National JACL

1,000 Cranes Presented as Symbol of Friendship and Solidarity Between Japanese American and Muslim American Community

Japanese American youth and former WWII incarcerees, Venice-West LA JACL Board Members and Camp Musubi present 1,000 Cranes to King Fahad Mosque of Culver City.

Japanese American youth and former WWII incarcerees, Venice-West LA JACL Board Members and Camp Musubi present 1,000 Cranes to King Fahad Mosque of Culver City.

Venice, California – On Sunday, September 10, 2017, Japanese Americans from the Venice and West Los Angeles community presented 1,000 origami cranes to the neighborhood King Fahad Mosque of Culver City as a symbol of friendship, solidarity for peace and the promise to safeguard civil rights for all. The “1,000 Cranes: Solidarity, Vigilance & Peace” program took place in front of a nearly 10-foot-tall monument dedicated to former World War II incarcerees from the Venice area.

“Today, we stand in solidarity for the protection of civil rights for everyone,” said Amy Watanabe, event organizer and chapter board member of the Venice-West Los Angeles Japanese American Citizens League. Noting that this year marked the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 that allowed for the unlawful incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast, Watanabe said the event served as a reminder to “connect our stories and experiences to the present day.”

The 1,000 cranes were presented to Mohammad Abdul Aleem on behalf of the King Fahad Mosque of Culver City in a show of support to the Muslim American community. The cranes, regarded in Japanese culture as a symbol of world peace, were folded in August at a family cultural event that drew dozens of children and their families to the Venice Japanese Community Center.

In January, President Trump signed Executive Order 13769, issuing a travel ban affecting six majority-Muslim nations. The constitutionality of the Executive Order, also referred to as the Muslim travel ban, will be heard on October 10 by the Supreme Court. Keynote speaker, former California State Assemblymember Warren Furutani, included in his remarks, “It’s not much to connect the dots between the same thing that happened to Japanese Americans, who were incarcerated because of their ethnicity. When you look at those realities, and we look at connecting the dots of social justice and civil rights, you see that we’re talking about people coming together, bringing our issues together, and fighting together around making this America that we want for all people.”

Keynote speakers included former state Assemblymember Warren Furutani and activist and storyteller Taz Ahmed, co-founder of #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast. The program also included Len Nguyen, representing Los Angeles Councilmember Mike Bonin; Stephanie Nitahara, National JACL Associate Director; Tony Osumi, director of Camp Musubi; and Phyllis Hayashibara, member of the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee.

The 9½-foot-tall black granite monument on the northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln boulevards was dedicated in April and marks the corner where 1,000 Japanese Americans reported to after being forcibly removed from their homes and then sent directly to Manzanar internment camp. Two of the former incarcerees, Mae Kakehashi and Arnold Maeda, were in attendance.

The program included a taiko performance by the Nakama Daiko group of Torrance. Members of the Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple Girl Scout Troop 5325, who were part of the crane-folding event, led the gathering of over 75 in the Pledge of Allegiance.

For more photos, visit our Facebook album.

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48th Annual JACL National Convention in Washington, D.C.

Delegates Amy Watanabe & Keith Kawamoto

Delegates Amy Watanabe & Keith Kawamoto

Washington, D.C. - The JACL National hosted the 48th Annual National Convention, "Our Story: Resilience, Remembrance, Resolve," in Washington D.C. from July 6-9, 2017. Boardmembers Keith Kawamoto and Amy Watanabe represented the Venice-West LA Chapter serving as this year's voting delegates.

In remembrance of the 75th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's signing of Executive Order 9066, which forced 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry into incarceration camps without due process, the 2017 Convention featured an Opening Reception with an exclusive viewing of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, "Righting a Wrong," highlighting the experience of Japanese Americans during World War II. Original pages from the Executive Order 9066 on loan from the National Archives were displayed during the private reception.

The Embassy of Japan hosted a private reception for JACL Convention attendees at the Ambassador's Residence. During the Reception, the Governor Ralph L. Carr Courage Award was presented to Wade Henderson, the outgoing president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, for his lifetime of service in support of civil rights. Former Governor Ralph Carr advocated for the Constitutional rights of Japanese Americans and encouraged the state of Colorado to welcome Japanese Americans following Pearl Harbor. The prestigious Governor Ralph L. Carr Award honors outstanding leaders who personify his legacy of working towards racial justice and promotion of civil rights.

Awardees and dignitaries at the private reception hosted by the Embassy of Japan at the Ambassador's Residence. From left to right: Wade Henderson, Bill Yoshino, Secretary Norman Mineta, Embassy of Japan's DCM Oike, JACL National President Gary Mayeda, Embassy of Japan's Minister Sasayama.

Awardees and dignitaries at the private reception hosted by the Embassy of Japan at the Ambassador's Residence. From left to right: Wade Henderson, Bill Yoshino, Secretary Norman Mineta, Embassy of Japan's DCM Oike, JACL National President Gary Mayeda, Embassy of Japan's Minister Sasayama.

Long-time JACL staffer Bill Yoshino was also presented the Foreign Minister's Award by the Government of Japan to celebrate his longstanding dedication to restoring and protecting the rights of Japanese Americans. Bill Yoshino retired this year after 38 years of distinguished service, serving JACL in many capacities as Midwest Regional Director, Interim Executive Director and his instrumental work for JACL’s Redress Campaign and education programs.

From left to right: Keith Kawamoto; Amy Watanabe; Karen Korematsu, civil rights leader and President of the Korematsu Institute; Nisha Ramachandra, Policy Director for the National Council for Asian Pacific Americans; and Floyd Mori, past JACL National President and JACL Executive Director Emeritus.

From left to right: Keith Kawamoto; Amy Watanabe; Karen Korematsu, civil rights leader and President of the Korematsu Institute; Nisha Ramachandra, Policy Director for the National Council for Asian Pacific Americans; and Floyd Mori, past JACL National President and JACL Executive Director Emeritus.

At the Sayonara Banquet, the JACL President's Award was presented to Joan Bernstein and Angus Macbeth (posthumously) for their work with the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) and their contributions to seeking truth and justice. The JACL President's Award recognizes individuals with outstanding national leadership in promoting civl and human rights.

The CWRIC was established by Congress to review the facts and circumstances surrounding Executive Order 9066 and held hearings across the country and heard from over 750 witnesses, most of whom were incarcerees. In its final report, the CWRIC stated that thy fund no persuasive evidence of a military or security threat from Japanese Americans and concluded that the cause of exclusion and incarcerations was the result of "...race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership." Ms. Jodie Bernstein served as Chairperson of the Commission and Mr. Macbeth served as Special Counsel. 

To view photos from all the events, please visit: https://jacl.org/2017convention/

George Inagaki Chapter Citizenship Award Presented at 48th Annual JACL National Convention

From left to right: Ron Yoshino (Chicago JACL- recipient of George Inagaki Chapter Citizenship Award), Amy Watanabe (Venice-West LA JACL), Travis Nishi (Chair, JACL Awards & Reocgnition)

From left to right: Ron Yoshino (Chicago JACL- recipient of George Inagaki Chapter Citizenship Award), Amy Watanabe (Venice-West LA JACL), Travis Nishi (Chair, JACL Awards & Reocgnition)

Washington, D.C. – On July 7, 2017, the Venice-West Los Angeles JACL Chapter presented the George Inagaki Chapter Citizenship Award to the Chicago Chapter. The Award recognizes the work of a model chapter in the areas of civil and social rights advocacy, community engagement and commitment to youth and leadership development.

The Chicago JACL Chapter was recognized for their continuous work in developing relevant and impactful programs and creating a strong leadership pipeline. Currently, over one-third of their Chapter Board is under 30 years old and many of JACL National's young leaders come have come from their chapter, such as Stephanie Nitahara (JACL National Associate Director), Rebecca Ozaki (Program Coordinator), Christine Munteanu (former Program Coordination), Kenji Kuramitsu (Youth Rep) and Brandon Mita (former JACL Legal Counsel). Chicago JACL's program have also been used as a model for JACL National programs, in particular the Kansha program. Through the Kansha Program, every year they bring 10 Chicago and Midwest 18-25 year olds to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles to learn about community history and visit Manzanar.

The George Inagaki Chapter Citizenship Award is named after George Inagaki, who is best known for serving as JACL National President from 1952 to 1956. In 1956, he was named the JACL Nisei of the Biennium. The George Inagaki Award was established in 1968 to honor Mr. Inagaki's many years of service and outstanding dedication to the national organization.