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-06-0005

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TI: Well, there must have been some rapport between the two of you, because at that point, when he made that recommendation, or the recommendation for the committee... at that convention he was voted to be the national president of JACL, and asked you to head up the committee. I mean, at that point they also changed the name of the committee to National Committee for Redress.

HM: Yes.

TI: But asked you to head the committee.

HM: Well...

TI: So he must have felt some sense that you were a good person to do this.

HM: Well, because we had the research material. We had the background. We had done all the homework, and we put this bill together -- or the provisions for the bill together, assuming that Mineta's gonna write it under that structure. And so we had done all the work that he needed. And he was, he required that we become a party to this information and the knowledge base that we developed. And he put a lot of conditions on my, my chairmanship for the committee. So I refused it. I said, "You need a full-time guy for this job. I can't devote my full time, you know, for this, this kind of attention. I need to have the assistance of Shosuke, and I need the assistance of some of the other people in the Seattle area. And if you want to make it a troika of members for this committee, I'd be willing to take it on and we'll do it as a committee within the Seattle area, and then we respond to the whole committee nationally." And he didn't like that. He says, "I wanted one individual." So I says, "Well, I can't give you my total time and attention on it. I got a full-time job. I got other financial concerns that I'm worried about right now." And he didn't like that. So he appointed Tateishi for that job. And from there on, our relationship with Clifford went downhill very quickly. And well, I didn't feel very comfortable about taking on the whole job on a part-time basis. I felt that it required somebody that's going to give this thing 100 percent attention, really drive the program forward and spend the time with the congressional people that he needs to, and lobby the thing to the degree that it will get initial support for the bill. And so I declined.

TI: Well, how did you feel about Cliff appointing Tateishi to do this? Do you think he was a good choice?

HM: Well, the thing that I was concerned about was that John had certain feelings without knowing the background of it. He didn't know what the surveys indicated -- he wasn't interested. And the other problem we had with Clifford was the fact that we had this, what he called the bootstrap operation, where we were asking the people that were, met the criteria for the redress funding process, to allocate part of their income taxes, if not all their income taxes they're paying to a trust fund, which in turn would pay off the oldest individual first and go down to the youngest. Well, he felt that that was not the thing to do because we're paying for it out of our own pockets. Well, in reality we pay income taxes -- it goes into a general fund in the Internal Revenue system, they in turn allow Congress to fund certain monies to us. So it's really doing the same thing. And you have aviation tax fund, you have the highway tax fund, all this stuff. So there was nothing innovative about it except for the fact that we're relating to a bunch of damaged people that would fund their own programs. And I thought -- in fact, Joel Pritchard thought this was the height of genius if we would do this, because it's gonna limit the amount of money we can appropriate for any of these activities. [Laughs]

TI: So your sense was that was going to get lost, also with John and...?

HM: Yeah. It did get lost. And they couldn't see it. And they said, "It's too complex." So we tried to explain it to them. And they would not sit down with us for an hour to demonstrate how the monies were to be accumulated and how it was to be distributed. So it was a kind of difficult issue. "Our minds is, are made up already. Don't bother us with facts."

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.