Document Sample
Ikeda-Japanese_Internment-Redress Powered By Docstoc

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 Warren Burger, Franklin D. Roosevelt, William O. Douglas and Felix


Frankfurter, some of the most respected names in American government and jurisprudence. INTERNMENT 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 Warren Burger, 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 Americans.) 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. 100TH BATTALION/442ND REGIMENTAL COMBAT TEAM/MIS GO FOR BROKE EXHIBIT 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 Francisco. 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. GOTHIC LINE 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.” DANIEL K. INOUYE 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.


RESCUE OF THE LOST BATTALION 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 Biffontaine. 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. LIBERATION OF DACHAU 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. KAZUO MASUDA AND RONALD REAGAN 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 family. MILITARY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE (“MIS”) 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 lives. 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. LEGACY OF THE NISEI SOLDIERS 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 convicted. 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 Hirabayashi, “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, 93.”


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 War. 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, 218-219. Justices Murphy, Roberts and Jackson 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 filed


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. was an There is a lesser-known case of Mitsue Endo. She 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 bono. A regulation. stated: unanimous Supreme Court struck down the 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, 300-303. 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 (1954).) 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. REDRESS LEGISLATION JAPANESE AMERICAN CITIZENS LEAGUE 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. COMMISSION ON WARTIME RELOCATION AND INTERNMENT OF CIVILIANS 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. CIVIL LIBERTIES ACT 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 approach. 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. Board. 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. CONCLUSION 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 char acter 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 4/7/2004