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-06-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

HM: And then going to the UCLA seminar that was held down there...

TI: Let me just give some background. This was a conference held at UCLA. I think it was called Voices of Redress or something like that. But it focused on the redress movement. And what they did was they invited many of the participants to participate at UCLA. This was the fall of 1997. And this was probably the first time since the '80s that many of these people were together talking about this issue. So what did you think about this event?

HM: Well, both Kitano and Maki, professors at UCLA, were up here for about week. They were interviewing Cherry, Chuck. They talked to Shosuke a little bit. And I spent quite a bit of time with them. And they were trying to get some kind of background on what transpired in Seattle. And they were going to write up this thing into a book that they were planning to use at UCLA covering the redress process. So anyway, they spent enough time to get some ideas of what transpired, all the things that were done locally here. We even give 'em the tapes for the Appeal for Action, the audiotapes, we give 'em transcripts, we give 'em the material that we thought would be relative to what they were planning to document. And so we felt that we were able to give them some idea as to what transpired in Seattle area during the early '70s and up to the point of the commission hearings and then further on.

TI: And based on that, they invited you down to the UCLA convention?

HM: Well, there was quite a few of us that were invited. And Cherry, Chuck, and a whole bunch of others also. And it was well-attended. There was a lot of people there. And the kind of interesting thing was the first day, Roger Daniels gets up there and says that revocation of E.O. 9066 was done by Hiram Fong. Holy smokes, what kind of crap is this? So I was following his presentation. So I made a correction to it. But I think it fell mostly on deaf ears. But we were trying to give a very quick scenario of what transpired in Seattle from the early, from the late '60s all the way up through the time I kind of dropped off the program. And it was a kind of an interesting mixture of things. It was, some of it was JACL-oriented, some of it was some of the actions that were taken by the independent groups like the E.O.9066 group in Los Angeles, and also NCJAR, I mean, NC -- National Coalition for Redress and Reparations.


HM: Yeah. So there was a number of different flavors to the thing. And I thought it was kind of interesting because a lot of people were making presentations that were not extremely accurate. They were given with a generality that said, unless we were there, the whole thing wouldn't have taken place. And I didn't think some of those presentations were well-verified from my exposure to those organizations. But nonetheless, it was the first time that everybody was able to make their presentations in a collective effort. Unfortunately, there were concurrent meetings going on sometimes, so you couldn't get to all of them. But the various viewpoints were expressed. In fact, they had sessions in terms of the "no-no" boys, or what was referred to as the "no-no" boys, giving their point of view. And some of 'em were quite stormy. They had fairly loud, verbal presentations and accusations, and it resembled some of the feelings and passions that Japanese Americans had experienced in the past.

TI: What do you think the intent of that, the conference was, by bringing all these people together? What was Kitano and Maki attempting to do?

HM: Well, I think they were trying to make a party line from which they would use for Asian American studies at UCLA, and then also document in such a form, and then put it into a format such that the students will use it as a baseline of historical review for that time period. And I think they were overwhelmed with a lot of the political pressures that were being applied to them. They had Matsui there, and they had Mineta there. If I had my [Laughs] wishes, I would have really laid it on the line. And I would have come out and really stated what I felt, that maybe if it weren't for the Japanese American congressmen, we would've gotten redress ten years earlier. But I made a draft of the stuff that I was gonna present, and Cherry felt kind of uncomfortable with it, so I said, "Okay. What do you want me to change?"

TI: Because you were supposed to present on behalf of the Seattle JACL, or...?

HM: No. I was supposed to be presenting it for Seattle, not for JACL, but for the Seattle Redress Committee. So I prepared a draft, and since we were all together in the Seattle thing, I wanted, at least common ground between us, so that we could at least agree on what was to be presented. But they were kind of uncomfortable at some of the things I had in there. So I relented, and I kind of evaded the controversial issues. The only time I got into controversy was when I asked ex-congressman Mineta about how we could have kind of implemented this process a little bit more smoother and better, and got more efficiency out of it. And I made a statement to the effect that his legislative aide had once conversed with me on the phone, [Laughs] and stated that he didn't want the longevity of his congressman to be threatened and all this kind of a thing about this stupid issue. And I iterated that. And Mineta sprang up and -- extremely interesting retort, not answering my question, but he says, "Nobody on my damn staff would ever do that kind of stuff." And he was really livid.

And later on, after that session was over, I went to Mineta and I said, I told him, "This really occurred. And we did send you those two packages, one in San Jose and one in Washington, D.C., about Appeal for Action. And we just got this form letter back from one of your people." And I said, "You made that agreement in September of 1975 about what you would do if we passed, did the things that we agreed to." He didn't, he just changed the subject. But they were trying to do a party line process, I think. And Maki and Kitano, I think their intent is to say, "Okay, this is the history as it's recorded." It might give Hiram Fong the credit for revocation of E.O. 9066 and some of these other things. But you got to get back to basic facts and accuracy. You've got to state things as they are, not what they are claimed to be. And I don't know how they're going to record how they revoked E.O. 9066, but they'll probably play it off and say it just occurred by accident, or the national JACL did that. But there's a lot of things that have to relate to facts. And unless you understand the facts, you're not gonna be able to relate on how you're gonna plan for the future and implement different processes.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.