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-06-0004

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TI: Right, and actually, it heats up even more because -- let's go to 1978 because at that convention, the National Committee for Reparations at that point made a recommendation, and that was to compensate those who were interned with $25,000.

HM: Well that was a surprise to us and the members of the committee, because we were not informed about that. That was, that came out of Clifford Uyeda. And it was, and prior to that, Hayakawa had voiced opinions in the Senate about the fact that there should be no reparations or redress for Japanese Americans.

TI: So you say as a committee member you weren't aware that this recommendation was going to be made to the general body or to the...?

HM: Well, what we had agreed to in the committee versus what was publicly announced was completely different.

TI: But then, you said you were surprised.

HM: This, the whole avenue of approach that Clifford was taking. And he would say things to the committee as a body, and yet when he made a public declaration it was completely different from what we had assumed he was going to take. So I guess during this entire process -- because I had some personal problems -- end of ('77) my son passed away, and beginning of '78, we went into a divorce proceedings with my ex-wife. And following that my oldest daughter gets into a jeep accident. And she gets thrown out of a jeep, and she lands with a terrific head injury. And so these other things were really influencing how much time I had to focus on the redress issue. And, well, it was a period where I did not have 100 percent attention placed on the redress situation. So in Clifford's situation, he felt that, that this procedure that we were using in terms of evaluating what the compensation should be for the individuals, was a sore point, especially to the vets. And we had constraints saying that we would give a flat fee for people that were affected by the relocation and evacuation process.

TI: And so this was during the committee sort of meetings and discussions, this was his standpoint?

HM: Yeah. But he didn't have any solution other than to say that that's not the way to go. But, nonetheless, because we had the, the feedback from all the JACL chapters that responded on the Appeal for Action, they felt they were comfortable with the way that we were targeting the compensation process. Well, to me, I guess, I did not feel that money was the most important issue at large. This was a constitutional point of view that we were trying to address. And it related not just to Japanese Americans, but to Aleuts, and the Peruvian and Bolivian Japanese Latin Americans, and other people that were involved this entire process. It was not just (E.O. 9066). It related to what the State Department did, what the department of army did in Alaska and whole bunch of other things. So it related to the constitutionality of whether or not the government could enforce incarceration on us. And so the issue become very, very clouded. And Clifford was talking about money. He was doing, he was talking about a flat amount for everybody.

TI: But although, I mean, you said that Clifford surprised you, but surprised you probably in a positive sense, too. I mean, you wanted the individual compensation also. That was part of your Seattle Plan.

HM: Yeah. Individual compensation based on the damage that was done to the individual. And you have to have somewhat of a correlation between a person that was affected for like, let's say -- the worst case condition, to me, was the people that were kidnapped from the South American countries and hijacked to the United States, and then be left without a country of origin.

TI: Oh, I see. So make sure I understand. So I mean, earlier, your original plan called for a smaller set amount, plus a amount based on the daily, or how long people were incarcerated.

HM: Yes.

TI: And so you were thinking still in terms of those, rather than a flat rate for everybody. To actually have it sort of variable based on, as you say, the, how people were affected.

HM: Yeah. And the other problem was that when we made the declaration for the Appeal for Action, we had a set program on how these things would interrelate -- you know like people that would not make claims, where would the money go in? And because of Ben Nakagawa and his influence on the educational part of it, we had assumed that that would be going into some kind of educational fund. Well, the end result of it was that, the legislative committee for education process that took place, and they appropriated the $5 million for it. But that was a puny amount compared to what we had allocated from what we computed on the actual number of days in camp, and so forth, and how many of the people had not survived to the point of the redress bill. So you're talking about a lot of numbers of people that had deceased. So there were provisions for all these different things. And what these chapters voted on was the fact that they addressed the issue, do they feel that the compensation structures is, meets their approval? And most of them said, "Yes." So we were using their viewpoint as the major issue, whereas Clifford was taking the viewpoint, "Well, we're gonna do this the way we want to do it."

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.