Conscience and the Constitution

An archive of past updates from our home page.

Update: Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Born in the USA coverMy review of Frank Chin's book on the resistance, Born in the USA, is now published in the special "A Tribute to Miné Okubo" issue of Amerasia Journal, Volume 30:2, 2004. It is available for $13 per issue plus tax and $4 handling from: UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press, 3230 Campbell Hall, Box 951546, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1546. For more information, call (310) 825-2968, e-mail or visit the center's Web site. However, by special permission, you can also read it here:

A story told in Born in the USA has journalists James Omura and Larry Tajiri prowling the hills of pre-war San Francisco late at night, dreaming about which of them would write “The Great Nisei Novel.” It would be an epic that spanned the immigration of their Issei parents and the appearance of the second-generation Nisei as a new breed of American. Little did they know how war with Japan would soon interrupt that social progress and place them on opposite sides of Japanese America’s response to expulsion and incarceration: whether to cooperate or resist. Read the rest of the review....

I would love to hear your response to the review or the book itself. Just use the e-mail us link above.

Update: Saturday, February 19, 2005
For the past several months, writer William Hohri has been developing the theory that it was illegal under the Selective Service Act of 1940 for the U.S. government to draft young Japanese American inmates while in the custody of the War Relocation Authority. He published his argument in the January 2005 issue of The Objector, in an article titled, "Free Us Before You Draft Us." He writes, "Someone was violating the law. And it was not the resisters. It's about time we recognized this." William shares with us a talk for today that for one reason or another was undelivered:

Day of Remembrance - UC Santa Barbara - 2005

Thanks for the invitation. It's been a while since my last talk.

For the purposes of this talk, I'd like to change "Day of Remembrance" to "Day of Reconsideration." Of course, we have already reconsidered the name of the camps from "Relocation Center" to "internment camp" or "concentration camp" or "prison camp." I would like us to reconsider the military conscription of young men from the camps. Was it legal? Was military service via the draft an act of patriotism by the draftee or an act of illegality by our government?

In entry 5 of the IV-F classification section of the Selective Service Act of 1940, one reads this requirement, (I quote) "Is being retained in the custody of criminal jurisdiction or other civil authority." (End of quote.) [emphasis mine] Were we internees "being retained in the custody of . . . other civil authority"? If we were, we should have been classified IV-F, as unsuited for military service. We were, instead, classified I-A, as suited to take subsequent steps, including the physical examination, to be accepted or rejected for military service. Most of the draft resisters resisted by refusing to take their physical exams.

Well, had we been retained in the custody of civil authority? The first place I looked for my answer was in my dog-eared, nth Xeroxed copy of The Evacuated People: A Quantitative Description, written by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the War Relocation Authority.

Section one begins with, (I quote) "Some 120,313 persons of Japanese descent came under the custody of the War Relocation Authority between May 8, 1942 (the date the Colorado River Relocation Center opened) and March 20, 1946 (the date Tule Lake closed)." (End of quote) So according to our government, the War Relocation Authority, had served as "other civil authority" that had held us in its custody. Hence, the draft age men should have been classified IV-F and not been draft eligible until they were no longer being held in camp and were living in free America.

Of course, the definition for this custody resides in Executive Order 9066 plus one of two Public Proclamations. Why the Public Proclamations? Well, if you read E.O.9066 carefully, you will notice that it only seems to order exclusion. The powers of the President of the United States delegates the power (I quote) "to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion." (End of quote)

Note that the main verbal expression is "may be excluded." This is followed by legally undefined subordinate verbs, "to enter, remain in, or leave." Of course, we remember E.O. 9066 by remembering it on or near the date of its being signed by President Franklin Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. But the subordinate verbs are implemented and legally defined in two Public Proclamations, number 8 and WD-1. WD-1 seems to be the most precise and does implement "to enter," "remain in," and "leave." (Note: proclamation 8 applied to camps within the jurisdiction of the Western Defense Command, while WD-1 applied to camps further inland in the states of Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas.) These proclamations were published several months later in August and October of 1942.

[Please note in advance of the following quotation that "War Relocaton Project Areas" is the term used for "camp sites."]

Paragraph b of WD-1 states, "All persons of Japanese ancestry . . . are required to remain within the bounds of said War Relocation Project Areas are required to remain within the bounds of said War Relocation Project Areas at all times unless specifically authorized to leave . . . ."

Thus, when E.O.9066 is combined with these proclamations, the relocation centers become detention camps. And the inmates of the camps are being held in the custody of the U.S. government and their young men should have been classified IV-F.

So, on this Day of Reconsideration, we should reconsider what it meant when 315 draft resisters tried to challenge the propriety of conscripting young men into military service after forcing them, with their families, into detention camps. They were charged with committing an illegality and punished accordingly. This is how most of us felt for the last 60 years. But they were, in fact, not violating the Selective Service Act of 1940. It was our government that was committing the illegality.

Update: Tuesday, March 1, 2005
Seattle Public Library
Two upcoming screenings in the Seattle area are tied to two regional reading programs, both centered on Julie Otsuka's 2002 novella, When the Emperor Was Divine. The Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library is having us screen in the citys' new world-class Downtown Library, in the Microsoft Auditorium, on Saturday afternoon, March 26, at 2:00 p.m. Read the news release. This one is part of "Reading Across the Map," a multi-year project to foster reading and discussion of works by authors from diverse cultures and ethnicities. Joining us for the post-film discussion will be Gene Akutsu, Minidoka resister and brother of the late Jim Akutsu,who is featured in our film.

Bellevue Community CollegeWe will be also be screening CONSCIENCE with a post-screening talk on the evening of March 22 at the Bellevue Regional Library, east of Seattle at 1111 - 110th Avenue NE, Meeting Room 1, in Bellevue. It's part of a faculty seminar and campus-wide programming, again tied to a discussion of the Otuska book as a common text, sponsored by Bellevue Community College with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanties. Gene Akutsu will also be joining us for this. Both screenings are free and open to the public.

Update: Thursday, March 24, 2005
The Seattle Times today published a capsule review of our film, in advance of our Saturday screening at the Seattle Public Library as part of the "Seattle Reads" program for Julie Otsuka's 2002 novel, When the Emperor Was Divine. You can read the full article here but this is book critic Michael Upchurch's take on our film:

First up is Frank Abe's "Conscience and the Constitution" (2000), about a group of draft-age internees who refused to volunteer for military service or, later, to be drafted, until their and their families' civil rights were restored. Abe, a former senior reporter for KIRO Newsradio and KIRO-TV, does a fine job of tracing how this draft-resistance arose, and how it became such a bitterly divisive issue within the Japanese-American community. The Japanese American Citizens League — which adapted more of a "my country right or wrong" attitude to internment and military service — was particularly harsh in its judgment of the draft resisters.

It would be more than 50 years before any reconciliation between the JACL and the draft resisters was effected. The eyewitnesses in this hourlong film are eloquent, wry and level-headed as they make their case about the constitutional principles at stake. Abe has done an admirable job of illuminating the issues behind the divisiveness. The film screens at 2 p.m. Saturday. Abe will be present for a post-film discussion.

Update: Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Our film continues to provide different points of entry and different perspectives for audiences across the country this year. Just after screenings for the "Seattle Reads" program, two more programs have picked up our story: university students in Minnesota, and another humanities program in a town north of Denver:

"I am the co-advisor for a student organization called Asian Students in Action at St. Cloud State University. They are organizing a week-long on-campus event in April called Social Activism in Asian America. As part of the event, I wanted to show your film on April 21 for a campus wide audience... I thought your film was important in discussing not only the issue of what constitutes an American and what it means to be loyal, but also the difficulties of social activism especially when it creates a division within the community. Moreover, your film itself is a perfect example of social activism – the use of documentaries to educate people."
-- Dr. Kyoko Kishimoto, Assistant Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies

"Just wanted to let you know that Conscience and the Constitution is a unit of a seven part series that the Estes Park Public Library Foundation will be presenting this summer. The Foundation has a We the People Grant from the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities that is titled "Pivotal Events in American Constitutional Hisotry: Their Impact on We the People." The video will be presented on July 30th"
-- Catherine K. Speer, Estes Park Public Library Foundation

Estes Park lies halfway between the cities of Denver and Cheyenne, Wyoming, which should make for a very meaningful local presentation. Denver was the wartime home for James Omura's Rocky Shimpo newspaper, and Cheyenne was the site for the federal conspiracy trial for Omura and the 7 leaders of the Fair Play Committee in 1944. The screening is to be followed by a discussion, "The Story of Japanese-American Detention and Civil Disobedience," led by Mrs. Lynn Young.

Update: Sunday, April 3, 2005
Fred Korematsu, N.Y. Times photo While the world is focused today on the death of the Pope, we also mourn the passing of Fred Korematsu last Wednesday at his daughter's home in Larkspur. Thanks to Roger Daniels for passing on the obit [Word doc., 49K] from the New York Times. In addition to his many public appearances on behalf of redress and his coram nobis case, Fred was a great supporter of the resisters, recognizing that they, like him, chose to use the courts as their wartime battlefield. We last saw Fred at the JACL apology ceremony in San Francisco in 2002. Our condolences to his wife Kathryn and their two children.

Update: Monday, April 11, 2005
Two educational forums are coming up in California this spring. At the Japanese American National Museum, its affiliated National Center for the Preservation of Democracy is preparing to open this fall. Our full-color poster and ITVS Viewers Guide for Conscience and the Constitution will be on display at two Educator Preview workshops on April 21 and April 23 aimed at helping Southern California instructors, as one workshop promises, "capitalize on young people's idealism while addressing their disengagement from civic institutions." Thanks to Teacher Programs Manager Allyson Nakamoto for including our materials on the resource tables, and for including our profiles and photos of Fair Play Committee members Ben Wakaye and Gloria Kubora, from our PBS Online site, in the activity cards for their forthcoming "Tool Kit" for teaching democracy and civic action, called "Fighting for Democracy."

graphic:  logo for California Civil Liberties Public Education ProgramOn June 2 Conscience will screen in San Francisco at the "Notice To All" symposium sponsored by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, a 4-day conference intended to acknowledge all the projects that program funded and get participants to help map out a course for its future. Producer/director Frank Abe will also be speaking on a panel from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. titled "Dissidence: Resisters and Renunciants" that will also feature scholar Eric Muller, author of Free to Die For Their Country, and some first-person testimonies from Nisei who chose, under wartime duress, to protest by renouncing their U.S. citizenship. More details later as the schedule shapes up.

Update: Thursday, April 21, 2005
Our good friend and columnist L.A. Chung of the San Jose Mercury-News wrote about this project at the time of our national broadcast. For her April 15 piece on the passing of Fred Korematsu, "Honoring an unheroic looking hero," Lisa knew her story well enough to get a reaction from a Tule Lake draft resister, Jimi Yamichi, who like the other resisters fought in court as a test case just as Fred did.
She also notes, "I'm proud to say, because of the number of Asian American staffers who knew of Fred's impact, the Mercury-News was the first in the Bay Area to report his death -- and the import of what he did in a news story that we ran on A3, our "second front page," not on the obituary page."

Our film continues to provide different points of entry and different perspectives for audiences across the country this year, including university students in Minnesota, a humanities program in a town north of Denver, and now a Chicana/o cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary art organization in San Diego:

logo: Voz Alta Project"I am writing to request permission to screen Conscience and the Constitution at the non-profit artspace Voz Alta as part of a series I am curating there called Movies That Matter … Because San Diego is a jumping off point for the Marines and also the site of a growing resistance movement (see the case of Pable Paredes, Ali Wassaf Hassoun, the Ya No project, Guerreroazteca project), I feel that Conscience and the Constitution has a very important message for people here. In addition, as a subtext to the video, as you know, there is a distinct parallel between the climate surrounding Japanese-Americans and Japanese residents during WWII and that facing Middle Eastern Americans today, and with San Diego as the location of a large Middle Eastern population, as well as a decidedly red slice of California, it would behoove us to think carefully abut what national paranoia and political manipulation are capable of … I am curating this series in an effort to get people to think about issues of civil liberty, race, media representation, and national conscience."
-- Rebecca Romani, Arabs Anonymous/No Hay Moros

Update: Friday, May 27, 2005
Just added to the California Conference program is a staged reading featuring Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee members Frank Emi, Yosh Kuromiya, and Mits Koshiyama. They will be using a script adapted by Momo from the Frank Chin original script, "A Conference of Japanese American Actors, Artists, Activists and Interested Critics [21 pages, 73K, .pdf] posted here last year. If you are anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area on this date, you will not want to miss this chance to see and hear from the men featured in our film:

A Divided Community
Friday, June 3, 2005, 7:00 - 7:45 p.m., Radisson Miyako Hotel
Momo Yashima, actor and activist, joins resistance leader Frank Emi, resister Yosh Kuromiya, veteran Paul Tsuneishi, and resister Mits Koshiyama in a recounting of the climate of the Japanese American experience leading up to World War II. This 45-minute performance will recall the circumstances that led to the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee's decision to resist the illegal draft of incarcerated men. Free and open to the public. Reservations recommended. Seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

In one of our more unusual venues, the Seattle City Council will screen our film during a brown bag luncheon, as a supplement to their recent reading of Julie Otuska's fine novel, When The Emperor Was Divine.

Update: Tuesday, May 31, 2005
The lineup is now set for our panel from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. titled "Dissidence: Resisters and Renunciants" at the "Notice To All" symposium. Here is the synopsis for the panel:

Many grew up believing that Japanese Americans did not protest or resist the injustice of their World War II incarceration. The reality is that tens of thousands did, but the Japanese American community suppressed their stories in favor of a narrative that stressed patriotism ad loyalty. This panel examines the stories of the draft resisters, the no-nos and the nearly 6,000 renunciants at Tule Lake –the missing pages from our history—the stories that demonstrate Japanese American resistance to injustice.

Speakers will be scholar Eric Muller, author of Free to Die For Their Country, producer/director Frank Abe, Barbara Takei, author of Tule Lake Revisited, Hank Naito, a former renunciant from the Tule Lake Segregation Center, and poet and camp playwright Hiroshi Kashiwagi.

AsianWeek recently published a review of what is by all accounts a superficial and stereotypical attempt at Broadway musical called Making Tracks. Click on the link to see how the author of "How to Rewrite Asian American History 101" went out of her way to make mention of the Heart Mountain resisters and include, in the print version, then-and-now photos of Mits Koshiyama.

Update: Wednesday, June 8, 2005
Notice to All logoCalifornia was where it was happening last week for the study of the internment, at the "Notice To All" symposium sponsored by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program. It was incredible to find old friends doing new and exciting things, and meet new friends with ideas and energy. It was also inspiring, as the meeting gave us all ideas of how to frame new projects, and to seek out new collaborations. Congratulations to the Advisory Board for a well thought-out program and to Paul Osaki and staff of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California for the successful execution. Thanks to Greg Robinson for reading and recommending it to others at the conference as a place to find the Lim Report online.

Click here to read the remarks I made for our panel titled "Dissidence: Resisters and Renunciants."

Our topic today is Dissidence. This is a meaty topic because history has shown that Japanese America has zero tolerance for dissent: then and now. But thanks in part to Civil Liberties programs at the federal and state levels, the stories of the resisters and renunciants are finally being restored to their proper place in history.

The title for our panel is Lesser Known Stories of the Internment. If these are Lesser Known Stories, what then is the Best Known Story? That’s easy. It’s the JACL master narrative, the one that says our response to this massive violation of 20th century civil rights was either passive resignation – shikataganai, it can’t be helped – or patriotic self-sacrifice – Go For Broke, spill your blood to prove your loyalty. Read more.

Professor Eric Muller in our panel had a very pointed comment: that it is time to drop the false distinctions between loyal and disloyal that were forced on us by the wartime government and which we then, with help from the JACL, internalized among ourselves. He said when victims take on the frame of the perpetrator, when they can’t get back at the perpetrator, they turn on each other. He said what happend with the renunciants and no-no's was not a crisis of loyalty, but a crisis of faith in our country.

Update: Wednesday, June 15, 2005
staged reading by resisters

The photo above is from the staged reading of "A Divided Community," featuring [from left to right] WW2 veteran Paul Tsuneishi, Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee members Yosh Kuromiya, Frank Emi, and Mits Koshiyama, and actor Momo Yashima. They read from a script adapted by Momo from the Frank Chin original script, "A Conference of Japanese American Actors, Artists, Activists and Interested Critics [21 pages, 73K, .pdf] posted here last year. Click here to see an enlarged view [48K]. Thanks to my brother Steve Abe for the photo. And see a photo [59K] of our panel on Dissidence.

The Seattle City Council recently screened our film during a brown bag luncheon, as a supplement to their recent reading of Julie Otuska's fine novel, When The Emperor Was Divine:

logo: Seattle City Council"There were audible gasps during the showing --and many sat in silence long after its completion. I'm so impressed with that work, Frank. It's a great piece that will endlessly inform and educate. It impressively communicates that there were heros fighting for freedoms on our own soil when the nation was at war ostensibly to defend freedom! I believe the ultimate outcome of their struggle was to reveal that the fight for justice against oppression will always be necessary. Your piece effectively shows the almost overwhelming challenge these gentle people bravely faced when they stepped forward with commitment to ethically respond to their oppression with honesty. It's a simple story really, but powerful. Thanks, so much Frank. I hope you know what you've contributed. It's a great piece of work. Much admiration."
-- Jackie O'Ryan, Communications Specialist, The Seattle City Council

AsianWeek recently published a review of what is by all accounts a superficial and stereotypical attempt at Broadway musical called Making Tracks. Click on the link to see how the author of "How to Rewrite Asian American History 101" went out of her way to make mention of the Heart Mountain resisters and include, in the print version, then-and-now photos of Mits Koshiyama.

Update: Saturday, September 17, 2005
Jack Herzig, courtesy Japanese American Veterans AssociationI have been out of circulation the past five weeks and just catching up to the sad news of the passing of a critical figure in Japanese American history and a consultant on early cuts of our film. Jack Herzig and his wife Aiko Yoshinaga-Herzig dug into the National Archives to unearth the first version of Gen. John deWitt's "Final Report" on the expulsion and incarceration with an incriminating footnote edited out of the final version, a fact used to successfully show how the government suppressed and altered evidence in the Supreme Court test case of Fred Korematsu. Jack also took it on himself to study the U.S. intercepts of secret Japanese cables, the MAGIC cables, revealing unsuccessful Japanese military desires to turn some connections with Japanese American business and cultural societies into espionage links. Jack testified before the Congressional commission studying redress, and as the Rafu Shimpo put it in 2003, 'he went into considerable detail and destroyed, for all practical purposes, the ill-founded allegation that the MAGIC cables 'proved' the Japanese Americans were disloyal." News of his passing was carried nationwide by the Associated Press. Paul Tsuneishi was the first to alert us:

There was a goodly crowd (100+) at the memorial service at the Green Hills Memorial Park south of Rancho Palos Verdes...a beautiful cemetery that Aiko and I had gone to a few years ago for another burial. Of course, there were JA veterans including the head of JAVA, who flew in from the East Coast...and other folks who came down from SF...etc...His widow, Aiko spoke, of course, as well as her children and veterans and others....During the after service luncheon in Gardena, a microphone was provided for persons to speak about Jack... I took the opportunity to state that the work of Jack and Aiko Herzig and Walter and Michi Weglyn in undearthing government files to prove that there was NO NEED to put us in concentration camps...was key to redress.... I had the opportunity to conduct an oral interview of Jack and Aiko Herzig when they flew out here from the East coast (they moved to Gardena a little over a year ago to be near her children and relatives) about 5 years ago...for my oral interview which a copy goes to the JANM and the Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation, and Art Hansen for educational/interpretive purposes... My wife Aiko and I sat with Art Hansen during the service..Frank Chin was there, of course....

And this observation from Frank Chin himself, on what was left out of the print obit:

Note in your note on the the death of Jack Herzig that he served in the Pacific theater with the 503rd Parachute RCT. Yes, he was a paratrooper. He had won the paratrooper's badge and two marksman's badges. I didn't handle them and don't know for what --pistol, rlfle- he had won them, or what grade-marksman, sharpshooter, or expert he had won. He was a company commander, a well liked company commander, from what I can tell. . Among his decorations were a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters. He fought the Japanese, was wounded by the Japanese, in the Phillippines I think.. His service and his decorations were not mentioned by anyone or anywhere. I saw them at the funeral. He was buried with them. I think they deserve mention. He was discharged as a Lt. Col.

Ben Kuroki, courtesy Lincoln Journal StarCongratulations to another military figure connected to our film. Nisei war hero Sgt. Ben Kuroki, who graciously agreed to appear in Conscience and share his story, has recently been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the U.S. Army's third-highest decoration, in ceremonies in his old home state of Lincoln, Nebraska. See the articles in the Lincoln Journal Star and KOLN-TV, the CBS affilliate in Lincoln. Thanks to Professor Art Hansen for tipping me off to that.

Update: Wednesday, November 16, 2005
This coming Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles you will have a rare chance to see and hear three of the original resisters from the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee members in a live dramatic reading. Yosh Kuromiya, Frank Emi, and Mits Koshiyama, in the center of the photo posted on June 15 above, will be joined by WW2 veteran Paul Tsuneishi (far left) and actors Momo Yashima (far right) and Mike Hagiwara in a reading of "A Divided Community." The event will be held Saturday, November 19, from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m., at Centenary United Methodist Church, 300 South Central Avenue at the SE corner of Third, in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo.

The setting is a familiar one, being the same location of our first resisters' homecoming event in L.A. in 1993, another staged reading called "The Return of the Fair Play Committee" which can be glimpsed briefly at the end of our film, Conscience and the Constitution. The script is one adapted by Momo from the Frank Chin original script, "A Conference of Japanese American Actors, Artists, Activists and Interested Critics [21 pages, 73K, .pdf] posted here last year. Click here to see an enlarged view [48K] of the photo, taken at the premiere of "A Divided Community" last summer in San Francisco. The material covers much of the same material presented in our film and in Frank Chin's book Born in the USA -- the Nisei draft resistance in WW2 and its suppression by the govenrment and the wartime Japanese American Citizens League. As described in the publicity flier:

"This reading focuses on the Government’s persecution of Japanese America and the resulting choices made within the community. Based on historical facts that have been withheld from us for over 60 years, these OCTAGENARIANS who lived through those times share their thoughts and reasons why they chose to fight the Government and the draft."

Saturday's reading is hosted by "Lil Tokyo 4 Peace" and is billed as a special preview performance. That's because the program will be repeated on March 11, 2006, at the Japanese American National Museum in their new National Center for the Preservation of Democracy.

Update: Saturday, November 26, 2005
Frank Chin once wrote a one-act play for Pat Morita, a brilliant tour-de-force recounting the story of Morita spending the first part of WW2 in a sanitorium. It was called "The Comic," but it was such a departure Morita was evidently never willing to perform it. Pat Morita passed away on Thanksgiving Day. You can read his obituaries in the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press. But for a remembrance that only Frank Chin could offer, looking back to a Thanksgiving weekend we all shared 27 years ago, here is what Frank sent today:

I got a call this morning Pat Morita was dead.

We became friends off the set of FAREWELL TO MANZANAR. He phoned me. Said he'd seen me on the set. He'd overheard an extra take me aside and say, "I've been inside like you!" and offer me a joint.

"You've been inside?" Pat said over the phone.

"Nothing serious. County time."

Pat was lovable, drunk, high by one in the afternoon, my friend and a coward. But still I asked him to let me put his name on the poster announcing the DAY OF REMEMBRANCE. If Pat Morita is a participant, standing for redress can't be that dangerous.

Pat Morita came up to Seattle with Mako and Momo Yashima and Ralph Brannan to be Japanese-American stars unafraid to share the word "redress" with their names on the same poster. The Day of Remembrance was staged onThanksgiving weekend, at "the camp on the edge of town" to dramatise that Japanese-Americans wanted redress from the government that had put them in camp.

Japanese America was so jittery about participating in the Day of Remembrance, that no one would commit to meeting at Sick's Stadium parking lot in Seattle and carvaning 40 miles out to Puyallup. We had gotten the National Guard to participate. We had the Washingston State Patrol set to escort the caravan to Puyallup. And David Ishii had offered his bookstore as the Day of Remembrance phone number for all questions, all information. But when I picked Pat and Mako up at the hotel and drove them to Sick's Stadium parking lot, I prepared them for a miniscule turnout.

2,000 people showed up. Seattle counted 10,000 Japanese Americans in their population. Two thousand on Thanksgiving weekend was pretty good. The caravan was three and half miles long. The Mayor spoke. The candidate for congress spoke. A Sansei lawyer spoke. Mako was a hit reading in Japanese from a Japanese diary. Then it was Pat's turn at the mike. In front of Pat was a section of seats that I had packed full of old Issei and old Nisei wearing glasses, holding canes, and looking old. Pat with his porkpie pulled down over his glasses looked out, over the faces in front him and said, "I haven't seen so many Japs since camp!"

The local JACL jerked their backs up straight, and shouted, "Get Frank Chin!" Luckily they weren't on mike. Why me? It was Pat that said the" J" word out loud.

Pat has shown his courage at things I organized for redress by unfailingly showing up with the same combination of fear, booze, dope and coke. He had a two handed way of handling the glass, the joint, and the powdery substance. And in his way, he helped make every event a success.

Frank Chin

Last Saturday in Los Angeles three of the original resisters from the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee members took part in a live dramatic reading of "A Divided Community." Organiizer Momo Yashima said it went very well:

The audience was a very mixed age range crowd and they all enjoyed it immensely. Mako came to see it and said it was much improved ... He likes the fact that these non-actors have lived thru the experience and have lived to tell the tale. So those are my boyz ... Mits Koshiyama came down for the reading and he looks so good! It's funny- since I began this project, all of us. me included, just keep getting better and stronger. Do you think it's the subject matter or just the fact that we're righting a wrong?

Update: Saturday, December 24, 2005
David Ishii BooksellerThe end of the year brings the end of an era in the Pacific Northwest. David Ishii Bookseller is hanging up his fishing hat and closing his world-famous bookstore after 33 years in Seattle's Pioneer Square.
David's store became a mecca for Asian American writers and Japanese American redress activists as both movements burgeoned in the 70's. He was our public face for the first "Day of Remembrance" and the Open Letter to Hayakawa paid ad, for which hundreds of people sent small checks and letters in 1979 addressed to "Dear David Ishii" imploring him to keep fighting the good fight for history and redress.

David Ishii Bookseller signDavid provided a haven for writers, poets, actors and artists and hung their signed portraits alongside a framed John Okada photograph and the baseball cards of the Baltimore Orioles' Lenn Sakata. David is immortalized as Milton Shiro in Frank Chin's novel, Gunga Din Highway. Read the Seattle Times story, "Bookstore's closing 'the end of an era,'" and also learn his entire from a 2004 Times magazine profile called simply, "David Ishii, Bookseller." Ever since the news broke, book lovers and friends have stood in line at David's store for his final half-price sale. He'll now have time to visit friends, go to afternoon matinees, and as he puts it, just "futz around." Thanks to Shannon Gee for the photos.

Read our news archive: 2005 | 2004 |2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998


Updated: December 24, 2005

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