___________________________________________________________________________ MARCH/APRIL, 2001 VOLUME IX * NUMBER 2
I believe that all who heard Bina Kiyonaga talk about her life and experiences as the wife of a CIA station chief found her talk to be frank, colorful and informative. We certainly were given answers to: "Almost everything we wanted to know about the agency, but were afraid to ask." Thank you, Bina, for a most interesting presentation and the opportunity to meet your sons John, David and Paul, who, hopefully, will be our newest JAVA members.
Another new member prospect is Ken Tashiro, son of Jack Tashiro, who has been a loyal member of JAVA for many years.
With the copies of our updated membership roster, you will have received information on the Memorial Day Observances, the official opening of the National Japanese American Memorial, and the proposed appreciation dinner for Senators Inouye and Akaka who have supported and brought about the realization of major achievements benefiting the Nikkei veterans and the Salute 2001: the All Nikkei Veterans and Family Event in Los Angeles 3-5 August 2001. WE hope we have a strong showing of support and participation ion these important events for the Nikkei community.
Dr. James McNaughton, who is writing the official MIS history, will be transferring to Hawaii as the Command Historian of the U.S. Army Pacific in July. He plans to complete the MIS History before his scheduled move to Fort Shafter. He will be in Washington May 7 during which time we plan to have a luncheon meeting (set for 12 noon, Friday, May 11) to be briefed on the history and to wish him success in his new position as Command Historian, USARPAC.
We have received a letter from Katsugo Miho, President of the 442nd Veterans Club of Hawaii, asking us to take over the responsibility of continuing the 100th/442nd National Archives Research Project started by Richard Yamamoto and his group ten years ago. Because of his poor health, Richard is unable to continue with this work. There is still a considerable amount of material on the 100th/442nd to look into. If we take over this project, we will include research on MIS documents as well. The 442nd RCT Foundation is willing to contribute financial support to cover the costs of copying, mailing, personal transportation to the National Archives, lunch, etc. They will approach the MIS Veterans Club for support if the research includes recovery of MIS-related records. A number of us have from time to time done some research at the archives. Any material on the 100th/442nd can be turned over to Ted Tsukiyama, the historian for the 442nd in Hawaii. Anything on the MIS can be retained by JAVA until we find an appropriate repository. This need not be a full-time commitment; individual searches can be conducted as time and circumstances permit. The National Archives and Research Administration is located in a beautiful new building in the College Park area of Maryland with modern facilities, plenty of parking and an excellent cafeteria.
JAVA'S EXECUTIVE COUNCIL AGREES ON NON-NIKKEI MEMBERS: by David Buto
JAVA's executive council has agreed that membership in the organization should be open to non-Nikkei veterans who otherwise are qualified and wish to join.
The council, meeting at the home of JAVA president Phil Ishio March 24, agreed that whether a person was a Japanese-American did not matter; that membership be extended to anyone interested in promoting the objectives of the organization.
Some concern was expressed, however, on keeping a close eye on the ratio of veterans to non-veterans in JAVA since there are clear IRS guidelines which must be followed.
Vice-president Calvin Ninomiya has been named to look into the matter. JAVA currently has seven non-Nikkei members. He is to review JAVA documentation, including JAVA's mission, to ensure that any changes are in line with veteran organizations requirements and to offer recommendations for any changes which may be needed in JAVA's charter.
Bert Mizusawa made the point that JAVA focus on attracting people rather than discouraging them, making it free, for example, to join, but to get corporate sponsorship and in other ways encouraging new members.
Bert and Cal will be joined by Grant Ichikawa and Warren Tsuneishi to look into the matter of membership, the council's overall sentiment being that veterans, friends and supporters all be welcomed to join. JAVA's latest membership roster shows a total of 112 members -- 96 active, eight associate, and eight inactive. Members who do not renew their membership will be kept on the roster unless they asked that their names be removed.
In other actions, the council:
-- Agreed that JAVA should retain its autonomy but lend its support to the National Council for AJA Veterans on the question of whether the National Council should be officially affiliated with the Japanese American National Museum and the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy. The National Council is a loosely organized federation of veterans' groups which helps coordinate reunions, memorials and other such events. The National Center, being established with $20 million from appropriations sponsored by Senator Daniel Inouye, will be affiliated with the Japanese-American Museum in Los Angeles and focus on the rights and freedom of all Americans through lessons learned by the Japanese-American experience. Phil Ishio is to look into the overall pros and cons of the matter before a final official decision is made.
-- Was promised by Phil to get details on what JAVA's part will be in the opening of and the banquet June 29 celebrating the National Japanese American Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Memorial's foundation is offering special group tables at $5,000 and $2,500 for the banquet. JAVA will consider sponsoring a table as well as getting a special price break for its members since JAVA has donated $15,000 for the dedication and other activities of the Foundation.
-- Ordered a wreath for Min Hara, a JAVA member in New York who passed away in December and whose ashes were inurned at the Arlington National Cemetery columbarium Arpil 9.
-- Heard a report from Grant Ichikawa on the 19x41-feet quilt project undertaken by 8th graders at a school in Lafayette, Indiana (see article by their teacher, Mrs. Leila Meyerratken). JAVA donated two copies of American Patriots to the school at the suggestion of Stan Falk Stan also reported on JAVA's oral history project.
-- Saluted the recent marriage of JAVA members Miyako Newell and Harry Tanabe. The couple hosted a luau at Hughsville in celebration.
-- Got details for the luncheon April 21 during which Mrs. Bina Cady Kiyonaga was to speak on her life as the wife of a covert CIA agent (Joe Kiyonaga) in Japan and Latin America. Bina is the author of a book, My Spy, which details their life together.
RUSTY KIMURA: UNSUNG HERO
(Editor's Note: JAVA's Grant Ichikawa, a tent-mate of Kimura's at ATIS Headquarters in Australia during WWII. Grant, who cites Koji Kawasaki's book, The Story of the Japanese Americans during World War II as a source, writes: "Rusty Kimura, a friend, volunteered from the Topaz Relocation (concentration) camp. He was assigned by ATIS to the 7th Australian Division in Bougainville Island in January, 1944. There, one day, he found among captured documents, a sketch indicating the time, date and place the Japanese would attack in twenty hours. He told Captain Timson, the battalion intelligence officer. Captain Timson would not believe him, but told his superiors and they had Aussie troops in position when the Japanese 17th Army attacked. This battle won by the Aussies became known as "The Battle of Slater's Knoll". Rusty states that no one gave him any thanks or recognition for unearthing this information. The Australians wanted Rusty to wear an Aussie uniform, but Rusty refused, saying that he was an American -- and he wanted to die as an American, not as an Aussie. Rusty was later commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant. Belatedly, over 50 years later, Rusty was awarded the Bronze Star on May 4, 1997 at a special ceremony at Building 640, Crissy Field, San Francisco, when Building 640 was dedicated a National Park Museum as the site of the first U.S. Military Intelligence Language School.
(What follows is a reprint of the sports column, "TUPA TALK," by Mike Tupa of the Bartlesville (Okla.) Examiner-Enterprise, dated Jan. 16, 2000.)
-- 0 --
One of life's great ironies is the relationship between tragedy and rewards. It's true in sports when a person in dealing with disappointment grows as a person and an athlete. And, it's part of life. Out of the bitterness of rejection and persecution can bloom
a better world for those who survive it. One dramatic and heart-rending example was the holocaust. The world has never known a darker moment in history…Yet, as a result, the surviving Jewish people gained their political identity…
In thinking about this, I am reminded of a group of unsung American citizens who deserve our recognition and gratitude for their part in winning World War II. I am referring to the JAPANESE-AMERICAN soldiers who were rejected by their fellow Americans\ citizens and American Government to fight for the United States. Their love of country and the American ideal was deep enough and broad enough for them to absorb the prejudice of their times and fight for the cause of LIBERTY and, hopefully, more JUSTICE and UNDERSTANDING in the future.
The monument in Los Angeles was dedicated earlier this year to honor this great group of men and women. Located in Little Tokyo, it is called the "GO FOR BROKE' MONUMENT.
These thoughts blossomed in my mind this week after I received a package from a man I consider an American hero, RUSTY KIMURA. I know Rusty was the subject of a column within the last couple of years. I apologize for any repetition, but I think his story, and that of the Japanese American soldiers of World War II, deserves to be told again and again.
I first met Rusty to do an article on his sports experience at Oroville High School in northern California in the early 1930s. Rusty had been a 5-foot 3", 130 pound football player at Oroville, which even back then was very small. He also played basketball, baseball and participated in track and field. While I enjoyed Rusty's sports erxploits, I also learned about his history as one of the thousands of NISEI soldiers who signed up in their American concentration camps to go fight for America. Almost overnight, he went from being a peaceful American citizen busy building his life to a virtual prisoner, shipped with his family to an Assembly Center on the muddy horse race track in San Francisco. He recalled seeing old women standing ankle deep in cold mud at these camps, waiting to be shipped to one of the (other) camps throughout the country.
I know there was a tremendous amount of fear in California after the attack on Pearl Harbor -- I can appreciate that and don't want to be completely judgmental of a time or place where I haven't been. At the same time, it seemed like the backlash against the Japanese American citizens was fueled by deep down resentments and prejudices which had existed for years. If people had overcome these negative feelings before then, perhaps the reaction after the bombing would have been more balanced, more compassionate and more logical. Anyway, Rusty grew up as a normal American citizen. He was taught by his father to love America because it was his country. Rusty recalls being sent by his mother to Japanese language lessons, but sneaking out to go hunting.
From my study, Oroville seemed to be a more tolerant community than many others of that era. Rusty's younger brother (who would also fight in World War II in the European Theater) had played sports at city high school, following Rusty. Despite his smallness, Rusty had the heart of a lion. One day during tackling practice, the coach accidentally paired him with the biggest kid on the team. who weighed more than 244 pounds. When the coach suggested a change, Rusty refused and went through the drill with his player. He was known for tackling much bigger players by going low to knock their legs out or push them out of bounds.
After high school, Rusty set about to build his life -- until December 7, 1941. That morning, Rusty and a couple of friends had been out hunting. They pulled into a gas station to buy gas with their hunting guns showing in the car. While filling up, they heard the radio report of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. At first, they didn't believe it. When they realized the reports were true, they decided to get home right away. Soon the Japanese Americans were all gathered and relocated throughout the United States. Many of them lost businesses and property, which they never regained, even after the war.
While in one of these camps, the Government reversed its rules and allowed Japanese Americans to volunteer for the Army. Rusty's attitude was one shared by mny of his fellow Nisei: "I'll show them who's a loyal American," he recalled. So, he signed up and became part of the Military Intelligence Service, working in the Pacific Theater of the war During the island campaigns, he served as an interpreter and interrogator of captured Japanese soldiers. He also translated any paper or maps which were captured.
Thanks to Rusty's diligence, the lives of hundreds of soldiers who served with him were saved. One experience concerned his work on a map and papers which fell into his hands. He analyzed the information as saying the Japanese forces were planning a massive surprise counter-attack the next morning. Rusty's superior didn't believe him, but Rusty insisted. Finally he convinced someone in charge to prepare for a possible attack. The soldiers were ready the next day when the Japanese attack took place right around the time Rusty had predicted. As a result, a massacre was avoided and the Australian unit drove of the attackers.
Another time, Rusty's observation noted a capture Japanese soldier had suffered a leg injury from falling of a bridge. From this information, Rusty was able to get the soldier to tell how far away his camp was. The Allies used this information to pinpoint two 105mm guns from where some snipers and mortar fire was coming. An airplane destroyed the enemy nest…
Rusty eventually found his career and made his mark before retiring. Now well into his 80s, Rusty is living peacefully in Southern California….Rusty's experience and loyalty can mirrored in thousands of other Nisei who served America. His own brother was wounded in the famous battle in which an American Japanese unit saved the "Lost Battalion" of soldiers from Texas…There were over 800 casualties among the Nisei during the rescue effort…
I apologize for not making this more sports-related. As I said, Rusty was a high school athlete and may have gained many of his lessons of toughness and endurance…He was just one of thousands of this group of American soldiers who gave so much. Through the tragedy of being denied their civil rights at the start of World War II, they fought for an American ideal in which they believed. As a result, they earned respect from many and built for their descendants a hopefully better, and fairer, life in America…"
(Tupa notes: Rusty did not want me to publish this article, but I pleaded with him saying: Yes, the article is based on his war experiences, but more than that, the writer is informing the people of rural Oklahoma about the Nisei and what they did despite the treatment our government dealt them. This article may be the only article those people will ever read about the JA's during WWII. After considerable research, Andy Bode, who resides in Brisbane, Australia, strongly felt that Rusty deserved a medal from the Australian Government, but was unsuccessful in his attempt.)
HOW STUDENTS SHIFTED FROM MOCKING TO HONORING; A Lesson in History by Leila Meyerratken
(Editor's Note: The 8th Grade students at Sunnyside and Tecumseh Middle Schools of Lafayette, Indiana, currently have a 19-by-41-foot quilt project honoring Ameicans of Japanese ancestry (AJA) veterans of WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam War, and inclusively, all AJA community activities from 1941 to the Year 2000. The quilt dimensions were chosen to represent the year 1941, the year Pearl Harbor was bombed. This project is under the tutorship of Mrs. Leila Meyerratken, who teaches French, Spanish and Japanese. The quilt is being used for educational purposes and will tour the U.S. to teach other students and the public about the Japanese Americans. Most of the images of the quilt are memorabilia and mementos. The following is an excerpt from a paper Ms. Meyerratken wrote.)
-- 0 --
I teach the Exploratory Foreign Language Course to middle school students. In these classes, students are exposed to several foreign languages to help them make an informed decision as to which language to pursue once they are in high school. Students also learn about the culture and history of countries that speak the languages they study.
When I started teaching Japanese, my 8th graders comically began to pull their eyes toward their ears, push down on their noses and stick their teeth out. I ignored it all, really, until one student shouted, "Yeah, we nuked ‘em!" A few students stood up and gave a high five. I froze to the ground.
My mind quickly wandered to my recent trip to Japan. "Here, Omiyage, you take to America for students," an elderly man told me after he walked a long distance in his town when he heard news of an American teacher visiting. He, too, wanted the honor of giving me presents to deliver to my students and school. With a fragile smile and trembling hands, he carefully opened a sack filled with candy, origami paper, and rice seeds. He was one of many Japanese people who felt honored to have an American teacher visitor. They all rushed to give me the best gifts for my classroom to make teaching fun.
Bringing my mind back to my class, I recollected myself, and realized that for the first time I took a remark personal. Never before have I showed passion about the past tense of Japanese verbs, or displayed any emotion about a people, but this time if I failed it would be a personal defeat.
Within a week, I distributed a class set of The Bracelet, and my 8th graders shrugged upon glancing at the picture book. "How elementary!" one student commented as she rolled her eyes. It was the beginning of a unit dealing with Japanese-American Internment and the prejudice these people faced during WWII. My rationale for this topic was to teach about racism and the pain that the depth of it caused to innocent people.
How could my students distinguish between Japanese and Japanese-Americans when they considered all Asian Chinese? I knew my lessons would be a journey. I began with a motto I once heard that a grain of rice can tip the scale. I hoped I would make a difference, for I felt whether we pull our eyes or stick our tongues out, it is a contribution to homegrown intolerance. I needed to start from somewhere. The Bracelet describes how a Japanese-American family had to move to a relocation camp, and what that was like from the point of view of a little girl.
When students read the epilogue they asked if the historical events written were true. The unit was supplemented with class discussions, and a tremendous video titled Honor Bound. The film is a documentary made by a Japanese-American journalist whose father lived through the horror of WWII. During this film, when a veteran talked about his experience and cried, several students held their breath. One student said she felt a lump in her throat and had the urge to cry, a feeling I had too. The video is an emotional journey and a memoir that reveals the historical events, trials, and triumphs of the Japanese-Americans since 1940’s.
Students were given another class set titled Baseball Saved Us. It is a story about a Japanese-American boy during the time he was in the relocation camp. This book gives a brief description of the camp and what some did to pass the long and weary hours. The unit ended with a story I read to class titled Heroes. This story is about a Japanese-American boy, and how his friends continued to perceive him as an enemy after the war was over because he looked like "them." The unit generated high level thinking and some heated discussion about the meaning of Executive Order 9066 that took the constitutional rights of the Japanese-Americans during the 1940’s.
"Can this happen again?" some students wondered. My 8th graders became so adamant to teach the community and the rest of the students about what they learned. "This is our history, and we never heard it before," a girl told a local newspaper reporter. Students made a presentation at the Courthouse but that was not enough to them. They composed artwork and poems but felt something was missing.
Then they started to dream when they decided to turn the school courtyard into a Japanese Zen garden. Their vision had no limits. For this garden, they wanted everything: a large deep pond with a waterfall, a fountain, Koi, water lilies, even stone lanterns from Japan. There was no compromise to create a memorial garden for the Japanese-American WWII veterans, especially for the 442nd Battalion. My students were profoundly touched by this unit who fought for the U.S. to liberate France when their own families were imprisoned in relocation camps. The group was so enthusiastic with their exciting project that they barely noticed my apprehension about such an undertaking. Noting my silence, a student said, "You told us we can do anything." Though I had no doubts in their abilities, I had little certainty in mine. I lacked skills or interest in gardening, but for them, I was willing to learn. My task was to support them in their mission, and I started by clearing my calendar -and class.
Each morning, one at a time, I saw a wheelbarrow making its way in my room followed by a student. Shovels managed to fill any empty space or crevice. Students took the lead, and were ready to build. They contacted a landscaping firm, which helped them design the plans according to the wishes of the youths. Fathers and grandfathers volunteered daily after school to help till the ground, to make way for the Yin Yang shape that students were anxious to begin with. When the bell rang at 3:15, students with rolled up pants flocked in my class and the hallways, too many to fit all at once in the room. They hauled their tools and headed for the courtyard as fast as they could. There was a lot of sweat but also careful planning, research, and collaboration. After they dug a 6 foot deep area for their pond, the insurance disapproved of the depth, and asked that they fill the area, allowing us no more than 12 inches. My students already had the 24 tons of dirt hauled away. They were not worried, neither were they willing to work so hard to be allowed "a puddle," as one put it. They contacted attorneys, met with insurance agents, and checked the Web. After conducting research, they were able to convince the school insurance that it is dug in layers or steps, to allow anyone who falls to climb right up. They pointed out the courtyard as an enclosed area, and students wouldn’t be able to enter without the presence of a staff member who has the key. My students got their way.
Students collected several thousand dollars worth of money, labor, time, and supplies to make their garden complete with everything they wanted. They even got the Ishidoro (Japanese stone lanterns) they picked out. The lesson was an opportunity to learn tolerance, study American history, and a time to thank all our American veterans and recognize the Japanese-Americans’ two battles: "One for the country and one against race." It was a chance to thank the Japanese people even from continents away for all of their Omiyage they gave me during my stay. For me, I discovered that the same people who can make piercing statements have the capacity to produce impressive work. My students have sharp minds and it was up to us to veer them in the right direction.
My students learned a lot from our Japanese class. I know that they may forget many words, but they will always remember the lessons. They learned how fragile our constitution is, and how much power people have.
My students found this out when their dream memorial garden became a reality. We now know that the limits we have are only within our vision, and may it always have a place to preserve peace between people and nations.
-- 0 --
DONATIONS SOUGHT FOR QUILT DISPLAY by Grant Ichikawa
Additional support is being sought for a contingency fund to meet expenses for the display of the quilt made by an Indiana 8th grade class honoring the Nisei Soldier at "Salute 2001" when homage will be paid to the Japanese American veterans at the August convention in Los Angeles.
A small contingency fund has been started by JAVA's Sus Toyoda, currently residing in Carlsad, CA, for the money to meet transportation costs and other expenses for taking the display to Los Angeles, but more support is needed..
Students at the middle school in Lafayette are currently busy trying to complete the quilt before the end of the school year and do not have time to wash cars or carry out other projects to raise the needed money. The National Japanese American Museum has not offered to help bear the cost.
JAVA members who wish to help meet the costs for sending the quilt to Los Angeles should send their contributions JAVA treasurer Mike Okusa at 850 Christensen Ct., Great Falls, VA 22066, with a note that the donation is for the Contingency Fund.
JAVA MEMBERS JOIN CELEBRATION OF ASIAN & PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
JAVA members joined the ever-growing population of Asian Americans in the Washington, D.C. area to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
The Library of Congress, under the slogan, "Asian Pacific Americans -- Emerging Together," began a series of programs for the month at the Coolidge auditorium of the Jefferson Building. All programs, co-sponsored with the Library's American Folklife Center, are free and open to the public.
Highlights include a keynote speech on Wednesday, May 9, by Norman Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Mineta, a former Congressman, is the first Asian American to serve in the Cabinet.
Mineta, who served in the House of Representatives from 1975 to 1995, was Secretary of Transportation during the last part of the Clinton administration.
Composer and musician Brian Yamakoshi presented a selection of works on the koto on May 7 and was also presenting a short program on the same day. Yamakoshi has played or composed music for 20 CDs and DVDs, and among other things, his music for the French film, "C'est Quoi La Vie" was nominated for the Cesar award in the year 2000.
The Asian Pacific American Heritage Council was hosting is annual awards banquet May 9 at the China Gardens Restaurant in Rosslyn. Following the presentation of scholarship and community leaders awards, the program features TV Chef Martin Yan -- of "Yan Can Cook."
For further information, call (301) 983-1845, (703) 354-5036 or (202) 659-2311, or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.apahc.org.