Conscience and the Constitution


JACL Postpones Resisters Ceremony
May is Possible New Date for Event

Assistant Editor
Pacific Citizen, February 1-14, 2002

Difficulties in raising funds, securing a keynote speaker and reserving a facility room have prompted JACL to postpone indefinitely a public ceremony to recognize the World War II Nisei resisters of conscience as mandated by a resolution passed at the 2000 national convention in Monterey, Calif.

Under the resolution, JACL is directed to hold a public ceremony by the next national convention, which is scheduled for June. An ad-hoc committee organizing the event has requested a postponement, possibly until May. The ad-hoc committee is co-chaired by Alan Teruya, NCWNP governor who was appointed to chair the committee by National JACL President Floyd Mori in January 2001, and by Andy Noguchi from the Florin chapter who was asked to assist as co-chair in November.

“I’ve left it up to Northern California to organize and put this together,” said Mori, who added that NCWNP was selected because the resolution originated from that district. Mori initially requested a ceremony to be held in San Francisco on Feb. 10 to coincide with a national board meeting scheduled that same weekend at JACL headquarters. But limited funds have restricted the committee’s abilities, particularly in renting out a reasonably priced event space. One possibility for the February event had been to reserve the multi-purpose gymnasium/facility at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California. But Teruya said the space was booked for basketball league games during the Feb. 9-10 weekend and that it was difficult to locate another facility at a similar rate.

As a result, the ceremony became the latest national event to feel the ramifications of JACL’s financial crisis. While the resolution’s fiscal impact report allocates $7,500 in membership dues to underwrite the ceremony, national has been struggling to meet basic operational needs, resulting in numerous national programs and projects to be put on hold or cut back.

In an effort to help find other funding sources for the ceremony, the national board passed a resolution at the November board meeting, requesting the districts to financially support the event. But because more funds are needed, the committee at a Jan. 26 meeting agreed to initiate a grassroots fund-raising campaign, said Noguchi. He noted that this campaign is not meant to compete against any fund-raising efforts being run by the national office.

The committee also decided not to set a new date or location until an appropriate keynote speaker can be located, said Teruya. “Members of the committee felt that it was important to get a speaker of stature, which would really provide the reconciliation needed for this ceremony,” said Teruya. “Until that happens, we can’t commit to a date.”

National JACL Executive Director John Tateishi has been asked by the committee to assist in locating a keynoter. One name that has cropped up repeatedly within the committee and broader community as a possible speaker has been Sen. Daniel Inouye. Noguchi said there is a sense in the community that Inouye, a 442nd veteran, would have the ability to “bring people together and help in the healing process.”

Whether or not Inouye’s schedule will allow him to appear at a West Coast ceremony remains to be seen. “A lot of names have been tossed out,” said Tateishi. “Daniel Inouye is one. Norman Mineta is another. And several other names have been tossed out. But it’s a matter of important people having busy schedules and whether we can get them out to the West Coast. We’ll just have to wait and see … It’s not a real simple process because we’re trying to get a keynote speaker of some stature to make a major statement out of this.” 

With only five months left until the next national convention, the committee has also discussed the possibility of holding the ceremony at the Las Vegas convention in June. But both Teruya and Noguchi noted that the consensus among committee members was that they did not feel this would be appropriate. 

Pointing to the controversial nature of the subject matter, Teruya felt that a ceremony at the convention would become mired in negative debate rather than be a positive educational forum.

“We basically did not want to see the same debate that occurred at the last convention brought up again,” said Teruya. “The national council made their decision and we don’t want to try to debate the whole issue over again.” 

Noguchi added that holding the ceremony at a non-JACL venue would also allow a broader audience to attend. “We wanted to reach out to the larger Nikkei community and not just to the JACL, given that many resisters and their families are not in JACL,” said Noguchi.

Anyone interested in financially supporting the ceremony is asked to send donations to JACL’s NCWNPD office, 1255 Post St., #727, San Francisco, CA 94019. Please indicate on the check that it is for the resisters’ ceremony.

© 2002 Pacific Citizen, reprinted by permission.


Updated: February 7, 2002