Rambler’s Nemesis: “The Lim Report”

Rambler’s Nemesis: “The Lim Report”

by William Hohri
Rafu Shimpo, August 28, 2002

© 2002 by William Hohri. Reprinted by permission of the author. 

The Lim Report book coverI examined the new book, “The Lim Report: A Research Report of Japanese Americans in American Concentration Camps During World War II.” (Is “of” the proper preposition? “On” fits and sounds better.) The lengthy subtitle misses the mark. The book’s report was the result of a JACL resolution enacted at its biennial 1988 National Convention that said in part, “that the JACL recognize that a number of our community citizens were injured by persons acting individually and in the name of the JACL and that the JACL apologizes for their injuries, pain, and injustice born[e] by them . . .” Instead of enacting the resolution, the convention ordered that a study be performed and a report produced in order to provide the facts to help the 1990 convention in deliberating such an apology. So the report quotes documents that describe the relationships of the JACL and its leaders to the FBI, Naval Intelligence, and other law enforcement agencies in which the former helped the latter to gather the names of potentially disloyal JAs and Japanese before Pearl Harbor and its aftermath. (See what follows for an alternative sub-title.)

The book’s publisher, interestingly, is not shown. I’ll get to his name soon enough. The author, however, is identified on the cover as “Deborah K. Lim, 1990.”  I am not sure just what is meant by “1990.”  It could be the year in which the report was written. If so, it should appear with the title. But why must the title be modified by the year? There is only one version of the official report.

This book’s report is not that report. This book contains the first draft of the report before it was subjected to scrutiny by the JACL’s Presidential Select Committee that oversaw its writing. The first draft is often identified as the 95-page version. The members of the committee read the draft and suggested changes for Lim to make and gave her more questions to investigate and answer.  Lim made the changes and added the questions and her answers, plus the list of resources she used for her research. The official report emerged with 154 pages and in time for its destination: the JACL’s 1990 National Convention in San Diego. Oddly enough, but not surprisingly, the report never made it to this convention.

The history of the report is covered in an introduction. The book identifies me as the introduction’s author. True, but I never gave Francis Sogi, the publisher, my permission to use my introduction. Even worse, he made unauthorized changes. For example, Sogi deleted this sentence about the report: “Its contents were filled with unintended but well-documented disclosures of the League’s seriously flawed pre-war and wartime behavior.”

This book is the end product of an earlier publishing effort. Last year I was working with Francis Sogi in preparing a new version of the report for publication as a book. In November 2001, I terminated my relationship to the publication effort over some issues and withdrew my contributions. I think this unpublished book would have been interesting. It was to show the first version of the report overlaid by the changes made by the PSC that resulted in the final version. By doing this, the reader would see what effect the changes had and provide, perhaps, some insight into the thinking of the Presidential Select Committee. This unpublished book was also to include the additional questions and answers as an appendix. And the list of resources was to appear in its introduction. Sogi and I disagreed on the book’s subtitle. I proposed the full title, “The Lim Reports: Unintended Revelations of the Japanese American Citizens League.” I thought it was accurate and descriptive. Sogi didn’t like it. Sogi was the publisher. As far as I was concerned, the project was finished.  But not for Sogi.

He apparently downloaded the first version of the report from one of two websites that contain it:  www.resisters.com and www.javoice.com (Ed.: This link no longer works).  The download probably included my introduction.  He then converted these into a book.  The website source is apparent from the design of the endnotes.  The website version was designed for readers to access one section at a time, with the endnotes placed at the end of each section.  This makes sense for a website.  But in a book, the endnotes usually appear at the end of the book.  This book has the endnotes at the end of each section.  Also, the introduction is the same one I wrote for the website.  (Indeed, I converted the first version of “The Lim Report” along with my introduction into HTML, the language of the internet, placed both on a diskette, and mailed the diskette to Frank Abe who runs www.resisters.com. And Frank loaded them to resisters.com.)

By now you will realize that this is not a book review. This is a partial account of the machinations involved in getting a book published. If this were a review I would give the publisher low marks for a sloppy, even inept, job of book design and editing: the subtitle, the writing of a misleading preface, the piracy of the introduction, the odd placement of endnotes, and the inconsistent use of indentation of substantial quotations. One wonders if Sogi ever read the finished product. One wonders if the author ever read the finished product that bears her name and copyright.

Nevertheless, I still recommend the book to those interested in this pre-war and wartime history of the JACL and Japanese America and the dangers of trying too hard to prove one’s loyalty and patriotism in time of war. Besides, copies may be obtained free-of-charge.

Free copies may be obtained via (Ed: Here William gave an email and mailing address, neither of which are current.)

© 2002 by William Hohri. Reprinted by permission of the author. 

The history and literature of Japanese American resistance to wartime incarceration

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