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-01-0004

<Begin Segment 4>

FC: Did you have any personal talks with Mike Masaoka on redress and how that should be handled?

CU: Well, I did not talk to Mike Masaoka concerning redress until we started the program. I remember one time, it was in late 1978, that I was thinking about redress, and I said, "You know, actually, the Holocaust victims are getting redress from West Germany." So I called the, all the Jewish organizations in San Francisco but none of them knew what they were getting. So finally I called the Israeli consulate, and he said, "Why don't you call the German consulate? After all, they're ones that's paying, so you might get more information from them." So I called the German consulate, and they gave me some information, but they said, "There is a place in New York City that you could write to to get more information." So when I wrote there, they sent me a whole bunch of materials, telling us how much the Holocaust victims were getting. And I wrote a short article on it, and it so happened that Mike Masaoka was at the, was visiting San Francisco when I went to the national JACL headquarters, he was there, and mentioned that I'm planning to write this, publish this article in the PC as one of the redress informational thing. And he said, "No, don't do it, because," he said, "if you do that, you will alienate all the Jewish congressmen and you will lose. Don't put anything. After all, the Jewish Holocaust and ours was completely different." "Sure, it was different," I said, "it was completely different. However," I said, "there's several things that you have to think of. To begin with, both the Japanese Americans and the German Jews were sent into camp and they were surrounded by barbed wire and if they tried to leave, they would be shot at. And they weren't there because they have committed anything wrong, only reason why they were there was because of their race. And so in that way," I said, "there is some similarity. Yes, the American camp was not anything like the Jewish camp in Europe, but there were a lot of similarities." But he said that he would strongly advise against my writing anything about the Holocaust victims. So I held onto the materials for a couple of weeks. Then I said to myself, "Well, the heck with it, why shouldn't I?" So I sent it in to PC and it came out, and about two months later Mike happened to be again in San Francisco and he said, "You know, that was a pretty good article," he said. So I thought, well, that's interesting; first he would say no, but I'm sure that it was because you don't want at any time to ruffle the feather in any way. I think that was their policy and I also felt that the JACL had a similar policy.

And I remember at the convention, they said, "Since you became president, you have to now find someone to succeed you as the redress chair." And it thought, "Well, I'll be very diplomatic, I'll ask all the big shots in JACL." And they all, there were several strong criteria that they gave me: one, it has to be a Nisei. Second, it has to be somebody that was in camp; third, it has to be a 442 veteran. They thought that would have much more impact. And so I chose, first I wanted to ask this fellow from Seattle, Minoru... is it Matsuda, Masuda?

FC: Min Masuda.

CU: Min Masuda. I thought might be pretty good, but he said no, he wasn't, he didn't want to be. He said, "Choose someone else." So then I couldn't think of anyone so I chose John Tateishi. And John Tateishi, of course, is not a Nisei, he's a Sansei, he was only six years old when he was in camp, and he was not a 442 veteran. But I felt that John possibly had more commitment and eloquence than anyone else that I knew, so John became the redress chair.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.