To Philadelphia JACL Members and Friends

Unfortunately we have decided to cancel the Installation Luncheon, as it appears unlikely that public health officials will give us the all clear by April 18 when our event was originally scheduled. I am hopeful we will be able to reschedule for a date later this year but for now the situation with COVID-19 is too unpredictable for us to choose a new date at this time. Since we were unable to host our Membership Meeting to conduct the chapter board election, our current board has agreed to continue serving until a time when it is safe to reconvene the chapter membership.
In addition to the public health crisis, there has been a spike in hate crimes targeting the Asian American community. JACL National has made a public statement that you can read here:
As president, I have been participating in a number of conversations related to the local response against anti-Asian bias in the time of COVID-19, which I am happy to say the Philadelphia city officials are taking quite seriously. Here is a short news piece that 6ABC did on the issues Asian Americans are facing in Philadelphia:
Here is a statement from the City’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, co-authored by JACL Philly chapter member Romana Lee-Akiyama:
In other news, Tsuru For Solidarity has made the decision to postpone the June 5-7 march on Washington until a later date. Spring 2021 has been proposed as an alternative, but nothing is confirmed yet. You can read the full statement here:
In lieu of in-person convenings, there are a number of remote actions taking place that are related to the immigrant rights movement. Detention Watch Network is currently in the midst of its week of action that many Japanese Americans are participating in nationwide, which you can read more about here:
JACL National is also considering postponing or canceling the 2020 National Convention that is currently scheduled for June 24-28. We will notify the chapter if that decision is made, and whether there might be an online alternative that members could participate in remotely.
Rob Buscher
Chapter President
Philadelphia JACL

JACL Vehemently Objects to Executive Order on Immigration

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) vehemently objects to the recent executive orders related to immigration. Whether they concern building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, threatening to increase deportations by the granting of additional powers to immigration enforcement officials and the targeting of sanctuary cities, or banning refugees and immigrants from entering the country, we stand with our organizational partners in rejecting these xenophobic, fear-mongering tactics.
Last week, the White House issued executive orders titled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” and “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” This is not the first time we have seen security used as a rationale to discriminate against specific communities. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 that prescribed military areas from which individuals could be removed. During World War II, the experience of Japanese Americans went beyond being forced from their homes and being detained without due process. Japanese Americans were vilified and targeted because of their race. Our country abandoned them with some being subjected to deportation. Their abandonment by our government left many with a psychological trauma that for some would last a lifetime.
During World War II, racism and wartime fears caused political leaders to enforce discriminatory policies they knew to be unwarranted and unnecessary. A narrative of historical facts has thoroughly repudiated the governmental actions that flowed from Executive Order 9066. Although the threat of terrorism is real, we must learn from our history and not allow our fears to overwhelm our values.
The United States has always served as a sanctuary for those fleeing oppression and provided opportunities to anyone seeking a better life. JACL continues to support the resettlement of refugees and the rights of immigrants. We are deeply troubled by policies born out of race-based slogans; policies that are mean-spirited and excessive in the treatment of immigrant families; policies that fail to honor the values of our diverse nation. As with Executive Order 9066, these recent measures do nothing to enhance America’s standing as an enduring symbol of democracy.
Contact Bill Yoshino, JACL Interim Executive Director,
Jeffrey Moy, JACL VP Public Affairs,

JACL and Muslim Americans

In the wake of the recent rise in physical attacks and verbal assaults on Muslim Americans, JACL National released the following statement.

JACL Condemns Dangerous Anti-Muslim Rhetoric
December 9, 2015
Contact: Priscilla Ouchida, Executive Director,
Jeff Moy, Vice President for Public Affairs,

“The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) condemns the dangerous and irresponsible Islamophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric being used to vilify and demonize Muslim and Arab communities. Several public figures have stoked simmering fears around national security as justification for blatantly racist statements and anti-Muslim policy proposals. Just this week, recent statements recommended that the U.S. halt all Muslim immigration in a proposal akin to the anti-Asian exclusion acts of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Although it may be tempting to dismiss these statements as extremist political posturing, our country’s own history has proven that hateful racist rhetoric can lead to destructive and sometimes fatal consequences for the scapegoated communities. The WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans was a culmination of decades of anti-Asian and anti-Japanese sentiment that festered along the west coast.

“We expect the nation’s leader to uphold our nation’s values and ideals. These statements are guilty of the same mistakes that led to one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history, one that destroyed livelihoods, entire communities, and an ethnic culture,” said JACL’s Executive Director Priscilla Ouchida. “Leaders should not emulate the lowest points of our history, but strive to provide direction that reflects the best of our democracy.”

Escalated fears around national security after Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbor and the U.S.’s entry into WWII led to President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066, which gave the U.S. Army the authority to remove civilians from military zones established in the states of Washington, Oregon, and California. Soon thereafter, the U.S. government forcibly removed and imprisoned some 120,000 Japanese Americans without due process. No Japanese American was ever charged, much less convicted, of espionage or sabotage against the United States. Yet they were targeted, rounded up, and imprisoned for years, simply for “looking like the enemy.”

In 1983, the federal Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians fully investigated the facts and circumstances surrounding the issuance of Roosevelt’s executive order and determined the incarceration was caused by race prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership. Their findings led to a government apology for this unconscionable and unjustified act.

JACL reiterates the need to defend the country’s values and ideals during times of crisis, even when the nation is threatened. The organization continues to support the President’s policy to admit Syrian refugees, and to administer the nation’s policies without discrimination based on race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or physical characteristics.”

JACL Philadelphia echoes National’s sentiments and calls for greater support from our members and other non-Muslims to stand with our Muslim neighbors throughout this increasingly difficult time.

On the morning of Monday, December 7th an unidentified person in a red pickup truck threw a severed pig’s head at the door of Al-Aqsa Mosque in North Philadelphia. With hate crimes like these taking place in the city of Philadelphia, it is more important than ever to make our voices heard and stand in solidarity with our Muslim neighbors.

Dr. Tom Tamaki

It is sad to see our early leaders of the JACL, our Nisei pioneers, leave this life. Dr. Tom Tamaki of the Philadelphia Chapter passed away at his home in Plymouth Meeting, PA. He served the JACL well and is credited with establishing the Mike M. Masaoka Fellowship. He deserves a huge thank you.

Mike Masaoka was the Washington, D.C. Rep for the JACL for many years. He was the only administrative staff member of the JACL when World War II began, and he served in the 442 during the war. Mike is credited with most of the civil rights achievements of the JACL in its earliest years and after the war was over. He worked tirelessly to change laws and gain rights for his fellow Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents.

Being a close friend and supporter of Mike Masaoka and realizing his great contributions to the JACL and the Japanese American community, Dr. Tamaki had a vision for the JACL to provide a fellowship named for Mike Masaoka to a deserving college graduate to provide the experience of working on Capitol Hill. He and other friends of Mike were able to establish the longest running fellowship of the JACL in honor of their friend. They donated and collected funds to begin offering a young person the unique opportunity to work in the Washington, D.C. office of a member of Congress.

The description of the Fellowship reads on the JACL website:  The Mike M. Masaoka Fellowship Fund was established in 1988 to honor Mike M. Masaoka (1915-1991) for a lifetime of outstanding public service in promoting justice, civil rights, and human dignity. The purpose of the Fund is to develop leaders for public service by providing opportunities for recently graduated students (of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs) and young professionals to work for a member of Congress. The Fellows’ assignments include a variety of tasks where they will be exposed to all facets of the work of the Representative or Senator and his/her staff.

After the Masaoka Fellowship Fund was established, Dr. Tamaki ran the program (with the help of a committee to select the recipients of the Fellowships) for twenty years. He was regularly seen at JACL Conventions announcing and introducing the Masaoka Fellows. At about the age of ninety, he turned the operation of the Masaoka Fellowship over to the JACL DC Office. His service and dedication to the Masaoka Fellowship and to the development of young leaders within the JACL are commendable and should be greatly appreciated.

Dr. Tamaki was born in Eatonville, WA on October 7, 1917. He was 97 when he passed on July 3, 2015. He is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Marion Miyazaki Tamaki, four children, nine grandchildren, and a brother and a sister.  Condolences to the family.

by S. Floyd Mori
JACL, Executive Director Emeritus

“Scenes Behind the Scenes” by Grant Ujifusa

(Delivered on February 23, 2013 at the Philadelphia JACL Day of Remembrance Event, Main Line Unitarian Church, Devon, PA)

I am very happy to be with you today in Philadelphia, a city that I think was the epicenter of Japanese American redress.  Why?  Because Grayce Uyehara once lived here and Grayce Uyehara was the heart and soul of redress (note: Grayce currently resides in a suburb of Philadelphia).

As we know, the success of Japanese American redress is a tribute to the thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of people who worked on the effort.  But today I want to talk about just eight of them, beginning with Grayce.  And then I want to talk about Mike Masaoka, Spark Matsunaga, Dan Inouye, Bob Matsui, Cherry Kinoshita, Denny Yasuhara, and Tom Kometani.

For them, redress was isshou kenmei  Japanese for all in, full throttle and non-stop. Continue reading “Scenes Behind the Scenes” by Grant Ujifusa