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Title: Henry Miyatake Interview V
Narrator: Henry Miyatake
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 14, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-mhenry-05-0031

<Begin Segment 31>

TI: Let's -- so you got this disappointing response from the National JACL Board, and so you come back to Seattle, and what do you decide to do at that point?

HM: Well, I gave my report to the JACL meeting --

TI: This is the Seattle Chapter?

HM: Yeah. And then there started to appear in the Pacific Citizen, the newspaper, articles by Mike Masaoka opposing reparations, and we got articles written by Bill Hosokawa saying this whole idea of reparations is done by a bunch of, he called us "Sansei activists," "radical activists" in one article.

TI: Was this Bill Hosokawa or S. I. Hayakawa?

HM: Well, S. I. Hayakawa called us a buncha names too, but Hosokawa called us some unfriendly names so Tomio wrote him two letters saying hey, we're not a bunch of radical people. We got one Issei and one Kibei and the rest of us are Nisei, but still Hosokawa in his book calls us the names that he wanted. Well, you know, Shosuke knew Hosokawa from before the war, so he should know better, but he purposely does that. This is like demonizing Japanese Americans, well he's trying to categorize us and say hey, we're a bunch of ultra leftist, radical nuts here. Well, his articles get read by a lotta people.

TI: Was he specifically talking about you? Or was he lumping you with Edison Uno and --

HM: Yeah, the whole group of us. Shosuke, because Shosuke used to write the rebuttals in a lotta of the newspaper columns. And Bill Hosokawa knew Tomio fairly well and he knew us, but he used to still label us to make it so that he would have better followship in his readers. But anyway these articles started coming out and then the only guy that was supportive of redress or reparations at that time was Edison Uno. His "Minority of One" column used to support the things that we stood for. And he used to review the information that we sent him and he was kinda happy with the way we were going. So he would write his letters or columns of support and the other two guys were trying to run us down the tube. So well, that was '74. And then they set up this Legislative Action Committee that was supposed to meet in the spring of '75 and that's when Kaz Oshiki, who was a legislative aide for Katzenmier, who was a congressman, he set up the meeting and had the representatives from all these different areas. Well, in '75 we had Mineta from San Jose area come up and he was a guest of Tomio, and Tomio was trying to collect some campaign money for him, for his run at the Congress. And we were at Bush Gardens there and Tom Koizumi figured well, this is the best time to put Mineta in posture position on redress.

TI: 'Cause you figure he's up there trying to get funding or contributions --

HM: Yeah.

TI: And that would be a great time to --

HM: Talk to him, yeah, and see what his conditions were. And so we had the dinner and Tom placed the question to Mineta and said, "What would it take for you to sponsor a bill in Congress to do reparations for Japanese Americans?" And well, he came out with these general statements. "Well, you have to get the support of the general Japanese American population, you have to get the support of the congressmen in your local areas," and all this kind of stuff. So Tom asked him specifically about, what conditions are you talking about? And so he said, "Well, you have to get the JACL to support you." Anyway, I asked the question, "What in terms of JACL are you looking for," because here I go to the board meeting and they don't give us their approval or anything. And he said, "Well, you have to pass the resolution for the convention." So I said, "Okay, what else do you want us to do?" And he says, "Well you have to get the general consensus of the JACL organization to support it." And I said, "Would you sponsor a bill if we can get that support and get that resolution passed?" And he said, "Yes, I will." Well, that was 1975. That was when he was looking for campaign money. 1976 comes around and we do pass that resolution in Sacramento. We get Mike Masaoka on our side, in fact that was our strategy, to look at all the articles that Masaoka generated opposing reparations, take all the points of view that he had, and have a rebuttal to every one of 'em that would be without question, overwhelming to him. And so we had Shosuke write a letter to Mike Masaoka three days before the convention, or I mean three days prior to the convention start, asking him for three day reservation, we want to discuss this issue of reparation.

TI: One of the reasons you had Shosuke write this was because he knew Mike...

HM: Yes.

TI: ...or he had worked with Mike previously.

HM: Yeah, yeah. My only exposure to Mike Masaoka up until that time was the time --

TI: At that party, right.

HM: I met him at that party in Washington D.C. So anyway, and Mike Masaoka agreed to it, which was a surprise to me because I thought hell, he's gonna oppose this meeting. And so we spent the two days, we thought it was gonna take us three days. We had all his statements put on a format sheet. I had 5 x 7 cards made up, and the question, and our rebuttal, and how it was substantiated. Had all these things put together. And so for two days we met with him. And into the, well, it was about noon of the second day he says, "Okay, I'll support you guys. I'll put it in my sayonara speech." And he did. He did support it. But then he reneged after that. [Laughs]

TI: But at least at that event -- this is the 1976 JACL National Convention in Sacramento --

HM: Well --

TI: They passed it.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.