Program Summary

The 1994 Day of Remembrance program combined the campaign for those denied redress with grave concerns about the familiar issues of racism and immigrant bashing that continue today.  The DOR theme “Our Immigrant Heritage: A Struggle for Justice” was addressed in a multi-ethnic, grassroots approach.  NCRR brought together representatives of the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Pilipino and Vietnamese communities to share immigration stories and concerns.  Actor Sab Shimono, a former inmate of Tule Lake concentration camp, performed an excerpt from Momoko Iko’s play ”Gold Watch”.  Cultural performances were offered by two Cambodian artists, a poet and a flautist.

Keynote speaker Glenn Omatsu, UCLA Asian American Studies professor, recalled the 1871 lynching of 19 Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles and the passage of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.  “In American history, Chinese and other Asian ethnic groups are the only populations that have been specifically targeted for immigration exclusion,” Omatsu stated.

Angelo Ancheta, the executive director of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights-Los Angeles (CHIRLA), compared the incarceration of Japanese Americans and the current immigrant bashing.  He recalled, “Racism and hysteria led to the internment, and the parallels are recognizable in the debate on immigration...we encourage importation of foreign labor in times of economic boom, the way Japanese immigrants were brought to the fields of Hawaii…We give immigrants jobs no one else will perform.”

The highlight of the 1994 DOR program was the honoring of former journalist James Omura with NCRR’s Fighting Spirit Award.  Omura defended the actions and the rights of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee to resist the Selective Service orders for the induction of Nisei men in 1944.  For his editorial position he was indicted along with the Fair Play Committee members and he was ostracized by the leaders of the Japanese American community.  Although he was acquitted, this ostracism lasted for his entire lifetime.

Omura is famous for his protest of the forced eviction of Japanese Americans.  In 1942, at the Tolan Congressional Committee Hearings, Omura stated, “I would like to ask the committee: Has the Gestapo come to America?  Have we not arisen in righteous anger at Hitler’s mistreatment of Jews?  Then, is it not incongruous that citizen Americans of Japanese descent would be similarly mistreated and persecuted?”  Mr. Omura, unfortunately, passed away in June of 1994.

The program also updated the community about NCRR’s efforts during the previous year to advocate on behalf of those denied redress.  This included a report on the August 1993 Washington D.C. lobbying delegation.  The denied individuals included those Japanese American former inmates who were part of America’s prisoner of war exchange program with Japan, Japanese Latin Americans who were kidnapped from their homes in Peru and other Latin American countries to be used in the U.S.’s prisoner of war exchange with Japan, and the Japanese Americans in Hawaii who were forcibly removed from their homes and relocated to other parts of the islands.

NCRR also reported support of other community campaigns including the protest of the film “Rising Sun”, the support of the senior residents of the Little Tokyo Towers and at the Japanese Cultural Institute apartments.  NCRR protested the “Asian Mug Files” in Fountain Valley, CA which involved the questionable stopping of young Asian drivers and photographing them on the street for inclusion in a notebook of young Asians, primarily young men, and helping the youth form AWARE – Alliance Working for Asian Rights and Empowerment.

1994 Day of Remembrance..., , Rafu Shimpo, 2/22/94, Speakers blast (PDF)

advocate on behalf of those denied redress...,Rafu Shimpo, 4/9/93
More than 2000 (PDF)

1993 Washington D.C. lobbying delegation, Rafu Shimpo, 9/15/93, NCRR Delegation (PDF)