All posts by Frank Abe

FRANK ABE is co-author of the new graphic novel on Japanese American resistance to wartime incarceration, WE HEREBY REFUSE (Chin Music Press: A Wing Luke Museum Book). He won an American Book Award for JOHN OKADA: The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press), and made the award-winning PBS documentary, CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION, on the largest organized camp resistance. He is currently co-editing an anthology for Penguin Classics on The Literature of Japanese American Incarceration.

News updates in 1999

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, publicity stillactive, 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

Rep. Kip TokudaWhy 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.

Click here for the full text of Rep. Tokuda’s bill.  The Washington Legislature has just gone into session.  For more information you can e-mail his legislative assistant, Anndi Kawamura, at (360) 786-7838, or e-mail at: [email protected].

Update: January 26, 1999

CLPEF Network logo

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

preview photo

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:

production logo

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
The Sisters Matsumotoand 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.

From Kenji Taguma <[email protected]>

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.

See the rest of the Nichi Bei Times story here.

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.
  • Finally, from Kenji Taguma <[email protected]>

    MIS Nor-Cal Veterans Honor Nisei Draft Resisters
    JACL NCWNP District Resolution Tabled

    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.

    See the rest of the Nichi Bei Times story here.

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.

From Chizko Omori <[email protected]>

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
photo from expulsion in 1942From 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.

From Steve Yoda <[email protected]>

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.

From Anndi Kawamura <[email protected]>

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
Rep. Sharon Tomiko SantosIt’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]>

I’m also late catching up to Chizuko Omori’s personal report on her experiences at the Sundance Film Festival presenting her film “Rabbit in the Moon,” from a recent Seattle Times.

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.

From Kimberly Ina <[email protected] >

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

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.


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 AT   WWW.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.
Project Director
Children of the Camps Documentary and Educational Project

Kimberly Ina
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.

From Judy Ehrlich <[email protected] >

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.

Update: Friday, April 23, 1999
From <[email protected]>

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:

From: Lorraine Weyrauch <[email protected]>

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

Lorraine Weyrauch

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.

From:  Ann Noble <[email protected]>
Cody, Wyoming

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!

Ann N.

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…?

From Don Watson <[email protected]>

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.

Don Watson

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.

From Chizu Omori <[email protected]>

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.

From Heather Feeney <[email protected]>

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,
Heather Feeney
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.

Cheers, Art

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
Wall Street Journal, June 25, 1999The 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:

From Dale Minami <[email protected]>

Hi Folks,

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.

Here’s my letter:

July 20, 1999

Ms Cherry Tsutsumida
Executive Director
National Japanese American Memorial Foundation
1920 N. St., N.W., Suite 660
Washington D.C. 20036

Re: Inscription on the monument

Dear Cherry:

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 wasn’t 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 Court’s 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,

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.

From Steven Chin <[email protected]>

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 film—and 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 Omori’s film from tv screen to computer screen, encouraging people—through the use of message  boards—to 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. 

Steve Chin

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 Aiko Herzig <[email protected]>

Copy of letter received via fax

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 1908’s.

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 week’s issue A Look at JACL’s 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. 

From Dr. Louis Fiset <[email protected]>

The Nikkei Experience in the Pacific Northwest
May 5-7, 2000
Seattle, Washington

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 MacArthur’s 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 doesn’t pass, the education of JACL membership that came along through this process was very significant—with 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.

Continue the article here

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.

From Kenji Taguma <[email protected]>

It’s 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, I’ve been contacted by four news agencies this week for background and/or comments on the situation.

NHK, Japan’s equivalent of PBS television, is going to do a story on resisters (and also redress for Japanese military atrocities, another issue I’m involved in). Also Japan’s Sankei Shimbun (their Los Angeles bureau) is working on a piece.Noboru Taguma and Hideo Takeuchi

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
Executive Director
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.”

Frank Emi
March 1, 1944
from inside Heart Mountain concentration camp

Thank you for your consideration,

Frank Abe

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 today’s 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 JACL’er Shim Hiroto and say hello again to the always-lively Fred Hirasuna, both family friends of our show’s 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. That’s 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 that’s done and sent off to the PBS pipeline we can really bear down on sharing the research that went into our script.

Update: Sunday, September 5, 1999
Here’s this week’s story from the Pacific Citizen on the Central California District JACL rejection of the National JACL apology to the resisters.

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
ITVS logoWe 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.


News updates in 1998

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

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

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

Update: August 6, 1998

From: John Streamas

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

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

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

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

From: Eric Muller 
[email protected]

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

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

Again, congrats on a lovely website.   

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

Update: August 20, 1998

This just in… courtesy of Kenji Taguma.

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

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

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

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

Update: Sept. 30, 1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From “Robert Ito” <[email protected]>

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

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

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

Best wishes, Robert Ito

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

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

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

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

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