Conscience and the Constitution

Pacific Citizen, April 19-May 2, 2002 

Donations Show Support for Resisters Ceremony, Organizers Say


Organizers of a JACL ceremony recognizing the World War II resisters of conscience say they have received over $8,000 in donations to go towards the May 11 event to be held at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) in San Francisco. 

Donations have come both from within and outside of JACL, with individual members, chapters, districts, current and past national JACL officers, veterans and community members-at-large contributing, said Andy Noguchi, planning committee co-chair and president of the Florin chapter. 

“Our planning committee has been uplifted by the generosity of grassroots JACL members and community people,” Noguchi said. “We were initially concerned and delayed by the lack of financial support from the national JACL during its budget crisis.” 

Despite this crisis, the planning committee has received two anonymous $1,000 donations, the largest so far, as well as a $500 donation. Contributions are being used to cover the expenses of the program, and any leftover monies will be used to promote further public education about the resisters. 

“I am very happy with the donations we’ve received so far and have been surprised by the large contributions. I think it’s great that people feel that strongly about the ceremony,” said Alan Teruya, planning committee co-chair and NCWNPD governor. “I think it means that these members, chapters and districts in JACL are continuing the support they gave the resolution  when it passed in Monterey.” 

The controversial resolution, which recognized the stance taken by the Nisei resisters during WWII, was passed by a two-to-one vote by JACL chapters at the 2000 National Convention in Monterey, Calif.  

“We need to remember what the resolution does,” Teruya said. “It apologizes ‘for not acknowledging the resisters’ stand of protesting the denial of constitutional rights and for the pain and bitterness this caused." 

“The advances in civil rights made in the second half of the 20th century have shown us that there can be more than one way to stand up to an injustice, without one way being ‘right’ and another way being ‘wrong,’” he added. “The national council’s resolution recognizes that the resisters made a principled stand in fighting for the rights of the Japanese American community.” 

Noguchi added, “As the resolution states, though the JACL took a valid position supporting military service, its failure to recognize the resisters’ right to protest the mistreatment of Japanese Americans contributed to the ostracism they suffered.” 

He likened it to an estranged family working out its differences: “When a mistake is made in a family, you apologize and try to move forward with an eye towards keeping your family united and strong. That’s what I believe the JACL is doing today for the well being and defense of our community. In an era of increasing racial backlash, Japan-bashing and hate crimes, we can’t afford to be divided. If the U.S. government and President Reagan can admit a mistake and apologize, who says the JACL can’t do so also?”  

Noguchi also insisted the ceremony is not meant to be an affront to Nisei veterans or veterans groups who believe an “apology” is not necessary. “The JACL is not asking any other organization to make an apology. This wouldn’t make sense since few Japanese American organizations today existed back then.”

Speakers confirmed for the Recognition and Reconciliation Ceremony are Congressman Mike Honda, JACL National President Floyd Mori, Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee leader Frank Emi, as well as resisters, veterans and religious leaders.  

Commemorative gifts will be given to each resister or family member of a deceased resister who attends the ceremony, while educational displays will highlight the story of this often misunderstood group.

Sen. Daniel Inouye, a 442nd RCT veteran, will also send a videotaped message to be played at the ceremony, according to Patty Wada, NCWNP regional director.

Return to the News index of other related articles.


Updated: May 10, 2002