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!!
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.
Please join us for an exciting and new Chrysanthemum Banquet presented by the JACL. This is a great opportunity to meet new friends and reconnect with old ones as well.
Everyone enjoyed the perfect weather during the annual summer picnic on August 3. About 60-70 people attended; one family had four generations! The kids’ games included candy pickup with chopsticks (actually tongs) and a three legged race with their designated grownup. The water balloon toss made sure every participant was wet, wet, wet. No time for the Third Annual Twin Cities JACL Summer Picnic Quiz this year; come and try it next year!
Photos courtesy of Cheryl Hirata-Dulas.
Who remembers the sukiyaki dinners? Those were some good times.
The Japanese Garden Committee held a festival on Saturday, June 14, in the new Normandale student center. While there was unfortunately no sukiyaki this time, there were delicious bentos, Japanese dance and taiko performances, origami demonstrations, and bazaar and informational booths.
Japan America Society of Minnesota (JASM), the Normandale Japanese language program, and Bloomington Sister City Organization were just a few of the many exciting organizations present.
Unfortunately, the weather was stormy, which put a damper on the fun. Nevertheless, Kogen Taiko packed the auditorium for their epic final performance!
Gloria Kumagai, Lisa Shakerin, Karen Lucas, and Jan Monson graciously volunteered their time to represent JACL with a bazaar booth. Our booth offered items such as Koinobori wind vanes, bracelets, and charms.
We also introduced Ramune soda this year! I first had Ramune while studying abroad in Japan many years ago. It is a children’s beverage that tastes delicious and comes in a clear bottle with a glass marble lodged in the top. The plastic cap comes off and must be used as a plunger to push the marble into the bottle. It is a bit hard to describe, but very fun.
Many thanks to everyone who attended and volunteered for the event. I am looking forward to next year!
Saturday, July 26th, 2014
111 East Lake Street
Located 1 block west of 35W on the south side of East Lake Street.
There is a large parking lot specifically for the restaurant.
This is a good excuse to visit with your long-time friends in a community appreciation event!
***If you are 75 years of age or older (75 in 2014) you will be our guest free of charge. Nikkei Project, JACL and Twin Cities Buddhist Assn. members, spouses, relatives and friends under 75 years old are welcome to join us. Buffet lunch is $10.50 which includes beverage/tax/tip. Kids cost is less based on age.
For reservations call or email Todd Tsuchiya: 952-975-0047
This event is co-sponsored once again by the Twin Cities JACL, Nikkei Project and the Twin Cities Buddhist Association
No individual invitations are being sent. Information is distributed by email, newsletters, flyers and word of mouth.