Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Henry Miyatake Interview VI
Narrator: Henry Miyatake
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 28, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-mhenry-06-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: When the organizers -- after the event was over, and you guys got together to sort of rehash it, what was the feeling of you, and Frank Chin, Frank Abe and the others?

HM: Well, we thought it went unusually well. [Laughs] I mean, especially Frank, he was really elated. He thought this was another chapter. The thing that really made it bad, and I probably had a lot of influence in doing this, but because I was -- the national committee kind of snubbed us and gave all this thing about delayed mail and all this kind of stuff.

TI: You're talking about the national JACL.

HM: Yeah. And Clifford Uyeda and John Tateishi and Karl Nobuyuki and these guys were there. And Clifford asked me to allow fifteen minutes for them to talk. John Tateishi asked me for fifteen minutes to talk. And I told Frank Chin, "We don't have time on the program for them to talk. We're not gonna allow 'em to talk." And that's what we forced on 'em. And that created some very bad feelings for them. And in so doing, it might have resulted in Ellen Endo's decision that they would protest any airing of that material because that's, she stated that was a regional type effort.

TI: And Ellen Endo was sort of the, what, PR person for national JACL? Was that her role?

HM: Yeah. Uh-huh. And she had a, she had some kind of official function in one of the national broadcasting companies.

TI: Go back to your reasoning. Why didn't you want Cliff Uyeda and John Tateishi to speak at Puyallup?

HM: Because, well, they gave us $100 or something, some small amount. And they wanted to be listed on the front of the billboard that we were making. Well, they came in so late, after the fact, that we didn't wanted to put them on. We already had the format already made. To stick them on the bottom was kind of stupid anyway. And 100 bucks, to us, didn't represent any degree of feeling or effort. And on top of that, they snubbed us all the time about, even trying to get us to the meetings on time. We'd get the letter after the fact. Things of this nature. So I didn't think they were giving us a fair shake, and I didn't feel we needed to give them a fair shake. It was not an issue of JACL, it was issue of Japanese Americans in totality. If we did that, then we'd have to have all the churches in Seattle give their fifteen minutes of play because they wanted to make their presentation also. So we just eliminated it altogether. And they felt that we did it on purpose. And in one form we did because they came in at the last minute and asked for time. We had the program all set up. So, but anyway, that caused a lot of bad feathers to be ruffled.

I thought... after the fact, I thought that it was a tremendous success on getting the community together. And some of the people would say, "That was the first time I ever talked to my children about the camps, when we were driving on the caravan down to Puyallup." And so it was coming out of the closet for some of these guys. To me, that was not the case because, you know [Laughs] I talk to my kids about all this kind of stuff, and I used to show them the school yearbook and show them what kind of a lousy place this was. And so I guess for some families it's different. And for them it was a kind of a, kind of a grand opening for the kids to get at least exposed to this information -- and the fact that the parents were even now talking about it. And there were a lot of stories about that. This was after the event took place. But I felt there was more to what Frank Chin was telling me than what I was able to absorb and get a proper perspective. He had the proper perspective. He knew that this would be a earthshaking event for the families that participated.

TI: Was this the first Day of Remembrance?

HM: Yeah.

TI: In the whole country?

HM: Uh-huh. Yeah.

TI: And how is that other Day of Remembrances started emerging or popping up in different communities?

HM: Well, in the Portland case, well, Frank Chin, and Frank Abe, and Kathy Wong and Karen used to go down to Portland meetings and try to get those people revved up, so that they could have their own Day of Remembrance. And they did have, after that event in Seattle because James Tsujimura, and a lot of these guys from Portland were there at Puyallup Day of Remembrance. They thought that was a great idea. And they, I attended the one in Portland. And they did a very good job. It was much more orderly than ours, and the presentations were, they had spent a lot of time doing the history of the evacuation in the Portland area -- how many people were involved, they had the reproductions of the newspaper photographs on the slide shows. They did a tremendous job. I was very impressed with the way they did it. But it took a long effort on the part of the two Franks, and Karen, and Kathy to convince these people that they should have it. They would say, "Oh, we don't know whether we should have it or not. I mean, you guys up there, you guys got more people up there than we do," and all these funny excuses. But they did put it on, and it was a very good, successful event. And it brought the community together.

One thing I think that Puyallup did was bring the whole community together. It's not just JACL, or Nisei vets, or one of the churches or, everybody was there. So it was a collective experience for everybody. And to me, it was a kind of a culmination of all the stuff that we were trying to do for redress. Not only do we want to talk about the constitutionality, immoral effects, but have these guys come together with a common cause. Because the government did a lot of things to us that separated us as groups of individuals, the Isseis from the Niseis. Because the Niseis pinpointed all the so-called bad Isseis that were questionable in their character. And it separated the community itself, separated the families. And the parents wouldn't talk about this whole experience with the children. But it enabled them to at least come together and see the stuff, and people talk about it openly and discuss the issues. So to me, that was a really interesting point in the whole redress process. But I felt that if we could do it in the Seattle Puget Sound area, everybody else should be able to do it and you should have a tremendous crowd for Los Angeles. But no, that's not the case. We were a unique example of what was transpiring in the redress process. And I felt that as a national organization, that their leadership was somewhat deficient in terms of the role that the national director, the national president, the whole board itself. And they were the ones that were slowing the process down and holding us back.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.