Densho Digital Archive
Steven Okazaki Collection
Title: Lorraine Bannai Interview
Narrator: Lorraine Bannai
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: October 1983
Densho ID: denshovh-blorraine-02-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

Q: Could you say something, Lori, about why the government made that motion that they did, and was it anticipated by any of you? What were the reasons for doing that?

LB: We had anticipated the government trying to make some kind of offer to settle the case, or some kind of motion to terminate the case short of litigating the case on the merits, i.e. short of us saying that they had committed some kind of prosecutorial misconduct, and that there was no military necessity, and then them saying, well, there was military necessity, and no, there was no prosecutorial misconduct. It seemed the only politic thing for the government to do to consider not being put in the position of saying they did the right thing. So for several months, many months, we've talked about possible offers to settle, possible motions to terminate the lawsuit. It seems to me it is the smartest thing for the government to do at this point in time. It's a complex answer to say whether we're surprised, or why the government did it. We've been preparing for trial full steam ever since the case got filed, just about every night, every day and every weekend, even believing that the government would find a good political way to resolve the situation. We were kind of expecting any day for some kind of pardon or some kind of offer for settlement or dismissal or vacation to come along, so it doesn't really surprise us that much.

Q: Do you consider it as a pardon?

LB: No. We're actually very pleased that it's not a pardon. We are adamantly, have always been adamantly opposed to a pardon, along with the three petitioners and the cases, Fred Korematsu more so than any of the other petitioners. His position was, "Why should the government be pardoning me? I should be pardoning the government for what they did to me and to the Japanese American community." We don't see it as a pardon because a pardon basically says that yes, you were convicted...


LB: But the government saw it as really different. We view it as being very different from a pardon, because a pardon basically leaves the underlying conviction. A person's convicted and the government comes back and says, "Even though you did something wrong, and even though you were convicted for it, we're going to relieve you of the burden of that conviction. We're going to relieve you of the stigma of the conviction or any other kind of consequences of the conviction, but the conviction lies." Like the Patty Hearst situation. What the government's doing with this is moving to vacate the conviction, that the conviction should not even exist anymore. Even all the way down to the indictment stage, that they're dismissing the original indictment against Fred Korematsu. So it's much more far-reaching we feel than a pardon. And the government knew that we would not agree to a pardon and they never even offered it to us.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1983, 2010 Densho and Steven Okazaki. All Rights Reserved.