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

<Begin Segment 1>

Tom Ikeda: Today is October 28, 1999. We're at the Densho studios. This is the sixth interview that we're starting. And Henry, the last interview we ended up in 1976. And we had talked a little bit about the 1976 JACL Convention and how they had adopted the Seattle Plan. And they had formed a National Committee for Reparations at this convention. So we'll talk about that. And then we, you then talked about the rescission of E.O. 9066. So that's where we are. But let's go back to the national convention, 1976. They formed this National Committee for Reparations. And you were a member of this national committee. Can you tell me what happened with this committee and what you guys did after this convention?

Henry M.: Well, they appointed two people for the co-chairmanship of the National Redress Committee. One of them was Mike Honda, who is now assemblyman for the California legislature. And the problem was that the other guy didn't want to do anything. This was a facade that they put up to try to generate the feeling that they're gonna carry through with redress. But Mike and this other guy didn't get along very well and they were at opposing points of view. And...

TI: Well, I think it's in public records, so why don't you go ahead and mention this other person, so we hear...?

HM: [Laughs] I think I better not, just for the sake of his comfort. But, anyway, Mike was quite ambitious about carrying through on this program. And he was trying to get a coalition of inputs from different org -- different individuals that were appointed by their, their districts to represent the committee. Mike used to come up to Seattle, and we used to have long discussions about why we needed to do this, and what was the background of it, and all this kind of stuff. I was trying to orient him on the history of the whole redress process. He was trying to do his part. And one of the things that he was trying to do was trying to get Congressman Mineta to follow through with his commitment that he made to us back in September of 1975, when he was up here. And we collared him on his requirements for going through with the bill for redress. And so he became our liaison with Mineta's office in San Jose. And he was located in that general area also. So consequently, he indicated to the administrative aide that was covering the thing for Mineta to at least try to help us in terms of what we can do to implement this process through Mineta's office.

TI: Because your hope at this point was that Mineta would sponsor a bill for redress? Was that...?

HM: Yes.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 3>

HM: During this same time sequence, I had a chance to talk to Sparky Matsunaga. And he came through to talk to the Nisei Vets in town. And I got fifteen minutes with him on the appointment schedule. And it ran to about two-and-a-half hours because he thought the issues were very important to Japanese America. And he was very empathetic with the position that we were taking. He was also fascinated with the amount of research that we had done relative to all the activities that we were talking about that pertain to -- in the question of Japanese American loyalty before and during World War II, things like the DeWitt testimony in the Supreme Court, you know, things of this nature.

TI: Now, was this the first time Sparky had really sat down and grappled with the issues of redress?

HM: Yes. Prior to that we sent him -- well, Thanksgiving weekend we sent out the Appeal for Action. This was the audio tape, as well as the transcript. And he had sent us a very nice letter. He must have really looked at that thing and listened to the tape because he was responding to the issues that we were undertaking. And I guess this is the reason why he gave me the fifteen minute appointment that, which ran to two-and-a-half hours.

TI: So he had already received materials from you, had sort of understood that, but this was your first face-to-face meeting...

HM: Yes.

TI: really discuss this in more detail.

HM: And he wanted to know various parts of the things that we were describing in the redress program. And at that point, Sparky was knowledgeable about the fact that some people in Hawaii were affected -- you know the people, the Isseis that were interned in Missoula, Montana and Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was familiar with that. And he was also familiar with the fact that there were people on Sand Island. But he didn't know what the numbers were, and things of this nature. But it was a kind of a good interchange of information between myself and Sparky. And I was very impressed with the fact that he would allow me to talk to him for the length of time that I had with him. And he kind of postponed the other scheduled parts of his appointment schedule. But I felt that he was gonna be the main focal point for any redress issues that would come to bear. And as history proves it, he was very influential, he was very responsive to our requests.

TI: Right, because in, later on in the U.S. Senate, especially, he was a driving force...

HM: Yes.

TI: ...for the bill.

HM: Yeah. In fact, Inouye -- because of his, after Sparky's passing -- felt obligated to follow through on it. And I was kind of disappointed from the congressional Nikkei congressmen because the response we received from the Appeal for Action didn't amount to very much except a form letter. And I was very depressed with the letter that Senator Inouye sent to us. And so anyway, I found out who the legislative aide was to Inouye.

TI: Well, I was gonna ask you -- because you say you were disappointed because you got a form letter -- but by this time you probably had a pretty good sense of how things worked in the political arena? I mean, you've done a pretty good job, it seems like, where you're emerging in terms of establishing personal relationships. I mean, your realization that sitting down with Sparky was important. You probably started seeing that you needed to go directly to the individuals?

HM: Well, I tried to get to Inouye when he was coming through Seattle. He went through Seattle several times. And Tak Kubota, who was active in the Democratic Party, he was our interface with Senator Jackson and Senator Magnuson. And, anyway I asked Tak for fifteen minutes with Inouye when he came through. For some reason or the other I was, they said, "Oh, he doesn't have the time. That's not the issue that he is interested in." All kinds of funny answers. But I tried maybe, maybe four times to try to get at least fifteen minutes with him. And Inouye at that time was doing a lot of work for the Indians, the Klamath tribe in Oregon, the Puyallups here locally, and some of the other Indian tribes relative to the Indian claims, Native American claims act, I guess. And I felt if he had known some of the issues that related to people even in Hawaii, that he would at least be somewhat interested in the fact that Hawaiians, or Japanese Americans in Hawaii were affected by this whole process. But I guess his public response, at that point, was the fact that that wasn't a major issue and he wasn't very interested in it. He was just the opposite of Sparky.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

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.

<Begin Segment 5>

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.

<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.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Well, in addition, now is probably a good time to talk about -- a real vocal critic of the whole redress was S.I. Hayakawa, who at this point was a U.S. senator from California.

HM: Yeah. After the '76 convention in Sacramento, Hayakawa started talking in Congress about his opposition to any kind of reparations-type program. And so when he started putting articles in the paper, our only position was to make a rebuttal. So Shosuke was given the [Laughs] job of addressing this thing in The Seattle Times and Seattle P.I. newspapers because Hayakawa's column appeared in one of the daily vernaculars. So that was Shosuke's job. And he did a very good job of addressing it.

TI: Now was there ever a thought to make that a national campaign? You mentioned the Seattle papers. Was there ever attempt to address -- because S. I. Hayakawa's column was syndicated nationally. Was there ever an attempt to go to other newspapers and do the same...?

HM: Well, this is where Frank Chin gets on the scene. And because of Frank's [Laughs] insistence that we respond to some of the things that Hayakawa was putting in his weekly column.

TI: Now do you recall some of the things Hayakawa was saying back then?

HM: Well, he claimed that there was no right for Japanese Americans to make claim for damages of the evacuation. That was done for national security purposes. It was justified. The Supreme Court of the United States found that there is military necessity grounds for people to be moved, and we weren't the only ones that were being moved. He made a whole bunch of declarations that were sounding like he was trying to take the issue for people that were totally anti-Japanese American. [Laughs] But he, himself, was a Canadian. He spent most of his time in Chicago during World War II. He did not go into the Canadian military. [Laughs] And he took a viewpoint that it was the duty of Japanese Americans to serve their country by committing themselves to lawful incarceration. And I didn't necessarily agree with that and neither did Frank Chin -- he thought Hayakawa was a despot from (San Francisco State University). [Laughs] And I guess Frank felt very friendly toward the students rather than to the professor that made certain comments about the students' political activities. So Frank Chin and Frank Abe and Karen Seriguchi, they took it upon themselves to write a response to this thing in The Washington Post. And I wanted to see it in The Wall Street Journal myself. [Laughs] Those guys outvoted me, and we used The Washington Post as a baseline.

TI: So they wrote the, they got an advertisement which was an open letter back to S. I. Hayakawa, sort of refuting or challenging his stance. But, it was supported by the community up and down the whole country?

HM: Yes. It was, in fact, a lot of the JACL chapters supported us. And Frank Chin collected a lot of money. We were still short of a full-page ad, so they had to compress all the [Laughs] statements into a, it was less than a full-page ad, I guess. But he did a good job. Frank Abe and Karen, they all worked like crazy to round up money and get the agreement on the message that they wanted to print. And it did appear. [Laughs]

TI: But it's also an example of sort of a galvanizing effect of, of getting a lot of support from a lot of communities. And actually, S. I. Hayakawa provided that for you, and Frank and those people, because it was easy for the community to sort of get together and oppose what Hayakawa was saying.

HM: Yeah. Well, he represented the bad guy, and we were supposed to be the good guys, right? But, yeah, it did raise some issues though, about the fact that in the wartime sense, what is the right of the individual relative to national needs and national threat? So the problem was here that in the past these kinds of cases has gone on before like, Ex parte Millikan. And this was Millikan v. United States. And got, this was a Civil War situation, but he got thrown into a federal penitentiary during the Civil War because he was thought, that he was a threat to the Union forces. And after the war ended, then he sued the U.S. government for improper incarceration, and he won. And so there was a couple of very interesting precedent cases in the Supreme Court. But the thing that was not obvious at that time, it was the fact -- to the general public -- was the fact that there was some degree of military necessity for the government to throw us into the camp. And when I was in the central records facility I found nothing to that degree. There was no real threat in terms of national security. In fact, my feeling was that they demonized Japanese Americans to the degree, before the war and during the war, that prevented anybody from taking a very objective viewpoint on whether or not we were a threat. And the guys that knew we were not a threat wouldn't speak up. And the guys like General John L. DeWitt go before the Supreme Court and say we are a bunch of spies, and we're transmitting information to Japanese imperial force, and all this kind of stuff. So it kind of corrupted the, the objectivity of any kind of constitutionality issue. But to me that was a major point. And unfortunately, the $25,000 became the targeting figure rather than whether or not that was a moral and constitutional right for the government.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Let's now move on. You mentioned earlier Frank Chin and his, the importance of responding back to S. I. Hayakawa. But there was also another event that happened in the Seattle area, the Day of Remembrance at Puyallup. Can you tell us what happened and how that got started?

HM: Well, Frank Chin came up to Seattle because he thought this was a very interesting issue for Asian Americans in general, the fact that we were finally getting off our rear-ends and we were making redress a popular subject to be discussed. [Laughs] About that time -- this, this was early '78 when he came up here -- he started to do a couple of articles for The Seattle Weekly. And one of the articles he wrote was kind of trying to generate interest in the Seattle area about [Laughs] all the activities that were taking place without too much publicity. And so he made it a point to interview Shosuke, and Chuck, and myself, and Ken Nakano, and all the others that were involved with the redress process. And he wrote couple of very interesting articles. And Frank Chin's style of writing is not the same as mine. [Laughs] We come from total extremes of writing style. And he's a heck of a lot better writer than I am. But he wrote couple of articles that really piqued the interest of some of the people in Seattle. And about that point, I had so many other situations that I needed to focus in on that I really didn't pay proper attention to the redress issue. And he felt that, that we needed to get the community to support this issue, not just JACL and some of these churches. We needed the whole community to support. And it's gonna be an endeavor for the entire Puget Sound area of Japanese Americans and those interested in this kind of issue. Well, during that time period, of course, the congressional candidate program was going on, the primaries were going on. They were getting ready for the primaries, anyway. And he, he felt that it's a political issue as well as one for the Congress to act on. And he did a number of things. One was to try to get the commitment of different congressional candidates, publicly announced relative to their position on redress.

TI: Because what was happening was, this was just, the time period was just like months before the general election...

HM: Yeah.

TI: ...and in particular, there was a very close election, or campaign going on between Mike Lowry and Jack Cunningham for a congressional seat?

HM: Yes.

TI: And let's talk about that right now, because it plays right into Lowry's participation in this whole event.

HM: Okay. Jack Cunningham was the incumbent Republican congressman from the district that I was located in. And we presented a, the redress issue to him. And this was early on. This was prior to the, the primary election. And Mike Lowry was the Democratic candidate. And at the time of the start of the primary process, Jack Cunningham committed himself to supporting redress. And his legislative aide had given me a guarantee that if Jack got into office again, he'll support the issue. So I was fairly comfortable with that position. And about sixty days prior to the primaries being held, [Laughs] he reversed his position. He says, "Well, I'm not gonna make this a political issue. I'm gonna just, I don't think it has priority enough to make it a issue that we wanna develop into this campaign."

TI: Now, why would he do that? I mean, it would, I would think that, by doing so, would alienate you and others who were very supportive of the redress. Why...

HM: Okay.

TI: ...what was the other side? What...?

HM: They made a survey in the congressional area. And they made a random survey. It was something like 400 in count. And the count number, the question that related to would you be comfortable with redress for Japanese Americans, because they were in enforced incarceration during World War II -- ? And without developing any introductory information. And the response was, "No, I would not. And if a congressman supported that issue, I would vote against him." And so the response was negative in terms of what his payoff would be if he supported redress. And this came about as a matter of the, kind of the last-minute type survey that they developed.

So, anyway, just, well after the primaries had concluded -- and Cunningham was the Republican candidate and Mike Lowry was the Democratic one -- Peggy Maze used to be the campaign chairman for Mike Lowry in his first election process. And Peggy used to run the Neighbors in Need program in King County. And I was a volunteer for Neighbors in Need program. And I had a friend that was working at the Continental Bakery. And he was in charge of scheduling for a number of loaves of bread that were being baked for a given time period. And so, well, this was the time of the, of the Boeing employment difficulties. And a lot of people were being laid off. And we were making up these food packages at the local church. And this was the Neighbors in Need program. We used to make up all these different care packages for these people that were unemployed and they were having a tough time. So I used to talk to the guy at the Continental Bakery, and say, "How 'bout making an overrun on this stuff and then -- [Laughs] we'll buy it for you at the surplus price?" And that was what was agreed to. Anyway, I had a station wagon, nine-passenger station wagon, and I used to get the overrun bread, and I used to throw -- these were fresh bread that were baked. [Laughs] And I used to fill up the whole station wagon with this stuff because he was able to give it to me for twelve loaves for a dollar. I mean, [Laughs] we had to go through some accounting procedure. Anyway, I was providing couple of station loads of, station wagon loads of bread to the Neighbors in Need. And we had a surplus, so -- at our own area of collection. So we had to bring it to other collection points. And then they put it into the different bags for their distribution process. Well, Peggy Maze got wind of this thing. She called me up and says, "Where are you getting this bread? Who's paying for it?" [Laughs] So I said, "Well, we're all putting a few dollars..." and we're getting the thing, and we're getting a pretty good value for the money. So that was the first time I talked to Peggy Maze. But that was a coincidence because couple years later she becomes the campaign chairman for Mike Lowry. So I called her up, and I said, "This is what we want to do. Would the congressman, or potential congressman feel comfortable supporting this issue?" Anyway, that was when Peggy introduced the subject to him. So the feedback was, yeah, he was comfortable with it.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So Henry, let's go back and talk about the Day of Remembrance, because I'm going back again to Frank Chin. Frank came across an opportunity relating to ABC and their 20/20 program. Can you talk about that?

HM: Well, let's see. It was a 60 Minutes program.

TI: Was it 60 Minutes or 20/20?

HM: No. 60 Minutes.

TI: Because CBS is 60 Minutes.

HM: Yeah. It was CBS 'cause...

TI: Okay.

HM: ...the person that was doing the production was affiliated with 60 Minutes. Well, there's a couple of things that were going on in the 1978 time period. One was the fact that I had not paid too much attention to the redress issue. For one thing, 1977, I was spending a lot of time building my ex-wife's beauty salon, full-service salon. And I had taken a leave of absence from work from Boeing. And then I used my accumulated vacation time, and I became the general contractor for this project. And so I was spending a lot of time doing that kind of function. And the redress thing would kind of, started to go downhill because I felt that our affiliation with John Tateishi was getting kind of distangled or, to a point where he would send communication to me through JACL chapter with the wrong address. And it would get to me after the meeting date had already occurred, things of this nature. And I got to a point, thinking, "Well, those guys, they're giving me the message." They're telling me they don't need me. So I became kind of disenchanted with the whole process. And in...

TI: Well, in addition, too, there were personal tragedies, too. In the, you mentioned being a general contractor for your wife's salon in the summer of '77. But at the end of '77, your son was killed...

HM: Yeah.

TI: ...or died in an accident.

HM: So anyway, that was a very perturbing point for me. I think losing a child is more difficult than losing parents or anything else. And then...

TI: Can you just tell us briefly how he died?

HM: Well, he was an athlete for gymnastics at the Newport High School. And they used to be in a conditioning program. And every morning and then the afternoon after school they'd make these five-mile runs. And it was a physical fitness-type program to keep all the athletes in good condition. And gymnastics is a pretty tough physical exercise requirement. And the football coach liked the way that he used to kick the football because he used to have tremendous leg control. And he, when he used to kick the ball his feet would come almost up to his face, and he had tremendous flexibility. The only thing he didn't like about football was it was a contact sport. [Laughs] And the people are -- since he was asked to be a punter, he used to punt pretty good. He didn't like the idea of people coming after him. Anyway, they used to get checks every so often -- so, and physical checkups. And they used to take blood samples, and seeing what blood levels they were at, and if they had any problems. Well, I had a message from the nurse at the high school saying that, that our son's blood level was somewhat out of the norm. So anyway, this one day, Robert goes down to the Overlake Hospital. And they check him out, and they said, "Well, they're gonna hold him over." And he gets an intravenous. Well, my ex-wife was informed about this procedure that was taking place. And I had no knowledge of it because I was working up in Everett, and I was on transit coming home that time. And so they kept him overnight. I was kind of worried about him because I didn't know that he had this kind of problem or whether or not he did have it. So I stayed overnight at the hospital with him. And in the course of the evening, he goes into a state of shock. And by morning, the attending physician comes around and he says, "Hey, we're going to have to put him into ICU." I says, "What for?" "Well, he's in a state of shock. We don't know what's going on." And so he ends up in the intensive care unit. Well, he's there for two days, and he comes out of there, and he says he's feeling pretty good. But I don't know what the heck happened to him. Well, they gave him the wrong intravenous. And this is what we found out later on. But nonetheless it... so about the fourth day, I'm walking him through the hallway, and he says, "I want to go home tomorrow." And so they give him some more medication. And I wasn't aware of the fact that they were giving him the medication. But the following night he goes into another state of shock, and they bring him up to the intensive care unit. Finally, well, this, he went into the hospital on the 28th, and then on the 9th of December he expired. And, and, on February 19th, which is a kind of an interesting date for me, but I went up to the hospital to try to get the records of his passing, and well, he died of liver damage. They gave him the wrong medication or something, and caused him some very difficult liver situations for him. Anyway, that's what he died of.

But on February 19th, when I went up to the hospital, they said they can't give me the records because they're still working on it. And this is two months after the fact. And I thought this was kind of strange. Why should they be working on the records two months after his passing? Well, it took 'em about two more weeks to get that record of all the events that took place. And I called up one of the nurses that I got to know during this sequence of events, and I asked her, "What happened on this, the records for Robert?" And she says, "Well, we were asked to make some changes on it." So that's what they did. They said that the writing was unclear. So they were asked to make changes. And so anyway, we don't know what the sequence was during that whole process because we don't know how many records were manipulated by them, anyway. He was in extremely good physical condition. He was a superb athlete. He was a good student. But anyway, that, that was a real shock to me. It took me probably about a year to get over that situation. But...

TI: You also mentioned that, that subsequent to Robert's death, you and your wife started having, or started having divorce proceedings.

HM: Well, yeah. The death of our son kind of put a strain on the marriage. And anyway, my ex-wife filed divorce proceedings and, let's see, latter part of February of 1978, which is couple months from the time of Robert's passing. And that was bad enough. [Laughs] These two events were really bad enough. But then subsequently, my oldest daughter gets in a jeep riding accident, and she ends up in the ICU for twelve days. And I didn't know what -- I was spending all this time trying to resolve some of these issues, and it was a difficult time for me.

So the whole redress thing was being put into a lower priority for my own survival situation. And I think Frank Chin realized that some of these things were going on and we're losing our focus on redress. And one of the things that he felt was imperative was that the community be brought together for getting renewed interest in the redress process and about the whole subject, about Japanese American history. And so he felt the best thing to do was to hold a Day of Remembrance.

TI: And during this really difficult time for you, how did the others that you worked closely with, you know Shosuke, Ken Nakano, and others like Frank Chin, how did they work with you? Did they pretty much leave you alone or did they keep you informed or what...?

HM: Well, in Frank's case he thought distraction would be better for me. Maybe it was, in lot of sense, because it took me away from my emotional and psychological type situations. And at least I had to face reality in today's world and try to get something done. So Frank was doing it in a very comfortable way. He was never forceful or anything like this. But he felt for the good of the community that we should do this. Well, this thing about the election process. And I was trying to get Cunningham to change his ways and all this kind of stuff. It was little bit different, but it detracted me from my emotional, psychological quagmire that I was in.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

HM: So I think Frank came on in a time period where it was critical -- maybe the issue of Japanese American redress for the Seattle area might have died away. But because of this article that he was, articles that he was writing for The Seattle Weekly, and other events that were taking place, he felt, "Well, we got to get the community to support this thing, and let's try to have a big meeting and get-together for the community." And he felt very strongly about this. So he brought people like Frank Abe and Karen Seriguchi, and all the people that he was very comfortable working with, and he brought them in, up as a team. Kathy Wong was one of the members of the team. And this was a theatrical group that they have in San Francisco. And they had an act that they put together down there. And these were the principal actors, and actresses and writers. And they were very, very diligent in their work. They're all volunteers. They weren't getting paid for this thing. You know, like Karen and Frank and Kathy, they would work twelve, fourteen hours a day working on this thing. So I felt kind of uncomfortable not putting in my efforts. So it was, it was a good feeling for me to try to do something and have these younger kids really working all out on this thing. Like another proposal effort, these are gung-ho people, but they weren't getting paid at all. They were just trying to survive. And here they're trying to make the news releases, and they're making announcements over the radio and trying to get radio spots for coverage of this event. I mean, they did a horrendous job. I don't think any four individuals or five individuals that I know of could do the same comparable effort in such a short period of time.

TI: And when you say "horrendous," meaning it was a huge task?

HM: Oh, it was a huge task.

TI: Okay.

HM: They were making press releases, and writing up articles, sending all this stuff around the place, and getting radio spots over different radio stations. They were getting publicity -- we were making placards for all the stores to show. And we were calling up people to help support the event.

TI: Now, I'm curious. A key component of the Day of Remembrance was to do this at Puyallup. How did you get the permission of the Puyallup Fairgrounds board to go along with this?

HM: Well, Emi Somekawa used to work at the Puyallup Fair. And she had been working there for about four or five years. She knew the director of the Puyallup Fair. And the Puyallup Fair, by the way, is not a Washington state sanctioned organization. It is a private organization. And they're self-supporting. They're a money-making organization. But anyways, Emi was familiar with these people. And one of her friends was a person named (Dwight) Paulhamus. And he was a member of the board of the, the Puyallup Fair. So, I asked Emi to approach Paulhamus and the director of Puyallup Fair, and ask them if they would entertain the idea of having a Day of Remembrance out there. And the idea wasn't too [Laughs] keen to these people. And Paulhamus, fortunately for us, was a very strong advocate of Japanese American history and the events that took place in Puyallup. He was very aware of this. And so I had a meeting with him, Emi, Paulhamus, myself, and -- let's see, who else was there? Oh, wait -- oh, Shosuke was there. Anyway, we talked to 'em about whether or not they would entertain an idea of this kind of event. So he brought it up at the next monthly meeting at the Puyallup Fair board. And they said, "Well, they would like to hear us make a presentation of what we intend to do there." What are the events, and what number of people are you planning to have here? All this kind of stuff.

Anyway, this became a subject of the Seattle JACL board meeting. And Ben Nakagawa says, [Laughs] "Hell, I'm gonna go down there and raise hell with these people." Well, we didn't want any raising hell type of issue, you know, really. We wanted them to just say we could be allowed to have this event there. But anyway, that was Ben's attitude. [Laughs] And once Ben gets going, it's pretty hard to stop the guy. But we said, "Hey, we want to do this on a relatively even-keel basis." And so we had two meetings with the Puyallup Fair board. And in one meeting, Ben gets up and he says if he's not, if they're not allowed to have this thing at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, he's gonna take legal matters [Laughs] into his own hands. Well, that didn't convey the right feeling, I don't think. But anyway, Bob Carlson, who's the head of the, he's the director of the fair organization, he said, "Well, we got a problem with this board. We've got seven-man board. We got three guys that are in favor of what you guys are trying to do. We got three guys that really don't care for it. And then we got one guy that's undecided." And he was very frank with me. And he says, "Well you got to do something to convey an opinion that this other guy should vote for having the event." So, I got together with Paulhamus, and then we discussed this issue. So the next meeting, Shosuke, and myself, and Tom Koizumi went down there. And we thought, well, we'll use the nicey-nicey technique, not the hammer-over-the-head-type situation. So we made a very interesting presentation about the constitutionality of what the government did to us, and the fact that we're trying to bind the community together. And this was a very difficult time period for a lot of us. And that this would be a kind of a catharsis to get us off of this psychological trap. And we did make the presentation. And Tom did a fairly interesting take on the thing. And in fact, they voted unanimously for us having the thing.

And they normally charge anywhere from $500 to $1,500 for an event like this, for the number of people we're talking about. And we didn't have any idea whether it's gonna be 500 people or 3,000 people or -- you know we didn't have any idea what -- and maybe there wouldn't even be 500. We were kind of concerned about this. But Paulhamus takes a position that since they got, they voted for it unanimously he should make it so that we could do it for free. [Laughs] And he was able to do that. And so they voted that they would do it on a complimentary basis, but they would provide security people, they would provide, you know all this ground support, the janitorial services after the fact. They wanted to know what facilities we wanted to use. So, well, Frank Chin's idea was that we should have a potluck dinner, and everybody would bring their own stuff and have this dinner. And then they had a area where they had, in the new building, they had all the food service center area, so we'd use those tables for the potluck. So Aki Kurose was the Seattle potluck chairman, and Emi Somekawa was the one for the southern end of Puget Sound. And that was one of the things that Frank Chin insisted upon, that this would be a community participation type effort. And we got to get everybody together and feel that they're a part of the process.

TI: What was your immediate reaction after that, the Puyallup Fair board meeting, where they voted unanimously to do this and waive the fee? It must have been, yeah, how did you feel?

HM: Well, when Shosuke and I came back to town -- well, we ran into Frank Chin down at, in front of the Silver, what is that restaurant that closed up?

TI: Silver Dragon?

HM: Yeah. Silver Dragon, yeah. Anyway, I guess I must have been pretty elated because Frank Chin describes me as jumping up and down. I don't think I was doing that, but nonetheless that's what he said in one of his articles. But the fact that we're not having to pay a fee for it, and the fact that they allowed us to use the facility, I thought that was, you know, a fairly interesting occasion. But Frank felt that it was all coming together in a way. Frank is like a screenwriter. He wants to write a script, and he wants everybody to follow the script. And here he's doing the direction of this whole process. And he liked the way it was coming together because -- well, he had lot of people coming up from L.A. area, Pat Morita, George Takei. Let's see, who else did he have? Oh, he had, Edison Uno's sister coming up here. He had a number of people coming up here.

TI: How difficult was it for Frank to convince all these people to come to Seattle or Puyallup?

HM: [Laughs] Well, he must have done a pretty good job of talking 'em into it. But he was relating to the historical content of it and what it means to the Japanese Americans. And Frank has a better sense of Japanese American history than most, almost all Japanese Americans. [Laughs] He knows a lot more than people give him credit for. And he's acting in the behalf of Asian Americans in totality. But lot of people get offended by the way he writes his articles, and how he writes his articles, and who he pinpoints, and the labeling of different individuals. They get really offended. And in one of the articles that Frank wrote, he called Shosuke Sasaki "Tweety Bird." [Laughs] And, I forgot what he called me. He said, oh, he said that I was a "refugee from the Salvation Army clothing department" or something like that. [Laughs] But anyway, he writes in a very funny sort of way at times, and people really get turned off with that. But his, he's a very interesting, intelligent, and well-read person. And he knows a lot about these events. And he felt we had to do this kind of event.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Let's move to the event itself. It was on November 25th, 1978. And can you describe the event?

HM: Well, there, big argument that we had was, I argued for February 19th, but Frank says, "We can't wait that long. There's a election coming on." And we got to bring this to the forefront. Just the subject itself, we got to bring this to the attention of the individuals.

TI: Plus there was the TV connection also...

HM: Yeah. Yeah.

TI: ...that sort of pushed it to November 25th.

HM: Yeah. The producer wanted it, she wanted it before the end of the year so they could put it on the programming, national programming, prior to the end of the year if they could possibly do so. Anyway, Mike Lowry was, said that he couldn't make that appointment because it conflicted with a commitment he had before. So the only thing he could do is go down to the gathering area, which was Sick's Seattle Stadium. That's where the hardware store is now on McClellan and Rainier. And that used to have a large parking lot there. And that's where our joining area was, where all the vehicles were to be assembled. And Ben Nakagawa did a tremendous job of getting the National Guard to cooperate with us, and get the Washington State Patrol to make sure that the freeways way was gonna be left open for us. And they're gonna make a guarded route of vehicles going down on the caravan all the way down to the Puyallup fairgrounds. So it was a kind of an interesting effort. We had all the, it was about thirty-one organizations in the Seattle Puget Sound area that committed to be sponsors of the event. And when they started coming in, it was very slow at the beginning. And we were very worried about how many people were gonna be sponsors. But when it came to the, when everybody started doing it, it became a avalanche. And then a lot of people started signing up for it. I was convinced that we're gonna have over 1,000, and I don't know about the other guys. [Laughs] They thought maybe we're gonna get 150. But, anyway we went down to Sick's Seattle Stadium and saw all the people there, and the sign-up sheets were all gone because they all filled up. I figured, well, we're gonna get a lot of people here.

And I ran into Ben (Tong) at that point. Ben (Tong) is a, he used to teach at University of San Francisco. He's a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. And my daughter was, wanted to ride in the first vehicle because -- that was the first vehicle of the convoy, and the driver didn't know how to get to [Laughs] the Puyallup Fairground. So I said, "Okay, I'll guide you." And that vehicle, this was a army 6 x 6, by the way. That's where Ben Tong was, and I asked him, "How come you're here on this caravan, and how come you're riding on this army truck? Why don't you join, get in one of the vehicles that's warm?" Because he's in the back, and they just got the tarp on the top.

TI: Who was this again?

HM: Dr. Ben Tong.

TI: Okay.

HM: And he's one of Frank Chin's old buddies. So I asked him, "Well, how come you're riding in the back?" And he says, "I want to know how it felt to be taken to camp in a truck, because I want to go through the same experience that you guys did." He says, "I know it's cold, and I'm gonna suffer through this." [Laughs] So I told my daughter, "Well, you ride with Dr. Tong because I want you to have the same experience that he goes through." And that's what she did. Cath -- I mean, Diana went with him, rode in the back. And we went down, head of the caravan, went down...

TI: What was the day like for you? How were you feeling that day?

HM: Well, I was so worried about some of the things that we were supposed to do -- you know all the logistic part of the problem, that I -- my mind was trying to get everything set up in an order, so that we could coordinate the State Patrol, the National Guard people. So I was running around like, not too logically. But Frank Chin tells me, "If we can't get this thing on national TV, nothing will go on." [Laughs] Well, unfortunately, everything went on pretty good. I mean, the whole event took place pretty well. It went on schedule. There was no opposition at the fairgrounds. I had a bad feeling that maybe the American Legion guys in Puyallup would give us a hard time. Later on, of course, they did give us a hard time on the monument that we placed down there. But nonetheless, we felt that some of those guys were gonna make a demonstration in front of the fairgrounds, but they weren't there. Security guys took care of that without any problem. We had a three-and-a-half-mile-long caravan of cars going down I-5.

TI: And how many people participated?

HM: Well, Frank Abe tells me we had 2,200 people on the register. But the thing is we ran out of forms to have people sign up. So when we got down to Puyallup, the guys that were coming directly from Puyallup, Tacoma, and the southern end, Auburn area, when they congregated down at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, well, the sign-up sheets were all gone. So I estimated about 3,300 people. But Frank Abe says it's 2,200. [Laughs] So, take your figure. It was a surprisingly well-behaved group, like Japanese Americans usually are. And I happened to be sitting next to Dave Horsey. Horsey says to me, "I want you to tell me what's going on in this thing." So I said, "Well, here's the program that we think we're going to follow." [Laughs] We think we're gonna follow.

TI: And Dave Horsey was there covering it for The Seattle Times?

HM: No, Post-Intelligencer. Yeah.

TI: Okay. And he's the political cartoonist?

HM: Yeah. He's the Pulitzer Prize winner of the cartoon things, anyway. And so anyway, they had a spiel by this woman, and she was a Issei woman. And she was talking about the desert. She was from, I think she was from Poston. I mean, that's where she was placed in the camp. And she was talking in Japanese. And he says to me, [Laughs] "What is she saying? What is she saying?" So I was trying to translate this thing for him. And so he says -- well, two days later the cartoon comes out in The Seattle P.I. about the description that that woman was making about how life was in the camp. So he was trying to put together a picture in his own mind of what she was describing from the lousy translation I was giving to him. But it's surprising how later on he had another cartoon that was even more interesting. But...

TI: About this event or about just the whole...

HM: Just event, and the history of the evacuation process, because there were, we had all these exhibits. They had -- Harry Kadoshima's father made this huge guard, I mean, it's a water tower. It's a replica of the water tower. And they had kept the thing from the time they left camp, they brought it home from the camp. And it's a huge, huge thing. It stands way up like that.

TI: It's just a replica of the, that he made in camp that he brought back?

HM: Yeah. Yeah.

HM: It's a water tower. And it's a very good replica. And he had all these things on the exhibit. We had things from the "Pride and Shame" show. And then we had different exhibits that Karen Seriguchi put together about the stuff that they remember about the camps, the photographs and all this stuff. There were a lot of displays there. It was a horrendous job to get it down there and put it into position before the event. But they did a very good job. And so this Dave Horsey was able to go and see all this stuff. And he was able to put this thing all together in a kind of a collage in the cartoon that he was presenting in The Seattle P.I.

TI: And how was the other press coverage of the event?

HM: Well, the, all the three TV stations covered it. They gave it primetime display. And the TV production people were there in full force. I mean, they must have used six cameras. And they covered the event, the program, down at Puyallup very carefully. I mean, all the events that were taking place, Pat Morita, George Takei, all these guys. They had 'em very well photographed. Unfortunately, Pat Morita, being a comic that he is, he was trying to relate to the comical parts of the camp. And I thought he was outstanding, [Laughs] because all the things he talked about, you know the fact that -- he sang a song. And it's a song that we used to sing in the camp about, it's a very lousy Japanese version of some of the things that went on. And he talked about the kusai sakana, all this kind of stuff. [Laughs] But people didn't laugh with him. I mean, it was such a serious subject that nobody laughed. And after the thing was over, he says to Frank Chin -- we were all getting together there -- and he says to Frank, "I really bombed this one, didn't I?" But I thought he was great. But nobody was laughing because it was such a serious thing to them, that it was not something of humor. But I thought it was good because it touched on everything that I felt was important in the camp, about the stinky fish, and the fact that we got this same kind of food every day, and they had lousy menu, and all this stuff. The hot, dusty weather in the summertime, and the lousy, cold weather in wintertime, and didn't have the proper sanitation facilities. He touched on all that. You know, I thought he did a heck of a good job, but nobody laughed. I felt badly for him because he had put all that stuff together specifically for that event.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: When the organizers -- after the event was over, and you guys got together to sort of rehash it, what was the feeling of you, and Frank Chin, Frank Abe and the others?

HM: Well, we thought it went unusually well. [Laughs] I mean, especially Frank, he was really elated. He thought this was another chapter. The thing that really made it bad, and I probably had a lot of influence in doing this, but because I was -- the national committee kind of snubbed us and gave all this thing about delayed mail and all this kind of stuff.

TI: You're talking about the national JACL.

HM: Yeah. And Clifford Uyeda and John Tateishi and Karl Nobuyuki and these guys were there. And Clifford asked me to allow fifteen minutes for them to talk. John Tateishi asked me for fifteen minutes to talk. And I told Frank Chin, "We don't have time on the program for them to talk. We're not gonna allow 'em to talk." And that's what we forced on 'em. And that created some very bad feelings for them. And in so doing, it might have resulted in Ellen Endo's decision that they would protest any airing of that material because that's, she stated that was a regional type effort.

TI: And Ellen Endo was sort of the, what, PR person for national JACL? Was that her role?

HM: Yeah. Uh-huh. And she had a, she had some kind of official function in one of the national broadcasting companies.

TI: Go back to your reasoning. Why didn't you want Cliff Uyeda and John Tateishi to speak at Puyallup?

HM: Because, well, they gave us $100 or something, some small amount. And they wanted to be listed on the front of the billboard that we were making. Well, they came in so late, after the fact, that we didn't wanted to put them on. We already had the format already made. To stick them on the bottom was kind of stupid anyway. And 100 bucks, to us, didn't represent any degree of feeling or effort. And on top of that, they snubbed us all the time about, even trying to get us to the meetings on time. We'd get the letter after the fact. Things of this nature. So I didn't think they were giving us a fair shake, and I didn't feel we needed to give them a fair shake. It was not an issue of JACL, it was issue of Japanese Americans in totality. If we did that, then we'd have to have all the churches in Seattle give their fifteen minutes of play because they wanted to make their presentation also. So we just eliminated it altogether. And they felt that we did it on purpose. And in one form we did because they came in at the last minute and asked for time. We had the program all set up. So, but anyway, that caused a lot of bad feathers to be ruffled.

I thought... after the fact, I thought that it was a tremendous success on getting the community together. And some of the people would say, "That was the first time I ever talked to my children about the camps, when we were driving on the caravan down to Puyallup." And so it was coming out of the closet for some of these guys. To me, that was not the case because, you know [Laughs] I talk to my kids about all this kind of stuff, and I used to show them the school yearbook and show them what kind of a lousy place this was. And so I guess for some families it's different. And for them it was a kind of a, kind of a grand opening for the kids to get at least exposed to this information -- and the fact that the parents were even now talking about it. And there were a lot of stories about that. This was after the event took place. But I felt there was more to what Frank Chin was telling me than what I was able to absorb and get a proper perspective. He had the proper perspective. He knew that this would be a earthshaking event for the families that participated.

TI: Was this the first Day of Remembrance?

HM: Yeah.

TI: In the whole country?

HM: Uh-huh. Yeah.

TI: And how is that other Day of Remembrances started emerging or popping up in different communities?

HM: Well, in the Portland case, well, Frank Chin, and Frank Abe, and Kathy Wong and Karen used to go down to Portland meetings and try to get those people revved up, so that they could have their own Day of Remembrance. And they did have, after that event in Seattle because James Tsujimura, and a lot of these guys from Portland were there at Puyallup Day of Remembrance. They thought that was a great idea. And they, I attended the one in Portland. And they did a very good job. It was much more orderly than ours, and the presentations were, they had spent a lot of time doing the history of the evacuation in the Portland area -- how many people were involved, they had the reproductions of the newspaper photographs on the slide shows. They did a tremendous job. I was very impressed with the way they did it. But it took a long effort on the part of the two Franks, and Karen, and Kathy to convince these people that they should have it. They would say, "Oh, we don't know whether we should have it or not. I mean, you guys up there, you guys got more people up there than we do," and all these funny excuses. But they did put it on, and it was a very good, successful event. And it brought the community together.

One thing I think that Puyallup did was bring the whole community together. It's not just JACL, or Nisei vets, or one of the churches or, everybody was there. So it was a collective experience for everybody. And to me, it was a kind of a culmination of all the stuff that we were trying to do for redress. Not only do we want to talk about the constitutionality, immoral effects, but have these guys come together with a common cause. Because the government did a lot of things to us that separated us as groups of individuals, the Isseis from the Niseis. Because the Niseis pinpointed all the so-called bad Isseis that were questionable in their character. And it separated the community itself, separated the families. And the parents wouldn't talk about this whole experience with the children. But it enabled them to at least come together and see the stuff, and people talk about it openly and discuss the issues. So to me, that was a really interesting point in the whole redress process. But I felt that if we could do it in the Seattle Puget Sound area, everybody else should be able to do it and you should have a tremendous crowd for Los Angeles. But no, that's not the case. We were a unique example of what was transpiring in the redress process. And I felt that as a national organization, that their leadership was somewhat deficient in terms of the role that the national director, the national president, the whole board itself. And they were the ones that were slowing the process down and holding us back.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Well, this is a good segue into that, because a few months later, after the Day of Remembrance, February of 1979, there was a meeting between the congressional delegation and the committee, National Committee for Redress, to talk about sort of next steps. And it was at this meeting that there was a decision to, rather than to seek redress directly, to actually go about it in terms of having commission hearings. Can you talk a little bit about that and how that all came about?

HM: Well, December of '78, we had a meeting down in San Francisco, the National Redress Committee. And Ron Mamiya was appointed as one of the representatives for the Northwest. And I was one of the members also. And we had this meeting about what position should be taken relative to the whole issue of redress with the congresspeople. And well, Ron Mamiya and myself, we decided, well, since we have all the support for the Seattle Redress Plan, we're gonna use that as a national springboard for talking about what we should address in the national redress bill. And that was our position. And, and it was adopted as a basic guideline of how the national committee would conduct itself relative to meeting with the Nikkei congresspeople. And that was in December. So when they had the meeting in Washington, D.C., I don't know what happened. Nobody really explained to me what happened. I asked Clifford Uyeda in front of a whole bunch of people at Cherry Kinoshita's house one day. I said, "Clifford, what's, what really happened in these meetings with the congresspeople in Washington, D.C.?" And he says, "I can't remember. I can't remember." I said, "Clifford, this was a meeting with all these congresspeople. What really transpired? You have never given me any record of what transpired. There's no meeting notes. Nobody talks about it. What really transpired in this meeting?" He says, "No. I don't remember."

TI: Did you ever ask Ron Mamiya...?

HM: Yes, I did.

TI: ...because Ron was there also.

HM: Ron's kind of reticent about talking about the whole thing. So I asked him, "Did you present the Seattle Plan?" Because he brought the flipchart and everything else with him. And he never has given me a complete "yes." He keeps talking about different things, evading subjects. But I keep asking, "Ron did you make presentation of the Seattle Plan like you were supposed to?" And have never been given a direct answer. So anyway, I don't think there ever was, because this whole issue about what we were trying to do, what the objectives of the program, did not come about. The commission was, to me, it was a facade to delay this thing for another ten years. And the fact that Mineta and Matsui both voted against taking Mike Lowry's bill out of the committee... Mike Lowry makes this bill, puts it together, and gets it into the legislative subcommittee, and what do you know? Matsui, before he got elected, promised a 100 percent guarantee. I'll use his term, "Hundred percent guarantee that I will support the bill that Mike Lowry presents in Congress." And what does he do? He votes against it. Mineta votes against it.

TI: So at this point, what do you think was happening? At this point, they've rejected, after adopting the Seattle Plan, they're now going a different path, and it's being led by the national JACL. How was Seattle, the Seattle Chapter of JACL, viewed by National at this point?

HM: Well, there was a motion on the, on one of the JACL meetings in Seattle, whether we should depart from the national organization because they're not doing what they were supposed to do. I mean, they voted on the national convention. They were supposed to be doing this. We voted for it in 1976 in Sacramento, and we voted for this thing in 1978, and it hasn't come to pass. So one of the feelings was that, "Let's do it ourselves," and let's drive a bunch of community groups together, and try to do this as a national effort. But it was voted down, of course. But people looked at us as a kind of bunch of weirdos up in the Northwest. "It rains up there so much that you guys got nothing better to do than think about all these dumb things." Anyway, they had a lot of disparaging remarks about some of the things we were doing. But after that, this thing that Inouye brought up about the commission, and then -- to me, it was already a rehearsed program because Kaz Oshiki had made mention of things earlier than that about having the kind of congressional study on the whole process, about evacuation and the history of the incarceration process. And so Inouye was really prepared for this thing. And I think it was a matter of, his priorities were Indians were first, and let's worry about the Japanese later. And so I think his feelings related to, well, let's keep these people happy by doing something relative to maybe a commission study, and then we'll see what comes out after that.

So to me, the concern was all the Isseis are dying, and I forgot what the number was, but they were dying at a pretty horrendous rate. And I used to try to calculate the Seattle Isseis dying, prorated to the, all the Japanese American population. And the numbers are pretty impressive. And to me, the people that were most deserving were the Isseis. They took the brunt of the punishment. They took the largest economic loss. They suffered the most, from my point of view, because the younger kids like us, it was an experience that wasn't very good, but nonetheless, it wasn't earth-shattering experience. It wasn't totally traumatic. It wasn't psychologically overwhelming, like for Isseis. Because I know people that committed suicide in camps. And, I mean they really took it hard. But for kids that were just goofing around in the camp, it didn't affect us as much. So I felt the Isseis should be the first priority. We have to take care of them. And some of them are in destitute condition. They could use whatever money or funds that they could get from Congress or whoever.

TI: So the main concern of yours was the urgency, I mean, to go through commission hearings would take years.

HM: Yes, and maybe nothing will come of it. You look at commission hearings from Congress, and they go on for years. And they have another commission. And when it comes down to it, nothing comes of it. Like the Warren Commission hearings. I mean, it goes on for a long time about Kennedy's assassination. And then, now they're finding out that they dumped the casket in the Atlantic Ocean, and nobody talks about that. All this stuff is covered up. So asking Congress to do something -- except for them to put us into a camp, which was done in two days -- in Congress, it's like asking for a slow-burn process. When is it going to affect the individual? But I was very uncomfortable with that.

TI: What did national JACL do? So they made, at this meeting, a decision to seek the hearings. How did they communicate to the other chapters, or how did they know that this is what their membership wanted?

HM: Well, we had the redress committee meeting in San Francisco. And Raymond Okamura, there's a number of people there. And I had talked to Raymond before. And I knew what he was, he had done on the repeal of Title II, and lot of these independent actions that he took upon himself. So I said to Raymond -- he says, "You guys have lost your" -- what did he call it? He inferred that we lost our initiative and we weren't pursuing the redress process rigorously enough, and it's time for somebody else to take over. And I didn't disagree with him because I was, I was out of it for quite a while. But I thought we had his support. But when it came down to the vote, whether or not we would go along with the commission thing or go ahead with the way that the national convention dictated, and how the national board had indicated, Raymond voted for the other side. And then the other person that was voting on our side, he voted also for the commission approach.

TI: So Seattle was, or you were, I mean, essentially isolated?

HM: Yeah. Ron and I were the only ones that said, "We won't go along with that. We've come this far." We shouldn't have somebody in Congress dictate to us what we should be doing. We should take it upon ourselves and have a referendum amongst Japanese Americans, and say, "Well, what route do you want to take?" Make it a real democratic process. I hate for somebody in Congress to tell me how I should behave, and how I should vote, and how I should think. That is not within my realm of what I consider constitutional government. But if you look at Senator Inouye's history and his book that came out long time ago, he emulated Lyndon Baines Johnson as a model of political expediency, proficiency, a model of political strength. Well, if he's using that kind of model, then I daresay our principles and our priorities are kind of different. But, you know that's the way politics are, I guess.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So after there was a, the JACL, they met and they decided to go ahead and support seeking a commission. They went to the various JACL chapters and took a poll vote on this approach. And there were two chapters who voted against the commission approach. And that was obviously Seattle. But the other one was Chicago. Can you tell me why, or what was going on with Chicago that made them different also?

HM: Well, Bill Hohri was very active in the Chicago chapter at that time. And he's also, he was very active with the Methodist church program. And Bill was our guest in Seattle several times. And because of my preoccupation with other problems that I had, Frank Chin thought that it would be advisable if we had somebody that was a little bit more directed on the redress issue, focused, and more effective. [Laughs] And he was totally right. And so he got all of us together -- Shosuke, Chuck, Ken, all of us -- and he says, "Hey, this guy, Bill Hohri is a very strong spokesman, both from a religious level, a layperson, as well as speaking out on issues. And we should have him over, and we should try to get him to be the spearhead of the redress program." So Bill came over to Seattle, and we had dinner at Emi Somekawa's place in Puyallup.

And so, the first meeting, I think Bill Hohri said, "Now, I got to think about it. This is something that's a big challenge, and I have to dedicate myself to it, and I don't know if I have the time or the ability to do it." So the second time we met, he said, "Okay." He agreed to it. And the conditions were that we would be, Shosuke would be the liaison for us to him. And this is in regards to the redress situation. And everything was rolling along pretty smoothly for about the first six months. And then, he used to, Bill Hohri used to write a newsletter to all the people that were donating money for the redress process. And in the newsletter he would make articles about, well, he made one article about the "Rape of Nanking." And I was kind of disturbed at that one. Then another article he wrote was about the Manchurian experiments that the Japanese Army did to the civilian population and POWs. And when he wrote the second one, I thought to myself, "What is this thing about writing articles about the history of Japanese military in the Asia?" It has nothing to do with redress. In fact, it kind of stifles the whole effort. And Shosuke got perturbed at that, too. And he wrote a letter saying the issue is redress, not, not what the military did in China, the Japanese military did in China. So things got disconnected about at that point. I guess Bill felt that, well, he doesn't have to answer to us. He's going to do it his own way. And that's what started his own campaign.

TI: Now, at what point was that organization called NCJAR, or National Council for Japanese American Redress? Was that a name that was adopted very early on or was that later on something that William Hohri did?

HM: Well, this was, Hohri, did. Yeah. And he decided that he would try to make a national conglomerate of individuals that would be interested in pursuing redress under the, initially under what Seattle Plan was. Unfortunately, Bill was another person that really didn't understand where the monies were coming from and why we were doing these things. And I tried to tell him that Wayne (Horiuchi), after the 1976 convention in Sacramento, well, Wayne was in a very difficult position.

TI: Now, who is Wayne? Wayne Hori?

HM: Yeah. No. I mean, Wayne Horiuchi.

TI: Oh. Wayne Horiuchi. Okay.

HM: Yeah. Wayne was a Washington, D.C. representative for JACL. And he knew what had transpired on the, the revocation of E.O. 9066 process. [Laughs] I think he felt kind of guilty about not giving us due credit anyway. But, so anyway Wayne, he approached me to try to make amends in Sacramento. And I told Wayne, "You know, you guys seem to have a very strong opposition to the Seattle Plan. But we've tested this thing with our own congresspeople. And they feel very comfortable about the bootstrap, that we're gonna fund our own restitution process, reimbursement process." So I told Wayne, "Since you guys got such a big hang up, why don't you try some people that were completely unconnected with the states that had Japanese Americans in it, and tell 'em, 'Here's a plan that the Japanese have come up with, and they want to do this kind of bill. Would they feel like they would have to oppose the bill, or would they go along it? And it has to be based on constitutional rights of an individual.'" So he did that. He put together a summary of what we constituted in that package. And then, consequently, he provided the information to all the legislative aides. And the feedback was, six out of the eight people that he had exposed this information to, said, "No, we'll go along with the bill, because it's not coming out of our direct obligation budget." And two of 'em said, well, they don't know. They don't care. They're not that interested. But the feedback was that, of the states that were not concerned with Japanese Americans as individuals or don't have any constituents to any degree, they would go along with it because we are financing it through our own trust fund, through our own tax deductions.

TI: That's interesting because it's been speculated that when you look at the whole process and find out what happened, that the commission hearings was actually very beneficial to the ultimate passing of the Civil Liberties Act of 19...

HM: Okay.

TI: ...'88. Are you thinking that it could have been passed back in 1978?

HM: Or '6?

TI: Or '6? 1976?

HM: Well, when -- this is going back to when we were discussing the thing with the domestic affairs office, when Gerald Ford was in office. And one of the things that came up was, well, this was during the discussion about the draft that I prepared for them, of what should be in that draft when Ford revokes E.O. 9066. I had a lot of things in there, and it kind of reflected on my paper of the American democracy and what it means to me, but it was a kind of shortened up version of it. I talked about the record of the fact that no Japanese Americans or anybody of Japanese ancestry had been ever convicted of any sabotage, treason, all this, sedition, all this stuff. I want that to be in the record and have it, put it on the, what became the American Promise. But during that discussion period, when Gwen Anderson was talking to me -- and she was the head of the domestic affairs office -- I asked her, "Would the president be opposed to having some kind of compensatory program that can be developed to help, do a token damage offset for the damage that was done to us?" And she says, "Well, I don't know. But we'll feed it through the pipeline." And the response that was given to me by Gwen Anderson was, "No, I don't think there's a problem." So from Ford's standpoint, he was in a situation of, of being in support of it.

TI: But countering your viewpoint is that, and this is again from the congressional delegation...

HM: Yes.

TI: ...of the Japanese Americans, felt very strongly that the hearings were needed as a sort of a step towards that direction. They didn't feel comfortable going directly at that point.

HM: Yeah. For their education, I think it was essential, because they didn't do the homework. I mean, Senator Inouye was not convinced that Japanese Americans were affected in Hawaii. I mean there was a lot of presumptions that were made because of a lack of knowledge. It was the darkness which created ignorance, which created the apprehension. But if you look at the constitutionality of the issue, to me, if you round up 115,000, 120,000 people, and you put 'em into enforced incarceration process without due process of law, without martial law being declared, we're talking about a constitutional issue. You can't do that. So it becomes, whether you could get 51 or 50+ percent of the 435 members of House of Representatives and fifty people in the Senate to go along with this kind of issue, if they can't go along with it, then the Constitution doesn't mean a damn thing to me. And the way they threw us into the camp, they disregarded the Constitution. So the monkey's on their back also because they, they wrote Public Law 503, and they banged it through Congress in two days flat. And that's the real bill that put us into the camp. And that was part of Congress's action. So there's a, Mineta and I have had a kind of a bumpy road on our relations. And I don't feel that he's really delivered on his commitment. People like Joel Pritchard and Mike Lowry, Mike Lowry especially, have gone out of their way to help us.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Well, let's actually segue into that because in 1979, two bills were introduced, the commission bill that was supported by national JACL, and then Mike Lowry introduced a bill. And they're both introduced. Only one actually got through, but why don't you talk about the Lowry bill in particular because Mike actually fulfilled his promise, his promise back in '76, when he was elected, to actually introduce a bill.

HM: Yeah. '78. Yeah. Okay. Mike's legislative aide asked us for a draft of the bill. And so Shosuke took it upon himself to draft all the attributes of the Seattle Plan into a draft bill. And he did his homework. He got documents about how to write a bill [Laughs] in Congress and all the rudimentary stuff, what entails a bill to be drafted. And he went to a lot of homework doing this. And he did put a draft together, which encompassed all the things that we wanted to do. And this was given to Mike Lowry's aide. And in turn it went to Washington, D.C., and then, whoever took that first bill and put their own language in it, it became incomprehensible. I couldn't even understand what the heck they were talking about. They did such a horrible job. And it went from a very easy-to-read, understandable, coherent write-up, to one that was written by somebody that was trying to put his own label on the fact that they were writing the bill.

TI: And this was through Lowry's office that all this happened?

HM: Yeah. And it went to a number of different interfaces, so I don't know what the heck happened. But when we got it back, I said to Shosuke, "I can't understand what this bill is about, the way it's written. Let's throw the original draft back at 'em." And that's what we did. We threw it back at 'em. But they still feel, felt inclined to change it, even though it fulfilled all the requirements for a bill in Congress. There are some attributes you have to maintain, but nonetheless... after that, I had my other problems, so I wasn't paying too much attention to it. But the way it was drafted originally, it did encompass everything that we wanted, Aleuts, the Latin American Japanese, the Germans and the Italians. And it was a very comprehensive bill. But it was altered before it was dropped into the hopper. And it went to the judicial subcommittee. And at that point, Mineta and Matsui both voted against it. So they killed it, essentially.

TI: So it died in committee...

HM: Yeah.

TI: ...the commission bill...

HM: But it had a longer history than that, because when Mineta eventually got to the point of sponsoring a bill, the first bill he wanted to look at, he called the, his legislative aide called Mike Lowry, and then they got Ruthann, and Ruthann said, "Well, here's the draft of what we used initially." And that was starting to be used as the draft of Mineta's bill.

TI: So Mineta didn't want, he wanted to see, in addition to the bill Lowry introduced, he also wanted to see the original draft that Shosuke wrote?

HM: Yeah.

TI: And how did Mineta know that that existed, do you think?

HM: Well, because I guess there was some knowledge on the part, between the conversation that was taking place between his legislative aide and Mike Lowry's aide, that there was conversations saying that, hey, there was another draft that these guys in Seattle put together. And then the problem was that they didn't understand all the constituents of the bill. So when it came to the subcommittee hearings on why are the Aleuts included? They weren't under evacuation order. They were under some other military order. And why are these Latin American Japanese included? Why are the Germans included? They didn't have the answers. So they just chopped them out automatically. And that was, to me, extreme lack of knowledge. And the fact that they weren't even willing to investigate why there was a rationale for that, led me to believe the weakest link in this whole system of legislation process is the administrative aide, and the fact that he's got limited time. He's not willing to investigate these things. Not too well interested, maybe, in the subject. More interested like a San Jose guy, interested in the career of his congressman.

TI: Right. Well, eventually the commission bill was signed into law by Carter. This was in 1980, by President Carter?

HM: Yeah.

TI: At that point, what involvement did you have? I mean you...

HM: Well, I wasn't too happy with the bill. But anyway, Frank Abe [Laughs] convinced me that I should put, collect the material I had used previously, and then use it for presentation for the commission. It must have taken him about a month to convince me. But he kept talking to me about it. So I relented, and I put the thing together and we made the presentation.

TI: So this was at the Seattle commission hearings that you presented...?

HM: Yeah, at the Seattle Community College.

TI: And then, so you testified. And I'm gonna just really fast-forward because I want to get to the UCLA conference. But I'm curious. When Reagan signed the bill in 1988, what was your reaction?

HM: I knew he'd signed it. I had no qualms. They were putting pieces in the Pacific Citizen about the fact that he was against redress and all this kind of crap. Yeah, phooey. I mean, the consequence of that bill passing, the 1.4 billion or 4 billion at most, the way we had constituted the original package for redress was way above that. And we covered everybody, including the people that died and the survivors by social security regulations, who the survivors were. And so we were talking about a budget that was maybe multiples of that. And we're talking about 1976 dollars rather than 1988, 1990 dollars, somewhere in that ballpark. Inflation had caused the depreciation of the dollar, so that people were saying, we got $20,000, said that you guys is 15,000 average, but that 15,000 represents more than $30,000 in 1988 dollars. But I mean, people are, they're just not that smart sometimes, and they don't realize some of the things that's going on. So I didn't think there was a problem of getting it passed through Congress. You need half of the 435 votes, not all of 'em. You don't need all of 'em. Couldn't care less. You're gonna compromise the bill to such an extent if you get all the unanimous vote that the bill is going to be kind of diluted. So you want something that's going to pass, not too easily, but pass with enough conditions that, favoring your side to make it effective. But I don't think the same way as other people do. So that's my own independent thought.

TI: Well, at the point when it was signed, was there any acknowledgment of the work, especially the early work that you did on redress?

HM: No, I don't think so. They didn't, they tried to, well, the present philosophy right now is that the, the word that they want to put out is the fact that redress started in 1980. They claim that the commission bill was the start of the whole redress process. Well, we would never have gotten to the commission bill itself, had not there been some homework done and some work done previous to that. But, you know that's the way the national JACL wants to look at it.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

HM: And then going to the UCLA seminar that was held down there...

TI: Let me just give some background. This was a conference held at UCLA. I think it was called Voices of Redress or something like that. But it focused on the redress movement. And what they did was they invited many of the participants to participate at UCLA. This was the fall of 1997. And this was probably the first time since the '80s that many of these people were together talking about this issue. So what did you think about this event?

HM: Well, both Kitano and Maki, professors at UCLA, were up here for about week. They were interviewing Cherry, Chuck. They talked to Shosuke a little bit. And I spent quite a bit of time with them. And they were trying to get some kind of background on what transpired in Seattle. And they were going to write up this thing into a book that they were planning to use at UCLA covering the redress process. So anyway, they spent enough time to get some ideas of what transpired, all the things that were done locally here. We even give 'em the tapes for the Appeal for Action, the audiotapes, we give 'em transcripts, we give 'em the material that we thought would be relative to what they were planning to document. And so we felt that we were able to give them some idea as to what transpired in Seattle area during the early '70s and up to the point of the commission hearings and then further on.

TI: And based on that, they invited you down to the UCLA convention?

HM: Well, there was quite a few of us that were invited. And Cherry, Chuck, and a whole bunch of others also. And it was well-attended. There was a lot of people there. And the kind of interesting thing was the first day, Roger Daniels gets up there and says that revocation of E.O. 9066 was done by Hiram Fong. Holy smokes, what kind of crap is this? So I was following his presentation. So I made a correction to it. But I think it fell mostly on deaf ears. But we were trying to give a very quick scenario of what transpired in Seattle from the early, from the late '60s all the way up through the time I kind of dropped off the program. And it was a kind of an interesting mixture of things. It was, some of it was JACL-oriented, some of it was some of the actions that were taken by the independent groups like the E.O.9066 group in Los Angeles, and also NCJAR, I mean, NC -- National Coalition for Redress and Reparations.


HM: Yeah. So there was a number of different flavors to the thing. And I thought it was kind of interesting because a lot of people were making presentations that were not extremely accurate. They were given with a generality that said, unless we were there, the whole thing wouldn't have taken place. And I didn't think some of those presentations were well-verified from my exposure to those organizations. But nonetheless, it was the first time that everybody was able to make their presentations in a collective effort. Unfortunately, there were concurrent meetings going on sometimes, so you couldn't get to all of them. But the various viewpoints were expressed. In fact, they had sessions in terms of the "no-no" boys, or what was referred to as the "no-no" boys, giving their point of view. And some of 'em were quite stormy. They had fairly loud, verbal presentations and accusations, and it resembled some of the feelings and passions that Japanese Americans had experienced in the past.

TI: What do you think the intent of that, the conference was, by bringing all these people together? What was Kitano and Maki attempting to do?

HM: Well, I think they were trying to make a party line from which they would use for Asian American studies at UCLA, and then also document in such a form, and then put it into a format such that the students will use it as a baseline of historical review for that time period. And I think they were overwhelmed with a lot of the political pressures that were being applied to them. They had Matsui there, and they had Mineta there. If I had my [Laughs] wishes, I would have really laid it on the line. And I would have come out and really stated what I felt, that maybe if it weren't for the Japanese American congressmen, we would've gotten redress ten years earlier. But I made a draft of the stuff that I was gonna present, and Cherry felt kind of uncomfortable with it, so I said, "Okay. What do you want me to change?"

TI: Because you were supposed to present on behalf of the Seattle JACL, or...?

HM: No. I was supposed to be presenting it for Seattle, not for JACL, but for the Seattle Redress Committee. So I prepared a draft, and since we were all together in the Seattle thing, I wanted, at least common ground between us, so that we could at least agree on what was to be presented. But they were kind of uncomfortable at some of the things I had in there. So I relented, and I kind of evaded the controversial issues. The only time I got into controversy was when I asked ex-congressman Mineta about how we could have kind of implemented this process a little bit more smoother and better, and got more efficiency out of it. And I made a statement to the effect that his legislative aide had once conversed with me on the phone, [Laughs] and stated that he didn't want the longevity of his congressman to be threatened and all this kind of a thing about this stupid issue. And I iterated that. And Mineta sprang up and -- extremely interesting retort, not answering my question, but he says, "Nobody on my damn staff would ever do that kind of stuff." And he was really livid.

And later on, after that session was over, I went to Mineta and I said, I told him, "This really occurred. And we did send you those two packages, one in San Jose and one in Washington, D.C., about Appeal for Action. And we just got this form letter back from one of your people." And I said, "You made that agreement in September of 1975 about what you would do if we passed, did the things that we agreed to." He didn't, he just changed the subject. But they were trying to do a party line process, I think. And Maki and Kitano, I think their intent is to say, "Okay, this is the history as it's recorded." It might give Hiram Fong the credit for revocation of E.O. 9066 and some of these other things. But you got to get back to basic facts and accuracy. You've got to state things as they are, not what they are claimed to be. And I don't know how they're going to record how they revoked E.O. 9066, but they'll probably play it off and say it just occurred by accident, or the national JACL did that. But there's a lot of things that have to relate to facts. And unless you understand the facts, you're not gonna be able to relate on how you're gonna plan for the future and implement different processes.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

HM: To me, this whole thing about Japanese American redress, to me, is a issue of what possibly can be done by individuals that's dedicated to a, for a cause and a mission. And to think of this group that we had, which is one Issei and one Kibei and the rest of us Niseis, and we tried, in my time period, I tried to get to the legal services of Japanese Americans, and they shut the door on me. For one thing, it's pro bono work. Secondly, they weren't interested in raising Cain with the public. It's too much of a controversial issue. But to have a bunch of engineers and one economist do this is a kind of a interesting case study. First of all, why wouldn't a politician be the spearhead of this kind of effort? Especially a Japanese American politician, somebody in Congress that has the right and the ability to write a bill for Congress and get it enacted? To me, having this long time period from the time we were evacuated presents a real interesting problem to Japanese America. I don't want to have our generation leave a legacy like Bill Hosokawa states in his Quiet American about being invisible in the crowd. I don't like that kind of crap. We're just as good as anybody else in the United States. Unless we stand for those constitutional rights that we are sworn to uphold, we'll never get to the point of equality. And to me, this is just the, the precursor of what we need to do. And for our own congressmen to deny their commitment to us, to me indicates there's something wrong in our society. And when a hakujin person takes it upon himself to do his commitment and we can't rely on our own kind, that leaves a lot to be desired. To me, it's a very interesting case of how one might want to implement this kind of process in the future. And it's going to be, for the Sanseis, I have a lot better hope. [Laughs] I think they're much more proactive in the sense that they could see a problem and try to rectify it and take the, take the measures to make sure it's done in a proper manner. And so the whole experience of this redress process left me with some very strong, good feelings. And on the other hand, it left me with a sense of, maybe we didn't reach all our objectives properly and be able to place the, the right remedies to the people that were most directly affected.

TI: Well, are there, what are some of those things that are still, in your mind, left on the table that still need to be addressed?

HM: Well, there's a, Ben Tong had a very interesting conversation with me when he was in Seattle during this Day of Remembrance. And he talked to me about three different instances where he was the clinical psychologist. First one was this Sansei girl running down the median of a freeway, completely naked and yelling at the top of her lungs, "Mom, they're coming after us. Mom they're coming after us." And the California Highway Patrol took her into custody. And they asked her a whole bunch of questions. And anyway, it became one of Ben's cases. And he was trying to determine what caused this person to behave in the manner she did. And it related to the camp experience that the mother had. And the fact that even though there was no conversation about the camp, because of the things that she gathered from talk about the camps from other people, that she had ingrained in her own mind this generation passing through of these memories from the mother. And this is, she was afraid that the mother was going to be incarcerated again, and she was running down the freeway. That was the first case he talked about.

Second case was this, this woman that was quite a gifted artist. And she started to make drawings, sumi-e drawings especially, of black clouds. And then there would be some kind of barrack-like structure in the scene. And it was the same case with her. The mother never, the parents never talked about evacuation or things of this nature, and yet this kind of theme was going through all the art that she was generating.

And then the other case was where they're talking about this person that was orphaned because the parents, the father shot the wife and he shot himself. It was murder, suicide type situation in camp. And this person was going through all these guilt and feelings about what had happened after she grew up, and she understood the fact that her parents had committed suicide. She was going through a terrible psychological problem. I didn't, I felt that this was a very interesting case in point.

But there was a presentation up at the Seattle Community College, North Seattle Community College several months ago. And the professor from Sacramento area came up. And she had this showing of The Children of the Camps. And she showed a kind of semi-documentary about what has happened to the children from the camps, people that were born during the camp period, and then after the camps, and what kind of psychological situations they're in. And they were having these videos that were being made of these various group discussions. And even within that time frame of the generation after the fact, this thing about this one party saying to the other guy, "You're a 'no-no' sympathizer." And the other guy coming back to him, and they're really using some foul language. And the really, the real feelings of these individuals coming out. And I thought to myself, "Gee, this is very sad, and it's a very serious situation." After that viewing, I had a long conversation with a friend of mine. And he tells me that some of his reasons why he behaves in the manner that he does is from a psychological framework. [Laughs] And he has very strong sympathy with that, that Children of the Camps documentary. And so I asked him some questions, "How come you feel that way?" We finally got into this thing. Even to his point of view, even though he wasn't directly affected and his parents were, but he wasn't directly affected, he didn't think at that time. Psychologically, this thing comes out later on in life, and we haven't, we haven't confronted ourselves with it. I guess, to me, one of the interesting things that came about from the redress process was that people were coming out of the closets, they're talking about these issues. And we're finally able to talk coherently to individuals. And in some cases still the fragmentation of society is still there. But nonetheless, we're able to talk and we're able relate to these events that took place. And so maybe redress thing has a lot of secondary effects. Maybe it'll have some beneficial effects for the Sansei. Maybe they'll recognize some of these things that went on and why their parents feel the way they do about certain social events or social contacts, and organizations and things of this nature. So to me, there's a whole evolution of Japanese American history that has taken place in the last maybe thirty years, or somewhere in that realm. And it's an interesting thing to witness. But I don't know how to solve some of these solutions because they're still inherent in the community. I'm trying to make some approaches to it, [Laughs] but I don't think they're entirely satisfactory.

TI: Yeah. And I'm not sure what the answer is either. I think part of what we're doing by interviewing and getting stories now, I think is part of that, that, you know, what will come as a solution.

HM: The one thing that really disturbs me is the fact that Japanese Americans as a, as a ethnic group, have not done their homework on what really has transpired during the evacuation process, what the background of the thing was, why we even entered into World War II, and the framework of the political drama that was going behind this. And, and I heard a news report yesterday where this person was reading a newspaper article that appeared yesterday -- this is October 27th, 1941, about the fact that Japan is no threat at all. They have second-level type of military forces, they dare not even point their gun at the United States. They have no ability to attack anything outside of the homeland areas. And this was a direct reading of a newspaper article that appeared in 1941.

TI: And so what were you thinking when you read this? What was the...?

HM: I thought to myself, this is the frame of mind that the American people had at that time, that Japan would dare not do anything, even though we pushed them up against the wall. And if you know something about prewar Japanese American history, the Americans, the British, the Dutch, and the Chinese, put an ultimatum onto Japan, saying that if they do not retreat their forces out of China, get out of Indochina areas and so forth, that they're gonna put a blockade on, which they did subsequently. And they stopped all the fuel, the fuel oil going into Japan, the rubber, scrap metal and everything else. And they stopped the commercial trade between Japan and United States in July of 1941.

TI: Which really forced Japan's hand.

HM: Yeah. They were up against the wall. So they're gonna either come out fighting or they're gonna submit, and say they surrender. But they're not about to do this kind of stuff. The military's in power.

TI: So this example is a good point of how out of sync the media and the public was with the reality of what was going on with the government.

HM: Yeah. And if you look at some of the documentation on Senator Inouye when Pearl Harbor was bombed, he was, emphatic terms that are derogatory about our ancestry. Anyway, he made statements to the effect that, how dare they bomb this place? And for him to be a teenager and not even be aware that the precursor of the war was already laid out several years beforehand, and totally be unaware of this situation, leads me to believe that part of our problem is ignorance. We got to get over this fact, and we got to be able to read some books once in a while and relate these things historically, with a coherent fashion with one another. But we don't seem to be able to do that. We seem to want to forget this whole episode and say, "Hey, I don't want to think about it because it's uncomfortable for me to think about it." Even people I approach, even today, will say that to me.

TI: Yeah, and that, again goes back to what we, we're attempting to do here because we really think this is an important chapter that needs to be studied. And with that, I'm gonna go ahead and end the interview.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.