Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Cherry Kinoshita Interview
Narrator: Cherry Kinoshita
Interviewers: Becky Fukuda (primary), Tracy Lai (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 26, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-kcherry-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

BF: Was that the first time people had really, at least when you were present, at least had openly sort of discussed individual compensation?

CK: Yeah, Henry is one of the first, if not the first to bring up individual payments. Because previously they had been talking about grants or community kind of things. And Henry was very strong and he and Shosuke are, I would say, the ones that convinced me of the rightness of individual payments. Of the rightness of asking for monetary compensation. Apology fine, you know, we need that, but you need monetary compensation to back that up. Because -- and the phrase that sticks in my mind is "our American system of justice" -- you don't go to court and just say you've been wronged or damaged. There is always a monetary award. It's like Bill Marutani says, if you have a traffic ticket, you don't go down and apologize that you did wrong. The judge is not going to say, "That's fine that you're sorry." There is monetary, and that's our system. And so gradually, you know, when they brought that out, it, then I gradually began to accept it. Because initially so many of us felt, you know, you don't ask for money. I mean, it doesn't seem right. Somehow it seems like you're asking for a handout and it was putting a value on this, too.

BF: Was that sort of the, what the majority of Niseis felt at the time, probably?

CK: I think, I think so. I know that when they sent out surveys then the responses came out down, because people didn't have to get up there and speak about it. But the surveys, you know, you don't have to sign your name, came back very much in favor of individual compensation, and so people felt in their hearts, "Yeah." But they don't want to come out and say this is what we want, because... so there was mixed feelings, too. Some people felt no, we're not going to ask for money and others felt -- and according, deep down, they were willing to say that on a survey -- that monetary was, was appropriate in this case. So as you may know, Henry took his plan and Henry developed this from, they say Boeing engineers. Actually out of... I guess there were five out of six or so, that were Boeing engineers and Shosuke was the economist who had worked for Standard and Poor's. They had sat, I guess, at Bush Garden and over these get-togethers or whatever, they had discussed about, what are we going to do about this, what we should do. And this sort of developed, as I say, gradually. It was a process of getting people to realize that it was appropriate. What they did was -- and somewhere around that time, '76 or '78, where I had the presidency in '77, so I was drawn in as president. They sent out, they did a tape, "Appeal for Action" and they sent it out -- and this may, probably comes up in Henry's interview -- to all the chapters, 100 chapters across the nation. They really didn't get a lot of response because essentially JACL, a lot of it, when they called, they said, "Well, we don't do that kind of thing, we have a picnic and a dinner once a year." [Laughs] So they didn't get involved. So it was a struggle to get that through. And Henry will go through all the struggle he had to get the national JACL to, you know, to support it and get on board.

BF: So, the Seattle chapter was sort of unique.

CK: Oh, very much so. And as we see in the final bill, much of which Henry and his group had devised, remained. The concept remained, individual. And it isn't that different, $20,000 as opposed to $15,000. In the final bill it didn't, it didn't just zero in on camp internees, but it extended to other people. But the basic thing is there, and so we do have to credit Henry and his group for devising that and sticking to it and weathering all the storms along the way.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.