SENIOR MOMENTS: Michael Cohen, John Dean and Redress

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By PHIL SHIGEKUNI

Marion and I attended the JACL Redress Panel held March 10 at Faith United Methodist Church in Torrance.

Moderated by Ron Ikejiri, the panel consisted of former national presidents Floyd Shimomura and Frank Sato, former national director Ron Wakabayashi, and John Tateishi, former national director and chair of the National Redress Committee. They all agreed that the passage of the redress legislation was a result of a joint effort on the part of each of them as well as numerous individuals throughout the country.

After the panel, a 90th birthday reception was held for the venerable Frank Sato. I had a chance to chat with ever-present Rafu writer J.K. Yamamoto.

I told J.K. that as I sat through the panel presentation I recalled how the term “redress” came to be adopted for our cause:

Former JACL National President Frank Sato (second from left) and his wife June celebrate his 90th birthday with (from left) former National President Floyd Shimomura, former National Director Ron Wakabayashi, and former Washington Representative Ron Ikejiri. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

In the early days of our redress discussions, I attended a redress planning meeting at the home of a prominent WLA dentist, Dr. Harold Harada, in Bel-Air. We were surprised by a visit by John Dean, the main testifier in bringing down President Richard Nixon.

Dean was convicted of providing false testimony and was sent to a federal prison. One of his guards was a Nisei who was incarcerated in one of the WWII camps. With his background, and being a former attorney, Dean became very interested in his story, and even considered writing a book about the subject.

He was aware of our intention of calling our government into account for the outcome of EO 9066. Prior to our meeting, we used the term “reparations” to describe our cause. His thought was the term reparations was not appropriate in that reparations was typically paid after a wartime conflict to a former enemy. Redress was a term from our Constitution whereby citizens called upon our government to redress grievances.

His suggestion was presented to the JACL Pacific Southwest District Council, which was then adopted by the National Redress Committee.

It is somewhat ironic that we should owe a debt of gratitude to John Dean, with his infamous connection with President Nixon, for making his important suggestion. At the same time we consider the misdeeds of his counterpart, Michael Cohen, at a time when our community is remembering our redress victory.

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Phil Shigekuni writes from San Fernando Valley and can be contacted at [email protected]. The Rafu Shimpo’s management and staff continually strive to maintain high editorial standards for professionalism as well as accurate and balanced news coverage. The inclusion of a particular piece, including columns and op-ed submissions by contributing writers in print and/or digitally, does not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the owners, management, individual staff members, and editors. The Rafu Shimpo welcomes responses to any article published in print or digitally. Responses may be sent to author directly or emailed to [email protected]

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