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-06-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

HM: Well, in September of '75, when Mineta was, came up here, he was trying to raise campaign money for his congressional seat. And Tomio arranged a meeting, and we all met at Bush Gardens. And Tom Koizumi kind of nailed him, and said, "Well, what would it take for you to sponsor a bill in Congress relative to redress for Japanese Americans?" So he made a bunch of requirements. One of 'em was the fact that we had to get a resolution passed through the next national convention for JACL that would relate to what issues we wanted to address. And so consequently, the 1976 convention in Sacramento was the key, because we wanted first to convince Mike Masaoka, secondly, to pass the resolution -- which we did -- and address all the issues relative to redress -- who'd be covered, why are we doing this, all the necessary objectives of the bill. And my assumption was that if we got that thing done and completed with a unanimous vote, or at least close to unanimous vote, that it would be meaningful for Mineta to respond to it. But we got no response from him. So my position was, to Mike Honda was that, let's carry it through to Mineta's office and see what he's gonna do about it. And if he's got some hang-up, we'll try to address it and we'll try to correct it. But anyway, at the course of these events, this congressional aide at San Jose for Mineta calls me up one day at work in Boeing. He says, "Well, you know this is a minor issue for the congressman. It's not that important." And he kind of downplayed the thing relative to the priorities that Mineta was faced with in Congress. And so I said, "Well, you know, this, your congressman made a commitment to us. We shook hands across the table from him, and we specified what we were gonna, were planning to do. And if it was to be implemented successfully, he would support a bill for redress." And then he, he started talking about the importance of different issues in his district relative to how he would be played in Congress. And the words started getting pretty heated. And he said in one statement that this is such a minor issue in terms of his congressional priorities that, "You're gonna sacrifice the career of a congressman just because of this stupid issue." And I remember the word "stupid" that he used. So I got really ticked off at that point. And we started exchanging our personal viewpoints about what this represented. So consequently, he made a bunch of four-letter words, and I must have responded in turn. [Laughs] He hung up the phone on me. And I thought to myself, "Man, this is a really interesting situation." But during this process Joel Pritchard, who was our local congressman, liked our pitch that we gave to him about redress. And Joel had school friends that were in high school at the same time he was.

TI: Right, yeah. You talked about this last interview, and how...

HM: Yeah.

TI: ...he actually was gonna do something, but Mineta told him to back off.

HM: Yeah. Well, he did in fact. So I was kind of in a difficult position. We lose the support of Pritchard, and then we rely on Mineta and he doesn't come through with this process. And I was having second thoughts about whether or not our Nikkei congresspeople were gonna be effective at all.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.