|The Day of Remembrance program underwent major changes in 1997, deviating from past traditions. For the first time in NCRR’s history, the DOR was a redress fundraising event; an admission fee was requested. And, in order to benefit from the availability of popular musician/artist Keiko Matsui, the event took place on March 22, 1997 at the Japan America Theater as an evening program (instead of in February, the month that President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066).
By 1997 NCRR had exhausted its administrative attempts to reverse the denial of redress to former railroad/mine workers and family members and other categories of denials. Motivated by the need to file lawsuits against the government in order to win redress for these Japanese Americans, fundraising was necessary to reach the goal: “…and Justice for All,”which was this year’s theme.
Joining Keiko in the evening concert were Kazu Matsui, Keiko’s husband and master shakuhachi artist, and Lane Nishikawa, San Francisco-based performance artist. Serving as the special emcee for the event was Jude Narita, also a well-known performance artist.
With “Justice for All” foremost in NCRR’s goals and with redress lawsuits in mind, NCRR honored three individuals who had already been victorious in the court case Consolo v. United States. The Fighting Spirit Award recipients were Linda Kawabe Consolo, Bruce Iwasaki and Gerald Sato.
The child of a so-called “Early Evacuee,” Consolo had been denied redress by the Department of Justice. With the help of attorney Gerald Sato, the federal Court of Appeals supported Consolo’s case and granted her redress. The victory subsequently made almost 900 other Japanese Americans who were in a similar situation eligible for compensation. Sato, a long-time redress activist, had worked with NCRR since the 1981 federal commission hearings. Long-time NCRR member and attorney Bruce Iwasaki wrote the Friend of the Court brief on behalf of NCRR to support the Consolo case. Iwasaki had been NCRR’s legal advisor since the 1980’s.
Iwasaki had also coordinated workshops for lawyers who were interested in helping in the redress court cases. Although much of the legal work was done pro bono, NCRR set up a legal fund to help defray the court costs as well as travel expenses to Washington D.C.’s Court of Appeals.
The redress campaign had reached another milestone with the filing of court cases as the last chance to win long overdue reparations. NCRR’s commitment did not waiver. As usual NCRR members donated their time and energy to make this year’s DOR a success. Over 20 volunteers participated in DOR 1997 to raise money for the anticipated court cases. Justice now for Japanese Latin Americans and other Japanese Americans denied reparations by the U.S. Department of Justice!
|Keiko Matsui..., Rafu Shimpo, 3/5/97, Keiko|
|victorious in the court case..., Rafu Shimpo, 9/17/94, Judge rules|
|Fighting Spirit Award..., Rafu Shimpo, 3/14/97, NCRR to recognize (PDF)|