Seventy-five years ago, 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens, were racially profiled, surveilled, excluded, and imprisoned in American concentration camps. This unprecedented violation of constitutional rights was the direct result of racism, xenophobia, and misleading and unfounded governmental claims of “military necessity.” To the question, “Could it happen again?” we have our answer.
It’s happening now.
In this time of rising governmental authoritarianism, the Twin Cities Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (TC JACL) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota (CAIR-MN) stand in solidarity and declare our unity of purpose against racism, xenophobia, religious bigotry, and hate. We stand together in the common pursuit of global justice, civil liberties and human rights, hope, compassion, and love.
The legally sanctioned discrimination targeting Americans of Japanese descent during the World War II era mirrors the current demonization of all Muslims and the governmental legitimation of Islamophobia through executive orders and proposed legislation targeting Muslims, at home and abroad, with official acts of discrimination.
TC JACL and CAIR-MN stand together to resist the current forces of oppression that join our communities’ histories. These forces include:
- Racial, national origin, and religion-based profiling and discrimination;
- Stigmatizing and assuming “guilty until proven innocent” based on group membership/association without due process;
- Selective surveillance, invasion of privacy, and searches without warrants, based on race, national origin, or religion;
- Indefinite exclusion and detention of legal U.S. residents without charges and denial of the right to a speedy trial and representation in a court of law;
- Defining “American” as white, Christian, and non-foreign born, while demonizing non-white, non-Christian U.S. citizens, legal residents, and foreign nationals as non- or un-American “Others”;
- Official justification of the denial of civil liberties to American citizens and legal residents in the name of “homeland security” or “military necessity.”
While Japanese American and American Muslim histories and experiences are not identical, we share in a common and parallel struggle in seeking a just and inclusive future.
We will resist, oppose, defy, and intervene in any and all acts of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia, and oppression targeting our own and other marginalized and oppressed communities.
We will show up, stand up, speak up, and rise up together in the name of civil and human rights, and local, national, and global justice.
In heart, mind, and spirit, we will accompany one another, side by side, as equal partners, with no single organization or individual walking ahead or behind. Together, we will act and embody in the present the justice and humanity that we envision for all in the future.
In solidarity, justice, and peace,
Twin Cities Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League
Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota
Executive Order 13769: The Muslim ban
Executive Order 13769 was signed one week into the Trump presidency. The press has called this executive order the “Muslim ban,” since travel and immigration from seven predominantly Muslim majority nations alone were banned. The Trump Administration argued that people who are fleeing countries where there has been war and terrorism are more prone to commit terror acts because they look like those terrorists or share the same faith as those terrorists. EO 13769 authorizes targeted differential treatment to an entire population without any evidence of individual risk for criminality or wrongdoing. No immigrant from the seven countries listed on the ban has ever committed a terrorist act in the U.S.
Unlike EO 9066, EO 13769 did not create incarceration camps (it is more costly to put people into detention camps than to exclude or deport them). But similar to EO 9066, EO 13769 profiles an entire group based on race and ethnicity. Trump justified EO 13769 by comparing it to FDR’s EO 9066, and used the same “national security” rationale.
A challenge to EO 13769 was brought forth by the Attorney General’s office in Washington state whose 7,000 Muslim immigrants were affected by the ban. Minnesota has about 30,000 similarly affected Muslim immigrants, prompting our Attorney General, Lori Swanson, to join in the court challenge. One of the primary arguments used was the Supreme Court Case of Mitsuye Endo, which, in December 1944, legally ended the forced mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.
The courts ruled to block the “Muslim ban” from being implemented, but the Trump Administration signed a new executive order (EO 13780) which once again attempted to create a Muslim ban. This rewritten executive order, which was challenged by the state of Hawaii, has now been thwarted by an injunction issued by a federal court there.
In the wake of the Day of Remembrance and our chapter’s newly formed partnership with the Council on American Islamic Relations-Minnesota for that event, the Education Committee of the TCJACL sent a letter of support to Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson for standing up to EO 13769, the contemporary equivalent of EO 9066.
We received a letter in response in which she wrote:
“I note that the (Japanese American Citizens) League and the Council (on American Islamic Relations) issued the joint statement on February 19, the Day of Remembrance. The forced removal and incarceration of Japanese-Americans in World War II is a dark mark on our nation’s history and stands as a stark and important reminder of the erosion of constitutional protections that can occur in response to perceived international threats.
“I thank you for your advocacy on the behalf of civil and human rights, individual freedom, and the bedrock constitutional principles of our nation.”
“I appreciate your ongoing commitment to upholding the core values of this country.”
Now is the time to be vigilant not only for our community’s civil and human rights but, as stated in the National JACL mission, for “all communities who are affected by injustice and bigotry.”
The Twin Cities JACL Education Committee
All events free and open to the public
Roger Shimomura Art Exhibit
Day of Remembrance Ceremony
Sunday, February 19, 2017
MN History Center Auditorium
345 Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul, MN
(Reserve your seat by calling 651-259-3015
or online at mnhs.org/calendar)
Paul Kitagaki Photographs
Gambatte: Legacy of an Enduring Spirit
Historic Fort Snelling Visitors Center
200 Tower Ave. St. Paul, MN
Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 6:30 p.m.
Exhibit will run from 5/27 to 10/28/2017
Paul Kitagaki is a photo-journalist with the Sacramento Bee. He searched for those who were in Dorthea Lange’s iconic photographs of the Japanese American incarceration for his “then and now” exhibit.
All events sponsored by the Twin Cities Chapter Japanese American Citizens League in co-sponorship with the MN Historical Society and Macalester College.
The Como Park Lantern Festival, the largest Japanese festival in Minnesota, is inspired by the Obon Festival in Japan. This is a 500+ year old Buddhist-Confucian custom which remembers and expresses gratitude to ancestors. In Japan families hold reunions and visit ancestral graves during a time when it is believed their spirits revisit us. They celebrate with a folk dance called Obon Odori. At the end of the Obon festival, families bid their ancestor’s spirits off under the guidance of fire in a rite called Okurubi. At the Como Park Lantern Festival people line the banks of Frog Pond hours before dusk waiting for the launching of lighted floating lanterns into the evening darkness. Shorts and T shirt clad festival goers intertwine with kimono adorned women to join in the Odori street dance.
This year the TCJACL entered a booth in the Lantern Festival to raise funds to benefit our 2017 educational programs. These programs will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. Carolyn Nayematsu, Amy Dickerson, Ben Hartmann and Karen Lucas staffed our booth selling Japanese cultural merchandise such as koi, kokeshi dolls, ukioye themed fans, origami paper and hachimaki while Steve Lucas helped transport booth merchandise and supplies.
The Lantern Festival has been growing over the years and the footprint has been enlarged to accommodate several martial arts groups, food vendors, art and antique sellers, other vendors and service groups, childrens games, and a performance stage with several taiko groups and dance groups performing throughout the day.
Exploring this new venue for our organization was very rewarding. The weather was ideal. Several attendees wandered the grounds dressed in manga costumes right out of fad trendy Harajuku. Thousands of families and young adults arrived with a specific shared interest in Japanese culture (paid attendees numbered just under 12,000). An unusual concentration of race blended “hapa” and “kwota” young adults and interracial couples were drawn to our booth and we engaged several Japanese Minnesotans in compelling conversations generating contacts for potential new members!
It was profitable and enjoyable enough to start making plans to return next year!!
Since 2014, the Twin Cities JACL Education Committee has been involved in giving input into a major initiative to revitalize the Fort Snelling area, significant to the Japanese American community because the Military Intelligence Service Language School was located there during World War II.
To commemorate the fort’s bicentennial in 2020, the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) has been working with various communities to ensure that the site’s many stories — stories of American history told nowhere else — will be preserved and experienced. The MNHS is working with the Minnesota legislature and private donors to fund renovation of an original calvary barracks to create a new visitor center, develop new exhibits in the visitor center to tell the many stories of those who were impacted by the fort, and make improvements to the site.
It is very important that the revitalization committee hears from communities and individuals as they plan exhibits and programs, so that all the fort’s stories and history are told. Comments and questions can be directed to Historic Fort Snelling site manager, Tom Pfannenstiel at email@example.com.
Other ways to help preserve this National Historic Landmark for future generations, are to:
- Send an e-mail to thank Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton for including Historic Fort Snelling his 2016 Capital Budget recommendations.
- Make a donation to the revitalization project
- Experience Historic Fort Snelling by attending programs or tours (see below).
- Share personal Fort Snelling experiences on social media using #HFS2020.
- Sign up for updates on the project
Visitors to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area this spring and summer might be interested in taking one of the free tours of the Fort Snelling Upper Post, covering various aspects of the fort’s 20th century history, including the buildings used by the Military Intelligence Service Language School.
Tours are two-hours long and begin at 9 a.m. in front of the Headquarters building (with the clock tower). They are scheduled as follows:
- Sunday, May 29
- Sunday, August 14
- Sunday, June 12
Murder Mystery Walking Tour (includes the story of a 1940 murder mystery):
- Sunday, July 3
The program is sponsored by the Friends of Historic Fort Snelling, a volunteer organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the Fort Snelling area.
Photo: Historic Fort Snelling and River, National Park Service.
The year 2015 was another very busy, productive year for the Education Committee, with many activities, events and speaking engagements.
MIS Photographic Exhibition
One of our main activities was co-sponsoring the photographic exhibit titled, “Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) during World War II,” produced by the National Japanese American Historical Society and the MIS Association of Northern California in San Francisco. In partnership with the
Minnesota Historical Society (MHS), the exhibit was displayed at the Historic Fort Snelling Visitors Center from April 24th to October 31st. Funding was provided by the generous donations from our membership and an on-line silent auction of vintage items donated by Phyllis Jokyll, Louise Platt, Wayne and Jean Takeshita, Steve Ozone, and others.
On May 17, we held a well-attended opening ceremony, emceed by Carolyn Nayematsu, with speakers Stephen Elliott, Executive Director of MHS; Sally Sudo; and exhibit curator Eric Saul. Karen Tanaka-Lucas, Joyce Yoshimura-Rank, and Gail Yanari Wong honored the MIS by speaking about their MIS veteran fathers. Major General Paul Nakasone gave a keynote address, and Tom Pfannenstiel, Site Manager, Fort Snelling Visitors Center gave closing statements. Also participating in the program were four Honor Guard Air Force Junior ROTC from Park High School, Cottage Grove, MN; Kasumi Lucas (great-grandfather was Walter Tanaka, MIS veteran) who led the Pledge of Allegiance; and Sheena Janson, Mu Performing Arts, who sang the National Anthem.
An educational panel discussion featuring MIS veterans Edwin “Bud” Nakasone and Albert Yamamoto, moderated by MHS Historian Steve Osman, was held on September 12. St. Paul Pioneer Press published an article by writer Maja Beckstrom on September 11 titled, “Japanese Americans recall World War II Fort Snelling military language operations,” which publicized the event and highlighted Bud Nakasone’s role in the MIS.
Other publicity about the MIS exhibit included:
- May 10, 2015, Star Tribune – “Minnesota history: Secret military language school at Fort Snelling getting recognition,” by reporter Curt Brown.
- May 20, 2015: Fox 9 – “Fort Snelling had a secret Japanese language school during WWII,” by reporter Jonathan Choe.
- May 22, 2015: MPR News – “Secret Weapons’ of WWII: Exhibit spotlights Japanese-American linguists, by reporters Nancy Yang and Britta Greene.
According to the exhibit comment book signed by over 900 guests, visitors represented 38 states and 20 foreign countries.
Teacher Training Workshop
On April 24, we hosted an all-day training session for educators on “Constitutional Vigilance in Times of Crisis” at the Historic Fort Snelling Visitors Center. This workshop was funded by a grant awarded to the National JACL by the National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites program.
The Twin Cities was one of five sites selected by the National JACL Education Committee to host a workshop. The facilitators were Greg Marutani, National JACL Education Director, and Sharon Ishii-Jordan, Associate Dean, Creighton University, Omaha, NE.
As part of the workshop, Lucy Kirihara, Sylvia Farrells, and Bud Nakasone served as panelists, sharing their WWII experiences. In addition, Abdisalam Adam, from the Office of Multicultural Learning at St. Paul Public Schools, and Yusef Ali, Executive Director of Best Academy East, were panelists who talked about their experiences in the Twin Cities as Muslim Americans. Our Twin Cities site had the largest participation of any of the five locations, with 34 educators and others registered.
Asian Pacific Legal Exhibit and Korematsu Program
Sally Sudo met with members of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association to help them prepare a traveling exhibit titled, “Asian Pacific Legal Experience in America.” The opening reception was held on May 20 at the U.S. Courthouse Atrium, Minneapolis, MN. Karen Korematsu, daughter of Fred Korematsu, was the keynote speaker. She visited the MIS photographic exhibition, along with Judge Tony Leung and members of the Minnesota chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
The Education Committee provided support for the re-enactment of the Fred Korematsu Case, “A Man of Quiet Bravery,” performed by Minnesota State and Federal judges and attorneys at the Federal District Court, Minneapolis, MN. Twin Cities JACL former internees were recognized. Karen Korematsu gave remarks about her father after the re-enactment.
Although President Roosevelt issued his Executive Order 9066 seventy-four years ago, the topic of the removal of persons of Japanese ancestry from their west coast homes and placement into American prison camps has never been discussed as much as it has been in recent months, primarily due to the rhetoric of candidates campaigning to be the next President of the United States.
With recent acts of terrorism, the fear mongering against Muslim and Arab Americans is reminiscent of the atmosphere following Pearl Harbor. That is why it is still relevant to remind Americans of our history, so the same mistake is not repeated. We have been busy filling requests for speakers on the topic of the experience of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Requests for speakers this year were as follows:
- January 15 – Sally Sudo spoke to Miss Branderhorst’s English class at Calvin Christian High School, Fridley.
- March 12 – Sylvia Farrells spoke to a DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) group in Eden Prairie.
- March 16 and 18 – Sally Sudo spoke to 4 classes for Mr. Mark Bray, Eden Prairie High School.
- April 15 – Sally Sudo spoke to three classes of Asian Studies for Amanda Adams at Eagan High School.
April 20 – Sally Sudo spoke at University of St. Thomas School of Law as part of the “Perspectives” event series, presented by the St. Thomas Asian Pacific Association Law Students Association.
- July 15 – Albert Yamamoto spoke at the Wayzata Rotary Club.
- October 13 – Sally Sudo spoke at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church Senior Group, Bloomington.
- October 23 – Karen Tanaka Lucas spoke to a class at the University of MN and accompanied students to view the MIS exhibit at Fort Snelling.
- November 5 – Sally Sudo spoke at a DAR Luncheon, Richfield American Legion.
- December 2 – Sally Sudo spoke to three classes (3rd-5th grades) at Highlands Elementary School, Edina.
- December 7 – Sylvia Farrells and Sally Sudo participated in “Coffee Talks” at Bloomington Creekside Community Center.
An interview of Sylvia and Sally was filmed by the Bloomington Community TV Channel on December 7, and posted on YouTube.
Materials and Resources
The following resources and materials have been added to the Twin Cities JACL collection:
- “Stand Up for Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story” 33 min. Based on the true story of a 17 yr. old Mexican American boy who leaves his family to enter an American concentration camp with his Japanese American classmates in WWII.
- Arrington, Leonard J: The Price of Prejudice: The Japanese American Relocation Center in Utah during WWII
- Corbett, P. Scott: Quiet Passages; The Exchange of Civilians between the United States and Japan during the Second World War
- Lee, Erika: The Making of Asian America: A History
- Maki, Mitchell T., Kitano, Harry H.L., and Berthold, S. Megan: Achieving the Impossible Dream
- Matsuoka, Jack: Poston Camp II Block 211
- Moulin, Peter: American Samurais WWII Camps: From USA Concentration Camps to the Nazi Death
- Moulin, Pierre: American Samurais WWII in Europe
- Moulin, Pierre; American Samurais WWII in the Pacific: Military Intelligence Service
- Odo, Franklin, editor: The Columbia Documentary History of the Asian American Experience
- Reeves, Richard: Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II
- Robinson, Greg: By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans
- Russell, Jan Jarbor: The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During WWII
The Twin Cities Education Committee is currently in the planning stages for commemorating the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which took place on February 19, 1942.
The Minnesota Historical Society and Macalester College will be co-sponsoring some of our events. We will be looking for sources of grant funding for help with expenses.
Our future plans include the following:
- January – March 2017 – Exhibition of Roger Shimomura’s lithographs, focusing on camp-themed prints, co-sponsored by Macalester College Art Department.
- February 19, 2017 – Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066, co-sponsored by the Minnesota Historical Society. Rick Shiomi of Full Circle Theater and TC JACL youth will be featured in the presentation, and Kogen Taiko will perform.
- Spring 2017 – We are looking into bringing a one-actor show about Gordon Hirabayshi, “Hold These Truths,” and/or a reading about Hirabayashi by Rick Shiomi to a stage in the Twin Cities.
- Spring 2017 – We are exploring another co-sponsorship with the Minnesota Historical Society using space at Historic Fort Snelling Visitors Center for a photographic exhibition. Possibilities include: “Gambatte: Legacy of an Enduring Spirit” by Paul Kitagaki, or “America’s Concentration Camps” from the National Japanese American Historical Society in San Francisco.
In addition, we have been asked to collaborate on two other initiatives if they are funded.
- “Communities of Courage and Compassion” – National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Program grant submitted by the Go For Broke (GFB) Educational Foundation, Torrance, CA. Gordon Nakagawa and Cheryl Hirata-Dulas participated in a conference call with Barbara Watanabe and Chris Brusette of GFB, and Gordon wrote a letter of support for the project.
- “Toward Equal Justice Under the Law: From Confinement Sites to Mass Incarceration” – National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Program grant submitted by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, headquartered in New York, in collaboration with the Fort Snelling Historic Site and Minnesota Historical Society.
Thank you to the following committee members for their time and commitment in 2015: Janet Carlson, Rachel Endo, Sylvia Farrells, Lillian Grothe, Cheryl Hirata-Dulas, Lucy Kirihara, Gloria Kumagai, Karen Tanaka Lucas, Joyce Miyamoto, Gordon Nakagawa, Carolyn Nayematsu, Sally Sudo, and Matt Walters. Special advisors to our group are Edwin “Bud” Nakasone, and Steve Ozone. We are working tirelessly on behalf of the TC JACL.
After 20 years of chairing this committee, Sally Sudo has passed the duties on to Carolyn Nayematsu and Janet Carlson who will serve as co-chairs. We also welcome aboard new committee members Gordon Nakagawa and Teresa Swartz. Questions or comments can be directed to any of the committee members. Donations (which are tax deductible) are always greatly appreciated. Checks can be made payable to “TC JACL Education Committee,” and mailed to the TC JACL treasurer as follows:
11270 12th St. N.
Lake Elmo MN 55042
The Minnesota Historical Society, in co-sponsorship with the TC JACL Education Committee is pleased to announce an exhibition of photographs related to the role of the Nisei servicemen and women of the Military Intelligence Service during WWII. This exhibit, Minnesota’s Secret WWII Weapon: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service, is being shown for the first time in the Midwest, and will be held at the Historic Ft. Snelling Visitors Center, 200 Tower Avenue, St. Paul, MN. An opening dedication ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 17th, 1:00 p.m. The event is free of charge and open to the public. Mark your calendars now and plan to attend.
The Military Intelligence Service (MIS) has been called “America’s secret weapon in the war against Japan.” During WWII nearly 6000 Japanese American service men and women received intensive and accelerated training in the Japanese military language at the MIS Language School at Minnesota’s Camp Savage and Fort Snelling. Sent in small teams, these MIS soldiers participated in every major campaign in the Pacific. “Never in military history did an army know so much about the enemy prior to actual engagement,” said Gen. Douglas MacArthur. This vital intelligence operation saved lives and helped shorten the war by two years. Due to its highly classified nature, the role of the MIS was kept secret for many years. Now their story can be told through this exhibit and they can receive the recognition they deserve.
The exhibit will be on view from April 24 – July 5, and again from August 25 – October 31st, 2015. Visitor Center hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. In conjunction with the exhibit, several educational programs are also being planned – a panel of former MIS soldiers, a documentary DVD, and a book signing. Dates and times are yet to be determined.
We need your support for this exhibit! View our campaign letter.
For questions and information contact Sally Sudo firstname.lastname@example.org 952-835-7374, or Carolyn Nayematsu
email@example.com (651) 699-7407.
The 2015 Festival of Nations will be held Thursday, April 30 – Sunday, May 3, 2015, at the Saint Paul RiverCentre at 175 West Kellogg Boulevard (map).
We will be having a merchandise sales booth. This is our chapter’s biggest fundraiser and primary source of income for the year and we appreciate all of your help.
As a volunteer, you will add up purchased items, take cash and make change without a cash register, and restock display tables. Items for sale include decorations, toys, crafts, kitchen items, and other trinkets.
Thursday, April 30
5 Sales people2 more sales people needed
4 Sales people1 more sales person needed
Friday, May 1
5 Sales people3 more sales people needed
4 Sales people2 more sales people needed
4 Sales people2 more sales people needed
Saturday, May 2
4 Sales people
4 Sales people
4 Sales people3 more sales people needed
Sunday, May 3
3 Sales people
3 Sales people
We are also looking for help in setting up the booth Wednesday April 29 from 5-9 PM
as well as take down Sunday May 8 from 6-9 PM.
All volunteers will be given an admission ticket for the day as well as a $5 credit on a merchandise item from the booth (total value over $20.00).
FREE Metro Transit passes are also available for all the days of the festival starting one hour before and ending one hour after. These will be able to be downloaded from their web site festivalofnations.com under INFO tab and select transportation.
Questions? Send us a message!
Top photo: 2014 Festival of Nations TCJACL sales booth
Please join the Twin Cities JACL for the 2014 Holiday Party! Fellow JACL members, please bring your great grandchildren, grandchildren and children to enjoy holiday games and activities, an indoor play area, and light refreshments. We also welcome families in our community that are interested in learning more about the Twin Cities JACL to attend. Please see below for additional details:
- Sunday, December 7, 2014
9:30 a.m. -11:00 a.m.
- New Brighton Community Center
400 10th St. NW
New Brighton, MN 55112 [map]
- JACL Members: Free. Donation of $5/child to benefit Toys for Tots is suggested.
- Please contact us to RSVP. Please include the following information with your RSVP:
- Children: for each child, please provide name, age and gender
- Adults: total number attending
Please RSVP by Wednesday, November 26, 2014.