Vision and Vigilance
Board Member’s Message by, Marleen Ikeda Wallingford, Portland JACL President
This year, 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the defining event in the history of Japanese immigration to this country. The United States went to war against Japan and its allies in Europe. Since the government said they could not tell who was loyal or not; in the interest of national security, all of the ethnic Japanese were forcibly removed from the west coast. We were incarcerated in “camps” in the interior of the country in isolated, forlorn regions. We were vilified by the media and false rumors were spread that hard-working Japanese farmers were buying land close to airports and military installations in order to be the fifth column in support of the Japanese invasion of the United States. We were told we couldn’t travel more than five miles from our home. We could not leave our homes between the hours of 8 pm to 6 am. We had to turn in our radios and weapons. We were never charged with a crime. Most Japanese Americans never had their day in court. In fact after the war, not a single person of Japanese ancestry was found to be guilty of espionage or subversive activity. Korematsu vs the United States which questioned the constitutionality of using race to determine loyalty was upheld in 1944. The need to “protect our country against espionage outweighed Korematsu’s individual rights.” His case was overturned in 1983. However it has never formally been challenged and still stands.
All of the rumors were fear mongering and the desire of special interest groups to get the Japanese, 70% who were U.S. citizens, out. It was discovered many years after the war that the government hid evidence that investigations into the Japanese community found no credible evidence of sabotage. The federal government carried out a policy of incarcerating 120,000 ethnic Japanese because of war hysteria. That was in 1942. We cannot let fear take over. In 2017, we are facing new challenges terrorism, concerns over the civil rights of LGBTQ individuals and our response to refugees and immigrants.
We are deeply concerned about the harassment and intimidation that has been unleashed this election cycle. The FBI has documented an increase of 7% of hates crimes. Most concerning that there has been an increase of 67% in hate crimes against persons perceived to be Muslim as well as increases of hate crimes against African Americans, Jewish and LGBTQ individuals. The Portland JACL is a member of the Coalition Against Hate Crimes. This is a local community group which partners with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to improve the reporting of hate crimes and to aid in the investigation of hate crimes. It providing resources to victims of hate crimes and hate incidents, including information on neighborhood mediation and proper legal channels to report hate crimes. Their other mission is to educate the community about the disruptive nature of hate crimes.
The Portland JACL the Japanese Ancestral Society and the Oregon Nikkei Endowment stood in in solidarity with targeted communities on December 11.
Our co-sponsors were:
- ACLU of Oregon,
- Albina Ministerial Alliance,
- Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO),
- Augustana Lutheran Church,
- Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon,
- Familias en Accion,
- Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO),
- Jewish Voice for Peace,
- Know Your City,
- Latino Health Coalition,
- Living Earth,
- Muslim Educational Trust,
- Oregon Buddhist Temple,
- Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education,
- Physicians for Social Responsibility,
- The Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde,
- Unit Souzou,
- Unite Oregon,
- Vanport Mosaic,
- Veterans for Peace,
- Western States Center,
- Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom,
- World Arts Foundation.
We held a candle light vigil at the Japanese American Civil Rights Memorial on the waterfront with a group of 200 people who joined together to stand against bigotry. We have reached out to our community partners but this is only a first step.
The Portland JACL challenges our members to become engaged in the issues that affect us. Not only do we need to vote, we need to contact our legislatures about issues that you care about. We need to become informed about what government policies are being proposed and the long-term effects of those policies. We need volunteers to help us carry out our mission. We need you.
Please join us at our annual General Meeting at 1 pm on January 22 at the Chinese Village Restaurant, 520 SE 82. We will be talking about what we can do to support our civil rights in the future.
The Nikkei Community Picnic is one of the highlights of the year. The picnic would not be possible without the sponsorship of the following:
|Portland JACL||Oregon Nikkei Endowment||Veledas, Nikkei Fujin Kai|
|Hiroshima Club||Oregon Nisei Veterans||Johrei Fellowship|
|Nikkei Jin Kai (JAS)||Ikoi no Kai||Oregon Buddhist Temple|
In addition, there are many monetary and prize donations from community businesses and individuals. We would like to thank:
|Rich Iwasaki||Koida Nursery||Osakaya Restaurant||Mas Yatabe|
|Kurtis Inouye||Kirk Tambara||Ichidai Restaurant||Masamichi Nitani|
|Richard Hedlund||Yoji Matsushima||Terry Kawamoto||Rose City Mortuary|
|Riverview Abbey||Chip and Setsy Larouche||Carl Itamura||Dr. Jim and Amy Tsugawa|
|Ota Tofu||Nobi Masuoka||Susan Leedham||True World Foods|
|Hiroshi’s Anzen||Jean Yamamoto|
I would especially like to recognize the volunteers who make the picnic run smoothly, they are ones who make this event special. They include:
|Ken and Katie Kawazoe||Tsuyako Monas||Jason Setera|
|Kay Endo||Chip and Setsy Larouche||Chris Lee|
|Nobi Masuoka||Rich Iwasaki||Unite People|
|Kaneko Wagar||Marleen Wallingford|
We had lots of new faces at the picnic this year and some of them are life long Oregonians who were touched by the “Kimochi” (deep feeling) of being part of a larger Nikkei community. Maybe you would like to know this feeling. The most important benefit of being a member of Portland JACL, Nikkei Jin Kai (JAS) or any of the other community organizations is to be engaged and enjoy the camaraderie of the Nikkei Community.
Please mark your calendars and be sure to join us Sunday, August 20, 2017 for the 29th Annual Nikkei Community Picnic at Oaks Park. We look forward to seeing you there.