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-06-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Well, and also in addition to the sort of the internal discussions with the JACL that were going on, on these and other issues, after the $25,000 amount became public, then going back to the Congress, the congressional delegation, they began coming in expressing sort of dismay at the idea of trying to go for $25,000, too. In particular --

HM: Well, the other people that were dismayed with the fact that when I made the presentations to some of the Protestant churches, the issue was constitutional and moral issues, and money was a, that was about tertiary level of importance. And now it became number one important. Anyway, after the news was announced that they were going after $25,000, after this Lake City convention in 1978, this minister called me up, and he says, "Hey, we weren't talking about money. We were talking about the moral and constitutional issues. If you guys gonna drive this into the money point of view, then I can't support you." Well, [Laughs] to me that was a very important issue, but I guess we lost sight of it in terms of the priorities that we want to send, in terms of the message to the American public. We lost it. And...

TI: Although you still felt that individual compensation was part of that whole package, that it was important that the government, in addition to all the other, the apologies, and to put in the context of what happened was wrong for moral reasons and constitutional reasons, that for them to really apologize -- and this was part of your plan -- there was that individual compensation?

HM: Yes. But that was related to the damage effects of what the evacuation had done to us. Well, anyway, going back in time, the thing that happened between '76 and '78 was the fact that a lot of these issues that we had already researched started coming out in the point of view that, you know, The Seattle Times doesn't include such-and-such a group, or it doesn't relate to the guys that were drafted into the army and they were never able to go back to their home areas after the evacuation started. Whole bunch of minor issues that related to a, a smaller class of individuals. And the initial requirement that we placed was the fact that everybody that was affected by the government action, being dislocated or being moved without their free will, without the constitutional guarantees that they had placed before us, would be eligible for this kind of compensation function. And I felt this was a major issue because there were more than just Japanese Americans involved. That leaves the Latin Americans, the Germans and the Italians. In fact, the German issues and Italian issues are starting to come up now. And then you see these articles about the fact that the Italians were treated badly during the war, and consequently they should get some kind of compensation or some kind of action by the U.S. government. So we were trying to address everybody. And we felt, at the point where we're drawing up all these specifics, that it would be an entire civil rights issue in terms of the Constitution. But nonetheless this had gone by the wayside when the $25,000 thing came up. And --

TI: Because all of a sudden that became the focus...

HM: Yeah.

TI: ...and everybody started attacking that.

HM: Yes.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.