FOR RELEASE: March 17, 2000
contact: Frank Abe (206) 722-5971
It has taken eight years, but the first program to tell the complete story of the largest organized resistance to wartime incarceration is nearly ready for delivery to public television.
"When we started production in 1992 we were breaking new ground," says Frank Abe, producer/director of the forthcoming documentary, CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION. "Our ceremonial homecomings in San Jose and Los Angeles restored the resisters to the Nikkei consciousness. Now you cant pick up a vernacular newpspaer without reading letters still arguing the merits of their stand."
Full details on the production can be found on the CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION website at www.resisters.com.
Abe produced CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION for the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding was provided by the federal Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, the Motoda Foundation, the Anheuser-Busch Companies, and 45 Friends of the Fair Play Committee.
The one-hour program features Mits Koshiyama of San Jose, Yosh Kuromiya of Alhambra, and the late Dave Kawamoto of Cupertino, three of the 85 Nisei who refused to be drafted out of the concentration camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming. They were ready to fight for their country, but not before the government restored their rights as U.S. citizens and released their parents from camp. It was the largest organized resistance to incarceration, leading to the largest trial for draft resistance in U.S. history.
The government prosecuted them as criminals, and Japanese American leaders ostracized them as traitors. The resisters served two years in prison, and for the next 50 were written out of the popular history of Japanese America. Through their eyes we see into the heart of the Japanese American conscience and a public debate that is still alive today.
Providing leadership for the organized resistance was Frank Emi of San Gabriel, one of the two surviving leaders of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, and the late James Omura, the journalist who supported their principled stand and who was wrongly indicted with Emi for conspiring to counsel draft evasion. They are interviewed on screen, along with Gloria Kubota and Grace Kubota Ybarra of San Jose, wife and daughter of Guntaro Kubota, the only Issei member of the resistance leadership.
Historical perspective is provided by Professors Roger Daniels and Art Hansen, and by the late Michi Weglyn, author of YEARS OF INFAMY.
The program is narrated by poet Lawson Fusao Inada of Southern Oregon State College, with actor voices contributed by George Takei ("Star Trek") and Academy Award nominee Mako ("The Sand Pebbles," East/West Players).
Composer Alan Koshiyama of Rocklin, near Sacramento, has just completed the original score, creating more than half an hour of dramatic music to underline the story. Millions have heard Koshiyama's music in feature films, television movies for ABC-TV, documentaries for Turner Original Productions, and numerous commercials, movie trailers, and video games.
"We found Alan after a nationwide search. Only then did we discover that he is the nephew of Heart Mountain resister Mits Koshiyama," says Abe.
Abe is now developing an on-line Internet and CD-ROM study guide that shares the research that went into production of the documentary. This high technology project is supported by a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, created in 1999 by the California State Legislature and administered by the California State Library.
"CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION" is produced by Frank Abe for the Independent Television Service, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Updated: March 17, 2000