Densho Digital Archive
Frank Abe Collection
Title: Clifford Uyeda Interview
Narrator: Clifford Uyeda
Interviewers: Frank Chin (primary); Frank Abe (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: May 5, 1996
Densho ID: denshovh-uclifford-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

FA: -- resolution presented to the JACL regarding the, JACL's cooperation, cheerful cooperation versus cooperation. Could you just tell me what the resolution was?

CU: No, which resolution are you talking about?

FA: This is about 1990, when you tried to, so-called Golden Gate resolution.

CU: If I recall correctly, the original Golden Gate resolution was that it was time for JACL to also acknowledge the wrong that it committed against the resisters, that is, to their own people. Acknowledge that this was wrong, and to... at that time, I think possibly, that was all that was on there, wasn't it? And also to do everything possible to... maybe it was in that last, there could be a resolve? I don't know. I didn't quote... oh, here it is.

FA: Why don't you go ahead and, from the top, go ahead and read that resolution.

CU: Now, this was written back in 1990, six years ago. And this was a draft of the Golden Gate JACL chapter resolution to the JACL national council. "Whereas there still exists today a serious internal division in the Japanese American community over JACL's response to the government's incarceration order of Japanese Americans during World War II, and whereas the federal government, through legislation, has acknowledged the wrong committed against Japanese Americans and has ordered restitution, and whereas the wartime JACL did brand those who did not fully agree with its policy and advice as disloyal Americans, and whereas the redress campaign held as one of its fundamental objectives the aim of making the Japanese American community whole, and whereas although the JACL response to the internment order was sincere and thoughtfully performed with the best interests of the community in mind, those Japanese Americans who disagree with the JACL position had an unwavering belief in the sanctity of the U.S. Constitution and in the validity of due process, now therefore be it resolved that as the federal government has acknowledged its past errors in judgment, the JACL also acknowledges that it erred in its council to the Japanese American community in the early days of the war, and its reaction toward the Japanese American wartime dissidents, and be it further resolved, that the JACL actively promote community unity and healing by recognizing the contributions made by individuals and organizations which positions differ from that of the JACL." Yes, that was, now, that was way back six years ago, that resolution was presented, but it was, of course, not accepted. It was not acceptable to them. This is a pretty mild resolution, I would say, because all it does is to say, "Let's acknowledge that we also made a mistake after the government made, had acknowledged their mistake." And to me, it's almost unbelievable that today, JACL still cannot do that.

FA: And why not?

CU: Well, I think it's because to many JACLers, Mike Masaoka is almost godlike in their perception. JACL could do no wrong. JACL has never made a mistake. I think that... and it's a concept that completely foreign to only, any organization. We all know that every organization, every country, makes mistakes. And the country and the organization that admits to the mistake and tries to correct it is the one that you really appreciate, and have respect for. Not one that stubbornly refused to acknowledge the well-known mistakes. And I think, for that reason, JACL is really hurting itself by not acknowledging and apologizing to the dissidents. To the veterans, I would say that the dissidents had nothing against the veterans, they had said nothing bad about the veterans; they appreciated what the veterans have done, but they also want to be appreciated for what they have done. And I think what they have done was just as hard as anyone, other person could do, and they put their life on the line just as much as any other person. And what is most interesting about the dissidents to me was... I thought of this especially when -- this is rather recent. A former retired, he is a retired army colonel, said, when you really come down to the bottom line, the real reason why the dissidents were that way was because they were cowards. Now, that was, that was such a surprise to me to hear the former military man say this. And I think this is why so many of the veterans feel that, "My buddies put their life on the line and some of 'em never came back." Well, you know, these dissidents also put their, not only their life, but their reputation and their whole life on the line in the sense that, how they would be accepted in the Japanese American community. And they put this on the line, and they did this because they really felt that what they were doing was correct.


CU: No, when I, when I interviewed this family down in Mountain View, to me it was so interesting because when I first mentioned to one of the dissidents that I'm going to be interviewing them, he said, "Don't, because that person is against the people who resisted," because his brother was so much against it, brother was in the 442. Guy said, "Don't interview him." But I thought, well, it was okay, so I went down and had a long, it was supposed to be a one-hour interview, it turned out to be four hours. And when we, at the end, it was very interesting because this person said, "I changed my mind." Because he said that, "I think my brother" -- it was his brother that was a dissident -- "did really have the right feeling and correct, what he did was correct." But what his brother did was unusual was this: if he was really a coward, if he did not want to get into the army, all he had to do was take the physical examination, he would never have passed it. He was in a TB sanitorium before the war. And when he was called up for a preinduction physical, he ignored it. And his reason was that he wanted to stand together with other dissidents so that he wanted to be one of them. And so he was convicted, and he was sentenced to three years in federal penitentiary, he went to McNeil Island. But at McNeil Island, they didn't have any facility for taking care of people with tuberculosis, so he was sent to Leavenworth where they did have a hospital. And so he spent his time, he served his time. He didn't have to serve his time if he was a coward.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.