February 26, 2011

Honoring Japanese Americans

Posted in Honorary Degrees, Japanese American Incarceration, Taiko Festival Pictures tagged , , , , , , , at 7:55 pm by minidokapilgrimage


Honoring Japanese Americans

Seattle University to Award Honorary Degrees to Japanese Americans Incarcerated During WWII
By Katherine Hedland Hansen

honorary degrees

Photo Credit: Seattle P-I, MOHAI

Nearly 70 years ago Thomas T. Yamauchi was forced to leave Seattle University and abandon his education as one of 15 Japanese American Seattle University students whose educations were disrupted by their unjust removal and incarceration in 1942 during World War II. To contribute to the healing from this injustice, the Seattle University Board of Trustees will grant Yamauchi and the other students, honorary bachelor degrees at the university’s undergraduate commencement ceremony June 12.

Yamauchi’s widow, Anne, says she’s looking forward to accepting the degree on his behalf. “He was anxious to continue his schooling after camp,” she said. “He was very ambitious.”

Honorees or their relatives have been invited to accept the degrees.Most of the honorary degrees will be awarded posthumously, as the university knows of only one student still living.

“These individuals, who were our students, were required by federal order to leave our community as a result of the fear, racial hatred and hostility that prevailed in the wake of Pearl Harbor,” said President Stephen Sundborg, S.J. “We honor these former students to recognize their courage and sacrifice, to address the injustice that occurred, and with hope that this recognition contributes to the healing process.”

The university announced its plans as the Japanese American community marks its Day of Remembrance, the annual observance of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which began the forced removal of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of whom were native-born citizens of the United States.  Although it might bring back painful memories of a period in American history, the remembrance provides an ongoing reminder of the dangers of prejudice borne of ignorance and fear.

In observance of the Day of Remembrance, the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee, Friends of Minidoka, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington and Seattle University will sponsor the Remembrance Taiko Festival at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20, at Piggott Auditorium on the SU campus.

Lorraine Bannai, a professor at the School of Law and associate director of the law school’s Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, said recognizing the wrong done to these students and presenting the degrees they would have received is an important part of the healing process.

“While these students suffered grievous losses, they endured and survived, and most were able to pick up the broken pieces of their lives and rebuild,” said Bannai, whose own parents were incarcerated during the war.

Tom Yamauchi did indeed rebuild, going on to a successful career with Boeing and the Northrup Corp., and a long marriage with Anne before his death in 1990.

Other honorees identified include:

John Fujiwara, who was never able to complete his college degree but found success as a Boeing photographer for 30 years.

  • Ben Kayji Hara, who volunteered with the Army soon after he was incarcerated, was sent overseas and died in Tokyo in 1945.
  • Shigeko (Iseri) Hirai, who eventually completed her nursing degree before moving to Chewelah, Wash. to farm seed potatoes with her husband.
  • Dr. May (Shiga) Hornback, who moved to Montana to avoid incarceration and went on to earn a Ph.D.  and become a nursing professor at the University of Wisconsin.
  • June (Koto) Sakaguchi, who moved to Colorado to finish her nursing degree and    eventually settled and raised her family in Milwaukie, Wis.
  • Mitsu Shoyama, who went on to receive her nursing degree at St. Boniface Hospital in Manitoba, followed by a successful nursing career in Kamloops, British Columbia
  • Joanne Misako (Oyabe) Watanabe, who was incarcerated at Minidoka, then returned with her husband to Seattle several years later and raised eight children.
  • Find more information on the Remembrance Taiko Festival at: http://sites.google.com/site/dayofremembrancetaikofestival/

    As part of the recognition of its former students, the university is organizing a series of discussions, exhibits and historical programs for the university community and the public. Planning is underway and details will be announced soon.

    The university is also urging Japanese Americans students or their relatives, whose SU educations were disrupted by the wartime exclusion and incarceration orders to contact Junsen Ohno, administrator for the Korematsu Center for Law & Equality, 206-398-4283.

    Announcing Honorary Undergraduate Degree Recipients

    Posted in Honorary Degrees, Japanese American Incarceration, Taiko Festival Pictures tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:51 pm by minidokapilgrimage

    Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

    This week marks the 69th anniversary of a sad and shameful chapter in our nation’s history. On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which gave the United States government authority for the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans.

    Following the bombing on Pearl Harbor, 120,000 U.S. citizens of Japanese descent were ordered from the West Coast and sent to desolate camps. Among the incarcerated were a number of students enrolled here at Seattle University, who through no fault of their own were suddenly removed from their studies. The indignities and injustices they endured can never be undone, but as a university committed to empowering leaders for a just and humane world we are called in a special way to help with the healing process.

    At our undergraduate commencement ceremony on June 12, we will confer honorary bachelor degrees upon these men and women in recognition of the work they did as students and the academic achievements they likely would have realized had they been permitted to continue their studies here. Efforts are now underway to contact the intended recipients or their families. We are very much looking forward to welcoming them back to Seattle University.

    Honoring these men and women further affirms our long and special relationship with the Japanese American community. Before World War II a community of Japanese Americans lived on what is now south campus. Famed sculptor George Tsutakawa’s “Centennial Fountain” sits in the heart of campus. Fujitaro Kubota, a Japanese immigrant who was incarcerated at Camp Minidoka in Idaho, designed nine beautiful gardens on our campus. In April 2006, the university dedicated its Japanese American Remembrance Garden, designed by Fujitaro Kubota’s grandson, Allan Kubota, as a tribute to the community that once thrived here.

    As we prepare to recognize these Japanese American honorees at commencement, the university is also organizing an exhibit, discussions and other educational programs related to the removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. On Sunday, Feb. 20, the university is co-sponsoring the Day of Remembrance 2011 Taiko Festival, at 2 p.m. in Pigott Auditorium to observe the signing of Executive Order 9066. The campus community is encouraged to attend.

    I want to thank the committee members who are working on preparations for this year’s honorary degrees: Co-chairs, School of Law Professor Lori Bannai, associate director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, and Dale Watanabe, international student advisor at the International Student Center; and the many who are contributing to this project including Casey Corr, director of strategic communications in Marketing Communications; Angelique Davis, assistant professor of political science; Kerry Fitz-Gerald , law school reference librarian; Katherine Hedland Hansen, director of communications in the law school; Jacquelyn Miller, associate provost for faculty affairs; and Kathy Ybarra, assistant to the president.

    As we prepare for this year’s commencement, let us remember what the Japanese Americans of the 1940s went through, the costs of ignorance and prejudice and the importance of moral leadership in confronting social wrongs during times of crisis and conflict.


    Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.

    Office of the President

    901 12th Avenue, Admn 109
    PO Box 222000
    Seattle, WA 98122-1090

    Tel. (206) 296-1891

    February 15, 2011

    Day of Remembrance 2011 Taiko Festival

    Posted in 2011 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka Pilgrimage, Taiko Festival Pictures tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:21 pm by minidokapilgrimage


    February 16, 2011

    Day of Remembrance 2011 Taiko Festival

    Seattle, WA – On February 19th, 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which forcibly expelled over 120,000 Japanese American citizens and legal residents from the west coast and into incarceration camps during the Second World War. In order to raise awareness of this historic event the Minidoka Pilgrimage Committee, in partnership with the Friends of Minidoka and Seattle University, is proud to present the second annual Day of Remembrance Taiko Festival on Sunday February 20th, 2011. The concert will take place at Seattle University’s Pigott Auditorium located at 1016 E. Marion St. from 2pm – 5pm and will feature a variety of performances from local Pacific Northwest Taiko Groups including Inochi Taiko, Kaze Daiko, One World Taiko, Ringtaro and Asako Tateishi/The School of Taiko, Seattle Kokon Taiko and Seattle Matsuri Taiko.

    The concert is being held in conjunction with Seattle University’s observation of the national Day of Remembrance which commemorates the signing of Executive Order 9066 and provides an ongoing reminder about the dangers of sacrificing civil and constitutional rights in the name of national security. In recalling the events of February 1942, the Japanese American community aims to remind the public about the need to protect civil rights and is especially relevant in a post 9/11 world.

    Tickets for the concert are only $20 and can be purchased at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington (JCCCW) main office at 511 – 16th Ave. South or via Pay Pal on the Day of Remembrance Taiko Festival website (http://tinyurl.com/2011taiko). Tickets purchased through Pay Pal will be available at will-call on the day of the concert. Raffle tickets will also be sold for a chance to win a 42” LCD television. Cost is $10 per ticket, and will be available from Minidoka Pilgrimage Committee members at the concert, and through the JCCCW (participants need not be present at the concert to be eligible to win the grand prize).

    For more information about this fantastic fundraising concert please visit the Day of Remembrance Taiko Festival website at http://tinyurl.com/2011taiko or contact the Minidoka Pilgrimage at mailto:minidokapilgrimage@gmail.com.

    February 2, 2011

    Fred Korematsu Day a first for an Asian American

    Posted in Japanese American Incarceration tagged , , at 3:13 pm by minidokapilgrimage


    Fred Korematsu Day a first for an Asian American

    Kevin Fagan, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Saturday, January 29, 2011

    Ines Trinh scanned her class of 29 fifth-graders in San Lorenzo on Friday and took a deep breath. It was time to make the lesson personal.

    “Just imagine, you’re told to leave your home, you’ve got to pack up and you have only two suitcases for everything,” Trinh told them. The Lorenzo Manor Elementary schoolkids’ eyes widened. “I want you to think about it. How would you feel?”

    Ten hands shot up. “Mad,” said the first boy. “Sad,” said a girl. “Insulted … guilty … lonely … disgusted,” intoned others.

    Trinh smiled. Sixty-nine years after U.S. soldiers herded 120,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II, she was able in one moment to make her young charges gain a new understanding of racial discrimination in America – and it was all really thanks to one man.

    That man is Fred Korematsu.

    Sunday is his day in California, the first in U.S. history to be officially named after an Asian American, and more than 500 teachers like Trinh are using it to tell elementary and high school students about his life and its landmark place in the annals of civil rights.

    Refused internment

    Korematsu was arrested near his San Leandro home in 1942 for refusing to go to a camp with the rest of his family. A 22-year-old welder at the time, he endured squalid prison cells and transfers to different camps until the end of the war.

    He lost his legal challenge to his confinement before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1944, but he never gave up on righting the wrong done to him – even as the decades ground on and he found it hard to make a living as a welder and draftsman with a “disloyalty” conviction on his record.

    That all changed in 1983 when Korematsu finally won exoneration. A federal judge in San Francisco overturned his conviction for resisting internment, and that victory paved the way for an official apology in 1988 from the U.S. government to internees and checks of $20,000 to each camp survivor.

    In 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Korematsu.

    Korematsu died in 2005. Four months ago, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an order designating every Jan. 30 in California as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.

    Sunday’s inauguration of the day will be celebrated at UC Berkeley‘s Wheeler Auditorium with presentations by the honoree’s daughter, Karen Korematsu, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and others.

    Those who carry on his legacy, however, are most excited about the classroom teachings that will take place in the coming weeks. Some classes, such as Trinh’s, began the lessons Friday.

    ‘A historic event’

    “This is a historic event,” said Ling Woo Liu, director of the Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education, which was founded in San Francisco in 2009 and created the curriculum for the classes. “Fred Korematsu’s story is about right and wrong, fair and unfair, and we think it’s very important to show to kids – not just for what happened before, but to keep in mind today.

    “We may not have internment camps like we did then, but we still have a lot of racial and religious discrimination,” Liu said. “Just look at some of the ways Muslim Americans have been treated since 9/11.”

    Most of the children in Ines Trinh’s fifth-grade class had never heard of Korematsu. After Friday, they said, they will never forget him.

    “It was really surprising to me to see how he stood up for his race and he tried to make things right,” said Isabel Ayala, 11. “Now I feel like he’s very important. In some ways he was treated even worse than Martin Luther King because he was taken to jail just because of his race.”

    Learning from history

    Words like that are balm to the ears of 60-year-old Karen Korematsu, who co-founded the institute in her father’s name and has devoted years to furthering his legacy.

    “People don’t pay enough attention to history,” she said. “They learn something and don’t remember it, so they wind up making the same kinds of mistakes. That’s why it’s important to teach the lesson of my father at an early age.”

    Korematsu’s niece

    One building over from Trinh’s classroom, another teacher was giving her class a preview of the Korematsu Day lesson she will deliver Monday. But it wasn’t until halfway through her presentation that she let them know they’re getting a little something extra with their lecture.

    “Fred Korematsu is my uncle,” third-grade teacher Joanne Kataoka, 62, told her class, saying it almost shyly – a characteristic often mentioned about Korematsu himself. “We’ll be talking about how he is a local hero.”

    “Wow!” a half dozen children erupted at once. “You must be a hero, too!”

    Kataoka blushed.

    “It’s not about me,” she said quietly. “It’s about standing up for what is right.”

    Honoring Korematsu

    The state’s main Fred Korematsu Day celebration will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Wheeler Auditorium on the UC Berkeley campus. The program includes presentations by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a screening of the Emmy Award-winning film “Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story.” Tickets range from $5 to $100. For information, go to fredkorematsuday.org.

    E-mail Kevin Fagan at kfagan@sfchronicle.com.

    This article appeared on page A – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/28/MNL61HFQI4.DTL#ixzz1CqWWXxli