2005 Day of Remembrance;
When Loyalty is Questioned...from Tule Lake to Guantanamo
by Kay Ochi

The 2005 Day of Remembrance program will take place on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2005 from 2 to 4 PM at the Japanese American National Museum, 369 East First Street, Los Angeles. The event is sponsored by Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress, the Pacific Southwest District/JACL, and the Japanese American National Museum. In keeping with the commemoration of President Roosevelt’s signing of

Hank Naito
Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, which authorized the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese Americans from the west coast during World War II, the theme for the DOR is “When Loyalty is Questioned.. .from Tule Lake to Guantanamo.”

The wartime government’s use of “military necessity” as the reason to uproot west coast Japanese American communities, media sensationalism and public sentiment cast suspicion and distrust upon JA’s. The continued fear of disloyalty among the JA’s and the need to enlist soldiers led to the government’s issuance of a loyalty questionnaire, in particular, Questions 27 & 28— will you serve in the armed forces and will you swear allegiance to the US and foreswear allegiance to the Japanese Emperor. The responses to these two critical questions determined the fate of the imprisoned JA’s, in particular, the men of military age.

While 1256 Nisei volunteered from the camps, the vast majority did not. Resistance to the government’s harsh and unconstitutional treatment of JA’s took numerous forms including protests, the Fair Play Committee at Heart Mountain, Resisters of Conscience, No-No Boys, and Renunciants.

Salam Al-Marayati
Those individuals and families who chose to renounce their citizenship and be shipped to Japan suffered the further hardships of Tule Lake concentration camp and the criticism of their community. Mr. Hank Naito will speak about his family’s  decision to go to Japan and the effects of that decision on his life including his service in the U.S. Air Force after the war. In order to unite family members, Reiko Nimura’s family sailed aboard the Swedish ship Gripsholm to Goa, India, and then on to Japan. She recalls debarking in Goa, and being counted head-for-head as white Americans boarded that ship as part of a prisoner of- war exchange. She will speak about her experiences during the War and during the redress campaign.

Reiko Nimura, center front
Wayne Collins, Jr., has agreed to speak on behalf of his father, Wayne M. Collins, who passed away in 1974. Wayne M. Collins worked for over 22 years to have citizenship restored by the courts to 4,978 former renunciants. His single-handed efforts were significant in proving the coercive and unjust nature of the government’s tactics to deport JA’s.  The treatment of JA’s during World War II has unfortunate similarities to the treatment of Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Speaking on behalf of the South Asian Network is Mr. Hamid Khan. Mr. Salam Al-Marayati will speak on behalf of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and will share his recent encounter with racial profiling by the government.

Other highlights of the DOR program include a video-tribute to Congressman Robert Matsui who passed away on Jan. 1, and a performance of “9-0-Double 6” by Kyle Toyama, rap artist featured on Dave Iwataki’s  “Project J” CD.

A reception will follow the program. The event is free to the public. Seating is limited, so audience is encouraged to arrive early.

For more information, call (213) 680-3484.