Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rudy Tokiwa Interview II
Narrator: Rudy Tokiwa
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Judy Niizawa (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 2 & 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-trudy-02-0061

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TI: The last thing I want to sort of finish up with, because we're running out of time is, you've been working on a project, and it's a project to bring a national monument to Washington, D.C. And you started at the very beginning, when people were talking about this. Can you talk about that project a little bit and where it's at?

RT: Well, yes. Mike Masaoka, who was (the national) JACL (Washington D.C., representative for years), all this... [Interruption] Well, I happened to be in Washington, D.C. one time, and (Mike and I) were just shootin' the breeze. He says, "Well, Rudy, we gotta do something about redress and all this stuff that went against us." So I says, "Yeah, I agree with you. That's the reason why we volunteered." And so actually, we started the "Go for Broke" organization to put up a big exhibit. And we were going good. But the thing was, we had to have (land) someplace to put up this monument. And we had, the price and everything was all figured out. I think it was going to cost us a little over four million dollars and whatnot. But it came out to be that we couldn't put it up. Because according to some federal law or somethin' like that.

JN: The Parks (and monuments)...

RT: We couldn't put it up.

TI: So this was, you found sort of land in Washington, D.C., or wanted it to put it in Washington, D.C., but the Parks Department...

RT: Yeah.

TI: The U.S. Parks...

RT: Wouldn't give us the land.

TI: Wouldn't give you land for, because it was specifically for a war, or...?

RT: No. Because it was specifically for a Japanese American...

JN: ...regiment.

RT: Regiment. And the way they came back to us, they said, "Now, if we let you guys put it on, that means every regiment in the United States Army, if they wanna put one up, we have to allow them to have a piece of land." So we said, "Well, can't let that happen." So then we said, "Well, let's form another organization." What did we call it?

JN: The Japanese American Memorial Foundation.

RT: Yeah. We, that was what we started, we said, "Let's form this, and they would be in charge of it. And this way, it's not a regiment that's gonna put it on no more."

TI: Okay. So the Japanese American Memorial Foundation was founded to put up this monument...

RT: Yeah.

TI: But still, it would be sort of directed by the "Go for Broke" guys?

RT: Yeah. And when we...

JN: That's what it was...

RT: So we picked a whole mess of guys to run this thing and put it together and everything. And one of the things that we had put into the bylaws was that they must report to us, I think it was every three months. And give us a report of exactly what they're doing, and we had to okay it.

TI: And the reason, and some of the reasons are that you wanted to do this was not only to keep control, but you were also lining up a lot of the funds, or the donors, for the monument?

RT: Yeah. We had, well, it's like with me, I had gone out, and I had a group of guys that already told me, "Oh, yeah, we'll back you up with a million dollars." And so this was fine, gee. And finally, all of a sudden we find out that, in fact, the meeting was held here in Hawaii.

JN: The first Foundation meeting.

RT: Yeah. It was the first Foundation (JAMF) meeting, and it was held at the Pagoda (Hotel). So we went up to the meeting. And there's a rope strung across the room. And we said, "What's this rope for?" "Oh, that's for you guys who are non-board people. You just have to sit on that side of the rope, and the board will sit on this side of the rope." So half the time, we didn't even know what they were talkin' about no more.

JN: Couldn't hear 'em.

RT: And you would think that, you take like this guy, Chester Tanaka (who was living in Hawaii), he was one of the (original) big pushers (for a memorial). And they didn't even introduce him. It came out to be that those of us that were actually ones that were started, started all this, we were nothin'. They were just pushin' us right out the door.

TI: And were they taking the plans in a different direction than you wanted, also?

RT: Yes. They, they wanted more, instead of army and whatnot, they wanted it to be more about what they have done. Well, what they (received) had to come from someplace. And they were receiving that because of the 442. And so they should be talkin' about, "Well, we work together, let's get this whole thing put together." And at one time, they brought their price all the way up to sixteen million dollars. And like I say, we'd go to the meetings and we weren't allowed to talk.

<End Segment 61> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.