Document Sample

                       by Dale Ikeda

          It is truly an honor for me to tell the story of
Japanese Americans interned during World War II and their
successful campaign for Redress.   (“Redress” is a concept
rooted in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It
is the right of the people to petition the government for
redress of grievances.)   The story starts with the policy
of exclusion and the forced removal of more than 120,000
Americans of Japanese ancestry, mostly citizens, from the
West Coast. It ends with the enactment and implementation
of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (“Act” or “Redress
Legislation”).   The House of Representatives passed the
Act, on the 200th Anniversary of the signing of the
Constitution. The House bill was numbered HR 442, in honor
of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-volunteer
Japanese American unit that fought in Europe during World
War II.

          How   could  such   a   small   ethnic  community
consisting of far less than 1 percent of the population
succeed in a national campaign resulting in a letter of
apology from the President of the United States and token
monetary payments of $20,000 to each of the survivors?
Some might say that it was a fortunate set of events, like
wheels of a slot machine randomly lining up to pay out a
jackpot. In my opinion, Redress succeeded through efforts
of many people that spanned over five decades, including
folks from Central California. Some of the heroes of this
story include a decorated U.S. Senator, a soldier from
Santa Ana killed in action, several lawyers and judges, and
a retired teacher.    It is truly an American story that
reaffirms some of our core values of justice, equality, and
fundamental fairness.

          A good story usually has a villain or two. This
story is no exception.     The chief villain was General
John D. DeWitt, the U.S. general who issued the exclusion
orders.    His orders were encouraged by the California
Attorney General, authorized by the President, sanctioned
by Congress, and upheld by the highest court in the land.
The supporting cast of characters include Earl Warren,
Franklin D. Roosevelt, William O. Douglas and Felix

Frankfurter, some of the most respected names in American
government and jurisprudence.


          On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
Congress declared war against Japan the following day.
Japanese Americans had a double dose of fears, fear that
the country was under attack and fear about how their
neighbors and their government would react to them, a
racially identifiable community with ancestral roots to the
enemy.    Some believed that Japanese Americans posed a
security risk, that they could be disloyal and commit acts
of sabotage and espionage.    One of those was Earl Warren,
California’s Attorney General at the time.       He was an
ardent advocate of the removal of Japanese Americans from
California. He later became Governor of California and was
appointed Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court
where he acquired a reputation as a “liberal” and presided
over an “activist” court.    (Warren Burger later expressed
regret for his involvement in the removal of the Japanese

          On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt, acting
as Commander-In-Chief, issued Executive Order No. 9066
(“Executive Order”) authorizing the Secretary of War and
military commanders designated by him to establish military
areas from which certain persons might be excluded as a
security measure. Congress passed legislation on March 21,
1942, making it a misdemeanor for a person to disobey
military orders issued pursuant to the Executive Order.

          The   Secretary   of  War,   Henry  L.  Stimson,
designated General John D. DeWitt as military commander of
the Western Defense Command.     On March 2, 1942, General
DeWitt established “Military Area No. 1,” which included
the western parts of California, Oregon and Washington and
the southern part of Arizona.

          Beginning on March 24, 1942, General DeWitt
issued a series of orders applying to persons of Japanese
ancestry residing in Military Area No. 1.      These orders
included the establishment of a curfew for Japanese
Americans between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.; a
requirement that such persons report to “assembly centers”;
and, a requirement that such persons leave designated areas
in the military area to “relocation centers” established

further inland. The concentration camps in which Japanese
Americans were imprisoned were located in desolate and
isolated places such as Manzanar and Tule Lake in
California; Minidoka in Idaho; Topaz in Utah; Poston and
Gila in Arizona; Heart Mountain in Wyoming; Grenada in
Colorado; and Jerome and Rohwer in Arkansas. The internees
lived behind barbwire fences under military control. Guard
towers with soldiers armed with rifles and machine guns
were located around the perimeter of the camps.

          General   DeWitt  justified   the  exclusion   of
Japanese Americans from the West Coast on the grounds that
“a Jap’s a Jap.”       In a draft report justifying the
exclusion orders, General DeWitt stated there was “no way”
to distinguish the loyal from the disloyal.     This racist
comment was changed in the final report to say there was
“no time” to do so. Both propositions were refuted by the
Federal Bureau of Investigations and other governmental
agencies, but General DeWitt ignored such information.
During the five months between the attack on Pearl Harbor
and removal, there were no acts of sabotage or espionage by
Japanese Americans.

          The Japanese Americans were removed from the West
Coast and held in so-called “relocation centers” for almost
three years during the war.    I’ve brought a copy of the
Notice of Civilian Exclusion Order No. 33 issued by General
DeWitt dated May 3, 1942. It instructs persons of Japanese
ancestry, both alien and “non-alien” (citizens) to report
to assembly centers within two days.        They were only
allowed to take what they could carry.    Locally, assembly
centers were established at the Fresno Fairgrounds and in
Pinedale.   For reasons beyond comprehension, residents of
Washington and Oregon were brought to Pinedale from their
cool climate to suffer in the heat of Fresno’s summer
without air conditioning. Several people died.

          Perhaps it would give some context if I mentioned
my family’s history.    My dad and uncle grew up north of
Clovis and graduated from Clovis High School.            My
grandfather was the foreman at Alta Sierra Ranch, now site
of Buchanan High School and residential subdivisions.
Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, my uncle joined the
U.S. Army.   My Dad met my Mom, who graduated from Edison
High School in Fresno. Her family lived on “F” Street near
Ventura.    My dad had to violate curfew and travel
restrictions in order to see her.      They married before

being relocated so that they could stay together.        My
father’s family voluntarily joined my mother’s family at
the Fresno Assembly Center, even though they had not yet
been ordered to do so by the military authorities.     They
were there from May through October 1942, before being
relocated to Jerome, Arkansas, where my oldest brother,
George, was born.    My dad mentioned how difficult it was
for couples to have any privacy.   They lived in a barrack
with other families without walls.     They hung sheets to
create some semi-private areas.

          Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor,
Japanese Americans were re-classified 4-C, “enemy aliens”
not eligible for the draft. My uncle remained in the Army
and served in the Military Intelligence Service (“MIS”).
As the War progressed, Japanese Americans again became
eligible for the draft.   My father was drafted out of the
Jerome Relocation Center and served in Japan during the
U.S. occupation as a member of the M.I.S.



          No story of the Japanese American community is
complete without mentioning the importance of the Nisei
(second generation) soldiers during World War II. I recall
the Go For Broke Exhibit recounting the story of the 100th
Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the
Military Intelligence Service which came to Fresno in 1984.
My wife, Debbie, was President of the Fresno Chapter of the
Japanese American Citizens League (“JACL”) in 1983 and Rick
Berman succeeded her as Chapter President in 1984.     They
were instrumental in bringing the exhibit to the Fresno
Metropolitan Museum. (In fact, Rick acted as matchmaker by
bringing Debbie and me together for a fundraiser for
Congressman Rick Lehman in August of that year. One of our
first dates was to hang pictures of the Go For Broke
Exhibit at the Museum.) The exhibit opening featured Eric
Saul as the keynote speaker.      Mr. Saul was a military
historian and curator of the Presidio Army Museum of San

          Like Rick Berman, Eric Saul demonstrated that
being Jewish was no impediment to understanding the
Japanese American story. In fact, Eric started his speech
with a lesson in Japanese that I, as a Sansei (3rd

generation Japanese American), found educational.       He
talked about giri and on, obligation and duty; enryo,
humility, reserve; gamman, internal strength; haji, don’t
bring shame to the family; oya koko, love of family; and
kodomo no tame ni, for the sake of the children.      Eric
talked about how these values motivated the Nisei soldiers
to prove their loyalty to America on the battlefield so
that their families could live in dignity and honor after
the War.

          Some would question why Nisei would choose to
fight for a country that had stripped them of their
constitutional rights and imprisoned them and their
families in concentration camps.   Eric recalled the story
of Wally, who had lost his house and lived in a horse stall
at an assembly center.    His father told him, “Remember,
son, that a lot of good things will grow from horse manure
if you let them.”

          The 442nd Regimental Combat Team received eight
Presidential   Unit   Citations,    the    equivalent    of  a
Congressional Medal of Honor for a unit, and over 18,000
individual   decorations  for    bravery    for   a   unit  of
approximately 3,000 to 4,000 men.        They received 9,486
Purple Hearts and the 100th Battalion was also known as the
“Purple Heart Battalion.” In 18 months of combat, the unit
suffered 314 percent combat casualties.         They received
5,200 Bronze Stars and 21 Congressional Medals of Honor.
During that time, the 442nd never retreated.        It led 15
spearhead attacks.   Their motto was “Go For Broke,” which
was a Hawaiian gambling term meaning all or nothing, do or
die. They became the most decorated unit in U.S. military
history.   Although their deeds were large, the men had an
average height of 5’3” and average weight of 120 pounds.


          Mr. Saul recounted the Battle of the Gothic Line.
The Gothic Line consisted of a mountain range in the
Apennines in Italy that led to the Po Valley, Austria, and
Germany.   It was the best defended defense of the Germans
with 88 cannons and over 2,300 machine gun nests in
interlocking and fortified positions. For six months, two
infantry divisions of the Army with 30,000 men were not
able to break through the mountain fortress. The 442nd was
called in. Their plan was to scale the side of a mountain,
3,000 feet almost straight up. The soldiers were told that

if they fell, even to their death, they were not to make a
sound.   The element of surprise was critical.     Some did
fall to their silent deaths. They climbed for eight hours.
At daybreak, they hit the line.    Those 2,500 men took the
key positions which broke the Gothic Line in 32 minutes.

          The feat was so incredible that President Truman
held a private review on the White House lawn for the
442nd, the only time a regiment has been so honored.
President Truman stated, “On behalf of America, I can’t
thank you enough. You have not only fought the enemy, you
have fought prejudice and you have won.”    He went on to
challenge the soldiers to make the Constitution of the
United States stand for what it really means, “justice for
all, all of the time.”


          One of the heroes of the 442nd and Redress was
Lt. Dan Inouye.    He led a 2nd Battalion platoon to Colle
Musatello, Italy, a strategic ridge overlooking the town of
San Terenzo.   His platoon was within 40 yards of the main
enemy force of diehard Italian fascists.      The enemy was
shielded by a hilltop rock formation with three machine
guns hidden in a bunker. There was no cover. Lt. Inouye
crawled   up  the    hill  alone   to  locate   the   weapon
implacements. He was hit in the gut with machine gun fire.
He ran within 5 yards of the nearest machine gun, which he
destroyed with a grenade.    Lt. Inouye, bleeding from the
stomach, staggered up the hill to the second position,
which he destroyed with two more grenades.       He dragged
himself to the last machine gun nest and pulled the pin
from another grenade. Before he could throw it, his right
elbow was smashed by a rifle grenade, which almost tore off
his arm. He took the grenade in his left hand and threw it
at the remaining machine-gun nest, destroying it. He took
his tommy gun in his left hand to finish off the surviving
gunners and was shot again, this time in the right leg.
(Lyn Crost, Honor by Fire, pp. 260-261.)

          That’s how Senator Daniel K. Inouye won his
Distinguished   Service  Cross,  later   upgraded   to  the
Congressional Medal of Honor.     His dream of becoming a
doctor was shattered along with his arm.        However, he
became a Congressman and U.S. Senator from Hawaii, where he
led the fight for Redress.


          I heard the story of the rescue of the Lost
Battalion as told by Senator Inouye last September.       A
company of the 1st Battalion of the 141st Regiment out of
Texas was surrounded by German soldiers nine miles behind
enemy lines in France.    The 2nd and 3rd Battalions made
several attempts to reach them but were beaten back.    The
442nd was ordered in with little rest and low on supplies
and replacements. The 442nd had just suffered some of its
worst casualties in the Battle of Bruyers and the Battle of

          In the Vosges Mountains, they met heavy small
arms fire and mortars.     Fighting was close quarters and
hand to hand.      In all, the 442nd suffered over 800
casualties to rescue 211 Texans. Senator Inouye stated in
a speech to the JACL,     “After that battle, no one dare
question the loyalty of Japanese Americans.”     The members
of the 442nd were made honorary Texans by Governor John
Connolly.   Jim Wright, Speaker of the House when Redress
Legislation was passed, was from Texas, knew the story of
the rescue of the Lost Battalion and was a key supporter.


          Eric Saul told the story of a unit of the 552nd
Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd who helped liberate
Dachau Concentration Camp. They shot the lock off the gate
violating orders not to enter the camp, used their own
rations to feed the internees, and provided medical help.
The irony was that their own families lived behind barbwire
fences in America at the time.


          Another story involves Kazuo Masuda, a member of
the 442nd.      Kaz died in action and received the
Distinguished Service Cross for his valor.    When his body
was returned to his hometown of Santa Ana after the War,
community sentiment was against his burial in a local
cemetery because of Kaz’ Japanese ancestry.          General
Joseph (“Vinegar Joe”) Stillwell dispatched a young captain
in the Public Relations Branch of the Army to see that the
burial went without a hitch.    That captain was none other
than Ronald Reagan, who later became President of the
United States and signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

          As the keynote speaker at the medal-pinning
ceremony, Captain Reagan stated, “The blood that has soaked
into the sands of the beach is all of one color. America
stands unique in the world, the only country not founded on
race, but on a way - an ideal.” He stressed that diversity
was one of America’s strengths.    On behalf of the United
States, he wanted to thank Mr. and Mrs. Masuda for the
sacrifice of their son, Kazuo, and what he did for America.

          During the Redress campaign in the late 1980’s,
there were many concerned whether President Reagan would
sign any Redress Legislation. His advisors had recommended
against it.    Thomas Kean, the Governor of New Jersey,
talked with President Reagan and presented him with a
letter from June Masuda Goto, Kaz Masuda’s sister, urging
him to sign the bill.      According to Grant Ujifusa, a
legislative strategist for the JACL who had approached
Governor Kean, President Reagan decided to sign the Act
based, in part, on his personal experience with the Masuda


          Mr. Saul also talked about the importance of the
Military Intelligence Service.   These 6,000 men served as
interpreters, linguists, and combat soldiers in the Pacific
Theatre.    Their story is largely untold and has only
recently been declassified.    General Charles Willoughby,
who served under General Mac Arthur, opined that the MIS
might have shortened the war by 2 years and saved 1 million

          Eric told the story of Bob Subo, whose job was to
flush Japanese soldiers out of caves.     The soldiers had
been trained not to be taken prisoner and, if necessary, to
kill themselves. Mr. Subo entered a cave without a weapon
and talked 120 Japanese soldiers into surrendering.
Understanding on and giri, he gave them a new challenge, to
go back to Japan and help to rebuild it.

          Eric also told a story of a member of the MIS who
talked with Emperor Hirohito during the U.S. occupation of
Japan after the War.    The Emperor thanked the Nisei for
building bridges between the people of the United States
and Japan during the occupation.

          The MIS was retroactively awarded a Presidential
Unit Citation in a ceremony at the National JACL Convention
in 2000.     General Eric Shinseki, a sansei, made the
presentation.    General Shinseki, Chief of Staff of the
Army, thanked the veterans for paving the way for his
success.    A Japanese American, whose father had been
classified an “enemy alien,” had become the highest ranking
officer in the Army.


          As Eric Saul pointed out, the veterans were civil
rights workers. Because of their deeds and the work of the
JACL and the special efforts of Mike Masaoka, JACL’s
legendary representative in Washington, D.C., 590 laws that
discriminated against Japanese Americans were repealed
after the War.      These included laws that prohibited
Japanese Americans from owning land, becoming citizens and
inter-marrying. JACL successfully advocated the passage of
the 1952 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which allowed
Issei (1st generation Japanese Americans) to become
American citizens for the first time.    Wally’s father was
right.   “Good things will grow from horse manure, if you
let them.”

          I recently visited the site of a memorial located
on City property northeast of the Fresno Zoo.     A monument
there was dedicated on May 30, 1951, in honor of the
Japanese American soldiers killed during the War.        The
inscription on the Memorial states, “This memorial is
dedicated in sacred memory of American soldiers of Japanese
ancestry of Central California who gave their lives that
liberty, justice, equality and pursuit of happiness might
come to all democratic and peace loving people regardless
of race, color, or national origin.”     The Memorial lists
the names of 24 Nisei soldiers killed in action from
Central California.    The names on the memorial are as
follows:   Masashi Araki, John Hashimoto, Yeiichi Hiyama,
Bob Kameoka, Takeo Kanaichi, Haruo Kawamoto, Mamoru
Kinoshita, Nobuo Kumoto, Hiroshi G. Masamoto, Seichi
Nakamoto,   John T.   Narimatsu,   Sichizo   Toyota,   Takao
Ninomiya, Joe Nishimoto, Abraham G. Ohama, John Okada,
Arnold Ohki, George Ota, Kazuo Otani, Todd T. Sakohira,
Mitsuru Shibata, Toshiaki Shoji, Mack Tashima, and Toshiaki
Teramoto.   There are stars in front of the names of Joe
Nishimoto and Kazuo Otani designating them as recipients of
the Congressional Medal of Honor.     A memorial service is

held there on Memorial Day at 9 a.m. each year.

                    WARTIME COURT CASES

          The military’s curfew and exclusion orders were
upheld in three cases decided by the United States Supreme
Court. Min Yasui and Gordon Hirabayashi challenged the
curfew orders. At the time of his test case, Mr. Yasui was
a young attorney admitted to the Oregon Bar after receiving
his law degree from the University of Oregon. He was a
Second Lieutenant in the Army Reserves. He went to the
police station after curfew and asked to be arrested for
violating the curfew order. After some persuading, the
police obliged. He did this to create a test case to
challenge the constitutionality of the order. He was

          Min’s criminal conviction was appealed to the
U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the conviction and the
curfew order based upon the War Powers Clause in the
Constitution. The Court stated in the lead case of Gordon

         “The war power of a national government
         is    ‘the    power    to    wage    war
         successfully.’      ...      Since   the
         Constitution commits to the Executive
         and Congress the exercise of the war
         power in all the vicissitudes and
         conditions    of    warfare,    it   has
         necessarily given them wide scope for
         the exercise of judgment and discretion
         in determining the nature and extent of
         the threatened injury or danger and in
         the selection of means for resisting
         it. (citations omitted) Where as they
         did here, the conditions call for the
         exercise of judgment and discretion and
         for the choice of means by those
         branches of the Government on which the
         Constitution     has      placed     the
         responsibility of war-making, it is not
         for any court to sit in review of the
         wisdom of their action or substitute
         its judgment for theirs.     Hirabayashi
         v. United States (1943) 320 U.S. 81,

          Despite losing his court case, Min went on to
fight for Redress in the 1980’s.       He became the first
chairman of the Legislative Education Committee (“LEC”),
the political arm of the Japanese American Citizens League.
His commitment to civil rights was unwavering.     For many
years, he served as the Executive Director of the Denver
Human Relations Commission.     Sadly, he died before the
Redress Legislation was passed.     Happily, many of us in
Central California heard him speak in 1987 at the annual
banquet held by the Central California District Council of
JACL.    It was my great pleasure as Vice-Governor to
introduce him. He was an articulate and eloquent advocate
for justice, equality and fair play.

          Gordon Hirabayashi, a Quaker, became a sociology
professor at the University of Alberta, Canada, after the

          Next    is   the    case    of   Fred   Korematsu.
Mr. Korematsu remained in San Leandro, California, to be
with his Caucasian girlfriend.         He was convicted of
violating General DeWitt’s Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34.
In a 6-to-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the
lower courts and upheld the conviction of Mr. Korematsu,
again deferring to the military’s judgment. Such deference
is in stark contrast to current court standards, which
impose “strict judicial scrutiny” of governmental action
resulting in invidious discrimination based on race or
national origin. Today, governmental action must further a
“compelling    state   interest”   utilizing    the   “least
restrictive means” available in order to satisfy equal
protection and due process standards.

          Justices William O. Douglas and Felix Frankfurter
sided with the majority.         If these reputed civil
libertarians had sided with Justices Jackson, Roberts and
Murphy, the exclusion orders would have been struck down as
a violation of the constitutional guarantees of due process
and equal protection.

         Justice Black for the majority stated:

         “Like curfew, exclusion of those of
         Japanese origin was deemed necessary
         because   of  the   presence   of   an
         unascertained  number    of   disloyal
         members of the group, most of whom we

         have no doubt were loyal to this
         country.   It was because we could not
         reject the finding of the military
         authority that it was impossible to
         bring about an immediate segregation of
         the disloyal and the loyal that we
         sustained the validity of the curfew
         order as applying to the whole group.
         In    the    instant   case,    temporary
         exclusion of the entire group was
         rested by the military on the same
         ground. The judgment that exclusion of
         the whole group was for the same reason
         a   military   imperative   answers   the
         contention that the exclusion was in
         the nature of group punishment based on
         antagonism    to   those   of    Japanese
         origin.”   [Emphasis added.]    Korematsu
         v. United States (1944) 323 U.S. 214,

          Justices   Murphy,  Roberts  and  Jackson    filed
separate dissenting opinions. Justice Murphy stated:

         “Being      an       obvious     racial
         discrimination, the [exclusion] order
         deprives all those within its scope of
         the equal protection of the laws as
         guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment....
         In excommunicating them without benefit
         of hearings, this order also deprives
         them of all their constitutional rights
         to procedural due process.      Yet no
         reasonable relation to an ‘immediate,
         imminent, and impending’ public danger
         is evident to support this racial
         restriction which is one of the most
         sweeping and complete deprivations of
         constitutional rights to procedural due
         process in the history of this nation
         in the absence of martial law.


         “Nor is there any denial of the fact
         that   not  one  person  of  Japanese
         ancestry was accused or convicted of

           espionage   or  sabotage  after   Pearl
           Harbor while they were still free, a
           fact which is some evidence of the
           loyalty of the vast majority of these
           individuals and of the effectiveness of
           the established methods of combatting
           these evils.


           “I   dissent,   therefore,   from   this
           legalization   of    racism.      Racial
           discrimination in any form and in any
           degree has no justifiable part whatever
           in our democratic way of life.     It is
           unattractive in any setting but it is
           utterly revolting among a free people
           who have embraced the principles set
           forth in the Constitution of the United
           States. [Emphasis added.]” Id. at 323
           U.S. 214, 234-242.

          Justice Jackson, who later became the chief
prosecutor in the Nuremburg trials, stated:     “If any
fundamental assumption underlies our system, it is that
guilt is personal and not inheritable.”   He went on to
observe that:

           “[O]nce a judicial opinion rationalizes
           such an order or rather rationalized
           the Constitution to show that the
           Constitution sanctions such an order,
           the Court for all time has validated
           the principle of racial discrimination
           in    criminal    procedure   and    of
           transplanting American citizens.    The
           principle then lies about like a loaded
           weapon ready for the hand of an
           authority that can bring forward a
           plausible claim for an urgent need.
           Every repetition imbeds that principle
           more deeply in our law and thinking and
           expands it to new purposes.” [Emphasis
           added.] Id. at 323 U.S. 214, 244-247.

           There is a lesser-known case of Mitsue Endo. She
was   an   American  citizen   of  Japanese   ancestry  with

unquestioned loyalty who was removed from Sacramento and
placed in an assembly center in Modoc County, California,
and then relocated to an internment center in Topaz, Utah.
She filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the
district court, which was denied.     She appealed to the
Circuit Court of Appeal, which certified certain questions
to the Supreme Court.      She challenged certain “leave”
procedures which permitted detainees to leave the camp and
relocate within the interior of the United States if
certain conditions were met, including a showing that
“public sentiment” at the detainee’s proposed destination
had been investigated and approved.   James Purcell, a San
Francisco civil rights attorney, represented Ms. Endo pro

          A   unanimous Supreme  Court struck down the
regulation.   In an opinion by Justice Douglas, the Court

         “We   must    assume    that   the   Chief
         Executive and members of Congress, as
         well as the courts are sensitive to and
         respectful of the liberties of the
         citizen.     In interpreting a wartime
         measure, we must assume that their
         purpose was to allow for the greatest
         possible accommodation between those
         liberties and the exigencies of war.
         Since the evacuation was justified to
         prevent   espionage    and   sabotage,   a
         citizen concededly loyal presents no
         problems of espionage or sabotage and
         should be permitted to leave without
         restrictions.”     [emphasis added.]    Ex
         Parte   Endo    (1944)   323   U.S.   283,

          Ex   Parte    Endo   was   the   first   judicial
acknowledgement that the military had gone too far.
Continued detention of loyal Americans was unjustified.
The timing of the decisions in Korematsu and Endo is
interesting. Both cases were decided on December 18, 1944,
a day after the War Department rescinded the exclusion
order.    Consequently, the Endo case had no practical
effect, since the internees were already free to leave when
the decision was issued.

                     CORAM NOBIS CASES

          The righteousness of the Redress effort was
hampered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in the
Korematsu, Hirabayashi and Yasui cases.         However, a
dedicated team of attorneys fought to have the criminal
convictions of Min Yasui, Gordon Hirabayashi and Fred
Korematsu overturned.     In the 1980’s, they succeeded
through an extraordinary writ of error coram nobis. (It is
a common law writ to invalidate a criminal conviction after
the sentence has been served to prevent manifest injustice.
See 28 U.S.C., § 1651 and U.S. v. Morgan 346 U.S. 502

          The team was led by Peter Irons.     In a letter
that Mr. Irons wrote to Fred Korematsu, he explained the
nature of the petition and its basis. He explained, “what
this means in English (lawyers like to use Latin to make
people think what they do is mysterious) is that you would
be asking the original trial court (in your case, the
federal court in San Francisco) to correct a fundamental
error and injustice at your trial. The error would be the
failure of the government to acknowledge that there was no
evidence to support General DeWitt’s claim that acts of
sabotage and espionage by Japanese Americans required the
curfew and evacuation, and no evidence to support his claim
that Japanese Americans were disloyal.     We now know, in
fact, from government documents that General DeWitt had
been told that there was no such evidence before he issued
the curfew and evacuation orders, and that he disregarded
what he had been told.      Since the government had this
evidence at the time of your trial, it was under an
obligation to produce it.    By failing to produce it, the
court’s judgment of guilty in your case was based on error
and a fundamental injustice was committed.       Since the
government also failed to correct this error when the case
was appealed to the Court of Appeals and then to the
Supreme Court, the final decision in your case was also
fundamentally unjust.”

          Peter Irons in his book, Justice Delayed:     The
Record of the Japanese American Internment Cases, describes
how he contacted Min Yasui, himself, a lawyer with wide
contacts in the Japanese American community, to recommend
lawyers who might volunteer their time and skills.    Among
these was Dale Minami, a 1971 graduate of Boalt Hall Law
School at the University of California, Berkeley. Dale, a

sansei, was the first President of the Asian Pacific Bar
Association of California.   His parents had been interned
at Hart Mountain, Wyoming. Dale helped to recruit a dozen
volunteer lawyers and law students.       One of these was
Donald Tamaki, who volunteered to direct the education and
outreach program.   Don was also a graduate of Boalt Hall
and served as Executive Director of the Asian Law Caucus,
which provided free legal services to the Asian community
in the areas such as housing, employment and health care.
(Dale and Don later served as National Legal Counsel to
JACL. Last year, Dale received the Thurgood Marshall Civil
Rights Award from the American Bar Association.)

          The petitions were filed January 19, 1983, a
month after the Commission on Wartime Relocation and
Internment of Civilians (“Commission”) issued its findings
that Executive Order No. 9066 was not justified by military
necessity.     The legal team was overjoyed when Fred
Korematsu’s petition was assigned to Judge Marilyn Patel.
(Dale told me recently how Judge Patel was their first
choice of judges to hear the case, which was a very good
omen.)   Judge Patel was a graduate of Wheaton College and
Fordham Law School. She left private practice in New York
to join the Immigration and Naturalization Service in San
Francisco.    She was appointed to the federal bench by
President Jimmy Carter in 1980.       She worked with and
supported the National Organization for Women and other
progressive groups.

          In Judge Patel’s decision, she noted that the
government deliberately omitted relevant information and
provided misleading information in papers before the court.
She went on to state:

         “In Korematsu v. United States (1984)
         584 F.Supp. 1406, ... the judicial
         process is seriously impaired when the
         government’s law enforcement officers
         violate their ethical obligations to
         the court.”

         “Korematsu remains on the pages of our
         legal and political history.      As a
         legal precedent it is now recognized as
         having very limited application.     As
         historical   precedent,  it  stands   a
         constant caution that in times of war

         or declared military necessity our
         institutions    must    be   vigilant   in
         protecting constitutional guarantees.
         It stands as a caution that in times of
         distress    the    shield   of    military
         necessity and national security must
         not be used to protect governmental
         actions    from    close   scrutiny    and
         accountability. It stands as a caution
         that    in    times    of    international
         hostility      and     antagonisms     our
         institutions,    legislative,    executive
         and judicial, must be prepared to
         exercise their authority to protect all
         citizens from the petty fears and
         prejudices that are so easily aroused.
         [Emphasis added.]” Korematsu v. United
         States (1984) 584 F.Supp. 1406, 1420.



          The Japanese American Citizens League was the
primary advocacy group for Redress.    JACL was established
in 1929 and is the oldest and largest Asian American civil
rights organization in America.         JACL unsuccessfully
opposed the issuance of the exclusion and detention orders.
Mike Masaoka of the JACL was instrumental in persuading the
military authorities to create an all-Japanese American
unit to fight in Europe.    The JACL encouraged its members
to volunteer for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team as a way
to demonstrate that Japanese Americans were loyal and to
redeem the honor of their community.       JACL also helped
Mitsue Endo obtain legal counsel for her test case.

          In 1970, the JACL at its National Convention
adopted a resolution to seek redress for the loss of
liberties and property of those impacted by the exclusion
and internment orders.    The primary proponent was Edison
Uno, a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco
State College.    In each subsequent biennial convention,
redress was designated as the highest priority of JACL.

          This effort was immeasurably aided by two
senators and two congressmen; on the Senate side, Senators
Daniel Inouye and Sparky Matsunaga, and on the House side,

Congressmen Norman Mineta and Robert Matsui.      All were
members of JACL. John Tateishi was National Redress Chair
for JACL.     He met with the congressional leaders for
direction on how JACL should proceed.       Senator Inouye
recommended that the first step should be the establishment
of a commission to create a factual record upon which
legislation for an apology and monetary compensation could
be based.

          JACL followed Senator Inouye’s recommendation to
seek a commission.       However, people in the Japanese
American community had mixed feelings about this approach.
I recall discussions at the Clovis Chapter of JACL where
older members were concerned about opening old wounds and
the possibility of a racial backlash. In addition, Redress
seemed a distant goal with little likelihood of success. I
recently talked with John Tateishi, who is now the National
Director of JACL.      He reminded me that many in the
community were disappointed that JACL would seek the
establishment of a commission as a first step.     JACL and
the Japanese American legislators were successful in
obtaining Congressional approval for the creation of the
Commission   on  Wartime    Relocation and   Internment  of
Civilians in 1980.


          The Commission was directed to review the facts
and circumstances surrounding Executive Order No. 9066 and
its impact on American citizens and permanent resident
aliens; to review directives of the United States military
forces requiring the relocation and, in some cases,
detention in internment camps of the American citizens;
and, to recommend appropriate remedies.     (Commission on
Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians Act, Pub.L.
No. 96-317.)

          The Commission was composed of former members of
Congress, the Supreme Court and the Cabinet as well as
distinguished private citizens.    (Judge William Marutani
from Philadelphia was a Commissioner.      We later served
together on JACL’s National Board in 1989 and 1990. He was
JACL’s National Vice-President of Public Affairs at the
time.)    The Commission held approximately 20 days of
hearings in cities across the United States, taking the
testimony of over 720 witnesses, including key government

personnel responsible for decisions involved in the
issuance of Executive Order No. 9066 and the military
orders   implementing   it.     The  Commission   reviewed
substantial numbers of government documents, including
documents   not   previously available   to   the  public.
(Korematsu v. United States (1984) 584 F.Supp. 1406,
1416-1417.) The Commission hearings were emotional for the
former internees who gave tearful accounts, often for the
first time, of their personal stories.   (See, And Justice
for All by John Tateishi for oral histories.)           It
galvanized the Japanese American community behind the
redress effort.

          The findings and conclusions of the Commission
were unanimous. The Commission concluded that at the time
of issuance of Executive Order No. 9066 and implementing
military orders, there was substantial credible evidence
from a number of federal civilians and military agencies
contradicting the report of General DeWitt that military
necessity justified exclusion and internment of all persons
of   Japanese   ancestry  without   regard   to  individual
identification of those who may have been potentially
disloyal. (Ibid.)

          The Commission found that military necessity did
not warrant the exclusion and detention of Japanese
Americans.    It concluded that “broad historical causes
which shaped these decisions were race prejudice, war
hysteria and a failure of political leadership.”       As a
result, “a grave injustice was done to American citizens
and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry who, without
individual review or any probative evidence against them,
were excluded, removed and detained by the United States
during World War II.” (Personal Justice Denied at p. 18.)
The   Commission   recommended monetary   compensation    of
$20,000.00   as   a   symbolic payment   to   redress    the
government’s actions.


          JACL’s pursuit of Redress was a grass-roots
effort. After the War, many internees returned to the West
Coast. However, others took up life in other areas. This
proved to be an asset in the Redress effort.       It helped
that Japanese American constituents were able to influence
Congressmen and Senators from many states of the Union.

          I’d like to mention one of the unsung heroes of
the Redress movement, Grace Uyehara.      Grace became the
Washington representative for JACL.     She was a retired
school teacher from Philadelphia.    She had no political
training or experience.       JACL had limited financial
resources for a professional lobbyist or to run a national
campaign.     Grace volunteered her services and did a
wonderful job, learning along the way.      She walked the
halls of Congress, talking to senators and congressmen and
their staffs, updating the Japanese American legislators on
her efforts and formulating strategy with them.         She
provided   information  to   JACL’s  membership  and   gave
direction as to which senators or congressmen needed to be
contacted and persuaded.   It was then up to the districts
and chapters to determine who would be best to make the

          JACL members in Central California did their
part. We claim credit for procuring the first Congressman
and Senator from the Republican Party as co-sponsors of the
Redress Legislation.     That was important because it made
Redress a bi-partisan effort.      The first congressman to
sign on was Chip Pashayan, from Tulare County. My friend,
Ken Yokota, reminded me of a dinner meeting that a number
of us had with Mr. Pashayan, including Mae Takahashi,
District   Governor,    Izumi  Taniguchi,  a   professor   of
economics at CSU, Fresno, Fred Hirasuna, Peggy Liggett, a
Fresno attorney and former District Governor, and Tom
Shimasaki, the District’s first Redress Chair and a member
of    the    California    Republican   Central    Committee.
Congressman Pashayan decided to become a co-sponsor after
expressing initial opposition to individual compensation at
our dinner.      (See, Achieving the Impossible Dream by
Mitchell T. Maki, et al., pp. 150-151.)

          I talked with Chip Pashayan in March of this
year.   He confirmed what I had thought, that Congressmen
Mineta and Matsui were critical to the Bill’s passage on
the House side.    His support was also influenced by his
Japanese American friends, including Fred Hirasuna and Tom
Shimasaki.  However, he also shared an untold story about
his family’s close relationship with their neighbors, the
Omata family.    For example, the Pashayans would visit
Minoru Omata and his family on New Year’s Day and share
Japanese delicacies. During the War, his father took care
of the Omata farm. Chip knew from personal experience that
exclusion and incarceration was “clearly unconstitutional.”

He urged his Republican colleagues to support the Redress
Legislation to show that “the Democrats did not have a lock
on civil rights.”

          Pete Wilson was the first senator to co-sponsor
the Redress Legislation. Mae Takahashi, Fred Hirasuna and
others from Central California met with Pete Wilson to seek
his support. One such meeting was at a dinner of the Nisei
Farmers League.     Mae served on the Republican Central
Committee in Central California and, I believe, played an
important role in Pete Wilson’s decision to become a
co-sponsor.   Mae also served on the Legislative Education
Committee as a member of the Board of Directors and
Fundraising Chair. Peggy Liggett also served on the L.E.C.

          The 100th Congress seemed to line up just right.
The legislation was pushed by Congressmen Norm Mineta and
Bob Matsui on the House side.    Senators Daniel Inouye and
Sparky Matsunaga pushed on the Senate side.           These
representatives on Capitol Hill had risen in seniority and
influence.   Senator Matsunaga personally contacted every
senator asking for support of Redress Legislation.       He
helped line up 70 co-sponsors of the bill on the Senate
side, virtually assuring its passage by the Senate.     The
legislation had the strong support of Jim Wright, Speaker
of the House, and Congressman Barney Frank, Chair of the
important House Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative
Law and Governmental Relations.   The Smithsonian Institute
selected the Japanese American story of internment and
search for redress as the subject of its bicentennial
celebration of the Constitution in its exhibition, “A More
Perfect Union.”   It provided members of Capitol Hill with
important exposure to the internment experience. After 45
years, the slot machine was poised to pay off.

          On September 17, 1987, the 200th Anniversary of
the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the House of
Representatives passed H.R. 442, the Redress Legislation,
by a vote of 243 to 141. The House Bill was intentionally
numbered in honor of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The
Senate Bill, SB 1009, was passed by the Senate on April 20,
1988, by a vote of 69 to 27.

          All that was left was to convince President
Reagan to sign HR 442 into law. However, the President had
been advised to veto the bill. He told Governor Kean in a

limousine ride that he had two primary concerns.     First,
whether the issue had been adequately dealt with in the
Japanese American Evacuation Claims Act of 1948.    Second,
whether incarceration was a form of “protective custody.”
On February 6, 1988, four months later, Governor Kean sent
President Reagan a letter and reminded him of Kaz Masuda
and the medal-pinning ceremony.       Governor Kean wrote,
“Given your life-long commitment to the cause of equal
rights, and the esteem in which Japanese Americans now hold
you, I feel it would be very fitting for you to sign the
Redress legislation. It would show the world that America
is big enough to admit when we make mistakes, and still
true to the values on which we were founded.”

          Governor Kean’s letter included two letters, one
from June Masuda Goto.   She wrote, “Our family feels that
what you and General Stilwell said in 1945 are as true and
important as ever: the ideals for which all good Americans
should be willing to fight and die.    My brother did both,
even though his parents and family were stripped of all
their American rights, and placed in an Arizona internment
camp.”   A second letter from Grant Ujifusa clarified that
Japanese Americans did not leave their homes voluntarily
and that the Japanese American Evacuations Claims Act of
1948 did not adequately compensate Japanese Americans.
(Achieving the Impossible Dream, pp. 191-193.)

          I recall the excitement during the 1988 National
JACL Convention in Seattle, Washington, when it was
announced that President Reagan would sign the Redress
Legislation.    Representatives of JACL were invited to
attend a Rose Garden signing ceremony. Among those invited
from Central California were Mae Takahashi, Tom Shimasaki
and Peggy Liggett.    On August 10, 1988, President Reagan
signed H.R. 442, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.
President Reagan stated at the signing ceremony, “Here we
reaffirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under
the law.” Tom Shimasaki was interviewed by a national news
network on the steps of the Capitol after the signing
ceremony. He said, “We all witnessed an impressive signing
ceremony.   To me, it was a great moment in the nation’s
history.”   Tom later told me that that experience was the
high point of his public life.

          When Congress failed to appropriate funds to
implement the Act in fiscal year 1989-1990, an entitlement
bill was passed the following year providing for payments

over three years.     Senator Inouye played a significant
role.   He was the second-ranking Democrat on the powerful
Senate Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Defense
Appropriations Subcommittee. He was instrumental in making
redress payments an “entitlement,” giving it priority over
non-entitlement appropriations.

          The first payments were delivered in a ceremony
in Washington, D.C., on October 9, 1990. A local ceremony
was conducted in Fresno, California, in the federal
district court on October 12, 1990. Judge Robert E. Coyle
presided over the ceremony.    Jeanette Ishii had suggested
the venue.     As chair, I immediately concurred.        The
defendants in the Yasui, Hirabayashi and Korematsu cases
had been convicted in federal district courts, where their
convictions were later vacated.       The rights of their
community should be reaffirmed in a ceremony at a federal
court.   (It’s also ironic that in 1997, the Senate, which
had once imposed criminal sanctions for violation of the
military curfew and exclusion orders, unanimously confirmed
the appointment of Jeanette’s husband, Anthony W. Ishii, as
the first Asian American federal district court judge for
the Eastern District of California.     At his confirmation
hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman
Orrin Hatch asked Tony whether he disagreed with any
decisions of the Supreme Court.     Tony, a former District
Governor of JACL who had worked on Redress, said he
disagreed with the Court’s decisions in the Wartime cases
of Yasui, Hirabayashi and Korematsu. Senator Hatch agreed
with Judge Ishii that those cases were wrongly decided.)

          Ken Yokota succeeded Tom Shimasaki as District
Redress Chair and did a stellar job. He acted as Master of
Ceremonies for our local ceremony, when the first redress
payments were made to six residents in Central California.
They were presented by Assistant United States Attorney
John Dunn.   He presented George Bush’s letter of apology
and $20,000 checks to Shigeto Thomas Ito, 92; George Masumi
Sakai, 92; Neal Nishino, 93; Sumino Yemoto, 97; and Fuji
Hashimoto, 102. One of the recipients was in a wheelchair
and I still have a vivid image of John Dunn taking a knee
to make the presentation. World War II veterans sat in the
jury box.    The letter from President Bush states, “In
enacting a law calling for restitution and offering a
sincere apology, your fellow Americans have, in a very real
sense, renewed their traditional commitment to the ideals
of freedom.”    I recall feeling a sense of vindication.

These loyal, law-abiding Americans, who had been classified
by their government as “non-aliens” and “enemy aliens” and
treated like criminals, had their constitutional rights as
citizens recognized after nearly 50 years.     As District
Governor, I noted that there was a certain amount of
sadness along with the celebration because approximately
half of the 120,000 internees had passed away.

          I am reminded of that again today.    Min Yasui,
Senator Matsunaga, Mike Masaoka, Tom Shimasaki, Mae
Takahashi and Izumi Taniguchi have all passed away.     In
February of this year, Fred Hirasuna, an icon of Fresno
JACL, died at the age of 96. I hope that my comments today
will help preserve their story and the important legacy
they have left behind.    They not only helped restore the
honor of the Japanese American community, they helped
reaffirm the civil rights of all Americans.


          February 19th of each year is known as the “Day
of Remembrance” by Japanese Americans.      It is the day
President Roosevelt issued Executive Order No. 9066 in
1942.   Ken Yokota, Dave Masumoto, Elisa Kamimoto, Paul
Saito and I worked on a project at the Fresno District Fair
recognizing its use as an assembly center during the War.
The landscape project and memorial was first dedicated in
1991 on the 49th Anniversary of the Day of Remembrance. A
state historic monument was added on the 50th Anniversary.
The state historic monument states:

         “This memorial is dedicated to over
         5,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry
         who   were   confined  at   the  Fresno
         Fairgrounds from May to October 1942.
         This was an early phase of the mass
         incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese
         Americans during World War II pursuant
         to Executive Order No. 9066. They were
         detained without charges, trial or
         establishment of guilt.       May such
         injustice and suffering never recur.”
         [Emphasis added.]

          The Japanese American story continues to be
relevant.    Not surprisingly, JACL was the first civil
rights organization to come out in support of Arab and

Muslim Americans after the tragic events of September 11,
2001.   In its press release the next day, JACL National
President Floyd Mori was quoted as saying, “We urge
citizens not to release their anger on innocent American
citizens simply because of their ethnic origin, in this
case Americans of Arab ancestry.        While we deplore
yesterday’s acts, we must also protect the rights of
citizens.   Let us not make the same mistake as a nation
that were made in the hysteria of World War II following
the attack at Pearl Harbor.”      JACL National Executive
Director John Tateishi was quoted as saying, “It is times
of national tragedy such as this that the character and
will of the American people are tested as well as the
strength and value of the Constitution.”     The statement
concludes, “In the wake of yesterday’s national tragedy,
the JACL urged restraint and caution against the possible
scapegoating of any group based on ethnicity, religion, or
national origin and urged Americans to pull together as a
nation and not let yesterday’s tragic events undermine our
basic beliefs in democracy.”

          I hope an understanding of the Japanese American
story will help avoid the same mistakes in the post-9/11
era.   I’m encouraged to see people like Transportation
Secretary Norman Mineta and many other leaders urging fair
treatment of Muslim and Arab Americans.

SpInternment and Redress3-DI:snf:cm


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