LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Let’s Not Lose Sight of the Lessons of Redress

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Dear Editor,

I would like to thank Grant Ujifusa for providing important information to your readers regarding the Kazuo Masuda story. Mr. Ujifusa’s information is correct that Gov. Thomas Kean was pivotal in bringing the story to President Reagan’s attention.

What I said at the Manzanar Pilgrimage was simply that in his remarks at the bill signing, President Reagan credited Rose Ochi with bringing the story to his attention.

What is most important in this discussion is that we not lose sight of the main lessons and responsibilities of the Japanese American redress experience. It is the story of a community finding the strength to voice its demand for recognition and a nation’s courage to atone for its past mistakes.

With such lessons, however, comes responsibility. We have the responsibility to continue to tell the story of those not recognized by the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, like the Japanese Latin Americans.

We have the responsibility to be proactive in fighting for the civil rights of people regardless of the color of their skin, the country of their origin, which God they worship, or whom they choose to love.

We have the responsibility to make sure that the experiences of our Issei and Nisei are not forgotten.

As Japanese Americans, we know the pain of injustice; we also know the validation that a presidential apology brings. With that in mind, my message at Manzanar was that the lessons of the redress movement must continue to fuel the fight for justice and equality for all.

Mitchell T. Maki

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2 Comments

  1. Professor Maki is mistaken. Japanese American redress was about addressing the specific grievances of some law abiding Americans whom the federal government jailed because they belonged a racially identifiable group. How specifically Japanese Americans obtained redress in Congress and at the White House has only tangential bearing on the other issues dear to Professor Maki, however worthy they may be.

    As for Ms. Rose Ochi. The documentary evidence shows that Ms. Ochi played absolutely no role
    in the success of Japanese American redress. On the contrary, the documentary evidence shows that as a member of the JACL national board and later as a candidate for president
    of that organization, Ms Ochi called for JACL to move away from the hopeless cause
    of redress and to move toward lobbying for the interests of the Japanese government and
    Japanese corporations.

    Grant Ujifusa
    JACL Legislative Strategy Chair
    Chappaqua, New York

  2. Grant Ujifusa on

    Another not so original thought occurs to me. How can
    any one person, even an eminent academic with an
    advanced degree in Social Work, take it upon himself
    to tell the rest of us what the lessons and the meaning
    of redress are? The answer: he can’t. Unless, of course,
    what he wants is to set himself up as some kind of
    “elitist,” a species of humanity most dreaded on most
    American campuses.

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