November 6, 2014

Seattle woman in famous wartime photo dies

Posted in Bainbridge Island, Day of Remembrance, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, News tagged , , , , , at 11:31 am by minidokapilgrimage

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Seattle-woman-in-famous-wartime-photo-dies-5874325.php

Seattle woman in famous wartime photo dies

Updated 12:09 pm, Thursday, November 6, 2014
Fumiko Hayashida holds 13-month-old daughter Natalie, while waiting board a ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle on March 30, 1942. They were among 227 Japanese Americans forced into interment camps during World War II under Executive Order 9066.  Photo: Seattlepi.com File/MOHAI, -
Fumiko Hayashida holds 13-month-old daughter Natalie, while waiting board a ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle on March 30, 1942. They were among 227 Japanese Americans forced into interment camps during World War II under Executive Order 9066. 
Photo: Seattlepi.com File/MOHAI, –

Seventy years ago, Fumiko Hayashida was a face in the crowd, one of 227 Japanese-Americans forced to leave Bainbridge Island during World War II. But as she awaited imprisonment with a baby in her arms, a news photographer took her picture.

That photo would later become an iconic wartime image, propelling Hayashida, then a modest farmer’s wife, into the limelight of civil rights activism.

“She was a nobody, but she was everybody,” said Hayashida’s daughter, K. Natalie Ong. It had been Natalie, then 13 months old, that Hayashida was holding the day their family was exiled.

“She represented everybody and what happened to Japanese-Americans.”

Hayashida died Sunday in Seattle. She was 103.

From farmer’s wife to living icon

Born on Bainbridge Island, Hayashida was the oldest living Japanese-American incarcerated from the island. Because they were near naval bases, the Bainbridge group was the first of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry detained under Executive Order 9066 in the country.

Most were U.S. citizens.

The government gave the Bainbridge group six days’ notice of their March 30, 1942 internment. Then 31 and pregnant, Hayashida wore all the clothes she could; boarded a ferry to Seattle; and then a train to Manzanar, an isolated desert camp in California. She was anxious and scared.

“It’s awful when you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know long you’re going to stay,” Hayashida told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2009. Her family later went to Minidoka in Idaho, spending a total of about three and half years in camps. She gave birth to her son Leonard. She had three kids under 5 while incarcerated.

When she and husband Saburo returned to Bainbridge, their strawberry fields had gone fallow. Many of their friends never returned to the island. He got a job at Boeing and they moved to Beacon Hill, where Hayashida raised three kids and lived for decades.

It had been a Seattle Post-Intelligencer photographer who took the photo, but a MOHAI staffer who identified her. The archivist had enlarged the photo and was able to read her internment tag.

By that time, Hayashida was an old woman. Her photo appeared in magazines and the Smithsonian. She quickly became a living icon, a survivor of wartime heartbreak.

“She wasn’t a political person, or an activist, but she relished that role,” said Ong, her daughter. “It really added an interesting dimension to her later life.”

‘I had a good life’

In her 90s, Hayashida joined the effort to get federal recognition for a Bainbridge site memorializing the internment. She testified before Congress, rolling down the halls in a wheelchair. At first, she was reluctant.

“She said, ‘Oh no, I can’t speak, I’m an old lady,'” recalled her friend Clarence Moriwaki, who had convinced her to testify.

“She nailed it,” he said. “She said, ‘I’m 95 years old, I’m an old woman, I hope I live long enough to see this memorial be recognized.'”

The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, of which Moriwaki is president, is now open to the public.

Earlier this year, Hayashida came out for Bainbridge’s annual New Year’s mochi-pounding festival. Crowds greeted the petite, white-haired centenarian with enthusiasm.

“I think the crowd clapping for her was louder than the taiko drums,” Moriwaki said.

Hayashida was vibrant in old age and didn’t dwell on the past. She preferred instead to root for her beloved Mariners, fill her house with frog figurines and play poker with girlfriends.

“This war was so long ago,” she told the P-I in 2009. “I’m proud of my life. I had a good life, not a perfect one. But nobody’s life is perfect. I have good family and good friends, and I feel so lucky.”

Hayashida is survived by sister Midori Yamasaki; daughter K. Natalie Ong and son Neal Hayashida; grandchildren Dennis Hayashida, Richard Hayashida, Kristine Hayashida Moore, Gary Ong and Paula Ong; five great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by husband Saburo Hayashida and son Leonard Hayashida.

The family has planned a celebration of her life on Nov. 16 in Seattle.

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March 4, 2014

Manzanar Committee Denounces Inyo County Planning Commission Decision That Could Threaten Manzanar

Posted in Japanese American Incarceration, Manzanar Pilgrimage, News tagged , at 9:33 am by minidokapilgrimage

http://blog.manzanarcommittee.org/2014/02/28/manzanar-committee-denounces-inyo-county-planning-commission-decision-that-could-threaten-manzanar/

Manzanar Committee Denounces Inyo County Planning Commission Decision That Could Threaten Manzanar

February 28, 2014 by

Looking east from the visitor’s center at Manzanar National Historic Site. The floor of the Owens Valley, along with the Inyo Mountains in the background, are visible. But this view could be destroyed by large-scale renewable energy generating facilties if the County of Inyo opens the door to that kind of development in the Owens Valley.

Photo courtesy National Park Service

LOS ANGELES — The Manzanar Committee denounces the decision by the County of Inyo Planning Commission to approve the 2013 Renewable Energy General Planning Amendment (REGPA) to the County’s General Plan, which would open the door to the construction of large-scale, industrial-grade renewable energy facilities in the County, including an area within the viewshed of the Manzanar National Historic Site.

The 2013 REGPA, which now goes to the County’s Board of Supervisors for final approval, defines Renewable Energy Development Areas (REDA) where large-scale renewable energy generating facilities could be built in Inyo County.

The Manzanar Committee opposes the 2013 REGPA because it would allow the construction of such facilities throughout a huge swath of the Owens Valley, a large portion of which would be visible from the Manzanar NHS. Such facilities within Manzanar’s viewshed would destroy the ability to teach current and future generations about how the desolation of the area was a key factor in the decision to build one of the ten American concentration camps at Manzanar during World War II, not to mention how the desolation of the area was used to control the behavior of the 11,070 Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated there, instilling in them a sense of despair and hopelessness.

The Manzanar Committee also opposes the 2013 REGPA because allowing large-scale renewable energy facilities to be built in the Owens Valley, forever marring its beauty, makes no sense, given that Inyo County’s economy is based on tourism. Furthermore, such facilities would not contribute positively to the local economy because they do not create a significant number of permanent jobs—the economic benefit for the County would be inconsequential.

The 2013 REGPA does not affect large-scale renewable energy development on land owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), as the County has no authority over them in such matters. As such, it has no impact on LADWP’s Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch, a proposed 1,200-acre solar energy generating facility that would be built on LADWP-owned land, adjacent to the Manzanar NHS. However, by including such a large portion of the Owens Valley as a REDA, the 2013 REGPA would open other lands in the area to such development as well, posing an even greater threat to Manzanar.

At their February 26 meeting, attended by an overflow crowd at the County’s Board of Supervisors meeting room in Independence, California, more than thirty people addressed the Planning Commission, with just one supporting the 2013 REGPA. But after more than three hours of public comment, with virtually no deliberation, the Commission voted 4-1, with Commissioner Bill Stoll the lone dissenter.

Along with former incarcerees Kanji Sahara and Hank Umemoto, Gann Matsuda represented the Manzanar Committee at the meeting.

“We are absolutely outraged, not only by the Inyo County Planning Commission’s apparent total lack of understanding of the issue before them, but also by their rubber stamping of this horribly flawed amendment,” said Matsuda. “They were clearly in over their heads. Based on the questions the Commissioners asked, and the comments they made, it was blatantly obvious that they were utterly confused and totally unprepared to consider this matter. They clearly did not understand the amendment at all, yet they ignored overwhelming opposition and approved it.”

“The Planning Commission disregarded and disrespected their constituents, as well as those of us who made the long drive from Southern California to explain how the amendment green lights large-scale renewable energy development that would intrude on the viewshed of the Manzanar National Historic Site, on top of what the LADWP has proposed,” added Matsuda. “Their actions were a gross display of negligence, arrogance, unprofessionalism, and perhaps incompetence,” added Matsuda.

The Manzanar Committee also supports organizations and residents in the Owens Valley who contend that the 2013 REGPA does not reflect earlier community input which heavily opposed the amendment.

“The will of the people of Inyo County is being ignored by their County government,” Matsuda noted. “One Inyo County resident after another who attended the earlier public meetings where input into the amendment was received told the Planning Commission that the 2013 REGPA does not, in any way, reflect the overwhelming opposition that was expressed at those meetings.”

“We stand with the Big Pine Paiute Tribe, the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, the Owens Valley Committee, and others in Inyo County in their demand that the Inyo County Board of Supervisors truly represent their constituents when they consider the 2013 REGPA, and that includes protecting the Manzanar National Historic Site from intrusions into its viewshed,” Matsuda added.

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors is expected to consider the 2013 REGPA on March 18.

“The Inyo County Board of Supervisors must recognize that the 2013 REGPA is horribly flawed,” said Matsuda. “We call on them to protect the County’s economy, its residents, and the Manzanar National Historic Site, by preventing large-scale renewable energy development in the Owens Valley.”

For further details, please refer to our comments to the Inyo County Planning Commission regarding the 2013 REGPA: Manzanar Committee Calls On Inyo County To Shut Door On Large-Scale Renewable Energy Facilities In Owens Valley.

The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when Constitutional rights are in danger. A non-profit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site. You can also follow the Manzanar Commitee on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and YouTube.