are Japanese Americans once again going to be blamed for conspiring in the attack?” Read the rest of my review of PEARL HARBOR, and what I have to say about Mako’s thoughtful performance,
And listen to the segment on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” from Thursday, May 24th with myself, JACL Executive Director John Tateishi and Karen Narasaki of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium. To hear the report scroll down to the bottom of theirMay 24th page and click on the links [requires the RealAudio Player]. Or simply read the transcript. John worked to fix the script with producer Jerry Bruckheimer as reported in the Los Angeles Times, and Reuters.
Update: Friday, May 25, 2001 Late news: Look for me on a live cable TV interview on ” MSNBC Live,” the day after Memorial Day, Tuesday, May 29th at 10:30 a.m. EDT / 7:30 PDT, and live again at 1:30 p.m EDT / 10:30 a.m PDT, reacting to the Disney PEARL HARBOR movie along with a Pearl Harbor survivor. Read my review of the film. Check MSNBC website to see if your local cable operator carries it.
In Portland, listen for a live phone interview at 8:08 a.m. on KPAM Radio, Saturday morning, May 26th.
Update: Thursday, June 7, 2001 See the Village Voice article on the political implications of Disney’s PEARL HARBOR, for which I provided a quote.
Our Phoenix screening Tuesday night was one of our best ever. The sound system in the Phoenix Public Library screening room stunned me by its ability to draw THX Dolby Digital Surround Sound out of a Hi-Fi VHS tape. The audience raised some of the most thoughtful questions we’ve heard. Thanks to the Asian American Journalists Association of Arizona, the Arizona Asian American Bar Association, and the Phoenix Public Library for arranging the event at the Burton Barr Central Library.
Update: Tuesday, June 12, 2001 I’ve accepted an invitation to take part in an Educational Forum at the JACL’s Bi-District Conference on Saturday, July 14, 2001, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m, at the Best Western Executive Inn, 200 Taylor Ave. S., Seattle. I will join Heart Mountain resister Mits Koshiyama, JACL historian Bill Hosokawa, and 442nd veteran Fred Shiosaki of Spokane. The video will be screened for JACL delegates on the Thursday and Friday before the forum.
Update: Tuesday, June 19, 2001 I’ll be in Cheyenne, Wyoming June 20-24 to help kick off a 3-day teacher training workshop titled “Protest and Resistance: An American Tradition.” The workshop will train teachers in classroom use of the story of the Fair Play Committee and draft resisters from Heart Mountain. The workshop takes place in the same city where the resisters were tried in U.S. District Court in 1944, and I’ll be looking around for traces of the past there and in Laramie.
See the Los Angeles Times article that mentions the overflow crowd for our screening last November at the Bruggemeyer Memorial Library in Monterey Park.
Update: Sunday, June 24, 2001 Greetings from the Little America Conference Center in Cheyenne. Read the story from Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, and the related sidebar, previewing our successful screening in Cheyenne which kicked off an equally successful 3-day teacher training workshop titled “Protest and Resistance: An American Tradition.”For me the highlight was taking Frank Emi, Yosh Kuromiya, and Mits Koshiyama to the site where they were tried in Federal Court in 1944 (now a bank), and driving Gloria and Grace Kubota to nearby Laramie to search for the Japanese-owned boarding house where they stayed while waiting for Guntaro to come out of prison (now a minimart and gas station). But just being in the same spot was a powerful experience for us, and I’m glad we went.
Update: Monday, July 9, 2001 Look for us at Educational Forum at the JACL’s Bi-District Conference on Saturday, July 14thfrom 9:30 to 11:30 a.m, at the Best Western Executive Inn, 200 Taylor Ave. S., Seattle. I will join Heart Mountain resister Mits Koshiyama, JACL historian Bill Hosokawa, and 442nd veteran Fred Shiosaki of Spokane. The video will be screened for JACL delegates on the Thursday and Friday before the forum.
Update: Monday, July 23, 2001 Boy, I’ve really fallen behind, so here goes. CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION was honored last week with the American Scene Award from the Seattle local of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, my old AFTRA local from my radio news days. The award recognizes productions that further advance the cause of diversity in the media. We now compete for a national award.
A number of new screenings are being scheduled, including the Nihonmachi Outreach Committee on Sunday, Sept. 30th; the Sunnyvale Public Library sometime in September; and the Japanese American National Museum on October 27th.
And here’s the Pacific Citizen article on the resisters panel at last weekend’s JACL Bi-District Council meeting here in Seattle, with Mr. Bill Hosokawa, Mits Koshiyama, and myself.
Update: Friday, July 27, 2001 We’ve just learned that CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION has been voted the National American Scene Award from the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, to be presented at the AFTRA national convention in St. Paul, Minnesota on August 4th. It was only last week we received the local award from the Seattle AFTRA office, my old AFTRA local from my radio news days. This is a national competition recognizing excellence in the employment and portrayal of women, ethnic minorities, seniors and people with disabilities on television, radio, videotape and new media. See a photo of co-producer Shannon Gee and I wondering what to do with the plaque.
Update: Friday, August 3, 2001 A full house of 1,000 journalists and media managers were present at the Asian American Journalists Association convention as we received a National Journalism Award for Unlimited Subject Matter – Television. The 40-second intro of the doc was played at the awards luncheon at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco in Embarcadero Center. See the full news release. From here we fly to St. Paul, Minnesota tomorrow to accept the National American Scene Award from the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists at their national convention.
Update: Monday, August 6, 2001 It’s been quite a week as the nations television and radio performers and the Asian American Journalists Association separately announced top honors for CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION. On Saturday the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) presented its national American Scene Award to us at its biennial convention at the Radisson Riverfront in St. Paul, Minnesota. The award recognizes excellence in the employment and portrayal of ethnic minorities and seniors, among others, on television, radio, videotape and new media. The documentary shared the first place award in television with KRON-TV of San Francisco, which was recognized for the overall diversity in its news programming. The crystal obelisk was presented to us by San Francisco broadcast veteran Belva Davis, who praised our program as a “landmark film.”
In San Francisco on Thursday, judges at the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) gave CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION their National Journalism Award for Unlimited Subject Matter in Television. A short clip of the program was played before a full house of nearly 1,000 journalists and media managers at a luncheon at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. See the news release on both awards.
The AAJA award follows by more than a decade the presentation of its first Lifetime Achievement Award to James Omura, the prewar editor of the San Francisco Nisei magazineCurrent Life and the wartime editor of the Rocky Shimpo newspaper. Omura was indicted but later acquitted for publishing news reports about the Nisei draft resisters at the camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming, and writing columns that offered them support and editorial guidance. I actually got the inspiration for doing the documentary after seeing the reception Jimmie received at the AAJA convention in 1989. I remember it showed me what a responsibility we had to go out there and tell authentic stories about the Japanese American experience for national TV audiences, because if we didnt, who would?
We won top honors at several film festivals and competitions when the doc was first released last fall, but these are the first to come from national organizations.
Update: Thursday, August 9, 2001 AFTRA has posted its own news release on the American Scene Award, with a photo from the ceremony.
Update: Tuesday, September 4, 2001 A number of new screenings are being scheduled, including theNihonmachi Outreach Committee on Sunday, Sept. 30th; the Sunnyvale Public Library on Monday, October 1st at 7:00 p.m., and the Japanese American National Museum on October 27th.
Update: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 Well, they say today is another day that will live in infamy. Today’s terrorist attack on the World Trade Center evoked memories of Pearl Harbor, but unlike 1942 at least one public official came out hard against any thought of retaliation against local residents based on their ethnicity. Nothing yet has happened here in Seattle, but we received some worried phone calls about the possibility. I happen to work for King County Executive Ron Sims, and took pains to put his comments online. You can read his comments here, or see a RealPlayer video clip.
EXECUTIVE SIMS: “We made calls this morning to the various mosques that are here asking them what their concerns would be. Our position will be that anybody who attempts in this county to retaliate against a person because of their faith, we will go after them aggressively. We will arrest them. Threats are inappropriate here because of one’s belief.
“These were terrorists. People here of Islamic faith are not terrorists. They go to work here, they’re our neighbors, they’re friends and they’re citizens, and we will not tolerate in any way, anyone, at any time, retaliating against a person because of their faith or their perceived ethnic or cultural background. It’s unacceptable to us.
“A person who does that is no better than the person who flew those planes into those towers this morning. They’re no better. We don’t want anyone to stoop to that level. This is a grand region with people who strive to get along with their neighbors, to respect the faith and cultural background of their neighbors, and that’s what we’re going to ask for.
“We’re not going to ask for people to engage in stereotypes and demagoguery. It’s inappropriate here. It makes us uncivilized. We are a civilized democratic nation, and we’re going to ask the citizens here to live up to that high creed. We’re an extraordinary place to live, and we want to remain an extraordinary place to live.
“So if anyone decides to retaliate against a person because they’re Islamic, I can assure you that the resources of this government will be used to find them and track them down, arrest them and prosecute them.”
Update: Thursday, September 27, 2001 Please join us this Sunday in San Jose and Monday in Sunnyvale, CA, to see our film and talk about the changes in our world and the parallels between Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the terrorist attacks of September 11th. I was sanguine about the idea that an Arab American/Islamic internment would not and could not happen here for a number of reasons:
It was politicians and the press that helped push us into camp in 1942, but this time, with only isolated exceptions, I see our local and national leaders doing the right thing. They are wrapping the protection of law enforcement and their own bully pulpit around our friends and neighbors of Arab-American descent and Islamic faith. That is opposite of what happened a week after Pearl Harbor, afyer Navy Secretary Frank Knox surveyed the catastrophe and made the unfounded statement that the most effective Fifth Column work of the war had been done in Hawaii. The President was silent on Japanese Americans up until the time the Army decided it wanted to accept Japanese American volunteers into a segregated unit in January 1943. Then and only then was FDR persuaded to issue his statement that “Americanism is and has always been a matter of the mind and heart, never one of race or ancestry.” But of course by then he had us in camps for more than a half year.
The fact that everyone is now talking about the Japanese American internment — there were seven stories in the New York Times that mentioned it in just the past week — shows that our campaign to win redress from the government for the camps, and all our videos, books and workshops, worked. Everyone seems to know that it happeend. President Bush knows about the precedent. The President’s own father made the first redress payments to Japanese Americans in 1990, so he personally knows that this government is committed not to do such a thing.
Plus, we now have so many Asian American journalists in the industry who clearly see the parallels, and who have the clout to deter any media demagoguery of the kind that put us into camp in 1942.
The country was ready for war back then, the draft was already more than one year old, everyone expected war, so that Nisei like Dave Kawamoto and Ben Kuroki could rush down to their recruiting office and try to sign up the day after. This terror attack came as a surprise. And the mood now is “America returns to normal,” as if returning to our routines were a patriotic act of defiance.
But those feelings that it won’t happen again changed after a number of friends emailed the Siena College Research Institute poll that claims one third of New Yorkers favor establishing internment camps for “individuals who authorities identify as being sympathetic to terrorist causes,” and the Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll that contends one in three Americans favors more severe measures such as putting Arabs living in this country under special surveillance, or allowing the U.S. government to take legal immigrants from unfriendly countries to internment camps.
And I’ve been interviewed by two reporters about racial profiling of Arab-appearing people. More on that to come.
Update: Friday, October 5, 2001 I forgot to post notice of a repeat screening of CONSCIENCE at the Bruggemeyer Memorial Library in Monterey Park, CA this coming Saturday, Oct. 6th, at 1:00 p.m. Resisters Frank Emi and Yosh Kuromiya will answer questions after the showing, and William Hohri, who declined the credit he was due as a historical consultant on the film, will promote his new book, RESISTANCE. See the news release.
Then next week we begin our fall outreach to secondary school teachers with two teacher training workshops funded by the Washington Civil Liberties Public Education Program. In back to back presentations to Washington State library media specialists and social studies teachers, KCTS Curriculum Developer Ti Locke and Producer/Director Frank Abe will preview excerpts from the award-winning documentary CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION, and show how teachers can use a new Classroom Guide along with photographs and primary documents on PBS Online to teach the untold story of organized resistance to wartime incarceration as another useful example of civil disobedience in the American twentieth century. We met yesterday to begin updating the Classroom Guide to include a teaching unit relating the new suspicion of Arab Americans with the wartime exclusion of Japanese Americans. We are looking for secondary school and college instructors to test the entire classroom unit. Please contact us if interested.
Update: Wednesday, October 17, 2001
Heading to St. Louis to present a panel Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. for the Oral History Association with Alice Ito of the Densho: Japanese American Legacy Project. Our workshop is entitled, “We Hereby Refuse: Recovering and Presenting Stories of Japanese American Resistance During WWII, Using Media and Digital Technology.” See the conference schedule.
Then join us at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles on Saturday, October 27th at 1:30 p.m., for a screening and panel with resisters Frank Emi, Yosh Kuromiya, and Tak Hoshizaki, and Prof. Eric Muller, author of the newly published, “Free to Die for their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II” (University of Chicago Press, August 2001). Read a sample chapter. Eric and I will be signing our respective works.
Thanks to the 46 library media specialists and social studies instructors who came to our two teacher training workshops funded by the Washington Civil Liberties Public Education Program. KCTS Curriculum Developer Ti Locke and I really appreciated your enthusiasm for using CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION in the classroom, to teach as an example of civil disobedience in the American 20th century. Several of you said the video will fit right in with the Constitutional unit you are about to teach in November, and the topic of balancing national security with civil liberties couldn’t be more timely, could it? As we said, Ti and I are happy to answer your questions about how to use the video and the newly-updated Classroom Guide (download the 328 KB Word document now), and please share your experience in using the resources in the classroom with us.
Update: Wednesday, October 24, 2001 A new screening has been added for March 14, 2002 at the Bellevue Art Musuem, east of Seattle.
Update: Friday, November 2, 2001 If on the East Coast, please join us in Philadelphia for a screening/lecture at Swarthmore College, on November 15th at 4:30 p.m. in the Kohlberg Building, Scheuer Room. Resister Tak Hoshizaki and Producer/Director Frank Abe will screen the film and speak on how what happened in 1942 should inform the actions we take today to secure our nation while protecting our civil liberties. See theevent listing. We will then join the Swarthmore Asian Organization for an informal dinner dialogue session.
Update: Tuesday, November 13, 2001 A new Seattle-area magazine, Colors NW, interviewed us for an issue devoted to a look “Behind the Backlash” against Arab Americans. The article I am quoted in, on the parallels between December 7th and September 11th, is not online, but the cover story is, with a photo of me shot in David Ishii’s bookstore.
This Thursday in Seattle make a point to go hear Professor Eric Muller speak at Elliott Bay Book Company on Free to Die for their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II (University of Chicago Press). I guarantee he will tell you two amazing stories you’ve never heard before about the trials of the resisters from Tule Lake and Minidoka, that is, not if you haven’t yet read his book or his sample chapter. Read Elliott Bay’ssynopsis.
Update: Friday, November 16, 2001
Resister Tak Hoshizaki and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with students at Swarthmore College near Philadelphia last night, looking for ways we can learn from WW2 camp history in light of today’s war on terrorism. We met some remarkably focused people, and their company at the dinner dialogue at the Intercultural Center was a pleasure. Thanks to Meghna Baghat, Sheila Gonzales, and Cathy Ta of the Asian Students Union for their hospitality and support. Concern was raised over President Bush’s signing this week of a new Executive Order calling for military tribunals, and not criminal trials, for aliens accused of terrorism. Military tribunals may infringe on Constitutional protections for non-citizens, but they still represent a form of due process, one that was denied us in WW2. Japanese Americans and the JACL sought individual trials or hearings boards in 1942, and lack of due process was one reason the camps were unconstitutional.
Update: Friday, December 7, 2001
Before redress, today was a day that Japanese Americans went into hiding. Now, it’s a time when the news media comes for a quote. Read “Pearl Harbor parallels haunt new era,” by Kie Relyea in the Bellingham Herald. (The link is outdated now but we are trying to get an update).
Update: Wednesday, December 26, 2001 So where did the year go? We’ve been through Pearl Harbor the movie in May, what was called the “second Pearl Harbor” on September 11th, and the real Pearl Harbor 60th anniversary. Had enough of that.
The year 2002 should be about the JACL and the resisters apology. Sorry we’ve missed so many updates: we missed the JACL announcing a public ceremony for February 10th to present its formal apology for suppressing wartime resistance. Now comes word that due to lack of funding the ceremony must be postponed to later in the spring. Read the message from ceremony co-chair Andy Noguchi. They need to raise money, and Resisters.com is supporting the event at the Silver level. Now a number of veterans groups have just lined up to attack JACL. Japanese America remains an interesting place to live.
Thanks to Lynn Whitehouse for inviting us to screen and speak on March 3rd in San Diego, related to the “Locked In, Locked Out” high school art and essay contest they are co-sponsoring with the National Japanese American Historical Society and the ACLU of Northern California.
The Pacific Citizen Holiday Issue is out so here is our review of “Tales of Tule Lake”by Barney Shallit, the first publication in the Michi Nishiura and Walter Weglyn Multicultural Publication Series from Prof. Art Hansen and the Oral History Program at California State University, Fullerton.
An archive of news updates from our home page in 2000:
Update: Sunday, January 23, 2000 As some of you may know, the one person most responsible for recovering the story of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, Frank Chin, suffered a stroke on December 16th. After hospitalization in San Francisco, he has now returned home to Los Angeles to continue his fight to recover. His wife Dana says he is improving every day, and that most of his progress will occur over the next 9 months to a year.
Frank Emi, the wartime leader of the Fair Play Committe, once again showed his leadership by taking up a collection to help defray Frank Chin’s extra expenses. Last week he took the proceeds to Frank and his report reads, in part:
January 17, 2000
To: FPC resisters and friends
Ref: Frank Chin
Frank is now back home in L. A. Paul Tsuneishi, Brian Tatsuno and I went to see him at his home last Thursday. He is much better, but he still does not have full use of his right leg and arm. His speech is also not up to par yet. It frustrates him to be unable to articulate the words he wants out, but I believe that in time he will regain most of his functions. We are all hoping for his 100 percent recovery … He was extremely touched by this gesture of support from all of us…
We will be happy to forward any messages of encouragement to Frank Chin, or if you already know how to contact him, please drop him a card or a call.
On the documentary front, we will be locked up in the final on-line editing this week at Flying Spot video in Seattle. Editor Lillian Benson is flying up from Los Angeles to supervise the on-line. This is the phase where the pictures, graphics, titles, and of course the interviews are laid onto the final tape. All that remains next month is the recording of the final narration and additional voiceovers, the music composition, and the final sound mixing.
Update: Monday, January 31, 2000 The new splash image at the top of this page is a still frame from what will be a moving background underneath the underwriter credits for our show. The entire package was created last week by our on-line graphics designer, Tarrer Pace at the studios of Flying Spot in Seattle. No longer does CPB want the blue background behind their logo, now they want a “dynamic image.” If you have the time and the bandwidth to download a 3.1 MB QuickTime movie, you can see how the whole thing moves. With a 28.8 modem it could take 15 minutes; with a T-1 line, 3 minutes. See if you can name the floating images. More details soon.
Update: Wednesday, February 16, 2000 I’ve just returned from Sacramento and our first music spotting session with our new composer, Alan Koshiyama. Alan is creating a remarkable orchestral underscore for our show, 27 cues that make up more than half an hour of original music. Alan’s credits include the original score for the feature film, “Dead Dogs,” which won the “Best American Independent Award” at the 1999 Seattle International Film Festival. Variety Magazine called Koshiyama’s work, “…evocative.” Millions have heard Koshiyama’s music in “Teenage Confidential,” an ABC-TV original movie, “Alaska’s Bush Pilots” for Turner Original Productions, and numerous commercials, movie trailers, video games, short films, and even a theme park attraction on Catalina.
Alan was classically trained on piano and clarinet at a very early age, it wasn’t until he “fell in love and later became obsessed” with the art of jazz when he began to branch out into other forms of commercial music. His talent has taken him to such venues as the Pacific Basin International Music Festival in Hawaii, to the National Concert Hall in Dublin Ireland, to sought after jazz performances at the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival. Yet the orchestra, what he calls a “canvas for emotion,” remains his prominent choice of colors. Koshiyama studied piano, composition, and orchestration at California State University Sacramento and film scoring at UCLA extension. He is an affiliate of BMI.
We found Alan after a nationwide search. Only then did we discover that he is the nephew of Heart Mountain resister Mits Koshiyama, a key character in our show.
Update: Wednesday, March 15, 2000
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Monarch Films, Inc. as the sales representative for our international broadcast rights. We chose Monarch based on Mr. Art Skopinsky’s belief in the performance of our show in the marketplace, his outstanding references, and his relentless pursuit to sign us up early! The result is that Art is taking the latest cut of our video to France for private screenings at the international marketplace for film buyers known as MIP-TV and MIP-DOC, at the Cannes Palais des Festivals from April 8th to 15th.
The controversy over the inscriptions for the national Japanese American memorial monument in Washington, D.C. has reached the boiling point. Here is some balanced coverage from correspondent Sam Chu Lin as printed in the Nichi Bei Times and Rafu Shimpo. Also some old business: this feature article on our role in creating the first Day of Remembrance from Martha Nakagawa at the Pacific Citizen.
Update: Friday, March 17, 2000 We’ve issued our first news release, at the request of the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, which will be sendng it soon to the Nikkei vernaculars in California. We may be previewing a clip as part of the CCLPEP panel at the “Nikkei 2000” conference in San Francisco on April 27th.
Update: Monday, March 20, 2000
Today’s San Francisco Examiner carries a front page article on Japanese American opposition to the Mike Masaoka inscription on the national Japanese American monument in Washington, D.C. It’s titled “Inscription Debate Opens Old Wounds.” (Must every other news story about the JACL or the resisters use the same cliches?) The Examiner website also carries this misconstrued subtitle,
“Some Japanese Americans blame Mike Masaoka for leaking information that led to the incarceration of innocent people during WWII.”
That’s a new one! Anyway, Kenji Taguma of the Nichi Bei Times provides this background.
The story is basically a re-write of the Dec. 17 I had her freelance for the Nichi Bei Times. Given that we are unable to pay a whole lot for freelance stories—and to bring the issue out to a larger forum—I agreed to let her (writer Yuriko Nagano) shop the story around to non-competing markets. Anyways, the story gets a larger forum.
We’re in the last week of sound mixing at the studios of Pure Audio in Seattle, and all I can say is I can’t wait for you to hear the original music score by Alan Koshiyama. As Alan so modestly says, he has added hundreds of thousands of dollars to our production value with his orchestrations and the live trumpet line we recorded earlier this month in his living room, performed by Gary Dilworth of Cal State Sacramento.
I also can’t wait for you to hear the Fair Play Committee bulletin read by none other than actor George Takei. George was gracious enough to say that he was honored to be part of this production, but really it’s George who is honoring us with his vivid read of the key line where Frank Emi pushed the FPC steering committee to cross the line from protest to resistance, and change Japanese American history. Check out George’s website where he shares a monthly diary with fans. Thanks to the folks at Buzzy’s Worldwideon Melrose Avenue in LA for the remote recording session and the inspired idea of how to feed the sound back to George’s headphones to get a special effect I won’t disclose here.
Update: Tuesday, April 11, 2000 We’ve just learned the date for our world premiere at the VC FilmFest 2000 in LA is Tuesday, May 23rd, at 7:00 p.m. at East/West Players theater.
Update: Sunday, April 23, 2000 A quick update on screenings:
Thursday, April 27th, at 9:00 a.m. we will show a 10 minute excerpt at the Nikkei 2000 conference in San Francisco, at the Radisson Miyako Hotel.
Saturday, May 6th, at 7:30 p.m. Seattle-area residents can attend a sneak preview of the full show at the University of Washington HUB Auditorium.
Tuesday, May 23rd at 7:00 p.m. is our world premiere at the VC FilmFest 2000 in LA, which has just posted our synopsis and ticket information on their website. We are known as Program 27. We are also working on a post-screening reception and wil post any details when we get them.
As these are pre-broadcast previews, we are asking that no reviews be published or broadcast at this time; there will be time for that later.
William Hohri is offering for publication an op-ed piece on the continuing controversy over the legacy of wartime JACL leader Mike Masaoka and whether his “JACL Creed” should be carved into the national Japanese American monument in Washington, D.C.
Update: Monday, May 15, 2000 Please join us for our world premiere on Tuesday, May 23rd at 7:00 p.m. at the David Henry Hwang Theater in the Union Center for the Arts in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo.
The screening will be preceded by another half-hour film. After our one-hour showing there will be a short Q and A session with resisters Frank Emi, Yosh Kuromiya, Tak Hoshizaki and myself, followed by an informal reception in the outdoor foyer adjoining the theater.
The lead resisters in the LA area — Frank, Yosh and Tak — are treating this as a kind of coming-out party and are using it as an opportunity to invite more than a dozen other surviving resisters to “come in from the cold” and accept recognition for their principled stand. It will be interesting to see how many accept the invitation.
The new graphic at the top of the home page is a prototype poster design created in just a few days last week by Robert Kato Design of San Francisco. Robert does all the postcard graphics for ITVS and NAATA programming and we’re honored to have him work on ours. Click here for a full-page view (78KB) or a high-resolution download (576KB).
Thanks to all who had such kind words for us at the screenings at “Nikkei 2000” in San Francisco and “The Nikkei Experience in the Pacific Northwest” conference in Seattle. To our surprise, after we left San Francisco the interfaith group that met on April 30th passed a resolution that apologized to the resisters and called on JACL to do the same at its upcoming national convention in Monterey. Here is the text of the resolution and stories that appeared in the Pacific Citizen and the Nichi Bei Times.
And the Japanese American monument controversy continues to boil. Opponents of the Mike Masaoka “JACL Creed” inscription now have a website called Japanese American Voice and nearly 200 signatures on a resolution calling on the National Park Service to remove the inscription.
Update: Thursday, May 25, 2000
Hi. Thanks for clicking to our site from the link on the Associated Press story that ran this week. For news media seeking interviews, I can be reached by e-mail. To see the AP story, click here. We are collecting clippings from across the nation, so please e-mail me if the story ran in your local paper and I will reply with an address to which you can mail the clipping.
Our thanks to the organizers of VC FilmFest 2000 and the crowd that came to our world premiere May 23rd at the Union Center for the Arts in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. The screening was part of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film & Video Festival, sponsored by Visual Communications. More details soon. It was an emotional night for many, including myself.
The new graphic at the top of the page is a prototype poster design created in just a few days last week by Robert Kato Design of San Francisco. Robert does all the postcard graphics for ITVS and NAATA programming and we’re honored to have him work on ours. Click here for afull-page view (78KB) or a high-resolution download (576KB).
Thanks to all who had such kind words for us at the screenings at “Nikkei 2000” in San Francisco and “The Nikkei Experience in the Pacific Northwest” conference in Seattle. To our surprise, after we left San Francisco the interfaith group that met on April 30th passed a resolution that apologized to the resisters and called on JACL to do the same at its upcoming national convention in Monterey. Here is the text of the resolution and stories that appeared in the Pacific Citizen and the Nichi Bei Times.
And the Japanese American monument controversy continues to boil. Opponents of the Mike Masaoka “JACL Creed” inscription now have a website called Japanese American Voice and nearly 200 signatures on a resolution calling on the National Park Service to remove the inscription.
Update: Wednesday, May 31, 2000
Thanks to the audience for voting us the Best Feature-Length Film of VC FilmFest 2000. Here’s the news release and the festival synopsis. This is an incredible honor and a great way to kick off our year-long promotion of the film leading up to broadcast early next year.
About 200 attended our screening at the restored Union Church in Little Tokyo, making it one of the best attended of the festival. Resisters James Kado, Toru Ino, and Ike Matsumoto turned out at the invitation of the Fair Play Committee. From San Jose came Mits Koshiyama, Mrs. David Kawamoto, and Grace and Gloria Kubota. And organizing things in L.A. were Frank Emi, Yosh Kuromiya, and Tak Hoshizaki. Two of our crew were there, editor Lillian Benson and location manager Brian Tatsuno. So it really felt like a reunion and a celebration. Several of us took the stage after the screening to answer questions. Grace delighted the crowd with her story of meeting the late Mike Masaoka, who, once he recognized her name, recalled that he admonished her father that “they would never win.”
Afterwards, the Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR) hosted a reception in the open-air patio outside the Union Church. Thanks to David Kim at Anheuser-Busch for the cases of, let’s see, Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob, Michelob Light, O’Doul’s and O’Doul’s Amber… we had plenty of liquid refreshments. Chivas Regal was the “Official Spirit” of the FilmFest. By the end of the week I was mainlining the stuff.
Grace later sent this message:
It was an outstanding premier! After all these years, you must feel a great deal of satisfaction at your accomplishment. On behalf of my mother and all of those involved, we thank you. Your unwavering determination to tell this story is a tribute to all Americans of Japanese ancestry.
And this from Frank Emi’s grown daughter, Kathleen, who I feel I’ve come to know so well from her childhood photos inside camp!
The video was wonderful. You managed to cover so much in such a short amount of time. Yet it flowed so smoothly. I really enjoyed the music, it enhanced the video so much. You spent so much time on this project, and it shows. Thanks again for presenting us with such a thought provoking and powerful message.
Thanks to the hard-working staff at Visual Communications for another successful film festival, and to our co-presenters, NCRR, the Japanese American National Museum, and yes, the Japanese American Citizens League – Pacific Southwest District/Civil Rights Caucus, for bringing out the audience and organizing the post-screening reception.
The next month will be devoted to … lots of paperwork in support of the broadcast, but also to upgrading this website as an on-line study guide in support of the documentary. Look for more documents and timelines to be posted as we move to a new design and architecture for this site. Please check back soon.
Update: Wednesday, June 6, 2000
A new link appears at the top of our navigation box above to provide access to our newElectronic Press Kit, in response to media requests that are starting to come in. Here you will soon find downloadable news releases, bios, publicity and archival photos, and our work-in-progress poster design that has already been used as artwork to accompany a story in this week’s Northwest Asian Weekly in Seattle.
Update: Friday, June 9, 2000 George Toshio Johnston, one-time editor of the Pacific Citizen, now writes for the Hollywood Reporter and the Rafu Shimpo. He shares his reaction to our Los Angeles screening in his latest Rafu column, “Conscience” Also Tells a Worthy Story. One point to clarify that’s often misunderstood: the resisters have never asked anyone for any apology. I have heard them say they would accept one if offered, but they never sought one.
Update: Friday, June 16, 2000 A New York City screening is now confirmed for Saturday, August 26th, at 11:45 a.m. at the Asian American Journalists Association conventionat the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Times Square. It’s for AAJA members to preview the work and hopefully write about it when it airs sometime next year. Thanks to actress/photographer Lia Chang for setting it up. We’re not sure yet whether members of the public will be allowed, but that may not be an issue as our East Coast premiere may take place in late July or early August at one of two possible New York City venues to be announced.
We also got a call today about a possible Washington, D.C. screening around October 20th. That would put us in the public eye in the nation’s capital three weeks before the dedication of the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism. See our quote in yesterday’s Seattle Times article, “Creed proves stirring — of a protest.” Watch this space for a posting of our 1988 interview with the late Mike Masaoka, part of the development of our forthcoming on-line study guide. Also watch for a surprising, long-awaited announcement next week on Japanese American Voice.
Update: Saturday, June 24, 2000 A floppy disk arrived in the mail Thursday. In the interest of free and open access to information, and with the permission of the author, we are posting for the first time the complete and unexpurgated “Research Report prepared for Presidential Select Committee on JACL Resolution # 7, aka The Lim Report, submitted in 1990 by Deborah K. Lim. This is a 96-page fact-finding document, commissioned by the Japanese American Citizens League itself to investigate all allegations concerned the wartime behavior of the JACL. In it you will find reference to the documentation that went into production of our film. Also posted today are two 1990 news articles profiling Deborah Lim and revealing the JACL’s rejection and rewriting of the report, which prompted a decade of rumor and speculation. This publication fulfills a years-long mission of historian William Hohri, who manually rekeyed the manuscript and inserted internal hyperlinks to the footnotes.
But the historical inquiry does not stop here. Next week we will announce the signing of a contract to produce an on-line Learning Center in support of our documentary that will present the ENTIRE text of many documents that we researched in development of our script.
A San Diego screening has now been confirmed for Saturday, August 12th, at the Asian Film Festival at the University of San Diego. Thanks to news anchor Lee Ann Kim at KGTV and all the organizers of the San Diego Asian Film Festival.
Update: Sunday, July 9, 2000 Last Saturday the JACL at its 2000 national convention in Monterey voted 64-32, a perfect 2-1 margin, to formally apologize to the Heart Mountain resisters and other so-called “resisters of conscience” for the JACL’s wartime suppression. Here is the fact sheet developed by Florin JACL president Andy Noguchi (who appears in our documentary) and distributed to convention delegates. We can now share the stories that appeared Friday in the Pacific Citizen by Martha Nakagawa, and in the Rafu Shimpo and Asian Week by Sam Chu Lin.
We also learned Friday that our New York City premiere will take place sometime August 2-6 as part of the UrbanWorld Film Festival, billed as “the first internationally competitive film festival solely dedicated to redefining and enhancing the role of minority films in contemporary cinema.This five day festival will feature the works of both emerging and established directors from around the world.” I hear we get to rub elbows with Spike Lee on closing night. They’re working on the schedule this weekend so come back to learn the exact date and place.
Update: Wednesday, July 19, 2000 We now have a date for our New York City premiere and it’s coming up fast: Thursday, August 3rd, at 4:00 p.m. at the Cineplex Odeon Worldwide Plaza, 340 West 50th Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues). Tickets are $7 as part of the UrbanWorld Film Fesitval, which is making a special outreach this year to Asian American works. Please alert friends in the Big Apple.
Robert Ito has published an excellent article on the recent VC FilmFest 2000, the Los Angeles Asian American Film & Video Festival, at which we won the Audience Award for Best Feature. It’s in the July/August issue of International Documentary, the magazine of the International Documentary Association. Not on-line, unfortunately.
Update: Thursday, August 10, 2000
Please join us in San Diego this weekend for two screenings of our film as part of the San Diego Asian Film Festival on Saturday, August 12th. Tickets are on sale online for only $4 for our two screenings at
5:00 p.m – Manchester Theater (includes post-film discussion)
6:00 p.m. – Hahn Video Room (includes post-film discussion)
The film fest website has posted our program synopsis. This is our only currently scheduled screening in Southern California so please catch it while you can on campus at the University of San Diego. Thanks to Susan Ruddy and David Kim of the Anheuser-Busch Companies for underwriting our screenings.
Update: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 In partnership with ITVS, we are pleased to announce that our program has been accepted for the National Program Schedule of the Public Broadcasting System, with a firm airdate of Thursday, November 30, 2000, at 10:00 p.m. In the hierarchy of public television, this gives us the same network distribution as Ken Burns, Sesame Street, and coverage of the Presidential election. Yet specific broadcast dates and times still depend on the judgment of your local PBS affiliate. We will soon be asking you to call your local PBS station and tell them that you want to see CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION in your area. It’s what we’ve worked for this past decade, and it’s finally going to happen.
ITVS today hired Kimberly Ina as our national outreach campaign coordinator to bring the show to targeted audience groups. It has also hired a publicist, Cara White, who will soon be getting in contact with the news and entertainment media to arrange for interviews and features. Last week we hired Ti Locke from KCTS Learning Services to create a 4 to 6 page viewer’s guide for distribution before the show. Finally, Steve Chin and the aMedia, Inc. empire have signed on to upgrade our website in time for broadcast.
Videocassettes licensed for educational and non-profit institutional use will be on sale by mid-September. Please e-mail us now to reserve your copy.
And she is tired of hearing this from all the filmmakers who attended, but “thanks to LeeAnn Kim” and all the staff and volunteers from the San Diego AAJA for making the first San Diego Asian Film Festival an overwhelming success. We all had a great time and made a lot of new friends. Thanks to all who came to our two screenings and asked such perceptive questions, including Dave and Carol Kawamoto and Vernon Yoshioka from the San Diego JACL.
Update: Monday, August 21, 2000 Look for us again in New York City at the Asian American Journalists Association national convention this coming Saturday, August 26th, at 11:45 a.m. at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Times Square, in the Odets & Wilder Room, 4th floor. I’ll be there to show the film and answer questions. It’s part of an Asian American Film Festival (scroll to bottom of the link) organized by actress/photographer Lia Chang and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. We are third on the schedule; for those of you at the convention it starts just as the Job Fair closes so drag yourself over and sit down in a nice seat in the dark.
The Film Fest schedule is also posted on Lia’s AOL homepage and on Greg Pak’s hotAsianAmericanFilm.com website, with a nice comment from Greg. Thanks you two! And I hear that part of Robert Kato’s eye-catching poster above is part of the graphic mix on the convention program booklet. I will be traveling this week, but can be reached Thursday through Sunday at the New York Marriott Marquis at (212) 398-1900 or via e-mail.
Update: Friday, September 1, 2000 Due to many requests we have accepted an invitation to return to Los Angeles to screen on Saturday, September 23rd at 11:00 a.m. at the Laemmle Theaters Monica 4 Plex in Santa Monica, 1332 Second Street near Santa Monica Boulevard and Arizona. Laemmle Theaters bill themselves as “the premiere art house chain in Los Angeles.” The screening is part of the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival traveling exhibition to L.A. This is a chance to see the film on a big screen and fully appreciate Alan Koshiyama’s original music score and Lillian Benson’s sensitive editing. Please bring your friends. Tickets are $10 each and help support the rental of the nice theater. Come meet Lillian, Alan, co-producer Shannon Gee and myself for a post-screening Q and A.
Update: Saturday, September 9, 2000 Nothing like getting a message that starts with the word “aloha.”
Aloha Frank, Greetings from Hawaii. It is a great pleasure to extend this formal invitation to CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION. We wish to present the film at the 20th annual Hawaii International Film Festival. If possible, we would also like to screen the film for our patrons on the Neighbor islands between November 14th and 19th, 2000.
20th HAWAII INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
NOVEMBER 3 – 12 IN HONOLULU ON OAHU
NOVEMBER 14 – 19 ON MAUI, KAUAI, THE BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII, MOLOKAI AND LANAI
We’re working with the programmers now on a date.
Update, Thursday, September 14, 2000 Sounds like folks are going to revive the Seattle Asian American Film Festival next month and have asked us to screen, tentatively, Friday night, October 27th, at a location being negotiated in Belltown. More to come. We’re also working on getting a screening going in San Francisco, as we haven’t been seen anywhere in Northern California yet. But first we spent the past two weeks working with Ti Locke and Pam Calvert on our ITVS Viewers Guide, working with Kim Ina and Pam on an outreach letter that will be soon be going out, working with Cara Wilson on media contacts, and adding a new update tag at the end of our show that will make its debut at the Laemmle Theater screening next week in Santa Monica. Thanks to all of you who have said you’ll come down to say hi.
Congratulations to Emiko and Chizuko Omori on winning a national Emmy for their “Rabbit in the Moon.” Saw Chizu on the street this week and she was still floating on air.
Update: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 PBS stations are starting to report what’s called carriage of our program. Here’s the very first weekly report, which will be updated every Tuesday. I confess, this is pretty exciting to see actual cities and dates. Most stations will start reporting about a month before our November 30th feed date. We won’t have completely accurate information until November 14th.
11/16/2000 9:00 PM CT WKNO MEMPHIS TN
11/30/2000 9:00 PM CT WKNO MEMPHIS TN
11/30/2000 10:00 PM ET WNET NEW YORK NY
12/1/2000 2:00 AM ET WPTD DAYTON OH
12/1/2000 5:00 AM ET WPTD DAYTON OH
12/1/2000 8:00 PM MT KAID BOISE ID
12/1/2000 8:00 PM MT KIPT TWIN FALLS ID
12/1/2000 8:00 PM MT KCDT COUER DALENE ID
12/1/2000 8:00 PM MT KUID MOSCOW ID
12/1/2000 8:00 PM MT KISU IDAHO FALLS- POCATELLO ID
Thank you New York City for taking us live off the National Program Schedule. If you live in Dayton, just set your VCR’s I guess. Or go to Cleveland for our screening at the Ohio Independent Film Festival. Check our new SCREENINGS link above to check for new festival showings near you. We are working around the clock right now on our forthcoming PBS.ORG website. Our sneak preview page will be posted there within days; PBS Online has set November 20th as the date for our new site to go live. Kim Ina and I are working on campus preview screenings in mid-November in San Francisco, San Jose, and other cities. And watch your mail for a tune-in postcard and an outreach packet from ITVS. If you don’t receive one and would like one, email us.
Update: Sunday, October 1, 2000 Just got a phone message that we won first place, documentary category, in the George Sidney Independent Film Competition at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. They screen Oct. 26 through Nov. 5th. More details when we speak to them.
Update: Wednesday, October 4, 2000 Portland is now added to our film festival list, and thanks to Kim Ina community screenings are now taking shape in San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento/Florin for the week of November 15-19. The Hawaii Film Festival has set two dates, the second of which is penciled in for Nov. 10th depending on whether I can make it out there. San Luis Obispo has set their date for Nov. 4th, the day they present us with the George Sidney Independent Film Competition award for Best Documentary. Check out all the Screenings and Community Previews.
The PBS carriage report is still very preliminary, but it shows that KQED in San Francisco will carry us at 11:00 p.m. on November 30th. And thanks to Professor Eric Muller for helping line up the PBS stations in Wyoming and in North Carolina, his hometown, and persuading both outlets to consider using him on a local program to follow the national broadcast. If you would like to help advance your own group’s goals and outreach, partnering with your local PBS station on our broadcast is a great way to get some visibility in your community.
Watch your mail for a tune-in postcard and an outreach packet from ITVS. If you don’t receive one and would like one, email us.
Update: Sunday, October 8, 2000 Thanks to Kim Ina and various film festival directors, a pre-broadcast press and outreach tour is shaping up for us.
Nov. 4San Luis Obispo, CA (San Luis Obispo International Film Festival)
Nov. 5 Portland, OR (Northwest Film and Video Festival)
Nov. 8 Cleveland, OH (Ohio Independent Film Festival, with Cleveland JACL panel to follow)
Nov. 10 Honolulu, HI (Hawaii International Film Festival)
Nov. 15 San Jose, CA (San Jose State University) – tentative
Nov. 16 San Francisco, CA (National Japanese American Historical Society and San
Francisco State University) – tentative
Nov. 19 Sacramento, CA (Florin JACL) – tentative
Nov. 24-26 Bainbridge, Bellingham, Bremerton, Olympia, Spokane, WA (Northwest Coalition for Human Dignity) -tentative
Download the Acrobat .PDF flyer created by Johnny Wu for the Cleveland JACL panel to follow our Ohio Film Fest screening. Their chapter president is Gary Yano, who grew up with me throughout the 1950’s on East 81st Street in the Hough District, next to the Cleveland Buddhist Church.
Update: Wednesday, October 11, 2000 Glad to see that the latest PBS carriage report shows that our hometown PBS station, KCTS, will carry our show on Dec. 12th. Stations in Arkansas, once home to the Rohwer and Jerome concentration camps, have also come on board.
Update: Saturday, October 14, 2000
We now have details for you on HOW TO ORDER A TAPE licensed for use by educational institutions and nonprofit organizations. They are now available for purchase at $265 each. Shipping is waived on all orders placed on or before November 30th. Please make out checks to C & C Video and send with your mailing address to:
3811 S. Horton St.
Seattle, WA 98144
Home video editions will be available starting December 1st. Check back for more information.For information about international broadcast rights, please contact Art Skopinsky at Monarch Films, 1-888-229-4260.
The 20th annual Hawaii International Film Festival has just announced they have nominated CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION for the Golden Maile Award for Best Documentary Film. The Jury this year is composed of Paul Yi, Temuera Morrison, Yuka Sakano, Gayle Lake and Freida Lee Mock. The Jury screening is scheduled to be at the Hawaii Convention Centre on November 5th, 2000 at 12:15pm.
Update: Wednesday, October 18, 2000
Quite a few new stations to report. See our PBS carriage report. Also more dates and festival synopses posted on our Screenings page. Thanks Seattle Mariners for a great season, kept me occupied all summer while working on this site.
Update: Friday, November 10, 2000 Aloha from Waikiki where we’ve been nominated for Best Documentary at the Hawaiian International Film Festival and will be speaking tomorrow at a reception tomorrow co-sponsored by Hawaii JACL, AAJA and many others. The community outreach campaign is well underway now, especially in the Pacific Northwest, thanks to the Northwest Coalition for Human Dignity; in Wyoming, thanks to the Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation, in North Carolina, thanks to Prof. Eric Muller, and in Northern California, thanks to many groups as seen on our SCREENINGS page.
In Hawaii, please join us on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m. for: Patriotism, Loyalty and Dissent, co-sponsored by the Japanese American Citizens League of Honolulu, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, Asian American Journalists Association-Hawaii, University of Hawaii Ethnic Studies Department and the Office of Multicultural Services at UH. It’s at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.
In Wyoming, organized by Ann Noble of the Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation:
1) Sheridan. November 19, 2000 10:00 a.m. at Mohns Center, Sheridan College. Sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
2) Casper. November 17, 2000 7:00 p.m. at Leik Auditorium, Health ScienceBuilding, Casper College, Casper. Sponsored by the Natrona County Grassroots Project and Casper College Multi-Cultural Film Festival.
3) Powell. November 21, 2000 7:00 p.m. at the Homesteader Museum. Sponsored by the Homesteader Museum and the Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation.
4) Pinedale. November 28, 2000 10:00 a.m. Pinedale High School Auditorium. Sponsored by the Museum of the Mountain Man and the Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation.
In North Carolina, organized by Eric Muller:
1) Duke Law School, 11/16 (sponsored by the Asian Law Students Association);
2) University of North Carolina Law School, 11/15 (co-sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association and the University of North Carolina Law Review);
3) University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, 12/6 (sponsored by the Program in Asian Studies at UNC-CH); and
4) a screening at Duke at a time in November still to be determined, to be sponsored by the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute at Duke University).
And one more chance to see us in New York City. The NewFilmmakers Anthology series has booked us for Wednesday, November 15, 2000, 8:00 p.m. We’re the feature presentation for the NewDocFilmmakers series, “our bi-monthly focus on today’s most compelling and most innovative documentary films.” Thanks to Vivian Huang at Asian CineVision for recommending us. The program starts with NewFilmmakers Yoga class at 5:00 p.m.! They’re located at 32 Second Avenue at 2nd Street.
Nov. 10-11 Honolulu, HI (Hawaii International Film Festival)*
Nov. 15 San Jose, CA (San Jose State University)*
Nov. 16 San Francisco, CA (National Japanese American Historical Society and San
Francisco State University Performing Arts Center)*
Nov. 17 Denver, CO (University of Colorado/Making Waves)
Nov. 19 Sacramento, CA (Florin JACL)*
Add to the above these dates set up by Kate Boyd of the Northwest Coalition for Human Dignity, representing the merger of the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harrassment and the Coalition for Human Dignity.
BELLINGHAM, WA – Wednesday, November 15, 2000 Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, with panelists:
Professor Midori Takagi will speak about the continuing cultural impact of internment on west-coast Japanese-Americans
Professor Dan First-Scout Rowe, a Vietnam Vet and longtime pacifist will discuss the similar and different experiences among Native Americans and Japanese Americans in the military (and interned, whether in camps or reservations) during WW2 and Vietnam
Charles Swett, a local activist, will reflect on his incarceration as a C.O. during WW2, and relate that experience to his lifelong commitment to civil rights and social change.
David Hunter will address questions of constitutional law and the draft. Mr. Hunter spent years during the Vietnam war counseling and defending Draft resisters in the Northwest..
The event, which is free, includes a reception, a screening of the film, and a panel presentation and question period. 7pm, Nov 15th. Science Lecture Hall 130, WWU Campus. Free Parking in lot 14G.
BREMERTON, WA Thursday, November 16, 2000 Kitsap Human Rights Network, with panelists Fumi Hayashida and co-producer Shannon Gee.
VANCOUVER, WA – Thursday, November 16, 2000 Coalition Against Hate
WYOMING – Friday, November 17, 2000 Wyoming Grassroots Project SPOKANE, WA – November 15, 17, 22, 2000
Spokane Human Rights Commission
ST. MARY’S, ID – Friday, November 24, 2000
MOSCOW, ID – Wednesday, November 29, 2000
Latah Human Rights Task Force
Update: Saturday, November 25, 2000 The one-week countdown has started to our national PBS broadcast, to be seen in these major markets on Thursday, November 30th:
at 9:00 PM KDTN DALLAS- FORT WORTH, TX
KAWB MINNEAPOLIS- ST. PAUL, MN at 10:00 PM
WNET NEW YORK, NY
KVCR SAN BERNARDINO, CA serving Riverside, Pasadena, Long Beach, Pomona KHET HONOLULU, HI
KAET PHOENIX, AZ
at 11:00 PM
KQED SAN FRANCISCO- OAKLAND- SAN JOSE, CA
KVIE SACRAMENTO-STOCKTON-MODESTO, CA
Stations in Washington and Oregon states, and in Atlanta, have scheduled the show for December 11th and 12th. Washington, DC is on December 23rd. See the complete broadcast schedule for the station nearest you. If your city does not appear, your local PBS affiliate may be holding it for later broadcast, in which case please contact them to let them know of your interest. Find your local PBS station here. Here’s how we’re described in the new PBS email newsletter:
CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION Thursday, November 30, 2000 (10-11:00 pm) This award-winning and controversial documentary reveals the untold story of the largest organized resistance to the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans, and the suppression of that resistance by Japanese-American leaders. (CC, Stereo)
ITVS has created a new 30-second Quickime Preview for our broadcast that will air on PBS stations. It was cut by producer Carl Jacobs of Minneapolis, using the original soundtrack theme composed by Alan Koshiyama. For those who haven’t seen us yet, this is your first chance to hear Alan’s terrific music.
Our new PBS Online website has just gone live atwww.pbs.org/conscience. Please check it out and send a comment, compliment or complaint via the Talkback page. The focus of thisResisters.com site will now shift to a two-fold mission: to support the PBS Online site with additional documentation and updates on news, reviews and upcoming screenings and appearances, and to take orders for videocassettes.
Our home videos are now available through this website. Here is the look of the 4-color VHS sleeve, created by Robert Kato Design of San Francisco, which we just managed to finish in the hour before the San Francisco community premiere. Click on the image for a close-up view (729 KB).
And our final wall poster is now being produced by Ted Tomita at West Coast Printers in Seattle. Thanks to David Kim at Anheuser-Busch for supporting this printing. Click on the image for a close-up view (870 KB).
And yes, thanks, it was nice to finally get some sleep this holiday weekend. But that won’t last when the new week starts.
The University of Chicago Press has just posted a sample chapter and other pre-publication information on Professor Eric Muller’s forthcoming book, Free to Die for their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II by Eric Muller (forthcoming from University of Chicago Press in August 2001). Our deep thanks to Eric for arranging screenings in North Carolina and Duke, and coverage on Wyoming Public Radio.
BEST FEATURE FILM: VC FilmFest 2000, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film & Video Festival
BEST DOCUMENTARY: San Luis Obispo International Film Festival
BEST DOCUMENTARY: New York International Independent Film & Video Festival
BEST OF FESTIVAL: Vermont International Film Festival (War and Peace category)
BEST MUSIC SCORE: Emerald City Awards, Seattle
Update: Friday, December 1, 2000
Thanks for tuning in last night for our PBS broadcast premiere in selected markets. And thanks for visiting if you were directed here by ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, KCTS Connects, the San Jose Mercury-News or other media outlets. To hear our interview with Robert Siegel on National Public Radio’s ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, make sure you have the Real Player plug-in andclick here. The first reviews are in. Please send us links to other reviews in your local paper:
Update: Tuesday, December 5, 2000 The broadcast of our show, as I had hoped, is helping us find other resisters we’d been looking for. That was the case while waiting at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin last month, and editor Craig Gima started researching leads for Eddie Yanagisako, one of the two authors of the “Song of Cheyenne” in our show. I was able to contact his daughter just before catching a flight home, and turned over the number to a reporter who was able to go talk to Mr. Yanagisako for this front-page story, “The Resisters,” by Treena Shapiro, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, November 30th.
We’ve just learned WGBH/Boston has scheduled our show for February 18, 2001, on Channel 44, with a community screening a few weeks before. Thanks to Margie Yamamoto of WGBH.
We’ve clarified the prices of tapes for high schools and public libraries on our Orderspage. Also new today is a Frequently Asked Questions page, with the real questions you want answered… like why weren’t we seen in LA and Chicago, and where can I get a copy of the courtroom photo?
Update: Friday, December 8, 2000 Seattle’s newspaper guild may be on strike, but thanks to the Post-Intelligencer’s striking TV critic, John Levesque, for reviewing us in the guild’s Seattle Union Record, “Documentary explodes myth about Japanese-American internment.” If you’re in Seattle, listen for us on KUOW-FM today at 2:00 p.m., and tomorrow on KCMU-FM live at 7:30 a.m. and on my old alma mater, KIRO Newsradio 710, on Bob Pittman’s “Legal Line” from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Update: Tuesday, December 12, 2000 Today’s the day for our hometown broadcast premiere in Seattle. Listen for us live at 6:35 a.m. this morning on KIRO Newradio 710, interviewed by an old colleague, Gregg Hersholt.
Update: Monday, December 18, 2000 Due to several requests we’ve made our home videos available through select retail outlets: in San Francisco at the National Japanese American Historical Society; in Los Angeles at the Japanese American National Museum Store; and in Seattle at the Channel 9 Store at Rainier Square, and at David Ishii Bookseller, 212 First Avenue S. in Pioneer Square. If you come to David’s store you might even find me there having lunch. The primary outlet is calling Transit Media at 1-800-343-5540, or by direct mail available through this website. Our 4-color VHS sleeve was created by Robert Kato Design of San Francisco; click on the image for a close-up view (729 KB).
Chicago PBS station WTTW has just scheduled us for January 2nd at 10:00 p.m. CST. Thanks for those who have called the station to request it. See the complete broadcast schedule for the station nearest you. If your city does not appear, your local PBS affiliate may be holding it for later broadcast, in which case please contact them to let them know of your interest. Find your local PBS station here.
For a streaming video clip of myself and Minidoka resister Frank Yamasaki, check out this RealPlayer clip from our November 30th KCTS Connects interview with Enrique Cerna on the Seattle PBS station. On the RealPlayer menu bar move the slider 13 minutes and 30 seconds into the 29:15 minute show. We appear after the glass harmonica player.
An archive of news updates from our home page in 1999:
Update: January 10, 1999
Heart Mountain resisters Frank Emi and Mits Koshiyama, and the late journalist James Omura, are featured in the new film “Rabbit in the Moon,” by Emiko and Chizuko Omori. The film, funded in part by the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, is debuting at the Sundance Film Festival. Here is the festival review from the Sundance website:
Most narratives about the World War II internment of Japanese Americans focus on the internees’ silence and patriotism, as proven by their service in segregated military units like the 442nd Battalion.
Emiko Omori offers an extraordinary alternative perspective, which portrays second-generation Japanese American, or Nisei, camp survivors not as passive victims or model citizens but angry, active, critical individuals. The inspiration for the film is the director’s struggle against the silence in her own family concerning the internment, in particular their amnesia about her mother, who died soon after her release from camp in Poston, Arizona.
In the process of recovering her memory, Omori interviews former internees, including her sister, who describe how the camps whittled away the community’s cultural strength and self-esteem and the federal government maneuvered the rise of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), a leadership organization which championed unquestioning compliance with the evacuation and encouraged military service to prove loyalty.
Rabbit in the Moon aggressively overturns the JACL image of Japanese Americans during the war and brings an end to a generation of silence. Dissenting voices by interned Nisei are brilliantly used to renarrate newsreel propaganda films about the camps. Draft resisters from the Heart Mountain camp speak angrily about having to prove an American citizenship that was supposed to be their birthright. Impressively archived and beautifully photographed, Rabbit in the Moon is a historically important documentary with a poetic voice that reflects a culturally ingrained restraint. – Shari Frilot
For those of you near Utah, the schedule is:
Friday, Jan 22, 7 pm Holiday Village Cinema III
Sunday, Jan 24, 11am Prospector Square Theatre
Tuesday, Jan 26 Holiday Village Cinema III
Wednesday, Jan 27, 10 am Holiday Village Cinema III
Friday, Jan 29, 4 pm Holiday Village Cinema III
Chizu also reports a one week theatrical showing is being planned for Los Angeles on February 26th. This is going to be a breakthrough year for the story of the resisters and a new look at Japanese American internment history.
Update: January 14, 1999
Why is this man smiling? This is Rep. Kip Tokuda, and he has a bill before the Washington State House of Representatives for creation of a Washington Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, similar to the federal program that supported our project. In a letter to constituents, he writes:
Thank you for your work toward educating the public about the experiences of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II. I am writing to let you know about an exciting piece of legislation that I am working on for the upcoming legislative session. It is called the Washington Civil Liberties Public Education Act, and its primary purpose is to continue the grant program created by the federal CLPEF program. This bill would create a state grant program designed to encourage the creation of new education materials —such as videos, plays, speaker’s bureaus, and exhibitions—for elementary, secondary, and community college audiences. See the rest of the letter here.
The Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, the major supporter of our project, has just unveiled version 2.0 of their website. It is not only clean and well-designed, thanks to Website Administrator Gary Otake, it promises to set the standard for Japanese American camp history on the Web. There’s a lot of clutter out there, and some outright misinformation as Robert Ito pointed out, but the new CLPEF network site provides access to the latest and most reliable work on the incarceration experience and what it means for us as Americans. Congratulations Gary. Here’s their introduction:
The CLPEF network is the online community of people and projects sponsored by the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund (CLPEF). This website is dedicated to providing information and resources to help educate the public on issues related to the wartime incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry
Update: January 29, 1999
We offer this new link without comment. We’re just glad we’re making our own movie.
Another Civil Liberties Funded project, Phillip Gotanda’s play, “The Sisters Matsumoto,” recently opened at the Seattle Repertory Theater. The full review from the Seattle Times is here. Here’s the Times capsule:
Three sisters return to their California family farm after being incarcerated in a World War II internment camp for Japanese-Americans, in this informative, earnest but polemical
and slow-moving world premiere Philip Kan Gotanda drama. Directed by Sharon Ott, the drama rarely catches fire or gives us a strong sense of the sister’s complex individuality. Rather, it presents us with schematic characters, plot twists, and speeches, with an occasional very welcome gust of sardonic humor. The cast includes noted Asian American actors Kim Miyori, Michi Barall, Lisa Li and Stan Egi.
Update: January 31, 1999
Thanks to Kenji Taguma, English editor of the Nichi Bei Times in San Francisco, for sharing this news.
Here is a program that I thought you’d be interested in. It’s being put together by Patty Wada and my good friend Andy Noguchi of Florin JACL …
JACL District to Hold Program on Nisei Draft Resisters Long-Divisive Community Issue to be Discussed at Feb. 7 Program in Stockton
Addressing an issue that has long divided the Japanese American community, the Northern California-Western Nevada-Pacific (NCWNP) District of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) will hold an educational program on the World War II Nisei draft resisters at its Sunday, Feb. 7 District Council meeting. The meeting, hosted by the French Camp JACL, will be held at the Radisson Hotel, 2323 Grand Canal Blvd. in Stockton.
The program, which will begin at 1:30 p.m., will include a slide show on the draft resisters produced by the Florin JACL. Following will be a panel presentation with Ethnic Studies Instructor Wayne Mayeda of California State University Sacramento, who will provide an historical perspective; draft resister Mits Koshiyama of San Jose, who will share his experiences; and Marvin Uratsu, president of the Military Intelligence Service Association of Northern California.
We’re also trying to get details of the Los Angeles “Day of Remembrance” ceremony in which the resisters are reportedly being recognized. If you have them, please e-mail us.
Update: February 10, 1999 We have received more than 1200 hits since we started counting last November, 200 of them in just the last week. The growth is astounding, particularly since we haven’t even released our product yet. Thank you and please come back again. We’ll have an update on our show next week. In the meantime, some updates on previous items:
Congratulations to Emiko Omori for winning the Sundance Film Festival Cinematography Award for Documentaries for two pieces she worked on: “Regret to Inform” and “Rabbit in the Moon,” the latter of which includes interviews with Heart Mountain resisters Frank Emi (that’s him in the banner logo above), Mits Koshiyama, and journalist James Omura.
Rep. Kip Tokuda’s bill to create a Washington Civil Liberties Public Education Fund now has a bill number: HB 1572. It’s been assigned to the House Education Committee. No hearings set yet. Contact Kip’s aide Anndi Kawamura, at (360) 786-7838.
MIS Nor-Cal Veterans Honor Nisei Draft Resisters JACL NCWNP District Resolution Tabled
By KENJI G. TAGUMA
Nichi Bei Times, February 10, 1999
STOCKTON A major step in community reconciliation was taken Sunday, as the Military Intelligence Service Association of Northern California presented a commendation to Nisei draft resisters who stood on principle to reject being drafted to serve in the U.S. military during World War II. Nisei draft resisters refused to be drafted from behind barbed wire until their citizenship rights were clarified and their families released from internment camps. Their stand on constitutional principle, however, was met with community ostracism by many veterans and especially by leaders of the Japanese American Citizens League.
Update: Monday, February 15, 1999 You may consider the following as evidence of the lingering social ostracism against the Heart Mountain resisters. I was about to announce that members of the Heart Mountain, Wyoming, Foundation had asked whether we would be interested in showing our final cut at their annual meeting in Powell on June 18th. But the Foundation’s board met in Los Angeles last week and … well, read for yourself.
I returned from the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation meeting with the bad news for you that the group doesn’t feel it’s ready yet to show a film on the resisters. I went into the meeting with support, but they gave in to the wishes of the former internees in Los Angeles.
Whether they are ready or not, this video is coming. We are shooting inserts of still photos and documents later today at Phil Sturholm’s studio in Bothell, Washington. Stephen Sumida and Lawson Inada will be recording their voices for the soundtrack in early March. We are pencilled in for final editing in Phil’s studio the last week of March and the first week of April. And we will shortly have an announcement naming our music composer, after a nationwide search. Check back in a few days.
Fresh from the Sundance Film Festival, “Rabbit in the Moon” is booked for a one-week theatrical run in Los Angeles for the week starting Friday, February 26th. The film includes interviews with two Heart Mountain resisters.
Thanks for your many mentions of our film and what’s been happening with it. Sundance was a blast and a half. We had such a good time I was high for days. But back to earth now.
Could you post on your website that we are planning a reception at the Laemmle Grande 4 Plex theatre after the 7 pm showing of Rabbit on Feb. 27. Aiko and Jack will be there, along with Frank Emi and Hisaye Yamamoto. Nothing fancy, but a chance for those who want to meet and talk with these people and about the movie. The theatre’s address is: 345 S. Figueroa.
Chizu says that reception will be held in the lobby of the theater. She also says her sister Emiko will be showing the film in San Jose at the Cinequest documentary festival earlier on the 27th, but she had no other details.
The Day of Remembrance is also coming up this week. For more details please check the special CLPEF Network events page here. This list does not include one key event: This Saturday, February 20th, from 2-4 p.m., Frank Emi, Yosh Kuromiya and other LA area resisters will be recognized with the “Fighting Spirit” award in a program at the Japanese American National Museum, 369 E. First Street, in the Historic Little Tokyo District, downtown Los Angeles. The resisters are respected in some quarters, still not in others.
Just getting word that Heart Mountain resister Mits Koshiyama has been invited to speak at Stanford University to the Nikkei students group there. The date is March 2nd, around 6:30 or 7:00 p.m., at Kimball Hall. Organizer Steve Yoda is sending more details.
Also, Kenji Taguma has succeeded in putting the Nichi Bei Times of San Francisco online. Check out his site here. Hey Kenji, where’s the link back to our site from the “links & resources” page?
Update: Thursday, February 18, 1999 From the King County government website I help manage, a page on Day of Remembrance. I want you to know I had nothing to do with creation of this page. Leonard Garfield in our Office of Cultural Resources created it on his own as part of his Historic Preservation series, and found quotes from an old article I had written. I was embarassed and flattered at the same time. We will eventually build and maintain a page of our own on this site on the invention of the first “Day of Remembrance” here in Seattle and Portland in 1978 and 79, for permanent reference by students.
Firm word now on resister Mits Koshiyama’s talk at Stanford University next month.
Mits Koshiyama will be speaking at 6:30 in the main lounge of Kimball Hall at Stanford University on March 2, 1999. Stanford University Nikkei (SUN) — the Japanese American organization at Stanford — will be sponsoring his talk. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me anytime. My telephone number is (650) 497-0525; my address is P.O. Box 16745 Stanford, CA 94309.
Discouraging word on the bill to create a Washington Civil Liberties Public Education Fund.
I have bad news about HB 1572. The bill did NOT receive a hearing in the Education committee. Basically, this means the bill is dead. Kip and I are going to be meeting with some people here to see if there are any ways to resuscitate. There were ideological issues that Republican members of the committee could not get past. They did not want to “open the floodgates”. There are also some problems with a Holocaust survivors insurance bill. Interesting coincidence. The two Republican members opposing the two bills are both from Eastern Washington. Kip suggested that people continue calling their legislators and members of the education committee. We are still working on the possibility of a hearing. The hotline number is: 1-800-635-6000.
Update: Sunday, February 28, 1999 It’s true that our youth are the future of our community. I met 16-year old Sharon Miyake in 1977 in an Asian American theater workshop I taught at Franklin High School in Seattle. We recruited Sharon to organize the community car wash for the nation’s first-ever Day of Remembrance in 1978, in the parking lot of Uwajimaya supermarket. More recently we worked together in the office of then-King County Executive Gary Locke. Now, Sharon Tomiko Santos is an elected State Representativeand co-sponsor of the bill to create the Washington Civil Liberties Public Education Fund. See her remarks on the floor of the House as reported in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
At the same time, the California CLPEF is about to get rolling. From Gary Otake on behalf of the CLPEF Network <[email protected]>
The applications and guidelines should be available in the first week of March. Stay tuned, as the deadlines are extremely tight and the applications will be due one month after they are released. Funds must be distributed no later than June 30, 1999.
Community meetings to discuss CA CLPEF grant guidelines and answer your questions have been scheduled…
Gary includes a list of meetings at California public libraries throughout the month of March. You can now find the dates and times on the CLPEF Network site. For specific questions regarding the grant program, we are advised to contact Executive Director Diane Matsuda at <[email protected]>
Lawson Inada is flying up this coming Friday to record the narration for our documentary. We are starting the final edit March 8th. We’re also getting more requests for students from classroom help, including our first request specifically for help on a 7th grade report on Frank Emi. That’s something this site will deliver on starting this summer and fall. More later.
Update: Tuesday, March 2, 1999 The L.A. Times review of Emiko and Chizuko Omori’s theatrical showing of “Rabbit in the Moon” is here. Take a look at how critic Kevin Thomas undoes everything he says by asserting at the end “the camps may have saved some from lynch mobs.” Unbelievable. In our documentary you’ll see the late Jimmie Omura’s reply when a JACL leader raised that fear to him in 1942. The capsule review:
Part documentary, part personal essay about the lingering effects of the internment camp experience on the Japanese American psyche.
We also received a letter that our friend Paul Tsuneishi, who also appears in our doc, has just resigned from the board of the Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation in protest of the board’s withdrawal of its invitation to premiere our video in June. We didn’t ask him to, but we admire his principles and regret this has become an issue for so many. See the background below, from February 15th.
Update: Tuesday, March 9, 1999 I’m holding in my hand a CD-R of Lawson Inada’s narration for our documentary, recorded over a four hour session last Friday by our good friend and “sound architect” Jim Wilson at the studios of Pure Audio in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. When you hear it, I hope you’ll agree with those who call Lawson the unofficial poet laureate of Japanese America. This week we have started the final edit of our show, the version that we send out for post-production effects, dissolves, titles and original music. More soon.
A few of you have e-mailed to say you enjoy reading the reviews of the Omori’s “Rabbit in the Moon,” so here’s the review from the San Jose Mercury-News.
And California Civil Liberties Public Education Program grant applications are now downloadable from their website. Get ’em while they’re hot.
Update: Monday, March 15, 1999 An excellent snapshot of where the Heart Mountain resisters now stand in the Japanese American community has just been published in the Pacific Citizen, reprinted here with the kind permission of the writer, Martha Nakagawa. You can see that Martha went to great lengths to check all sides of the story and report it.
WHERE WE’RE AT: after a week of editing with Phil Sturholm, we now have the first ten minutes of our fine cut down on tape. You’ll be the final judge, of course, but Phil is very pleased with how the opening works. Everything ties together, and it’ll work even better with music.
Update: Monday, March 22, 1999 More than half of those interned in camp were children, an angle explored in a new one-hour documentary called “Children of the Camps.” We haven’t seen it yet, but it seems to chronicle a group psychotherapy experience facilitated by Dr. Satsuki Ina, a psychotherapist and a former internee. “These now grown children trace their histories in order to heal from the lifetime trauma of this tragic chapter in American history,” according to their website. The following message outlines a very well-thought out distribution plan for the program, a preview of the drill we were planning to ask of visitors to this site when our own documentary is ready.
The Children of the Camps Documentary and Educational Project needs your help.
We have just received word that Children of the Camps, the Documentary, will be aired on PBS in May of 1999, which is Asian Pacific American Heritage month, giving us the opportunity to reach millions of people across America.
But we are at a CRITICAL STAGE, as each individual PBS affiliate station is NOW deciding whether they will air Children of the Camps. Children of the Camps, the Documentary, will be fed by PBS National to every PBS affiliate station in the country near the end of April for each to tape record and air at their discretion in May. STATIONS ARE MAKING THEIR PROGRAM SCHEDULES FOR MAY RIGHT NOW.
Here is what you can do to help get this documentary aired in your community:
1-CALL OR EMAIL YOUR LOCAL PBS AFFILIATE STATION (EMAIL LIST OF ALL PBS AFFILIATE STATIONS ARE LISTED HERE BY STATE): Express your interest and desire to see Children of the Camps, the Documentary, aired on their station. Encourage them to air it if they are not yet planning to. Confirm the date(s) and time(s) that your station will air the program.
2-FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO OTHER INTERESTED COLLEAGUES, FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND ORGANIZATIONS.
3-USE THIS PRESS RELEASE: Print out the linked press release and submit to local papers, print in your newsletters, web sites, etc.
4-CHECK OUR WEB SITE ATWWW.CHILDREN-OF-THE-CAMPS.ORG: Go to our web site to see if Children of the Camps, the Documentary, is already scheduled to air in your community. Encourage colleagues, family, and friends to watch it and email/send us feedback.
5-CALL OR EMAIL US: Let us know the date and time that your local PBS station will air Children of the Camps, the Documentary, so that we can publish the information on our web site. Our phone number is (415) 705-0885 and our email is[email protected].
Since the experience of the Japanese Americans serves to illustrate the traumatic consequences of all forms of oppression, the producers of Children of the Camps, the Documentary, hope that through it’s aring, we can help educate and promote an awareness among the broader community about the long-term consequences and impact of racism.
Your support would be greatly appreciated.
In the spirit of community,
Satsuki Ina, Ph.D.
Children of the Camps Documentary and Educational Project
Associate Producer/Outreach and Workshop Coordinator
Children of the Camps Documentary and Educational Project
We’re also getting word of yet another dialogue between the resisters and JACL on April 24th in Scottsdale, Arizona, at a meeting of the three JACL District Councils from California. Too bad spring training will be over by then. We’ve asked for a special correspondent’s report for this site, and would be happy to post any other reports about it sent to us.
Update: Wednesday, March 24, 1999 Are you a teacher or a student in the state of California? Ever had trouble finding information about the resistance in the camps, or materials about camp in general? We’d like to hear from you. We will be building up this site to be the on-line study guide for broadcasts of our documentary, and we would like your guidance on what you would like to see posted on this site, what you would find most useful in your work. Click here.
Thank you, Stephen Sumida, for contributing your voice and your heart to this production. Our new Professor of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington, and incoming president of the Association of Asian American Studies, today laid down a voice track for us. He read the letter written from jail in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on the eve of the trial of the first 63 resisters, back to Frank Emi and friends back at Heart Mountain Relocation Center. At around the third take engineer Jim Wilson and I just looked at each other in the control room and smiled. It’s a short piece that may last only 20 seconds on-screen, but Stephen brought such warmth and truth to his reading. I think it will get across the integrity and conviction of these young men, boys really, at the moment they faced the full consequences of their resistance.
Update: Tuesday, March 30, 1999 This is off-topic, but thought I’d see what the interest was in posting news about non-Nikkei projects.
Just a note to let you know about our project. Steve Ladd referred me to your website and I got a quick look at it, and I wanted to touch bases with you. We are working on a documentary on WWII conscientious objectors-tentatively titled “The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It”. It will look at nonconbatants, those who served in Civilian Public Service Camps administered for CO’s by selective service and the peace churches and the 7,000 who were in prison for refusing conscription. We will also look at the legacy of the CO’s in civil rights, anti-apartheid, and the arts. We are considering putting up a website during the production process and might like to toss some ideas around with you.
My partner on the project is Rick Tejada-Flores who produced “Fight in the Fields, Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Struggle”. We have funding from ITVS and the MacArthur foundation and are about 2/3 of the way through shooting with a deadline of November for the finished program.
Yours, Judy Ehrlich
Update: Wednesday, April 7, 1999 Thanks for returning to our site. We’re back in the editing suite this week, with about 18 minutes of fine cut laid down on tape. Please excuse our lack of updates recently. We’re also building an academic advisory committee that will guide us in expanding this website into a complete on-line student resource and teachers guide in support of our broadcasts later this year and early next year. We’ll have more news very soon.
In the meantime, we’re asking for referrals to K-12 instructors in the state of California who have experience in teaching the Japanese American incarceration experience. We are seeking someone who would be interested and qualified to review a middle school and high school curriculum we are developing. We’ve already received some excellent suggestions from our posts to the CLPEF and AAAS e-mail listserv’s. Thanks.
When does conscience and the constitution air? i am very interested.
Thanks for asking. We’ve just spent six straight days in Phil Sturholm’s editing suite in Bothell, Washington, stitching the fine cut together and we’re five minutes from the end. It’s coming together. Based on the time it will take us to fill in some missing shots, compose the music, and so on, I’d say look for us on your local station sometime this fall and in May of 2000.
Long before that day, we will expand this website into the on-line study guide and teacher resource for the broadcasts. Which leads to this message received:
I came across this web site by accident. But WOW I am very impressed. When will the documentary show on PBS? I am a high school teacher and would like to use it for class. I do teach about Japanese Internment and I like to talk about resistence to give students a sense that you can stand up and make a difference but other than a few sources such as the case in Seattle, Hirabayashi, and the Korematsu case, there has not been much readily available that has a readibility level for highschool/middleschool readers. So far the best piece I use is based on a mural titled The Journey.
I also like to send/take students to the Japanese Memorial garden in Waterfront Park in Portland, Oregon. There is a teacher at Franklin High School in Portland, Tom McKenna, who does a lot with internment. I will pass this site address on to him.
Please add me to your list of interested teachers as you develop lesson plans etc. Thanks
Thanks Lorraine. And anyone else who would like to be added to our e-mail list, please send a message. We’ll get a form posted soon to make it easier to subscribe. We have a proposal pending for development of an interactive CD-ROM based on the research that went into our documentary, with curriculum engineered to meet state history and social studies content standards for grades 6-12.
I received an order from a guy at Lucent Technologies for my CD which also resulted in me selling them a site license for a one time use for their employees, all part of their diversity training. Naturally I asked how he learned of my CD, and it was from your web site! So, thanks! I owe ya one!
You’re welcome as always, Ann. Thanks for helping us find archival photos of Wyoming jail cells for a key sequence matching the images with the sound of Mako, the actor, singing an Issei work song. Check here for a web special on Ann Noble’s “The Heart Mountain Relocation Story on CD-ROM.”
Update: Thursday, April 29, 1999
In Memoriam: Michi Weglyn 1926- 1999
I’ve just returned from vacation to receive the sad news that author and historian Michi Nishiura Weglyn passed away last Sunday, April 25th. Her good friend Phil Najitsu Nash has e-mailed a tribute you can read here, along with some suggestions on how we can honor her, including reading her landmark 1976 work, Years of Infamy, now reprinted by the University of Washington Press.
Michi changed Japanese American history forever by being the first Nisei to do original, systematic research into the government’s wartime documents held in the National Archives. No longer did the public have to rely on anecdotes and recollections. Michi was the first to take the outrage most Nisei held inside and express it by quoting the government’s own words about the camps, the loyalty questionnaire, segregation, and expatriation.
Michi was the first supporter of this project. She inspired us when we were down. Michi will be missed, but I’m grateful that we will be able to bring you her voice. I feel her presence daily as we edit what was probably her last interview into our documentary on the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee. MIchi emerges as a person of fire and conviction, elegant and incisive, a scholar who also brings heart to our program. She was also painfully shy, and it took some coaxing to convince her to appear on camera with us. In fact, it took Frank Chin, Paul Tsuneishi, and Brian Tatsuno to stage the February, 1998 tribute to her as part of the Los Angeles Day of Remembrance to finally get her to commit to the interview she kept postponing. She did talk to us, in a suite at the New Otani Hotel, before her health started to decline. It was her gift to us, and it is in her spirit and her memory that we continue.
We understand that the loop of videotaped tributes from the many friends of Michi Weglyn shown at last year’s tribute will be replayed this weekend on the video wall at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.
Sweet dreams, Michi. At least now you can be with your beloved Walter.
Update: Friday, April 30, 1999
Kenji Taguma of the Nichi Bei Times shares his own tribute to the memory of Michi Weglyn, reprinted with permission here. He also shares word of a tribute in San Francisco.
Clifford (Uyeda) and I, among others, are planning a Nor Cal tribute to Michi on Saturday, May 8 in SF’s J-town. I’ve lined up Grace Shimizu (JLAs), Fumie Shimada of Sacramento (JA railroad/mine workers), and Mits Koshiyama (resisters). Also Kiku Funabiki, Toshiko Kawamoto, Wayne M. Collins, Rosalyn Tonai, etc. are hosting this as part of our “Friends of Michi Weglyn” committee.
Update: Thursday, May 13, 1999
Yet another passing. Karl Yoneda was one of the men hustled out of camp during the Manzanar Riot of December 6, 1942, an event described in our documentary as the first expression of protest following word that Japanese American leaders were urging the government to reinstitute Selective Service for the Nisei in camp as proof of their loyalty. As a matter of fact, the late Michi Weglyn sets up this story for us…. you’ll have to see the expression on her face as she recalls:
The reaction in Manzanar and other camps was, whaaat? They want to raid a concentration …you know, concentration camps for bodies, I mean, to be shot at…?
I have been informed that Karl Yoneda died last night at 7:15, at Fort Bragg where he had been living with his son Tommy. His grand daughter Tamara, who was with him when he died, said that he left peacefully.
Karl came to the United States from Japan around seventy years ago as an opponent of the Emperor. He was active in the early 1930s in agricultural and labor battles as a member of the Communist Party. He married Elaine Black, a marriage that lasted over fifty years. He became a longshoreman. During World II he was sent to Manzanar concentration camp although an opponent of Japanese involvement in the war. He later served in Burma with U.S. Army Intelligence.
Karl became a leading Asian Pacific historian in his later life, noted for his book “Ganbatte” about his experience in organizing a multi-racial cannery union in the 1930s. He was an active member of the Labor History Workshop and the Southwest Labor Studies Association.
As soon as I receive word from the family on when the memorial service will be I will notify all of you. It may be on Sunday the 23rd but this is not confirmed.
We will shortly post a list of photos and images we are still seeking to complete the visual part of our documentary. Among the items we still need is an uncut front page of the Rocky Shimpo newspaper edited by James Omura in Denver in 1944. Also any photo of Larry Tajiri, the wartime editor of the Pacific Citizen.
The Omori sisters’ “Rabbit In the Moon” has more showings set.
Rabbit will be shown on June 1, Tuesday, at the Seattle International Film Festival, 7:30 at the Egyptian Theater. Emiko will be here. Wing Luke Museum and Jack Straw Studios are hosting a reception afterward.
Also, it will be shown on the POV series on PBS on July 6. In addition, it will be shown at the Smithsonian Institution on June 18.
So, we are busy. Hope all is going well. Chizu
Update: Friday, May 28, 1999 We now have a complete cut of the soundtrack of our one-hour documentary. That means the soundcuts from our interviews and Lawson Inada’s narration are locked in, and we now fill in some missing visuals, take the tape to the video post-production house for graphics and special effects, take the soundtrack to the audio post-production house for the 8-track sweetening, and send the result to the composer for music.
I am taking this tape down to Calfornia in mid-June for some private showings in living rooms in San Jose and Los Angeles.
I have just been at your website while doing some research for a local radio piece I’m preparing to do. Wyoming Public Radio will be attending the annual Heart Mtn. Foundation conference in Powell, WY in a few weeks, and I’m trying to get up to speed so I can ask good questions of those I get to talk to there. The website says you’re in post-production, but do you have anything more specific on air-date, etc.?
Thank you very much,
Wyoming Public Radio News
Laramie WY (307) 766-3587
I wish everyone well at the Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation meeting on June 18th. We will work with PBS and local affiliates on airdates once we send them the finished show, but I would expect we will be able to schedule local airdates and screenings as soon as November, and no later than next May, 2000.
From Professor Art Hansen, California State University, Fullerton <[email protected]>
Thanks for the info on your website about Karl Yoneda’s passing. However, he was NOT “hustled out of camp during the Manzanar Riot of December 6, 1942,” having left about a week earlier when he joined the voluntary combat team of the U.S. Army; it was, rather, his wife, Elaine Black Yoneda, and their son, Tommy Yoneda, who were “hustled” out of Manzanar during the evening of the riot.
Thanks, Art. My excuse is that I couldn’t at that moment put my hands on my copy of your definitive article on the Manzanar Riot from Amerasia Journalback in the 1970’s. By the way, I’d like to hear from anyone who has a publicity still from the riot scene in John Korty’s “Farewell to Manzanar,” for use as a visual in our show.
As we pause to honor America’s war dead on this Memorial Day, remember the words of resister Mits Koshiyama:
I had lot of respect for the people that went for their draft physicals. I know many of them didn’t want to go but they went and I never was against them. A lot of resisters had brothers in the 442nd and relatives in the 442nd. … They had their own mind and I had mine. And I respected their thinking and that was it.
Please check back on or about June 1st for an announcement of an exciting new development for our project.
Update: Wednesday, June 16, 1999 We’re pleased to announce that both our video documentary and our New Media project have been awarded a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program. We were waiting for an official announcement but there hasn’t been one yet. Still, the word is out.
The award means that by June of 2000 we will be able to:
Place VHS copies of our one-hour video documentary in California middle schools, high schools, community colleges and universities, and public libraries.
Place copies of our CD-ROM, enhanced with audio and video clips, in California middle schools, high schools, community colleges and universities, and public libraries.
Expand this website into an interactive on-line study guide to support local broadcasts of our video documentary on California PBS affiliates, and support screenings in classrooms and at public forums.
Present two public forums accompanied with screenings and personal appearances by Frank Emi in Southern California and Mits Koshiyama in Northern California.
I look forward to meeting the 29 other grant recipients at the State Capitol Library in Sacramento this coming Friday. I will be continuing on to San Jose and Los Angeles in the week of June 21-25 to meet with the resisters and search for more visuals for our show..
Through a special arrangement with the San Jose Mercury-News web team, you can now link from this site to a reprint of “The Loyal Opposition,” reporter Donna Kato’s exceptional West Magazine story on Dave Kawamoto and the resisters of Mountain View and San Jose. Our thanks to Mercury Center news editor Donna Yanish and our AAJA colleague Bruce Koon for making this 1993 story available to you.
Update: Saturday, July 3, 1999 The Wall Street Journal finally came out with itslong-awaited story on the Heart Mountain resisters, last Friday, June 25th. We were interviewed along with others in the community for this story, but were cut at the last minute by reporter Nori Shirouzu’s editors. Too bad, we were hoping to get a mention of our web address to draw more visitors. Mits Koshiyama’s hair is not as white as it was drawn; in fact his hair is blacker than mine. But Nori completely researched the story and got some great interviews over the past few years. We asked him why the Wall Street Journal was interested, and he replied, “they like good stories, and this is a good story.”
Check back on Monday. That’s when we expect the San Francisco Examiner to print reporter Annie Nakao’s story on the resisters (and hopefully mention our website!), in a story previewing Tuesday’s PBS broadcast of Emiko and Chizuko Omori’s “Rabbit in the Moon,” a 90-minute film airing on the “POV” series (as they say, check local listings). “Rabbit” is the personal story of the wartime incarceration of Emiko and her family, with her tribute to Heart Mountain resisters Frank Emi and Mits Koshiyama, and journalist James Omura.
“Rabbit” touches on the question of cooperation with wartime incarceration, through anecdotal references by Omura, Shosuke Sasaki of Seattle, and Harry Ueno of San Jose. I had lunch last week in San Francisco with JACL executive director Herb Yamanishi and education guru Greg Marutani, and they expressed concern the film does not present any context for those remarks, no information about the JACL or any opportunity for response. They have a comment prepared for distribution to chapters and I encouraged them to post it on their website. If it appears we will link to it from here.
Update: Tuesday, July 6, 1999 Thanks to Annie Nakao of the San Francisco Examiner for mentioning our website address in her story today, “ Internment camps evoked resistance.” Tonight’s the night of the national feed of “Rabbit in the Moon” on PBS, though in many cities the program may be delayed. We will try to post as many reviews as we can.
If you are reading this on your laptop in a Seattle hotel room while attending the UNITY Journalists of Color convention this week, I will be showing a short clip from our forthcoming documentary on a panel Friday afternoon. We will be hard to find though because the panel itself is called “Rashomon Effect: Conflicting Truths On the Buffalo Soldiers.” The panel is Friday afternoon from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. in room 308 of the state convention center. Please stop by and say hello and pick up one of our flyers. I’ll be showing a piece of our rough cut. We expect to be complete by this fall or winter and on the air by May of next year.
Update: Saturday, July 24, 1999 There’s a controversy sweeping the Internet this week, so here it is for all to share:
I received a fax from Jack Herzig and responded with this letter – if you can protest the inscription to Cherry Tsutsumida of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, please do so. Her fax # is (202) 861-8848.
Heres my letter:
July 20, 1999
Ms Cherry Tsutsumida
National Japanese American Memorial Foundation
1920 N. St., N.W., Suite 660
Washington D.C. 20036
Re: Inscription on the monument
I just read an article in the Washington Times about the proposed inscriptions on the monument and felt compelled to at least register my most profound protest against the inscription which states:
The court ruled that the adoption by government, in crisis of war and threatened invasion, of measures of public safety, is not wholly beyond the limits of the Constitution and is not to be condemned.
First and foremost, the inscription essentially justifies the exclusion and detention and excuses what we know now was a lie: That it wasnt threatened invasion nor necessarily the crisis of war which sent the Japanese Americans to camps; it was racism, pure and simple. To engrave and memorialize the racist justification for the camps on a memorial dedicated to the memory of those who fought to get the Japanese Americans out of camps, desecrates their memory and misleads the public, in my opinion.
Further, the Courts ruling was more complicated that simple quotation suggests. The Supreme Court offered several justifications for the military actions but these justifications were internally inconsistent, illogical, conflicted with prior case law, and were part of the wartime Japanese cases which many legal commentators believe are some of the worst cases ever decided by the United States Supreme Court. The hypocrisy of those decisions should not be masked with a veneer of legitimacy by citing one quote from all of the cases.
Additionally, those cases have been discredited, at least for their justification of racism and also because the government altered, suppressed and destroyed evidence favorable to Japanese Americans in order to win those cases at all costs. These propositions formed the bases of the successful coram nobis actions of Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi and Min Yasui.
The impression created by this quote is that what happened to Japanese Americans was Constitutional and justifiable, an impression which undercuts all of the education done through the Redress Movement. I do believe that if this quote is placed on the monument, a large segment of the Japanese American community will be disappointed, angered and will feel a deep betrayal of the basic principles for which redress was fought. I urge you to reconsider including the proposed quote on the monument.
Very truly yours,
MINAMI, LEW & TAMAKI LLP
In other news: if you took our card at the UNITY Journalists of Color convention in Seattle and are visiting for the first time, thanks for visiting. We showed a 10 minute clip from our rough cut and although we held some small focus groups in California last month, this was actually the first public viewing of any part of our latest cut. It was certainly reassuring that the audience for our panel snickered at the right places and gave us a round of applause when the lights came up.
Congratulations once again to Emiko and Chizuko Omori for the national PBS broadcast on July 6th of Rabbit in the Moon, a personal memoir that introduces the issues of cooperation and resistance to the camps to the nation. It opens the door for our documentary to deliver the complete story of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee and a presentation of the voices and the primary documents from the Japanese American Citizens League. The JACL is referred to in Rabbit. Ours will be the first program to examine those issues in depth.
As promised, we’ve created a special page with links to the latest reviews and features. A message board and website have been set up for Rabbit by PBS, POV, the Television Race Initiative and NAATA. It was created by Steven Chin, formerly of the San Francisco Examiner and the now-defunct Channel A website. He’s now a principal with Monkey King Media and we had a chance to talk with him at UNITY. Check out his work.
The Rabbit in the Moon Web site presents an interactive experience exploring key themes related to the Japanese American internment. The site invites user to discover the people and history behind the internment using video clips from the filmand then asks users to respond with stories of their own personal history. Users are asked to consider how the internees must have felt when they were uprooted from their homes and stripped of their rights as U.S. citizens and to relate this experience to their own lives.
Developed by Monkey King Media, the Web site takes Omoris film from tv screen to computer screen, encouraging peoplethrough the use of message boardsto discussed the emotions evoked by the film. The site also includes a form to message the filmmaker, an historical timeline, and a resource page where users can continue their education through books, videos, and classroom lesson plans. The airing and site are sponsored by PBS, POV, the Television Race Initiative and NAATA.
Update: Sunday, July 25, 1999
I didn’t think the controversy over the inscription on the Japanese American veterans memorial would last very long ….
From: NJAMF, 2910 N St., NW, Suite 660, W.D.C. 20036. (202) 861-8845.
Fax: (202) 861-8848
To: Aiko and Jack Herzig
Date: July 23, 1999
Subject: Inscription on NJAMF Wall
Dear Aiko and Jack:
Thank you for your input.
The original intention of our Board was to show what Jurassic logic the Supreme Court exercised during those war years. Due to the limitations in word space, the words were terse and abbreviated.
In retrospect, we agree with you that to try to make a point so complex in one statement does not serve the intended purpose.
More regrettable, you have effectively pointed out that such a passage without context can in fact detract from the victories of subsequent efforts so nobly attributable to the coram nobis cases of the 1908s.
Please be assured that the offending passage is being deleted. We regret our clumsy efforts but are delighted that you are, as usual, awake at the switch.
With regards, I am
/s/ Sincerely yours,
Cherry Y. Tsutsumida, Executive Director
Handwritten note: What a network you have! cyt
Update: Thursday, July 29, 1999 In World War II the Pacific Citizen newspaper functioned well as the house organ of the Japanese American Citizens League and the carrier of the group’s patriotic message of loyalty and cooperation with the government. Its editorials praised the valor of the Nisei soldiers and condemned the resisters as a threat to the postwar acceptance and assimilation of the overall community.
Today the Pacific Citizen and indeed the entire JACL are going through an intense period of self-examination on the question of the role of JACL leadership during the war. An analysis piece in last weeks issue “A Look at JACLs Role During WWII, Stance on Resisters” examines the current debate.
The article mentions some key memoes and reports from the period, documents that are also part of our show. In the coming weeks and months leading up to the broadcast premiere of “Conscience and the Constitution,” we will slowly be adding the complete text of those documents, and will let you know when they are up.
Update: Sunday, August 1, 1999 Today in San Lorenzo, California, a confrontation is expected over the issue of whether the modern-day Japanese American Citizens League should issue a formal apology to the “resisters of conscience” for the JACL’s wartime suppression of all resistance. The full story is previewed in this weekend’s article in the San Jose Mercury-News, “Debate over interned `resisters’ reopens painful wartime wound.” Our thanks to reporter Donna Kato for including a link back to this website in her story. Ms. Kato has been following this story ever since her West Magazine cover story on our first ceremonial homecoming for the “Boys of Mountain View-San Jose” in 1992.
According to the Mercury-News, the JACL district meeting is open to the public and will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Eden Japanese-American Community Center, 710 Elgin Street in San Lorenzo. For more details call (415) 345-1075.
Should the JACL apology be adopted on a national level, a JACL official has asked our help in compiling the addresses of the 315 young men convicted of Selective Service violations in World War II so JACL can send a personal letter of apology to the resisters or their survivors. If you are such a family, or if you know of such a family, and want to make sure that the letter reaches the intended persons, please have them e-mail us or ask for our mailing address.
Speaking of the JACL: Karl Nobuyuki, who served as JACL national director in the late 70’s and early 80’s, recently posted this criticism of the Omori sisters’ Rabbit in the Moon on their website.
21. Biased Perspective
Wed Jul 7 2:55 AM US/Eastern 1999
The program, while well done was a gross distortion of facts. The most evident element was the absence of a JACL response to the comments made by the so-called “experts” in the program. This approach displayed an interesting definiton of “documentary”: as one that is based upon what one may “document” regardless of of the truth or real. I have real time footage of one of the leaders of JACL at the time in question, Mike M. Masaoka. He put in perspective the climate, hysteria and actions of that time. These produces of this so-called “documentary” would not dare produce such fiction when Iron-Mike was still alive. They only jump-on-the-bandwagon after his death. This is not the first attempt. Only the most successful. It presents a distorted perspective of wartime hysteria and weaves in deception around pathos of “victims.” It stinks! The producers of this “documentary” failed to address much of the real feelings of the time. Rather, with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, they attack and distort. This is the worst “documentary” from PBS that I have seen, not just on this subject, but from PBS as a whole. It was awful, distorted and played by a small, but vocal group. Their most obvious short-coming is their bias and it is ugly.
— Karl K. Nobuyuki
And here is Chizu Omori’s reply:
38. Rabbit In the Moon
Thu Jul 29 2:28 PM US/Eastern 1999
To Karl Nobuyuki: thank you for your JACL perspective. Please make a documentary giving your side of the story.
— Chizu Omori
Not to give away too much of our own show, but you will find we will be presenting all sides of this story, and let you the viewer decide for yourself… with additional documentation that you will find on this website closer to the time of broadcast early next year.
Update: Wednesday, August 4 1999 We have our first confirmed screening: Saturday evening, May 5, 2000, at the University of Washington HUB Auditorium in Seattle.
The Nikkei Experience in the Pacific Northwest
May 5-7, 2000
The Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, Department of History, University of Washington, Seattle, will hold a conference on the history of the Japanese (Nikkei) communities in the Pacific Northwest in conjunction with the formal recognition of Professor Gordon Hirabayashi by the UW College of Arts and Sciences as its distinguished alumnus for the year 2000. Conference sessions are intended for students, Nikkei, and the general public, as well as academics. Scheduled participants include Roger Daniels, Arthur Hansen, Gail Nomura, and Gary Okihiro.
Our goal is to foster interest in, research on, and discussion of the wide range of Nikkei experiences across time and throughout the region, including both sides of the 49th parallel. In addition to submissions dealing with the World War II period, we welcome paper proposals on subjects ranging from early immigration through redress and its aftermath, including topics drawn from cultural, economic, and social history, as well as legal and political history.
The Center reserves first rights of refusal for publication for all conference papers. A selection of essays derived from the conference will be published in Pacific Northwest Quarterly and in an anthology published by the University of Washington Press. Funding for the conference and publications is being provided, in part, by the UW College of Arts and Sciences and the Emil G. and Kathleen T. Sick Fund supporting studies in western history.
Submit a 250-word paper proposal and a two-page c.v. postmarked no later than October 31, 1999, to the Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, University of Washington, Box 353587, Seattle WA 98195-3587. Responses will go out by November 30, 1999. For more information, contact Louis Fiset at [email protected] or Kim McKaig at 206-543-8656, [email protected].
From all accounts the confrontation at the JACL district council meeting in San Lorenzo last weekend did not materialize. From our correspondent:
There were three veterans who spoke out against the resolution and/or parts of the “apology”including Ernie Iiyama (surprising, since he and his wife Chizu are considered Nisei progressives; I think he was against the public ceremony), Skeets Oji (an MISer, and part of the group that gave a “commendation” to the resisters); and Harry Fukuhara (a legendary MISer who was part of MacArthurs occupation team; another MIS NorCal board member, I believe).
Five of the eight JACL districts have passed the resolution, and the other three want further discussion within their membership. The authors of the resolution, very good friends of mine, say that even if the resolution doesnt pass, the education of JACL membership that came along through this process was very significantwith all chapters discussing the issue for the first time.
The meeting also included a (brief) discussion of “Rabbit in the Moon,” with Chizu Iiyama apparently criticizing it for being “too one-sided.”
Update: Thursday, August 5, 1999
I’m now sold on the value of making personal appearances. I was doubting the value of previewing a clip from our program at the recent UNITY Journalists of Color convention, but out of it now comes this column in yesterday’s San Jose Mercury-News, “Documentary honors interned resisters,” by Joe Rodriguez.
FRANK ABE belongs to the original “model minority” — Japanese-Americans. It’s supposed to be a compliment, but my sansei friends gag whenever they hear it. Many Americans, I think, need to believe in the myth of an obedient and completely assimilated minority. Abe is out to destroy it.
Mind you, I would never say “destroy.” But our program will I hope shift the paradigm of how we view Japanese Amercan history, by offering new information that many simply didn’t want us to hear… in large part out of the need as Joe says to believe in the archetypes that sustained this community for so long. Thanks for the column, Joe.
Update: Thursday, August 12, 1999
As the Japanese American Citizens League debates whether to issue a formal apology to the resisters for its wartime suppression of all resistance, the next step will take place at noon on Sunday, August 29th at Merced Community College near Fresno. The Central California District Council of JACL will vote on the resolution. A number of news media are planning to cover it. We may be among them.
Its been a busy week, as in the wake of the front page Wall Street Journal article on Nisei draft resisters (June 25 by Norihiko Shirouzu) and the JACL resolution apologizing to the resisters, Ive been contacted by four news agencies this week for background and/or comments on the situation.
NHK, Japans equivalent of PBS television, is going to do a story on resisters (and also redress for Japanese military atrocities, another issue Im involved in). Also Japans Sankei Shimbun (their Los Angeles bureau) is working on a piece.
Asian Week is also doing an article, and I talked to a Sacramento Bee editorial writer earlier this week. The Bee actually printed an article Friday, Aug. 6 on my dad (including a photo) that ran on their front page.
At the urging of Aiko Yoshinaga-Herzig, we submitted a proposed inscription for the Japanese American National Monument in Washington, D.C.
Ms Cherry Tsutsumida
National Japanese American Memorial Foundation
1920 N. St., NW, Suite 660
Washington D.C. 20036
Dear Ms. Tsutsumida,
I realize it may be too late to submit proposed inscriptions for the monument. Nevertheless, it is important to show the public the diversity of Japanese American thought. Even though visitors may be looking at a monument, they should know that we are not monolithic.
Let me suggest the following quote from the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, the group coming to be known as the resisters of conscience:
“We feel that the present program of drafting us from this concentration camp is unjust, unconstitutional, and against all principles of civilized usage. Therefore, we members of the Fair Play Committee hereby refuse to go to the physical examination or to the induction, if or when we are called, in order to contest the issue.”
March 1, 1944
from inside Heart Mountain concentration camp
Thank you for your consideration,
Gee, there was a second column written as a result of our UNITY Journalists of Color panel last month: “Bridging a Rift In 2 Cultures,” by Donna Britt, a columnist for the Washington Post, published last Friday, August 6th. And here’s a letter to the editor in yesterday’s San Jose Mercury-News following up on Donna Kato’s recent piece on the resisters.
Update: Sunday, August 29, 1999 Our thanks to the Central California District JACL for their hospitality at todays meeting at Merced College. With photographer Curtis Choy and boom operator Tim “sound is my life” Song Jones, we shot much-needed video of their debate on the resolution for a JACL apology to the resisters. They voted the resolution down, which could mean the end of the process or the start of a new round of debates. But the video we shot will help us capture this still-unfolding story for our show.
In particular we want to thank district governor Grace Kimoto and office director Patricia Tom for making us feel welcome and helping make the arrangements. We were able to meet longtime Fresno JACLer Shim Hiroto and say hello again to the always-lively Fred Hirasuna, both family friends of our shows narrator, Lawson Inada. We interviewed Andy Noguchi of Sacramento, author of the original resolution, Kenji Taguma, English editor of the NichiBei Times, and several others.
May Takahashi brought printouts of our website to the meeting, but she had a bone to pick with us. She said nowhere has she seen any direct statements by the wartime JACL against the resisters that would warrant the group to make an apology now. Thats one area of our site that is still in development now, as volunteer Chris Nishiwaki in Seattle is busy scanning the documents that May wants to see. We have to focus our limited time on finishing the TV show, but once thats done and sent off to the PBS pipeline we can really bear down on sharing the research that went into our script.
Update: Saturday, September 18, 1999
Heart Mountain resister Mits Koshiyama is scheduled to return home today after undergoing triple by-pass surgery on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at Good Samaritan Hospital in Santa Clara, California. Here’s the note from a mutual friend.
I called the hospital yesterday and they told me he was removed from ICU and is now recovering in a “normal” bed. He’s still scheduled to go home tomorrow so it sounds like there’s been no complications. Thank god!!
I guess Mits went in for a angiogram last Friday and the doc found three partially or fully blocked arteries so they decided to operate immediately. Hope he’s gonna’ feel better ‘cos he’s been complaining about feeling very weak.
Our best wishes to Mits for a speedy recovery. We would be happy to forward any messages to him.
Update: Monday, October 4, 1999 We are pleased to announce that we have just signed a production license agreement with ITVS, the Independent Television Service. Based in San Francisco, ITVS was created by Congress in 1991 “to create and promote independent media that will expand civic participation by bringing new voices and expressiveness into the public discourse.” ITVS receives its funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This partnership means our show will receive broad distribution to public television stations nationwide.
The agreement with ITVS also provides us with finishing funds to hire a top film editor, and we are proud to announce that Ms. Lillian Benson, A.C.E has agreed to do our final off-line edit. Lillian was nominated for an Emmy for her work on the landmark civil right series EYES ON THE PRIZE II. She has edited numerous documentaries for HBO, CNN, The Learning Channel, The Discovery Channel, and PBS .Her feature film credits include ALMA’S RAINBOW, and TWISTED starring Christian Slater. Ms. Benson is the first African American female member of American Cinema Editors, the internationally recognized honoray society of film editors. She is a native of Brooklyn and earned her B.F.A. at Pratt Institute. We are honored to have her on our team.
Our agreement with ITVS calls for us to deliver the final broadcast version by March 1, 2000, with projected airdates next May.
Update: Tuesday, November 2, 1999 This weekend 45 Nisei draft resisters who served time at a prison camp northeast of Tucson, Arizona, will be recognized at dedication ceremonies for the newly-renamed Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site. Spring training in Arizona will never be the same. For more information about the event or about Nisei resister Gordon Hirabayashi, we have posted the news releasefor this Sunday’s ceremony and the text for the interpretative signs at the site, which contain a lot of useful school information. More details from Nichibei Times editor Kenji Taguma:
Gordon was sentenced to there, which used to be a federal honor camp. Also, about 40+ Nisei draft resisters (most, like my dad, from Amache; but some from Topaz and Poston) were sentenced there. Well, the camp will be renamed in Gordon’s name, but will also honor the Nisei draft resisters. The Nov. 7 ceremony is beginning to turn into a big thing. Paul Tsuneishi will be there, along with a couple of other Fair Play Committee members. We will have about 7 “Tucsonian” resisters there, and the Rafu Shimpo and Pacific Citizen (Martha Nakagawa) will be there as well. Also attending will be Grace Kubota Ybarra, whose brother was named after Gordon (you may know this, but Grace is the daughter of Guntaro Kubota, one of the original FPC seven).
To our delight, also attending will be Wayne Maeda of CSU Sacramento and Andy Noguchi and family—who were instrumental in helping to broadcast the resisters’ story to the community, particularly in Sacramento.
Last week, I had sent some photos, documents and articles, which I beleive will be used as part of the interpretive exhibit at the desolate Santa Catalina Mountains site.
Gordon is scheduled to speak at the ceremony, as is Rose Ochi of the Manzanar Advisory Committee (the committee is meeting in Tucson that weekend). I have been asked to speak, in addition to the son of another Amache resister. My entire immediate family (sans a sister in Japan) is going to Tucson.
The Ramada Inn in Tucson is booked, and the University of Arizona History Department is hosting a reception for Gordon and the resisters on Saturday, Nov. 6, 3 p.m., at the Ramada.
The ceremony itself will be held on Sunday, Nov. 7 at 10 a.m. at the mountain site.
Thank you Mary Farrell for inviting us to screen our film there. I regret we will not be able to attend as we are now in final off-line editing with Lillian Benson, working out of Montana Edit in Santa Monica.
Update: Wednesday, December 29, 1999 Happy New Year everyone. Our apologies for the lack of updates but for the past six weeks we have been consumed with the re-editing and rewriting our documentary in Santa Monica and Seattle. We are currently booked for studio time to assemble the broadcast version of our tape in the last week of January, so if you receive desperate phone calls from us looking for better photos, please help us out! Thanks to all of you who have responded to our pleas these past two months.
In response to our urgent request for information posted below, thanks to Grace Kubota Ybarra and Eric Muller for providing new leads on Shogo Adachi and Samuel Menin. We still need to find new sources of Issei and Nisei home movies taken before the war, for a short scene in our show.
Look for us in the new year with details on how you can help in construction of our forthcoming CD-ROM study guide and version 2.0 of this website.
URGENT REQUEST: We need to find additional photographs or any information about people who came into the lives of the Heart Mountain resisters in Wyoming during WW2. If you have any leads on photos or biographical information about these people, pleasee-mail us. Thank you!
Mr. Adachi, an Issei businessman in Laramie, Wyoming during the war who befriended the resisters during their trial. We only know his first name.
Mrs. Sylvia Toshiyuki, a Caucasian woman married to a Japanese American who lived on 18th Street in Denver in 1944.
Vern Lechliter, the reporter who covered the two trials for the Wyoming Eagle newspaper
Robert Lawrence, FBI special agent in Wyoming or Colorado in 1944
U.S. District Court Judge Eugene Rice, trial judge for the conspiracy trial of the Fair Play Committee. He may have been a visiting judge from another state.
Samuel Menin, Denver attorney who represented first group of 63 resisters at trial
Photos of the Rocky Shimpo newspaper office in Denver in 1944
The sister and brothers of Kiyoshi Okamoto: In 1943 he had a younger brother in Idaho, a WWI vet who was 40 in 1943, and a younger sister in Pleasantville, New York teaching social science who was about 45 or 46 in 1943. He had another sister, 52 in 1942, who expatriated to Japan on the first trip of the Gripsholm, married to an “Alien,” presumably an Issei. He had another brother who was 42 or 43 in 1943, somewhere in China, he didn’t know where, also an American citizen who took over “a lot of American interests” when the Japanese army invaded China.
And does anyone know what happened to the photos of Mike Masaoka of the JACL that were published in Bill Hosokawa’s NISEI: THE QUIET AMERICANS? Mr. Hosokawa has himself lost track.
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.
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.
American Culture Studies/Ethnic Studies
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH 43403 (419) 372-7576 [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 By KENJI G. TAGUMA 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, Mrs. Amy Akutsu, 1917 S. Walker, Seattle WA 98144.
Update: Oct. 16, 1998 A 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.
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
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
Whatever 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. Click here for a detailed description and ordering information for this well-researched disk, which is available by mail from Ann. It retails for $50.00, but Ann is offering a web special: mention you saw it here, and she’ll send it to you for $35.00 plus $3.00 shipping.
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 ofConcentration Camps or Summer Camps? which you’ll find posted on ourlinks page:
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.
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, E-mail us.
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. Read our synopsis below.
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.