Blog Newsletter

Sato School in Bethany

Sato Elementary School opened in September 2017. The Bethany community was asked to submit names for the new Beaverton school and the overwhelming choice was to recognize the Japanese American family who began farming in the area in 1926.

Sato School Memorial
Marleen Wallingford, Karen Sato and Ron Iwasaki at the Sato School dedication of the history of the Sato Family placed at the front of the school.

During World War II, the Sato Family was sent to Minidoka. Two sons, Shin and Roy, enlisted. Roy was wounded twice and received the Purple Heart. Shin was also a member of the Japanese American 442 Regimental Combat Team that took part in the heroic battle to save the Texas Battalion that was trapped in the treacherous Vosges Mountains. Nisei soldiers were able to overcome the German defenses. Shin posthumously received the Purple Heart as a result of that battle.

Karen Sato continues to remember her family. Her sister, Lois who passed away in 2013 was the last family member to live on the farm.

When Col. Mike Howard who lives in the area heard the story of the Sato Family, he wanted to make sure the community understood the historical significance of the heroism of Shin and the sacrifice the family suffered. He worked with the school’s principal, Annie Pleau to obtain Beaverton School District’s permission to place the plaque.

I was saddened when I first visited Sato School and there was no memorial. History is a fragile thing and I wanted the kids to know the truth … good and bad, so they can learn from it.

Col. Howard

It was a labor of love for Col. Howard. He grew up living next to the Shimotani Family in Ventura, California. This is where he first heard of the 442 and saw the film, “Go For Broke”. “I was saddened when I first visited Sato School and there was no memorial. History is a fragile thing and I wanted the kids to know the truth … good and bad, so they can learn from it.”

The bronze plaque was produced at a costof $6200. Skanska Construction donated the concrete base and backing at a value of$6200. Bethany Presbyterian Church had donated $3000 but funding still needs to be raised to cover the rest of the cost. The Portland JACL is helping with that effort.


Black Lives Matter

Board Member Message
by Sachi Kaneko

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

This is a call to action. In an article for the Washington Post, Dr. Obasogie recently characterized the death of George Floyd as the spread of the “police violence pandemic.”  This combined with the effects of the novel Coronavirus are two massive problems within our country that disproportionately affect Black people.  

Black men in America are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than their White counterparts (Obasogie, 2020).  Available data about the Coronavirus show that counties that are primarily Black have “three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are the majority” (Thebault, Tran, and Williams, 2020).  This is the current climate of being Black in America- it is not chance or happenstance or a series of isolated incidents, it’s systemic.

Systemic racism is a pivotal piece to the founding of our country. Our economy was built on the cheap or free labor of non Whites- a system that continues to persist today. The implicit biases that were fostered by that system to enforce racial hierarchies are long standing and deep.

“The very serious function of racism… is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and so you spend 20 years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is….” -Toni Morrison, Writer and Speaker

Blog National JACL

JACL Statement on H.R. 40

JACL Executive Director, David Inoue, discusses JACL’s support of H.R. 40. H.R. 40 would create a commission to examine the institution of slavery, its legacy, and make recommendations to Congress for reparations, beginning a process of repairing and restoring after centuries of enslavement. You can click below if you want to sign up for emails specifically around JACL and H.R. 40.


Portland JACL in solidarity with Black lives

We, as the Portland JACL, send condolences to George Floyd’s family for his murder. We are saddened and outraged, yet we are not surprised. We recognize that the murder of Black and Brown people at the hands of police is part of an ongoing pattern that plagues our country and our city. While we mourn Mr. Floyd, we must also remember Keaton Otis, Quanice Hayes, Aaron Campbell, and Patrick Kimmons who are among the more than 14 African Americans killed by police in Portland since 1996.

Asian Americans for Black lives
Graphic courtesy of Kalaya’an Mendoza

We are in solidarity with the Portland protesters as they stand in opposition to police violence that disproportionately affects Black and Brown people. We demand justice for Black lives. At the same time, we know that we must grapple with the anti-Blackness that exists within our own community, our families, and ourselves. We commit to using our position as community leaders to engage our people in conversation and the necessary work of confronting ways in which we have benefited from the “model minority” myth and contribute to the perpetuation of anti-Black racism.

We know that this is a challenging time right now and that recent events are weighing heavy on peoples’ hearts and minds. We also know that neither sadness nor silence will bring about the change we so desire. We call on our community to take action to elevate Black voices seeking justice in this country. Will you join us?

Take action today:

  • Donate to a local Black-led fund or organizations:
  • Demand justice for:
    • George Floyd- Text FLOYD to 55156 to sign the petition
    • Breonna Taylor- Sign the petition
    • Ahmaud Arbery- Text JUSTICE to 55156 to sign the petition
Community Letter
Blog National JACL

Our Outrage for George Floyd’s Murder is Not Enough

June 1, 2020
For Immediate Release
David Inoue, Executive Director,, 202-607-7273
Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs,

It has been one week since George Floyd was lynched by four Minneapolis police officers. The death of George Floyd was preventable, as were the deaths of Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Charleena Lyles, and countless other Black lives who have been lost to systemic racism in the United States.

Officer Derek Chauvin, now being charged with murder and manslaughter, was not alone in George Floyd’s murder. Also complicit were officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and most visibly, Tou Thao, an Asian American officer who, instead of using his authority to stop Chauvin, chose to enable and protect his partner. The JACL denounces the actions of Officer Thao and stands with the Black community in demanding justice for George Floyd and all Black lives.

We must recognize that as violence has erupted from the roots of peaceful protest, it reflects the violence we as a nation have inflicted upon the Black community in our 400-year history as a colonized nation. The genocide began with the colonization of Native American land, to the capture, indentured servitude, and enslavement of African peoples, to Jim Crow, and beyond. We continue to see the legacy of our traumatic history today in the inequities of COVID-19 as Black lives are disproportionately impacted by our failed healthcare system.


Virtual Screening of The Orange Story

You’re Invited!

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Portland JACL is hosting a virtual screening of The Orange Story on Sunday, May 31 from 12-1:00 pm. The Orange Story is a narrative short film that tells the story of an elderly Japanese American man who is forcibly removed from his home after the signing of Executive Order 9066.

Orange story

Join us for the online screening and special community conversation with the film’s Producer, Jason Matsumoto.

How will it work?
RSVP at the link below. After RSVPing, you will receive a Zoom link and instructions on how to join the event on May 31.

RSVP by May 30 at

The event is free and open to the public. If you have questions and/or would like to request accommodations, please email us by May 28 at

We look forward to connecting with you!

-The Portland JACL Board



Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – a month to celebrate and honor the diverse histories, contributions, experiences, and traditions of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States!

Here are some ideas of how you can celebrate in the comfort and safety of your home:


Resources for COVID-19 Crisis

General Help


Details:  Connects people with health and social service organizations including childcare and parenting assistance, utility assistance, food assistance, emergency management, food assistance, housing and shelter assistance, and health assistance.

Call:  211 or 1-866-698-6155
Text:  your zip code to 898211

PDX Covid-19 Mutual Aid Network

Details: A grassroot effort of volunteers committed to assisting communities most impacted by COVID-19. They will do their best to let you know within 48 hrs if they are able to meet your needs.  For financial assistance with both paying and shopping for groceries, please fill out the following form:


Meals on Wheels

Details: Nutritious meals that are delivered weekdays between 10-2pm. Serves senior citizens living in Multnomah, Washington, and Clark Counties.  The cost of each meal is $7.39. Participants are asked to contribute to the cost of the meal.

Call 503-953-8111 or toll free at 866-788-6325
Register online at


Everything is normal with SNAP and benefits will continue to be available on their regular schedule. You do not need to go into a Department of Human Services office to get service. You can call 503-945-5600 to access an application (or you can apply online), submit information or paperwork, report changes and/or to conduct an interview.

Seniors or person with disabilities may also contact the Oregon Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) by calling the ADRC at 1-855-ORE-ADRC (1-855-673-2372) 

You can now use EBT to order food online through Amazon and Walmart for home delivery across Oregon. Please note that there are delivery fees (which SNAP benefits cannot pay for).

Utility Assistance

City of Portland – Until further notice, Portland Water and BES will not disconnect water service for non-payment of sewer/stormwater/water bills. Customers are still responsible for sewer/stormwater/water charges due now accrued during this temporary suspension if you’re facing financial hardship: Call Customer Service at 503-823-7770 to work out a plan.  Apply for financial assistance at:

Northwest Natural– is suspending automatic service shutoffs in the event of nonpayment.  Customers should call (800) 226- 4211 and contact the billing department to make arrangements.

Portland General Electric (PGE)– is suspending non-payment disconnection. If you need help with your bill, please call to find a solution that fits your needs. Here are a few ways to get started if you need help paying your bill:

  • Need more time to pay?: You can request a payment extension 24/7 by logging in to your account or calling our automated phone system at the numbers below.
  • Need more help? Call to set up a payment plan and to get connected with energy assistance programs, if needed. You can call 503-228-6322 or 800-542-8818 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Pacific Power– is “temporarily suspending disconnections and late fees for non-payment for customers in Oregon, Washington and California to support the state of emergency declared in all three states in response to the COVID-19 virus.” 

Customers can call 1-888-221-7070 at any time to speak with a customer care agent who can help answer any questions

COVID-19 Health Information and Health Care

For questions on the latest developments or how to minimize the impact of the pandemic, visit websites for the Centers for Disease Control and the Oregon Health Authority

Community members can also connect with 211info or by dialing 2-1-1 with questions about the coronavirus.

For medical emergencies, dial 911.

The main symptoms of  COVID-19 are:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

Not everyone who is sick needs to be tested. Your local health department or health care provider can help you: 

  • Decide if you need an appointment, and
  • Plan to enter a clinic in a way that avoids possibly infecting others, if you do go in.

Folks can contact the Multnomah County Health Department at 503-988-3674

Reporting Hate or Bias Incidents in Oregon

If you are the victim of a hate or bias incident, please report it to the Oregon Department of Justice at  1-844-924-BIAS (2427). 

The hotline has trained staff available Monday-Friday, who will help victims connect with resources best suited to their needs.” Name calling and racist comments may not rise to the level of a criminal act but they are still hurtful and traumatizing.  

To report incidents of hate or racial bias, and/or to contact an organization for support, click here:  Report Hate

National JACL Uncategorized

Asian People Are Not a Disease

March 20, 2020

For Immediate Release

David Inoue, Executive Director
Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs

As terms like “Chinese Virus”, “Wuhan Virus”, and “Kung Flu” are increasingly used by the President and other leaders in our country, so do we see the increase of racially-based hate crimes and xenophobia against people of Asian descent. While President Trump has defended his usage of these types of terms, as “not racist at all”, the impacts on our communities tell a different story.

Since as early as January, Asian-owned businesses have been seeing drastic decreases in sales, to the point that some have had to permanently close. New York City has seen a significant rise in violence against Asians, ranging from verbal abuse to physical assault, including a man chasing an Asian woman through the subway station before beating her. In San Francisco a woman was spit on and screamed at by a man on the street, forcing her to flee to a nearby business to escape further attack. These types of incidents are only going to increase as rhetoric that points the finger at the Chinese, and more broadly Asians, continues to escalate.

Asians, especially East Asians, are being labeled as dirty, uncivilized, and animalistic based on cultural generalizations. Senator Cornyn (TX) blamed the Chinese for causing COVID-19 because of the stereotype of a diet of animals exotic to American palates. This type of fear-based inductive reasoning hearkens back to moments in our history like the Chinese Exclusion Act and the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans, when people of Asian descent were targeted by our government through racist policies.

People of Asian descent are no more likely to be carriers of COVID-19 than anyone else: viruses do not see race. The negative and in some cases violent reactions Asians have been experiencing serve as a reminder that we are seen as the perpetual foreigner. It doesn’t matter how many generations our families have been here or if we have just recently immigrated, we are continually labeled as “other”. Had COVID-19 originated in a predominantly white country, the story would have looked a lot different.

This harmful narrative that is being divisively used by our government leaders is creating wide-spread hatred and fear against Asians that will have long lasting impacts on our community. As businesses close and racist attacks continue, we call on our leaders to use language that does not cast blame on Asian people. COVID-19 is a global pandemic that impacts all of us equally. It should be called by its scientific name, not a colloquialism that is harming the Asian people.


The Japanese American Citizens League is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community.

Annual Event Blog Events

Day of Remembrance Event 2020

ALTERNATIVE FACTS: The Lies of Executive Order 9066
Portland Premiere

Date: Sunday, February 23
Time: 2:00 pm
Location: Performing Art Center PCC Sylvania Campus 12000 SW 49th Ave, Portland, OR accessible parking by PCC bookstore
Tickets: Free and open to the public
Limited seating

Event flyer

“ ALTERNATIVE FACTS: The Lies of Executive Order 9066” is an award-winning documentary which examines the fabricated evidence of espionage by Japanese Americans. This led to their forced removal and incarceration during World War II. Interviews illuminate the racism, xenophobia and backhanded political maneuvering that occurred.

The film also examines the parallels to the current climate of fear, the targeting of other vulnerable immigrant and religious communities, and the role media has played in vilifying people of color.