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-06-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

HM: And so Frank Chin's idea was, "Well, let's get all these congressional candidates and the local candidates, and let's have a forum to see what they feel about Asian American and Japanese American issues." So he got the Quon Tuck Restaurant manager, and he said, "Yeah, you can have the whole second floor if you guys wanna have this political debate." [Laughs] That was his doing. Anyway, he did get Lowry up there and Cunningham up there and all these guys up there. And we started asking 'em questions. When it came time for the redress thing, well, you know Cunningham kind of backed off, [Laughs] of course, knowing what this survey results were. And then we knew what the answer was gonna be from Mike Lowry, anyway. But, anyway we asked him directly, and he said he would support it.

TI: Did he at that point give reasons why he would support it or did he just say he would support it?

HM: Well, he was familiar with the redress, I mean, the evacuation process because his parents had talked about it when he was a little kid. So he had some background on what had happened. So he was very comfortable with our position. And when we talked to him directly after that, we discussed what we wanted to cover in this bill and how we wanna do the compensation. And he thought that was a very novel way of getting the monies -- taking it out of your own tax burden and revolving it through the system.

TI: Now, it was a very, very close election.

HM: Well...

TI: So what happened? I mean, so after the Quon Tuck, Lowry came out in support, Cunningham backed away. What did you and others do to support Lowry?

HM: Well, Shosuke drafted the letter. And Tom Koizumi [Laughs] was in the act also because he was doing lot of the political stuff with this. And he felt, "Well, we should send a letter out." The popular vote for Cunningham and Mike Lowry, there was about 3,000 votes in favor of Cunningham at that point. And it would be a very close race no matter how you looked at it. But Shosuke was a, he's a capitalist from way back. [Laughs] So he was mostly a Republican supporter. And I don't think he ever voted for a Democrat in his life. [Laughs] And here's an issue that's facing us, and it's about whether or not a Democratic candidate is gonna support, is supporting an issue, whereas a Republican is not supporting this redress issue. And it came down to that. And Shosuke, for the first time in his life, voted for a Republican congressperson.

TI: Now, was that because -- he voted for a Democrat, you mean?

HM: Yeah, I mean...

TI: Right.

HM: ...for Democratic congressperson. But we drafted a letter. And we said, "This is a, this is dedicated to Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, and even any Asian-oriented person." And Ruth Woo got a address list of a whole bunch of people. And she knew lot of 'em that were Republican. But this is an issue that Asians felt very comfortable with. So she summoned a whole bunch of others. And it was a huge mail out.

TI: Are we talking about hundreds, thousands?

HM: Yeah. [Laughs] We're talking about maybe, maybe about 1,500 total, something like that. We ran out of money on the postage and the printing and all that kind of stuff. But that's what Ruth and Koizumi and all of us put together. And we sent it out. And Koizumi says, "Look at that, look at the votes [Laughs] in this last election." And he used to get all the results from different precinct areas. And he used to get the tabulation runs. He says, "Yeah, look at the support that Lowry got." And his feeling was that because we did send out the letters and so forth, we swung enough votes to cause Lowry to be elected. I don't know if we did or not. But I took it upon myself to canvas my own neighborhood in Newport Hills, and I asked these guys to, if they're gonna vote -- "Even though I know you're, you've voted Republican in the past, this guy is the better guy than Cunningham." And so I tried doing it in my own local neighborhood. But I think we conveyed enough votes to get, help Mike Lowry get elected.

TI: Do you recall how close it was, the final election? How much...

HM: Yeah. It was about 2,700 votes in favor of Mike Lowry.

TI: So the polls before showed Cunningham up, probably about 3 to 4,000?

HM: Yeah, a little over, a little more than 3,000.

TI: Three thousand.

HM: Yeah.

TI: And then, so there's a swing of about 5 -- 6,000 votes?

HM: Yeah.

TI: That's a good story.

HM: But, you know, it, we were asking the people, even at the churches to support Lowry, which the division of church and state, because this was a moral issue that we were addressing. We felt that we could ask the people to do this for us. It was a very interesting situation. But Mike Lowry was very thankful about what we had tried to do for him. And he committed himself to delivering on his commitment. And so after he got elected, Ruthann Kurose was appointed the legislative aide for this (redress) subject area. And we were doing things through her to draft the bill for, and eventually Mike Lowry did sponsor the bill.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.