Local Medal Ceremony to Honor Japanese American WWII Veterans on Feb. 19, 2012

The Central California District of the Japanese American Citizens League will award replica Congressional Gold Medals to local Japanese American World War II veterans at the 2012 Day of Remembrance Luncheon on February 19.  The local ceremony follows a national medal ceremony held in Washington D.C. last month. “This year’s Day of Remembrance will pay special tribute to all our Nisei veterans who bravely risked their lives on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific to defend our country,” says Dale Ikeda, event co-chair.  “Because many of our local veterans could not travel to the Capitol for the national ceremony, we wanted to take the opportunity here at home to pay tribute to their courage and patriotism.” The Day of Remembrance is a national observance remembering Executive Order 9066, which led to the forced internment of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II after the attacks on Pearl Harbor.  Fresno County was the only location that had two temporary assembly centers where internees were held before being sent to permanent internment camps.  The Pinedale Assembly Center held 4,832 internees from outside of the area.  The Fresno Assembly Center held 5,344 internees who were mostly from the Central Valley. Veterans or their spouses will receive replica medals identical to those awarded at the Washington D.C. ceremony.  A grant from the Nisei Farmers League is covering the cost of the medals and other expenses for the veterans.  The Day of Remembrance will be held at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building on Fourth Street and is co-sponsored by the Clovis Veterans Memorial District. The obverse of the medal depicts the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and includes the 442nd RCT’s motto “Go for Broke”.  The reverse depicts the insignias of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service.  The 442nd RCT, which later included the 100th Battalion, became the most highly decorated military unit in U.S. history.  The MIS translated and interpreted Japanese military communications in the Pacific. The local planning committee is working with the National Veterans Network and other organizations to locate Nisei veterans from the Central Valley.  While the national replica medals were awarded specifically to the 442nd, 100th and MIS, Ikeda emphasizes that the local event will honor all Nisei World War II vets, including those who served in the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) and Women’s Army Corps (WAC).  Family members of veterans who have passed away can contact Ikeda for more information at 313-9322 or daleikeda@att.net. Tickets are $40.  A veteran and a guest, or a spouse of a veteran and a guest, are invited to attend free of charge.  A reception will start at noon, followed by lunch and...

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The Japanese American Story of Internment and Redress

By Dale Ikeda Presented at Kochi University on July 1, 2011 Mina-san, Konnichiwa. My wife, Debbie, and I are pleased to join you at Kochi University. It is an honor to address members of the Kochi University community. Thank you. As Co-Chair of the Fresno-Kochi Sister Cities Committee, I thank the people of Kochi Prefecture for being warm and gracious hosts of the Grassroots Summit. We are having a wonderful time. Arigato gozaimasu. My topic is “The Japanese American Story of Internment and Redress.” The main focus of my remarks and the photos relate to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. It is a story not well known even in America. Please raise your hand if you knew that the American government imprisoned over 100,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry, mostly American-born citizens, for three years during World War II. Click here to read the entire story in Adobe...

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Civil Liberties Act of 1988

In 1970, the Japanese American Citizens League 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. Thus began a 20-year battle for redress. JACL and the Japanese American legislators, Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Spark M. Matsunaga and Representatives Norman Y. Mineta and Robert Matsui, were successful in obtaining Congressional approval for the creation of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians in 1980. After extensive research and hearings around the country, the Commission found that military necessity did not warrant the exclusion and detention of Japanese Americans. It concluded that the “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.” The Commission recommended monetary compensation of $20,000.00 per internee as a symbolic payment to redress the government’s actions. 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, a segregated Japanese American unit that fought in Europe during World War II. 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. As a captain in the Army, President Reagan had presented a Distinguished Service Cross to the family of Kazuo Masuda, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, posthumously. 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.” 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.” The first redress payments to Central California residents were made at a ceremony in the Federal District Court in Fresno on October 12, 1990. Assistant United States Attorney General  John Dunn presented President 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). He stated, “The root meaning of redress is ‘to rearrange’ or ‘set in order again.’ Its meaning today, according to Webster’s dictionary, is to remedy or rectify, to make amends for wrong done or injury inflicted. While we know we cannot ‘rearrange’...

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John Tagami’s Tribute to Nisei Veterans

Thanks for that introduction, Jeannette. I’d like to thank JACL and Dale Ikeda for inviting me tonight to pay tribute to the Nisei veterans of WWII. Because of time constraints, I am taking the liberty of confining my remarks to veterans of the Military Intelligence Service. When I was growing up, we sansei had very few role JA models in mainstream culture. I loved Kato from the Green Hornet and Mr. Sulu from Star Trek. Kato rocked; Sulu was cool as a cucumber. But even as a kid, I knew that they were just supporting players, never the main guy. Fortunately, we had real-life role models who took second billing to no one – the soldiers of the 100/442. The 442 were the icons of our childhood: all of us knew bits and pieces of their legend: the assault on Monte Cassino, the battle at Anzio, the Rescue of the Lost Battalion, and the countless awards, including (now) 21 Medals of Honor, they earned. We took vicarious pride in the success of “Go for Broke” veterans like Senator Inouye. But we knew very little about another group of deserving Nisei soldiers, the Military Intelligence Service, mainly because their activities were kept secret and also because they were fewer in number — only 3000 served in the war. A quick review of why the MIS experience was special. First, unlike the 442 as I’ve said, the MIS performed their work in secret. If their existence had been known, the information they gathered would have been useless or even used against our own side. In contrast, the heroics of the 442 were widely publicized, and rightly so, of course. Second, MISers were the first of the Nisei to enter the war. The first MIS graduates were deployed six months after Pearl Harbor, in the Aleutians and later the Southwest Pacific. They performed so well that they influenced the War Department’s decision to approve formation of the 442 the next year. So, if there had not been an MIS, there might never have been a 442. Third, unlike the 442, the MIS fought directly against the Japanese. Even as the patriotism of AJAs at home was questioned, the MIS were already serving in action against Japanese soldiers — sometimes even against brothers, as was the case for at least one MISer, Harry Fukuhara. In doing so, they ran the risk of being killed by our own troops – they often had to have white escorts, even to use the latrines. Fourth, the MIS was a support service, not an operational unit. They were attached to combat units in the field, in ones and twos and small teams, wherever needed. Because of this,...

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Four Hirabayashi Cousins: A Question of Identity by James Hirabayashi

The sudden onset of World War II on December 7th 1941 thrust the issue of identity to the forefront for all Japanese Americans. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the War Department to prescribe military areas from which any or all persons may be excluded.  This order served as the basis for Lt. General John L. DeWitt to issue the curfew and exclusion orders.  Public Proclamation No. 3 established a curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for Japanese Americans in Military Area No. 1 and requiring them to stay within a five-mile radius of their homes.  The implementation of the exclusion order began on March 24, 1942, and by October, 1942, all Japanese Americans were removed from the West Coast incarcerated in hastily constructed concentration camps, also known as relocations centers. Download and read the complete document...

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