VOX POPULI: JACL Apology to Tule Lake Resisters

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By YUKIO KAWARATANI

NOTE: We became a “No-No” family because my mother, with tears in her eyes, said, “I already have three sons who will end up in the Army and might be killed in the war. I cannot bear to have two more sons in harm’s way. Let’s keep the remaining family together by answering ‘No-No’ and face whatever additional punishment the government gives us.”

It had nothing to do with loyalty, but my family and thousands of others who resisted against the “loyalty questionnaire” for various reasons suffered lifetime consequences and stigma for being Tule Lake Resisters. JACL leaders were major contributors to their suffering, so I believe JACL members and chapters have a moral obligation to vote for the National Council resolution of recognition and apology to Tule Lake Resisters. – YK

The National Council of the JACL will consider Resolution 3, “Relating to Recognition of and Apology to Tule Lake Resisters,” at the JACL National Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah on Aug. 1-4. All JACL members and chapters are urged to vote in favor of the resolution, which is strongly co-sponsored by the Pacific Northwest District Council and the Northern California/Western Nevada District Council.

From Konrad Aderer’s documentary “Resistance at Tule Lake.”

KEY SUMMARY POINTS of the resolution are as follows:

• The Tule Lake Resisters had a right to protest and dissent, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and in keeping with the JACL Constitution, and the various forms of resistance by Japanese Americans to the injustice of incarceration deserve our respect today.

• In 1943, the War Relocation Authority (WRA), with the support of JACL leadership, required all adult inmates in the ten concentration camps and various detention sites, to fill out the “loyalty questionnaire.” Then WRA, with JACL concurrence, sent all persons and their families who resisted the “loyalty questionnaire” in any way — i.e. refusing to answer, answering in the negative, answering with a qualified yes — to the Tule Lake Segregation Center, which became a maximum-security prison.

• The government labeled all resisters as “disloyals” and the JACL National Board in 1946 formally condemned all resisters. Though JACL leadership actions during and after the war were made in the face of wartime hysteria, hostility, racism and concern for the Japanese American community, the stigma of “disloyalty” and being branded as “no-no’s” persists to the present day.

• The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 encompassed an apology and reparations from the government to all those affected by Executive Order 9066. The JACL National Council voted in July 2000 to apologize to the 315 Nisei draft “resisters of conscience.”

• The Tule Lake Segregation Center was designated a unit of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument by President Bush in 2008 and re-designated the Tule Lake National Monument by Congress in 2019, thus acknowledging the suffering imposed by the government and the sacrifices endured by Japanese Americans there.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the National Council of the Japanese American Citizens League that in the spirit of reconciliation and community unity, a sincere apology is offered to all those imprisoned in the Tule Lake Segregation Center for acts of resistance and dissent who suffered shame and stigma during and after the war due to the JACL’s attitudes and treatment towards individuals unfairly labeled “disloyal”; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the National Council commits itself to:

• Encouraging all chapters to gain greater understanding of the issues regarding the Tule Lake Resisters;

• Authorizing preparation and printing of educational materials on the issues;

• Recognizing Tule Lake Resisters at an appropriate ceremony during the 2020-2021 biennium.

NOTE: To show public support for the resolution, Japanese American organizations, civil rights organizations, and concerned individuals are urged to write brief letters of support to:

JACL National Council

c/o Jeffrey Moy, JACL National President

1629 K Street NW, Suite 400

Washington, DC 20006

Or email letters of support to: [email protected]

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Yukio Kawaratani is a former Tule Lake Inmate and long-time JACL member. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

 

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