About the JACL apology to the Heart Mountain resisters
Our film, Conscience and the Constitution, ends with the on-screen tag, "In July 2000, the national Japanese
American Citizens League voted to apologize for its suppression of wartime
resistance. Several JACL old-timers walked out in protest."
Saturday, May 11, 2002, about 300 people filled the gym at the San Francisco
Japanese American Community and Cultural Center for the
Nisei Resisters of Conscience of World War II Recognition and
Reconciliation Ceremony. Watch a 73-second QuickTime clip of the
words of apology from National JACL President Floyd Mori (the image is
muddy and due to an error in editing there is distracting double audio in
places, but it will be awhile before we can recut it)
Read the full speech.
QuickTime video clip of Heart Mountain resistance leader
Frank Emi's remarks in response to the JACL
Emi graciously acknowledged the reconciliation, but then
raised the stakes by challenging JACL to address the question of its
wartime collaboration with incarceration, and
apologizing to the entire community for its policy of compliance with expulsion
and initial waiver of civil rights for an entire people. Read
the full speech.
is Emi's closing:
wish to extend my appreciation to the JACL for sponsoring this ceremony. As a
organization, I believe it is a step in the right direction.
Having said that, I think it
would be entirely appropriate for JACL to go one step further and hold a similar
program directed towards the Japanese American community for the excesses
committed by wartime JACL leaders, such as acting as informants for the
government causing many innocent people to suffer, as recorded in the
I believe such action would
finally put to rest, JACL's unholy ghosts of the past and would be a worthy way
to start the 21st century.
The United States government
apologized for their wartime excesses. Can JACL do less?"
That was unexpected, but
on reflection it is typical Frank Emi. Never afraid to take a stand. It is his
image, by the way, at the top of this page.
thoughts were immediately echoed and expanded upon on stage by fellow
resister Yosh Kuromiya. Read the full
speech by Yosh.
event was remarkable for a number of reasons:
The event captured the
imagination of the media locally, nationally, and even worldwide. Effective
outreach by Keith Kamisugi and his Resisters.net site caught the attention of
editors who framed this as another WW2 "sixty years later" reconciliation story.
Japanese NHK-TV was there, as was the Wall Street Journal and many local
broadcast and print media.
The event succeeded in
drawing out 21 draft resisters from Heart Mountain, Amache and even the lone
resister from Jerome, Joe Yamakido, who told me he just wanted to see it but
didn't want to be introduced. We got his name to the organizers, and after he
came up to receive his ceremonial gift and returned to his seat high in the
bleachers, his daughter gave him a big hug and wiped away her own tears. It was
also a shock to finally get to meet George Kurasaki, Halley Minoura, Bob
Nagahara, and other
Heart Mountain resisters who are in the courtroom photo but never wanted to come
out in public until now.
JACL National President
Floyd Mori (pictured above) and Executive Director John Tateishi took a great risk in fulfilling the
membership's mandate to hold a public ceremony.
Twelve years ago it would have been unthinkable to
see the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee admitted as a group to a JACL
meeting, much less be the center of honor and attention. Even when Frank Emi and
Mits Koshiyama spoke at the 1994 JACL convention in Salt Lake City, there was an
uneasy air about the invitation and a local white scholar was brought in to
mediate the proceedings. In the 20th century a convention resolution deemed
ill-advised by the Nisei old guard would have simply been redirected or
undermined by JACL leadership.
By following their own consciences, and the
mandate of their members, Mori and Tateishi have elevated the JACL of today to a
new level of credibility as the civil rights organization it has strived to be
Nakagawa of the Pacific Citizen and Kenji Taguma of the Nichi Bei Times
wrote the most knowledgeable reports on the ceremony, which are linked
The Associated Press sent award-winning news photographer Paul Sakuma
to the ceremony, and you can see four
of his photos online.
are links to online news coverage, updated on June 7, 2002:
Citizen, "Historic Apology
Marks First Step in Reconciliation Between JACL and Resisters of Conscience,"
by Martha Nakagawa, May 17
Pacific Time, a radio commentary by Kenji Taguma, May 16
Bei Times, "Historic
JACL Ceremony Recognizing WWII Resisters Called a "First Step"
by Kenji Taguma, May 14
Francisco Chronicle, "Japanese
Americans Reunited:An apology to those who fought another battle,"
by Ryan Kim, May 12
San Jose Mercury-News, "Salving
a wartime wound: draft resisters win apology for principled stand,"
by Lori Aratani, with color photo, May 12
Associated Press, "Sixty
years later, an apology to Japanese-American resisters,"
by Michelle Locke, May 11, with four
AP Photos taken by Paul Sakuma.
San Jose Mercury-News,
"Apology helps in community's healing," page one preview
by Lori Aratani, May 11, 2002
Sacramento Bee, "Seeking
to mend an old division," by Herbert A. Sample, May 10, 2002
Voice of America News, "Japanese-American
Group Apologizes to Wartime Draft Resisters," by Mike O'Sullivan,
which links to a RealMedia audio file of a radio interview
with Frank Emi, Paul Tsuneishi, and Frank Abe, May 11, 2002
KRON-TV, Channel 4, San Francisco, "JACL
To Apologize To WWII Draft Refusers," by Vic Lee, May 9, 2002
Asian Diversity Web site, "Japanese
Civil Rights Group Apologizes To WWII Draft Resisters," by
Chan Cho, May 9, 2002
Associated Press, "Japanese
Group to Give Draft Apology," by Deborah Kong, May 2, 2002
Go to the
past updates leading up to the JACL
DOCUMENTS | STUDY CENTER |
NEWS | LINKS
| ABOUT US | E-MAIL
June 1, 2011