JAVA EC Approves Revisions
Membership Ratification Vote on January 25, 2020
The Executive Council has approved the proposed amended By-laws of the Japanese American Veterans Association. In the amended By-laws, the Executive Council incorporated suggestions from the membership made during a sixty-day comment period. Members will be asked to ratify the approved By-laws at the General Membership Meeting that will follow the Luncheon and Awards Presentation at the Harvest Moon Restaurant in Falls Church, VA on January 25, 2020.The approved revisions are intended to bring more transparency and accountability to how JAVA is governed and operated.
JAVA Response to JACL Resolution of Apology
JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION
P.O. Box 341198, Bethesda, Maryland 20817
September 17, 2019
Jeffery Moy, National President
National Japanese American Citizens League
RE: National JACL Resolution of Apology to Tule Lake Resisters
On August 3, 2019, the National Council of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) adopted a resolution of apology “to those imprisoned in the Tule Lake Segregation Center for non-violent 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.'”
On behalf of the Executive Council of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), I am submitting this executive summary, with enclosure, to the National JACL registering JAVA’s objections to the National JACL resolution of apology.
At its September 14, 2019 meeting, JAVA’s Executive Council approved the following objections to the National JACL’s resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters:
A full explanation in support of these objections is provided in the enclosure to this letter.
Japanese American Veterans Association, President
cc. David Inouye, JACL Executive Director
Enclosure to Letter to JACL President Moy.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION, September 17, 2019
On August 3, 2019, the National Council of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) adopted a resolution of apology “to those imprisoned in the Tule Lake Segregation Center for non-violent 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.’”
At its September 14, 2019 meeting, JAVA’s Executive Council approved the following objections to the National JACL’s resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters.
National JACL Resolution of Apology Is Vague and Overly Broad.
Based on the Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (aka “Redress Commission Report”), the Tule Lake Segregation Center was dominated by a “strongly militant pro-Japan faction” composed of:
The National JACL resolution of apology is given to the above Tule Lake resisters who engaged in “non-violent acts of resistance and dissent.” By excluding only those who engaged in violent acts of resistance and dissent, National JACL demonstrates a shallow commitment to civil rights by including within its resolution Tule Lake resisters who engaged in non-violent acts of resistance and dissent such as coercive harassment, intimidation, and threats of bodily harm against Japanese Americans who volunteered for US military service and others internees who did not share the Tule Lake Resisters’ pro-Japan views.
The National JACL resolution of apology also fails to distinguish between the Tule Lake resisters who wanted Japan to win the war and those who believed in peaceful disobedience but did not hold pro-Japan views. The Redress Commission Report states that 31% of the Tule Lake Segregation Center population were family members who stayed with those who were segregated. By failing to deal with these significant distinctions, the National JACL resolution of apology unfairly treats all the Tule Lake resisters as “disloyal.”
For these reasons, the Executive Council of the Japanese American Veterans Association finds that the National JACL resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters is vague and overly broad, without any justifiable basis for its apology.
National JACL Resolution of Apology Is a Betrayal of American Values.
The Japanese American men and women who served in the US military during World War II suffered in equal measure with the Tule Lake resisters from the unconstitutional confinement imposed by Executive Order 9066, but unlike the Tule Lake resisters, those who served in the US military during World War II put country first, kept their faith in American ideals, and assumed greater personal risks by putting themselves in harm’s way.
Any shame, stigma, or label of “disloyalty” associated with the Tule Lake resisters was self-inflicted as a direct result of their actions, beliefs, and decisions which were antithetical to the actions, beliefs, and decisions made by the 95% of Japanese American adults who answered “yes” to Question 28 and by the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II.
The Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II served with valor and honor that created a lasting legacy that has greatly benefited all those in the Japanese American community including the Tule Lake resisters.
The Executive Council of the Japanese American Veterans Association condemns the National JACL resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters as a betrayal of the American values embraced by the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II and by the 95% of Japanese American adults who answered “yes” to Question 28 and as being knowingly divisive.
National JACL Resolution of Apology Demeans the Legacy of the Japanese Americans Who Served During World War II.
During WWII, most Americans considered all persons of Japanese ancestry to be “disloyal” based solely on ethnicity. The World War II JACL leaders worked to find ways to prove that Japanese Americans were “loyal” and could be trusted. The JACL advocated to have the US Army create a segregated all-Japanese American combat unit. The idea of a segregated combat unit was originally rejected by Gen. Eisenhower. But JACL persisted. By having a segregated combat unit, JACL’s hope was that its military successes would convince the American public that Japanese Americans were loyal.
Mike Masaoka was JACL Secretary during that time and was the main advocate for the all-Japanese American combat unit. When the 442nd RCT was created, Masaoka was the first to volunteer. Because of his role in getting the 442nd RCT authorized, he was assigned to the public relations staff of the 442nd RCT where he diligently provided information to the press about the successful battlefield accomplishments of the 442nd RCT. Masaoka is credited with generating the high praise that the 442nd received in the American press during World War II.
The opportunity for the Japanese Americans who served during World War II to forge a legacy of valor and honor was created by JACL. During World War II, the JACL actively promoted serving in the US military as a way to show loyalty so there is a direct link between the World War II JACL and the legacy created by the Japanese Americans who served.
The National JACL resolution of apology disavows that link. The JACL resolution of apology reverses the position of the World War II JACL in that JACL is now supporting the Tule Lake resisters’ acts of resistance and dissent as the way the community should have shown their loyalty rather than serving in the US military. Of course, the National JACL resolution of apology ignores the fact that the acts of resistance and dissent were in support of the resisters’ pro-Japan views.
As a national veterans service organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II, JAVA must raise its voice on behalf of those Japanese American soldiers by defending their choice as to how they showed their loyalty.
The valor and loyalty shown by the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II has greatly benefited the Japanese American community in the following ways:
The Executive Council of the Japanese American Veterans Association denounces the National JACL resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters as a shameful and unwarranted demeaning of the legacy forged by the valor and loyalty of the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II, while at the same time, National JACL, its chapters and members, and the Japanese American community at large, including the Tule Lake resisters, have benefited and will continue to benefit from that legacy.
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Brief History of WWII Internment Camps featuring JAVA Members
In 2010 JAVA teamed up with Montgomery County Public Schools to produce a series of educational videos on the experience of Japanese Americans during WWII. The videos feature Gerald Yamada, Norman Ikari, Grant Hirabayashi, Grant Ichikawa, Mary Murakami, Kelly Kuwayama and Terry Shima. Watch below or click here to watch.
Dwight and Cathy Gates Present "BG Kendall Fielder: Champion of WWII Nisei Soldiers"
R-L: JAVA President Gerald Yamada present commemorative coin to Dwight and Cathy Gates
Serving as Master of Ceremony, JAVA Vice President, Howard High, introduced guest speakers Dwight Gates USA (Ret), a former Army and Department of Defense Intelligence Officer and history enthusiast and his wife Cathy Gates, the only granddaughter of Brigadier General Kendall “Wooch” Fielder. Sharing the stage, Dwight told members that his side of the talk would focus on Wooch’s leadership qualities and the unique role that he played as a “Champion of WWII Nisei Soldiers,” while Cathy explained that her grandfather’s accomplishments were unspoken and unknown to her as a youth and that she would recount her childhood memories of him.
Before launching into his talk, Mr. Gates told luncheon attendees about his introduction to JAVA in 2002 when he learned that the late WWII Veteran, lawyer and Nisei historian Ted Tsukiyama of Hawaii was coming to DC to speak at a JAVA event. An admirer of Tsukiyama, who is known as the Father of National Archives Records Administration Project (NARA), Gates attended the talk. One thing led to another and Gates became not only a member of JAVA but also a charter member of the JAVA NARA team that over many years scanned hundreds of Japanese American military documents, many fragile, from the National Archives.
In Mr. Gate’s eyes, “leadership was the real reason things went well in Hawaii and not in California” after Pearl Harbor. And leadership was practically woven into Brigadier General (BG) Kendall “Wooch” Fielder’s DNA. With a great, great, great grandfather serving in the Revolutionary War, a great, great grandfather in the War of 1812, a great grandfather in the Civil War and a father serving as a lawyer and Solicitor General, there was some destiny at play in Kendall Fielder’s remarkable military career. Born in Cedartown, GA in 1893, Fielder’s leadership skills were evident early on. At Georgia Tech, the Textile Engineering major, was captain of the football team his junior year. The star athlete was coached by John Heisman of famed Heisman trophy, an award that speaks to athletic ability and also hard work and dedication, all qualities that that could be used to describe the young Fielder. Mr. Gate’s related that a misprint in the local newspaper was responsible for Fielder’s nickname – a name that he was forever known by; the sports headline read “Wooch Fielder” instead of “Watch Fielder.” Cathy added that she even called him Wooch and not Grandpa. Off the field, Wooch was President of the Student Governing Board as well as president of several campus organizations. At graduation, his classmates noted Wooch’s leadership: he was voted “the man who had done the most for Tech” and “most influential.” Perhaps not surprisingly, after finishing at Tech, he followed the path of his forefathers and joined the US Army to fight in World War I (but not before marrying May Crichton of Atlanta in 1917).
Continuing with the early military career of BG Fielder, Mr. Gates told members that the recently commissioned Wooch was sent to France in 1918 with the 7th Division as a machine gun platoon leader. He fought at Argonne Forest and St. Mihiel and was wounded in action. After the war ended, he was part of the occupational force in France and then held several assignments at Camp Funston, Fort Meade, and the Military District Washington. In 1927, Fielder was assigned to the Philippines and served for three years as a Commanding Officer of Company I, 57th Infantry. After returning to the states, he led as a battalion commander and was commanding officer of troops at the Army War College.
According to Gates, the critical turning point in Fielder’s career came in November 1938, when he was assigned to Hawaii as a battalion commander and Executive Officer of 22nd Brigade. “One of Wooch’s responsibilities was training the 298th National Guard.” It was in this position, Gates remarked, that Wooch got to know “the loyalty of Japanese-Americans that served under his command.” However, Wooch’s knowledge of the Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) community went beyond the National Guard. At the time, Wooch was coaching a local football team and came to understand the vital role AJAs played in Hawaii. One-third of the population, AJAs were critical to the lifeblood of the islands. They farmed, fished, had businesses and defended Hawaii. Fielder’s fondness and appreciation of Hawaiian AJAs would shape his career and US History.
In August of 1939, Gates told audience members, the FBI sent Robert Shivers to open a Hawaii office and work with military intelligence to investigate Japanese loyalty and possible “bad apples.” In June 1941, Major General Walter Short, Commanding General of the Army's Hawaiian Department, chose Wooch to be his G-2 (Intelligence Officer). In this new assignment, Fielder was called on to be a part of Shivers Committee for Inter-Racial Unity. Wooch’s committee work further confirmed his trust in the AJAs. The trust did not falter on December 7, 1941. As Mr. Gates related, “Wooch was getting ready to go to a picnic at Bellows Field when he noticed black smoke over Pearl Harbor. He immediately changed into his uniform and reported for duty.” Gates added that Wooch made the first phone call through Army chanels to let Washington know that the Japanese had attacked. The phone call was just the start. Wooch’s thoughtful leadership style and belief in the allegiance of AJAs were needed in the days, months and years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Gates emphasized that after the attack, the Islands were rife with unrest and rumors - stories were circulating about “invading Japanese paratroopers and cryptic arrows in fields pointing to Honolulu. Wooch started working with newspapers to put an end to misinformation and to calm the public." He made radio addresses on December 10 and again on the 14th to report that no sabotage had taken place. He also reminded residents that “citizens of all races must work and fight together.” Gates highlighted that not everyone shared the vision of “racial unity.” When Lt General Emmons took over island leadership, he came with marching orders that all AJAs should be put in concentration camps, possibly on the outer island of Molokai. Fielder, fellow Morale Committee members, along with FBI agent Shivers, saw the situation differently. Fielder and the others were certain of the ethnic Japanese’s loyalty. Gates underscored that sentiments on both sides ran deep, “the heated exchanges between Fielder and Emmons could have been cause for Wooch’s court martial.”
Despite Wooch’s vigorous defense of the AJAs, ethnic Japanese members of the University of Hawaii ROTC were dismissed from Hawaiian Territorial Guard. In a show of loyalty, those dismissed petitioned for a defense role and with some persuading by Wooch, Emmons agreed in February 1942 to let the group form a unit, the Varsity Victory Volunteers (VVV), to shore up infrastructure. Fielder’s promotion of the group did not end there. He also arranged for Assistant Secretary McCloy who was visiting from DC to observe the VVV hard at work. Meanwhile, on the mainland, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 calling for the incarceration of over 120,000 AJAs living on the west coast. Although vitriol towards AJAs was strong on the mainland, Gates elaborated on how the tide of opinion had shifted in Hawaii, in large part due to the efforts of Wooch and the Morale Committee. By the fall of 1942, Emmons thought internment was the wrong path and sent Fielder to Washington to push the unpopular idea of an all-Nisei division. On January 1,1943,General Marshall approved the formation of what became the 100th Battalion and then the 442 Regimental Combat Team. Gates noted that in November 1944 Wooch was promoted to Brigadier General and “followed ‘his boys’ as they fought in Italy, France, and Germany." After the war, he served in the Pentagon and then returned to Hawaii in 1948.
Mr. Gates told members that Wooch was humble, and although he is “sometimes called ‘Father of 442nd’ and is one of only three honorary members of 100th and 442nd, he was never one to take credit.” His life of strong leadership – standing up to his commanding officer, standing up against popular opinion, standing up for what he believed in – remains an example to all.
Cathy Gates saw Wooch through a completely different prism. While growing up, he was just her grandfather. She may not have known about her grandfather’s military accomplishments, but she did know that he was a fabulous amateur magician and recalled him putting on a show for her and her friends. Affable and gregarious, Wooch and “Tutu” (the Hawaiian name for grandmother) were very social and loved going to parties. Cathy reported that as a young teen she visited her grandparents in Hawaii and she was whisked off to four parties during her stay but not before a shopping trip with Tutu to find just the right dresses. She added that Wooch was a scratch golfer and her grandparents had a home right on the golf course. In Cathy’s words “Wooch was fun, laughs and jokes.” In closing, Mrs. Gates told attendees that Wooch and Tutu are buried at the Punchbowl in Hawaii, at rest in a place they loved and that loved them.
After a hearty applause from the audience that included The Honorable Norman Mineta, Minister Kenichiro Mukai and his daughter Mori, and Major General Garrett Yee, USA and his wife Maria, JAVA President Gerald Yamada presented commemorative JAVA coins to Dwight and Cathy and thanked them for a most interesting and informative presentation. Indeed, all left feeling like Wooch lived up to his college yearbook quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “The elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a Man.’”
L-R: Dwight Gates, The Honorable Norman Mineta, Cathy Gates
JACL DC Executive Director David Inoue and Minister Kenichiro Mukai, Embassy of Japan
L-R Noriko Sanefuji, The Honorable Norman Mineta, Mori Mukai, Wade Ishimoto