Portland JACL members hold up "Nikkei for Black Lives" signs before a car caravan protest

The mission of the Portland Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League is to celebrate our Japanese American culture and use lessons from our unique American experience to promote and protect human and civil rights for all. 

The Portland JACL was founded in 1928 and joined the national organization in 1929. Our chapter is entirely volunteer and member-run.

In its beginnings, JACL banded with other Nikkei organizations to focus on helping the Nisei register to vote and become politically engaged. JACL lobbied to overturn the Cable Act of 1922 which revoked the citizenship of women who married Asian men who were ineligible for citizenship. The JACL also lobbied for WWI Asian veterans to become citizens.

The JACL became the primary voice for the Japanese American community during WWII. Their support of the government’s efforts to remove all ethnic Japanese from the West Coast during WWII has been contentious and sharply divided the community. The JACL ultimately apologized for their actions, but not until 60 years had passed. It remains a sensitive issue within the Japanese American community.

Following WWII, the JACL led efforts to repeal the California Alien Land law. In 1948, they succeeded in  passing the Evacuation Claims Act which provided some compensation for the losses of property and businesses during WWII.

In 1970, the JACL endorsed a resolution to ask Congress for compensation for every individual who had been incarcerated in American Concentration Camps. Along with numerous other grassroots Nikkei organizations, redress was finally obtained with the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. This legislation  provided for the issuing of a Presidential apology along with reparations for all persons of Japanese ancestry who were incarcerated during World War II. A fund was established to educate the public about the Japanese American incarceration experience which has helped support and develop our former camp homes into sites of conscience for the public to learn about our history. This was the first time that the federal government ever apologized for its actions against a minority community.

JACL was the first major organization to support equal marriage rights for all and was also supportive of the Muslim American community in the aftermath of 9/11. The JACL has also brought to public recognition atrocities that have been inflicted on many other ethnic groups in the US including Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and other persons of Asian ancestry. We are also reaching out to Black Americans to support their efforts to gain reparations and for the many years after slavery when they were denied equal access and opportunity because of racist government policies.

The JACL has it’s national offices in San Francisco and Washington, DC

It is the oldest Asian American civil rights organization in the nation.

Our Current Board

Jeff Matsumoto

Jeff Matsumoto


Heidi Tolentino

Jillian Toda-Currie

Jillian Toda-Currie


Setsy Larouche

Board Members At-Large
Connie Masuoka

Dr. Connie Masuoka


Erika Jennings

Erika Jennings


Jenny Yamada

Jenny Yamada


Justin Sato photo

Justin Sato


Ken Nitta

Ken Nitta



Marleen Wallingford


Spencer Uemura

Spencer Uemura


Tiffany Koyama Lane


Weston Koyama

Weston Koyama


Advisory Board
Chris Lee

Chris Lee

Rich Iwasaki

Rich Iwasaki

Past Presidents of the Portland Chapter

Incarceration – The Day of Remembrance

The Portland JACL hosts an annual Day of Remembrance event to commemorate the incarceration of over 120,000 people of Japanese Ancestry during World War I; many of them American Citizens.

There is no admission cost to attend; donations are welcomed

Date: Early to Mid February