California State Grange apologizes for mistreating Japanese Americans during WWII


Rafu Shimpo:

California State Grange President Bob McFarland apologized for his organization’s treatment of Japanese Americans before and during World War II in a March 25 letter to David Lin, national president of the Japanese American Citizens League.

President Bob McFarland

On behalf of the members of the California State Grange, please accept this letter of apology to the Japanese American community for a discriminatory period in our history, of which we are not proud,” McFarland wrote.

“The California State Grange started in 1873 and continues today as a fraternal organization supporting agriculture and communities. We have over 9,700 members serving 185 communities in the state.

“Examining our past, we recognize that the Grange was a leader in organizing opposition to Japanese immigration, beginning in 1907. Along with the American Legion, the California State Federation of Labor, and the Native Sons of the Golden West, the Grange was active in the Asiatic Exclusion League.

“The California Grange passed a resolution in 1907 which stated that aliens living in the United States should be barred from buying and owning land. The California Grange was instrumental in passage of the Alien Land Law of 1920, and the 1924 law ending Japanese immigration to the United States.

“In 1922, the California Grange passed a resolution supporting federal legislation that resulted in the 1924 law that expressed ‘… the intense feeling of our people of the West in this matter, so absolutely vital to Christian civilization and the white races of our country.’

“These early seeds of racism sprouted after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the Grange supported the incarceration of Japanese Americans. In 1943, the Grange called for the deportation of all people of Japanese ancestry, aliens and American citizens alike.

“In view of this history of discrimination, an apology is long overdue. The California State Grange, by unanimous vote of its member delegates, recently passed a resolution calling for an apology to the Japanese American community. As president of the California State Grange, I present this letter of apology to the Japanese American Citizens League, with the request that it be shared with Japanese Americans across the country.

Grange Executive Committee member Takashi Yogi

“No words can compensate for the past injustice and loss of property, freedom and dignity, but I hope that this is a small step toward preventing a recurrence of racism and toward promoting equality for all people.”

Sandy Lydon, historian emeritus at Cabrillo College, alerted the current Grange leadership to their organization’s past history of discrimination. A resolution of apology was written and approved unanimously at the October 2012 California State Grange convention.

Titled “Affirmation of Diversity,” the resolution was authored by Takashi Yogi of Garden Valley (El Dorado County), a member of Marshall Grange and the California State Grange Executive Committee, and co-host of “Home on the Grange” on KFOK Community Radio. It read as follows:

“Whereas, the California Grange encouraged the removal and confinement of Japanese Americans in 1942 and opposed their return to their homes after World War II; and

“Whereas, the Japanese Americans were deprived of constitutional rights and suffered loss of property, freedom, and dignity; and

“Whereas, the United States formally apologized for the injustice and offered restitution in a bill signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988. Be it therefore

“Resolved: That the California State Grange apologize to the Japanese American community for the Grange’s participation in the injustices suffered by Japanese Americans during World War II and convey the apology via the Japanese American Citizens League and the Grange News. Let it be further

“Resolved: That the California State Grange declare that it will not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, political affiliation, or sexual orientation.”

The Grange was denounced in a Pacific Citizen editorial on Oct. 28,1944, Yogi noted. It read, in part: “In its latest resolution on Japanese Americans, the California State Grange has descended to the nadir of hypocrisy. It is impossible to believe that any group of men in this nation is so devoid of understanding of the basic principles of our democratic life and culture that they would advocate in sincerity the revocation of the citizenship of a body of fellow Americans on the grounds of ancestry.

grange logo“The latest action of the California Grange can only mean that this organization is shamelessly stooping to the use of hate, fear and the cry of race supremacy for purposes of economic advantage … This insistence on restrictions against Americans of Japanese ancestry, at a time when any military justification for such has evaporated, is proof that economic greed and racial hate, rather than any concern for the military security, were the underlying motives for the continuing campaign of the Grange, the Native Sons and similar organizations for the duration exclusion of the evacuees from the evacuated area.

“The Grange has exerted great influence, both nationally and locally, in political and legislative matters on behalf of the agrarian population. It is a pity then, that its West Coast leadership is in the hands of narrow, bigoted men whose ideas on matters of race and ancestry are no different from those of a little man with a moustache in Berlin.”

(The JACL newspaper was headquartered in Salt Lake City during the war.)

Yogi told The Rafu Shimpo that although his family was not interned, the issue is very meaningful to him: “Our family was in Okinawa during World War II and survived the last battle of the war, in which over 147,000 Okinawan civilians were killed. We emigrated to Hawaii in 1948. So I was not directly involved with the internment.

“But being a survivor of the war, I am keenly interested in the effects of the war on civilians. War seems to stir up patriotism as well as racism. One need only look at the propaganda posters of World War II to see the blatant racism, with Japanese depicted as rats and snakes. I am interested in the process where normally decent people consent to inhumane acts.

“I have studied both the Jewish Holocaust and the Japanese American internment to understand this process. What I see is: (1) The labeling of people as objects separate from us. (2) The creation of fear of those objects. (3) The persecution or extermination of those subhuman objects.”

Yogi wrote on his website, “It is our responsibility to keep the machinery of democracy oiled and repaired, and to ensure that the machine is operated correctly, as it was intended. Our responsibility is more than merely voting and watching the news on TV. Since we are the government, we need to be informed and take an active part in maintaining democracy. The challenge is to learn from the past and create a democracy that truly provides ‘liberty and justice for all.’”

Check out this link:

California State Grange apologizes for mistreating Japanese Americans during WWII


President Obama Meets Japanese American World War II Veterans


President Barack Obama returns the salute from one of the members of the group of Japanese American WWII veterans during a meeting in the Oval Office

President Barack Obama returns the salute from Tommie Okabayashi, one of the members of the group of Japanese American WWII veterans during a meeting in the Oval Office to congratulate them on their Congressional Gold Medal, Feb. 18, 2014.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

On February 19, 1942, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, leading the United States government to confine more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent in internment camps across the United States. Almost two-thirds of those incarcerated were United States citizens.

Despite tremendous prejudice and the internment of their families, more than 33,000 second-generation Japanese Americans (nisei) volunteered to serve in the United States Army during World War II – most notably, in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most decorated units of World War II, and the Military Intelligence Service.

In 2010, over 65 years later, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal – one of the highest civilian awards in the United States – to thousands of these veterans, finally recognizing the sacrifices they made for their country.

On February 18th, the President met with seven of these surviving veterans, all in their 90s, to thank them in person for their service.

Check out this link:

President Obama Meets Japanese American World War II Veterans


Zinn Education Project: Korematsu v U.S. (1944)


On Dec. 17, 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Korematsu v U.S. that the denial of civil liberties based on race and national origin was legal.

Fred Korematsu (Jan. 30, 1919 – Mar. 30, 2005) , a U.S. citizen and the son of Japanese immigrants, had refused to evacuate when Roosevelt ordered the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. Korematsu was arrested, convicted, and sent to the Topaz Internment Camp in Utah. Korematsu unsuccessfully sued the U.S. government for violating his constitutional rights.

Learn more from:

(1) Tracked in America website:

(2) Unsung Heroes lesson for middle and high school:

(3) Of Civil Rights and Wrongs: The Fred Korematsu Story

(4) More stories of protest of the internment in the film Conscience and the Constitution:

(5) the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education.

Check out this link:

Zinn Education Project: Korematsu v U.S. (1944)


Veterans Day Ceremony for Japanese-American Soldiers of World War II


The USS Missouri Memorial Association’s annual Veterans Day sunset ceremony at Pearl Harbor will honor the 70th anniversary of the Nisei Veterans of World War II. Twenty-five Nisei veterans — octogenarians and older — will be among the 450 participants expected at the event.

This year we decided to honor the Nisei as a focus, while still honoring all the veterans,” said Jackie McCormick, director of events at the USS Missouri Memorial Association.

Monday’s ceremony on the fantail of the Battleship Missouri will coincide with the opening of a new Nisei exhibit on board the ship, to honor their legacy.

These second-generation U.S.-born Japanese-Americans are soldiers who fought for the United States after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, despite U.S. government mistrust of them due to their ancestry.

They were considered “enemy aliens” and only allowed to serve in segregated Army units; the Navy and Marines wouldn’t allow them in their ranks.

Despite this, more than 20,000 Japanese-Americans fought in the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Military Intelligence Service and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion. They were the most highly decorated soldiers in U.S. Army history.

Seventy years ago our Nisei soldiers entered World War II and overcame the dual challenges of prejudice at home and threats to our nation’s freedoms overseas with undaunted service and incredible feats of courage,” said Bob Kihune, retired U.S. Navy vice admiral and now chairman of the board at the USS Missouri Memorial Association.

Notable attendees include the keynote speaker, Jiro Yukimura. Yukimura was aboard the Missouri when Japanese surrender documents were signed on Sept. 2, 1945.

Check out this link:

Veterans Day Ceremony for Japanese-American Soldiers of World War II


Film Noir: “The Crimson Kimono” and Asian American Sexuality in the Age of the Cold War


Here’s a great article on the film “The Crimson Kimono,” and the genre film noir.

In its early years just after WWII, film noir depicted the racial and sexual anxieties confronting urban America. “While law enforcement in Los Angeles and other American cities of the 1940s policed the city’s racially mixed venues in their efforts to fortify the boundaries between whiteness and non-whiteness,” notes cultural historian Eric Avila, “film noir sided with the law, implicating the city for its betrayal of a racialized vision of civic order.”

Within this context of noir Orientalism and Cold War America, enter Sam Fuller’s 1959 noir, “The Crimson Kimono.” The story of two Korean War veterans, now partners in the LAPD homicide division — Detective Sgt. Charlie Bancroft (Glenn Corbett) and Japanese American Detective Joe Kojaku (James Shigeta) — both embodies and pushes back against the kind of noir framing of the period, while also providing insight into the genre’s interaction with Cold War tensions.

In the heat of the Cold War, few things signified loyalty to America and the right to citizenship more than military service. The exploits of black, Asian, and Latino Americans in WWII buoyed the civil rights efforts of each. African Americans returned from the war with a new vigor for integration and equal rights. For Mexican Americans, the G.I. Forum, formed in 1946, emerged in the post WWII decades as a critical force for equality. For Japanese Americans, the military service and bravery of many Nisei, who served while their own families languished in internment camps, reinforced the symbolism and importance of their contributions. In several scenes of “Crimson Kimono,” posters advertising for military service can clearly be viewed in the background. In these ways, the movie highlights wartime sacrifices of the nation’s Japanese Americans and, by extension, other minorities as well… The movie focuses intently on the fusion of Japanese and American culture.

… The film’s posters made such statements as “YES, this is a beautiful American girl in the arms of a Japanese boy!” and “What was his strange appeal for American girls?” Shallow and exploitative? Yes. Still while certainly essentialistic, many would agree, even if a cheap and crude play at interracial sexual titillation, an improvement on previous stereotypes.

Check out this link:

Film Noir: “The Crimson Kimono” and Asian American Sexuality in the Age of the Cold War



46 photos of life at a Japanese internment camp, taken by Ansel Adams

Internment Camp

110,000 Japanese Americans who were forced to live in internment camps. This policy was opposed by many Americans, including renowned photographer Ansel Adams, who in the summer of 1943 made his first visit to Manzanar War Relocation Camp in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Invited by the warden, Adams sought to document the living conditions of the camp’s inhabitants.

His photos were published in a book titled “Born Free And Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans” in 1944, with an accompanying exhibition at MoMA.

In 1965, when he donated the images to the Library of Congress, Adams shared some thoughts on the project:

The purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice, and loss of property, businesses and professions, had overcome the sense of defeat and dispair (sic) by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment,” he said.

Check out this link:

46 Photos Of Life At A Japanese Internment Camp, Taken By Ansel Adams

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 1.13.43 PM