takezawa - Children of Inmates The Effects of the Redress...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–16. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 2
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 4
Background image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 6
Background image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 8
Background image of page 9

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 10
Background image of page 11

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 12
Background image of page 13

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 14
Background image of page 15

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 16
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: Children of Inmates The Effects of the Redress Movement among Third~Genemti0n Japanese Americans Yasuko I . Takezawa During the 19505, it was predicted that Japanese American communities would eventually disappear. American society praised their “success story”;1 and their social and economic mobility, as well as their assimilation into the mainstream of society proceeded remarkably. The ethnic boundary of Japanese Americans appeared to have become blurred after World War 11. Over the past decade, however, an ethnic identity has been reconfirmed and a sense of community has been revived, amongst Japanese Americans. Such a reaffirmation of ethnic identity seems to be derived largely from the reconceptualization of their wartime internment brought about by the redress movement and its recent success in forcing the United States Government to acknowledge its own misconduct. It is now no longer a secret in American history that by Executive Order 9066 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast were uprooted from their homes to live in internment camps surrounded by barbed wire during the Second World War. Over 110,000 people of Japanese descent, including American citizens who consti- tuted nearly twovthirds of all the victims, were deprived of their constitutional rights and subjected to this evacuation and internment merely because of their Japanese ancestry. Not only did the short—notice evacuation order cause their total economic ruin, but a maximum of three and a half years of imprisonment left deep psycholog— ical scars among the internees, which subsequently kept them silent for decades after the war. It was only after the redress campaign began in the early 19703 that former internees broke their silence to start talking about their experiences. After nearly two decades of long, difficult struggle, Japanese Americans finally won the redress legis- lation in August 1988 and the guarantee of individual payments by the Entitlement Program2 enacted in November 1989. Letters of apology signed by President Bush, together with monetary compensation, began to be distributed to senior former internees in October 1990. Most of the recipients of redress are the Nisei (the second generation Japanese Americans), since a majority of the Issei (the first generation) have already died and only a handful of the Sansei (the third generation) experienced internment. 299 300 YASUKO I. TAKEZAWA It has been pointed out that their imprisonment during the Second World War has had psychological effects on the Nisei (Morishima 1973; Kashima 1980; Mass 1986) and even on the Sansei (Nagata 1989). Internment decisively gave a psycholog- ical blow to Japanese Americans, but another major turning point came with the redress movement. Through the movement, Japanese Americans have come to rec— ognize the unique reality of being Japanese Americans. I have discussed elsewhere the transformation of ethnicity among Japanese Americans (Takezawa 198%) and the impact of interment and redress upon the Nisei (Takezawa 1989b). How, then, has the wartime internment and the subsequent redress movement affected children of inmates, the Sansei? This chapter will examine, from an anthropological viewpoint, the social and psychological effects of the internment and the subsequent redress movement upon the ethnic identity of the third generation Japanese Americans. Before developing my thesis in detail, however, I will briefly review the current theoretical concerns on ethnicity in cultural anthropology. \ Recent years have witnessed remarkable advances in the study of ethnicity as ethnic tensions and ethnic identity have become more prominent in complex socie— ties. While the dichotomy between the primordialists (e.g., Geertz 1963; Isaacs 1975) and the instrumentalists (e.g., Despres 1967; Cohen 1969) has dominated the theoret- ical issues of ethnicity within anthropology, attention amongst anthropologists has moved slowly towards the question of whether ethnicity is mutable and nonperma- nent, and if so, of how ethnic identity is constituted and maintained. Some students of ethnicity place special importance on the historical continuity of an ethnic group as a factor in explaining the persistence of an ethnic identity (e.g., Spicer 1971; De Vos 1975). These scholars are concerned with a sense of shared history and the symbolic interpretations of that history. George De Vos (1975:17) contends that “Ethnicity. . . is in its narrowest sense a feeling of continuity with the past, a feeling that is maintained as an essential part of one’s self-definition,” stressing additionally the individual’s needs for “collective continuity” and survival as the essence of ethnicity at the deepest psychological level: “If one’s group survives, one is assured of survival, even if not in a personal sense.” Charles Keyes, developing this notion, suggests that an intense suffering experience of the ancestors of a people provides the experimental foundation for ethnic identity (198129—10). In line with this View emphasizing the interpretation of historical experience amongst members of an ethnic group, this chapter will argue that the ethnicity of the Sansei today is constructed not merely from racial and cultural markers of prewar days but from a sense of suffering of their forebears who experienced internment. In the process, I will argue that the more recent reaffirmation of ethnic identity and sense of community among the Sansei, in spite of acculturation and a high degree of interracial marriage, is a cultural product of their reconceptualization of their fore~ bears’ suffering and the subsequent victory in acknowledgement of this from the Government. The chapter is based primarily on participant observation, in-depth personal interviews,3 and archive research,4 which was carried out in the Japanese American community in Seattle, Washington, during a period of fieldwork undertaken between 1986 and 1989.5 The Sansei subjects were not interned.6 The selection of subjects was H—H‘HH. 71-4 al sc tl‘. at th pa u (‘i [‘6] Or not random. However, a great effort was made to assemble a wide range of individ~ uals with varying experiences of acculturation. For example, some were actively involved in community organizations, others were entirely uninterested. Again, some had strong ethnic ties, others’ were much looser. Childhood and Adolescence of the Sansei The majority of the Sansei were born between the late 19405 and the early 19605, and the social environment of their childhood and adolescence differed sharply form that of the Nisei in prewar years. In general, the Sansei enjoyed affluence, high educational opportunities, and the reputation of being a “model minority.” Moreover, due to the lack of a segregated geographical community, the ethnic solidarity of the kind possessed by the Nisei did not develop among the Sansei. Instead, the Sansei had more open social associations than their parents’ generation with other ethnic groups, such as White, Black, Chinese, and Filipino Americans, encountered very largely by racially mixed schools and neighborhood environments. Consequently, the Sansei came to adopt American values and mores to a much greater extent than the Nisei. Maykovich (1972159) points out the Nisei’s aspiration for Americanization, stating, “Anything that identified him as Japanese became taboo to the Nisei, simply because it was detrimental to his attempts to establish himself as an American.” In fact, many Nisei suffered from shame due to the imprisonment, which occurred on the basis of their ethic origin. The Sansei characterize the Nisei as Maykovich does, saying that the Nisei Neisi tried to Americanize 200 percent at the expense of their Japanese heritage. Carol Namiki, an older Sansei, expresses her View of the Nisei’s assimilation: If you had any ties with Japan it was considered negative so that there was this—~in some Niseis there was this thing to be accepted by the White community. If you were accepted by the White community, that erased the discrimination of the war and so then they felt good. And so there were a lot of families who tended to bring up their children so they would be accepted in the mainstream. (Carol Namiki)7 Thus, unlike their Issei parents, the Nisei did not teach Japanese to their children. Nor did they emphasize many of the cultural values or being of Japanese descent, although some behavioral patterns were passed on to the Sansei without verbal socialization. The Sansei’s experience as ethnic Japanese resulted in an ethnic identity that was not as strong or exclusive as that of the Nisei. During the 1950s and 19605, the Nisei report, they were busy raising their children and working hard, and they did not have time to look back to their past. Many of the Nisei also acknowledge that they evaded discussion of “camp,” an issue too painful for them to discuss. The Sansei who overheard parents’ conversation about “camp” in their early childhood, although small in percentage, thought that it referred to a summer camp. Many Sansei, however, often learned about internment, or realized the true meaning of “camp,” from books, films, or Asian American courses in college. Being middle class and, in most cases, being a socially accepted 3,0’7 YASUKO I. TAKEZAWA minority by the time they reached adolescence, the Sansei felt anger and shock upon learning about the internment. Kathy Hashimoto recalls her anger at having not been informed earlier about camp when she first learned about the history of internment:8 I was about 15, I was at a friend’s house, looking at his parents’ library. I found a book. It was called “Citizen 13660” . . . I remember coming home very angry about it, angry because what happened, but also with my parents for never telling me. . . . I said to my mother, “How could you have just allow 120,000 of you to just go into these camps? Why didn’t you tell me before?” She said because she thought I couldn’t understand what it was like because the time has changed and it wasn’t easy. (Kathy Hashimoto) One of the questions common among the Sansei is why the Nisei obeyed the evacuation order in the first place. Some Sansei directed their anger not only at the Government but also at their parents for not resisting the evacuation order." It puzzled the Sansei, whose values and behavior pattern are more acculturated than those of the Nisei and whose experience as a minority differs sharply from them. Since I was born here, I would have at least tried to protest. I would not have become violent, but I would have at least tried to say, “Hey, there’s a book of rules here in the Constitution.” I would have tried to be a little bit more active, rather than submitting without any effort... .1 believe that they should have acted differently, but knowing what I know now, I can understand how they acted. (Steve Kondo) To the Nisei, on the other hand, the Sansei’s questioning of such matters itself appears to demonstrate their lack of understanding of the Nisei’s position in the context of the evacuation. The Nisei retort, “What can you do when you have soldiers with guns behind your back?” Today, exposed to more information about the time of the evacuation, many Sansei understand the historical circumstances surrounding the N isei and their limited options available in 1942. One example of the failure in mutual understanding between the two generations is how the Sansei perceive the Nisei camp experience. The Nisei often complain that the Sansei have little or no interest in camp, saying, “T hey don’t ask questions (about camp).” The Sansei, however, did not feel free to ask their parents such sensitive issues: I think, on one level, I was pretty upset because I felt like they owed it to me to tell me what that experience was, so I could understand them and understand myself better. But I also realized that it was very painful to them. So, while I did ask a question, I really didn’t press very hard because I didn’t think it was my right, I guess. (Dan Hayashi) As mentioned earlier, the Nisei experienced feelings of shame deriving from their imprisonment during the war. To some extent, the shame has been passed on to some Sansei as well. To them, such as Gary Tanaka, the internment has been a stigma attached to their entire ethnic community, including his own generation, children of inmates: ; g i i g i flue“... W.W,.,., , “slam”, . “a...” “mum—m, swim”, Lwfii'ww; . .MMMaameMWM ...~...«.»~v . aw...» “MM” “WWWMWWMW. , a... w"... It’s an embarrassing blotch on the community. It s also true tor banbc‘l. vvnne mneir cans would say, “Were your parents in camp?” Then they ask questions, “How was it?" I start feeling this is kind of personal, I don‘t want to talk about it. Parents being thrown into a prison ~~it is almost as bad as saying “My parents were in jail: one was for robbery and the other one was for murder.” It’s the same type of process you have to go through in explaining why your parents and relatives had to go to camp. It is the same kind of stigma. What makes this magnified is, it wasn’t only your parents, but your grandparents, uncles, aunts, your friends, everybody was there. And it wasn’t just a day or two, but it was for years. (Gary Tanaka) While the feeling of shame described above was shared among some Sansei, to the majority of the Sansei such a feeling is remote. Instead, they feel more anger than embarrassmentmanger at the injustice of the U.S., Government and at the racial discrimination prevalent within American society. Other Sansei, show only a limited interest in camp and redress. In Bruce Akimoto’s case, his discussion with his father about internment calmed his anger. Their attitude about camp was that it happened and there’s not much that I, my generation, can do about it. It’s just something that happened in history, and . . . they wanted me to concentrate on my life, rather than worry about what happened to them. (Bruce Akimoto) The Akimoto family represents one type of family in the community which attached weak emotional feelings to the internment and a minimum interest in redress. While admitting a significant difference from the prewar discrimination experi- enced by their parents, most of the Sansei have memories of occasional racial discrimination or prejudice directed against themselves in their childhood, especially around the critical anniversary date: Pearl Harbor Day. Many recall verbal and, in some cases, physical attacks. I remember year after year hating to go to school because of December 7th. That was real horrible. But I think that’s typical for almost all Japanese. T hat‘s a real bad time of the year to go out of the house. I think the first time that I noticed was one day walking to grammar school and getting rocks thrown at me and people chasing me and calling me, “Jap, Jap, Jap.” (Jenni Miyagawa) Some Sansei, however, assert that they have never experienced any discrimination based on their ethnicity at an individual level. Still, they acknowledge existing dis— crimination and prejudice against other Japanese Americans, Asian Americans, and other ethnic minorities. During the late 19605 and the early 19703, the repercussions of the nationwide Asian American movement stimulated the Sansei as well as other Asian Americans in Seattle. Following African Americans’ examination of slavery and the effects of other African American experience to redefine their own identity, young Japanese Americans became increasingly conscious of discrimination against Asian Americans generally. In this movement, Sansei‘s ethnic awareness of and interest in their cultural heritage and history grew, resulting in the subsequent rise in ethnic consciousness on 304 YASUKO I. TAKEZAWA the part of Japanese American communities across the nation. The Seattle Japanese American community was not an exception. The Redress Movement and Its Efi‘ects on the Sansei In 1970, Edison Uno (real name) of San Francisco introduced a resolution at the national convention of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) in Chicago, calling for redress for internment to be adopted as an official policy of the League (cf. Tateishi 1986:191). At that time, Uno offered no specific plan, however.10 In Seattle in 1972, without knowledge of Uno’s resolution, Henry Miyatake (real name), a Nisei, started research on the possibility of reparations for Japanese Americans. He soon joined the Seattle chapter of the JACL, when the chapter was looking for volunteers to look into reparations. With several other Nisei and Issei, Miyatake’s group, representing the Seattle chapter of the JACL, advanced the idea of redress with a concrete individual payment plan at the national level. During the early and mid-19705, nonetheless, the redress campaign made little progress, mostly because of ideological differences amongst national Japanese American political leaders and the resistance of many Nisei to the idea. Recollection of internment reopens old wounds, and since the Nisei were attempting to reestablish themselves through hard work, the idea of monetary redress gained little support. “Don’t rock the boat” was a typical reaction among the Nisei at that time. A breakthrough came in 1978, when the nation’s first Day of Remembrance was held at the Puyallup fairgrounds in Western Washington, a former temporary camp (“assembly center”) where the internees in the Seattle area spent three months before being transferred to a more permanent camp in Minidoka. Since the purpose of the event was to commemorate the evacuation and internment, the evacuation process was dramatically recreated in this program, with people forming a car caravan and wearing replicas of numbered name tags and with former internees giving speeches. A part of the flyer distributed prior to the event read “Remember the Concentration Camps,” apparently countering “Remember Pearl Harbor.” This program was soon followed by other major Japanese American communities and became a nationwide event in Japanese America. The program had been organ— ized by a Chinese American playwright and several Sansei, who approached the redress leaders in Seattle showing a keen interest in camp and redress. Joe Fukiai, one of the key Sansei involved in this program, recalls the time of organizing this first Day of Remembrance event: HeJthe Chinese American playwright] pitched me and said, “There would be no Japa— nese American art if we don‘t say about Japanese American history. If we lose redress, we lose history. If these people in Seattle fail to win some kind of recognition for the injustice in the camps and to get some token payment for it as a symbol of the recognition that it was wrong, then the myth that camps were justified, that Nisei willingly cooperated with them, would stand. Then, no artist can create plays, books, or stories from the truth, because no one would believe them.” Then I thought, “Gee! This is much bigger than me. I have to devote my entire soul to this." (Joe Fukiai) a was“. w, “a... . H ‘ w “i The event turned out to be a large success. Uver 2,000 Japanese Americans wuii UlCll friends participated in the program. The Issei and the Nisei recaptured their past experiences with vivid memories of three and a half decades before. The participants included a large number of the Sansei as well, and the whole event provided them with the first opportunity to grasp visually the idea of evacua» tion and the condition of the camps through experiencing the recreated evacuation process and observing the exhibition with their parents and other Japanese Ameri- C8115. When it really hit me was at the Puyallup fairgrounds, they had some kind of— it was some display, and they actually showed the living modules. They had set up models, living areas, and stuff like that. And the space that a family had to live in was just like—— I couldn’t comprehend that: it’s like a small, small living area. To hear people talk about it is one thing, but to see some physical display of the thing was kind of unreal. That’s when it started to really hit me. (Paul Takei) The Day of Remembrance set a trend, which was followed by several programs during subsequent years. These include the Day of Remembrance 1983, which was observed as a “Fun—Run” at a local park. The participants ran 9,066 feet, the number standing for Executive Order 9066. All participants, after completing the run, were awarded a T—shirt which read on the back, “I survived 9066” with a design of barbed wire. The T—shirt was designed by a Sansei redress activist. The next large event, perhaps the largest in the whole redress movement in terms of its penetration t0 the wider population of Japanese Americans, occurred in 1981, when hearings of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civil— ians were held in Seattle as well as in other major Japanese American communities across the nation. In Seattle alone, over 150 people gave testimonies at the hearings.” After a series of hearings, the Report of the Commission concluded that internment was based on “racial prejudice, wartime hysteria and a failure of political leadership.” The Commission went on to recommend individual payments of $20,000, a formal government apology, and the establishment of an educational fund (Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians 1983224). The Commission hearings directed the whole Japanese American communi— ty’s attention to their recent past because of the recollections presented by former in— ternees. I was very moved by the testimony that I heard when people would tell their stories because it was obvious that they hadn’t really told their stories. It was like the first time a lot of those people were really talking about it. . . . It was part of their catharsis of forgetting about it by talking about it. So I felt kind of like I was taking part in this catharsis. And it was kind of an honor to be able to hear people’s stories like that, that they were brave enough to get up and talk about it. And it was very painful for them, and it was private, but they still did it. And I was very moved by that experience. (Susan Ochiai) Excepting political activists, most Japanese Americans were skeptical about gaining redress. The federal budget deficit and mistrust of government among some Nisei i 306 YASUKO I. TAKEZAWA intensified the mood of pessimism. When the redress bill passed, therefore, Japanese Americans felt great relief, happiness, and pride. 1 I was extremely happy because I felt that now in some ways it took a lot of pressure i off, it brought the whole issue out into the open for people to acknowledge. And I think there’s just been so much guilt and repression around the whole issue within the , community and really was just kind of a big sigh of relief, I think as much as anything else, but also a feeling that we were now really righted and everybody acknowledged the fact that we were wronged as a community. (Dan Hayashi, Sansei) g i i The overwhelming majority of the Nisei and Sansei, including some Nisei who were opposed at the beginning, now support redress. Even after the passage of the bill, however, some are uncomfortable with monetary redress. Scott Iizuka, an older Sansei, considers that accepting money as compensation demeans the experience of internment for the Nisei. i I guess I was not supportive because I don’t think that something like that should be“ i You can't undo what was done with money. To me . . . it’s almost like America is trying 3 to buy out, or sell out their guilty conscience, or try to relieve themselves of the guilt by giving money away. It’s really cheap. . . and I know a lot of people don’t feel that 7: way, but that’s how I feel. (Scott Iizuka) 1 i However, the monetary redress attached to a government apology is now widely supported within the community as the most effective way to prevent the US Government from repeating the same mistake with other minorities, if not with themselves again. They deem verbal apologies alone to be insufficient to prevent a recurrence of a similar mistake by the Government. i Japanese Americans assert today that, although nothing can compensate for the I loss of three and half years in prison and the prolonged pain caused by the injustice, 7 j it is the American way to sue and claim monetary compensation for damage. Mon— etary redress, in that sense, is a symbol of the official apology. l The redress campaign and related cultural events have triggered many feelings j about identity, sense of community, and other aspects of Sansei life. Many Sansei j reveal their respect to the community for its achievement and attribute their sense of : ethnic pride to the redress movement and the passage of the bill. Redress has i generally served to reinforce the ethnic identity of the Sansei. Gary T anaka, a politi— i cally active Sansei, says: i i It reinforced my identity with Nikkei [Iapanese American community}. Up until redress, ; my ethnic identity was things like the food I ate, people I like to be friends with, interests, things Japanese. With redress, I found a much newer, different, and also very 2 important strong identification with my cultural, historical background, the history of i my community. My parents went to the camp, that affected me indirectly. Now I have i become closer to the lapanese American community, whereas originally before the ‘ redress, I wouldn‘t say that l was very much close to the community, (Gary Tanaka) While other Sansei did not report as overt an identity shift as T anaka, some indicated how learning about camp helped them understand and define who they are. ""“5‘”? “W?” F r , 7- ,r v m» a A, ,wwwa. “at”... swam» 0..» From that, I learned why it is that I act the way I act. Or I have a better idea of why I behave the way I do. . . . When I was growing up, you always try to act like regular people, regular Americans. . . . I never made any effort to emphasize my difference from everybody else. . . . And now I know why, the way they acted in camp explains to me why I act the way I do often times, which is towy'ou’re always kind of hesitant to promote your culture among other people. If they‘re interested in talking to you about it, I’m more than happy to talk about it, but I never try to promote it. Kind of a humility. (Steve Kondo) Some Sansei claim that although redress is a victory, there are more important issues to be dealt with, such as racial discrimination.” It seems, however directly or indirectly, redress has made them aware, or more aware, of existing discrimination as well. Susan Ochiai, a Sansei who grew up in a White environment, had mostly White American friends throughout her life and little contact ‘with the Japanese American community. Her sensitivity to discrimination increased: What happened is early, early on, when I was younger, I was aware of it {discrimina- tion]. And then I think when I got older I was less aware of it than when the whole redress issue came up again, I think. I started reading more books, and then I also talked to more people about their experience. I think I realized, okay it hasn‘t disap~ peared, it may have just gone underground. I think there is still a great deal of discrimination and prejudice against Japanese, and Asians, and other minorities. . .. And that‘s just made me aware that by learning more about the redress and what happened during World War II, made me aware that it still does exist. (Susan Ochiai) Thus, internment, although an experience unique to Japanese Americans, has aroused their consciousness of discrimination in American society as a whole. Such sensitivity to discrimination, together with their upbringing in multiethnic neighbor— hoods, has generated amongst the Sansei emotional affinities with other Asian Amer» icans and minorities. They feel the closest intimacy with Chinese Americans, another major group from Asia who have been in the U.S. over three generations: We certainly share a history, certainly in terms of how we’ve been treated by this country, in terms of exclusionary acts, discrimination, process of migration. We share that broader community base. We’re both Asians. And in some ways culturally, I certainly know that the two cultures are very close in terms of where their roots are. Their art forms, their writings. I mean there’s a difference. It’s kind of like Chinese, to an extent, are a generation behind, in a lot of ways. But I feel very closely akin to what their experiences are. (Dan Hayashi) Further, more Sansei than Nisei mention other minority groups when discussing the needs of redress, although both generations regard redress as a constitutional issue. On an absolute scale, any American could expect if he or she as an individual were wrongfully imprisoned and stripped of their rights for that period of time, it [monetary paymentllvis a drop in the bucket. But I think as a political thing, and as a symbolic thing, it was a real milestone in our history in this country, not just for Japanese Americans but for Asian Americans, Americans of different colors, particularly, though, for the Japanese American community; because for so long we had been stereotyped as 308 YASUKO I. TAKEZAWA the silent Americans who accept anything that is dealt to our community, who strive only to better our economic conditions and to get along in society, and not depicted as a people who care deeply about our rights and the rights of other people. This organ— izing of the movement was a real statement the community made about who we really are and what our values are as Americans.(Alice Segawa) i l The redress movement has also contributed to strengthening intergenerational ties I in the community. It is of interest that not a few Nisei and Sansei mention their , feeling of gratitude to their parents. Most Sansei, including even the ones most disinterested in redress, wish to see payment given to their parents while the parents i are still alive. Kathy Hashimoto, whose parents and sisters were interned, describes her feeling: l l i 3 I kept saying, the only thing I prayed for all the time was that if it happened, it would happen while my parents are alive, because it wouldn’t mean the same thing. Even if the rest of my family can get the money, it would mean nothing. Really it would mean nothing if my parents couldn’t see that something was going to happen. I wouldn’t even want it. We weren’t the ones that had to suffer. (Kathy Hashimoto‘) It would not be wrong to say that the Sansei have a lower emotional attachment to redress than the Nisei. Nonetheless, the “suffering” of their parents and relatives from the evacuation and internment make them relate to redress emotionally as well as intellectually, with particularist, as well as universalist concerns: I support it on different levels. I think it’s very personal because my parents and my l grandparents went through that experience. In that sense I support it because they’re .‘ ' my relatives, and I’m close to that experience. In the bigger picture, I support it so that . i it won’t happen to other people, not necessarily other Japanese again. It was like with :7; the Iranian [hostage crisis] those people were saying, “Let’s send those people back to , Iran.” (Susan Ochiai) ' r ‘ l l In fact, the belief that it was the Nisei who suffered, and not the Sansei, and therefore that the Nisei deserve redress more than those who only experienced camp as small children—~this belief is widely shared among the Sanseiz” Most of the Sansei who are getting the money, almost all of them, don’t even remember the camps. They don‘t remember the camps. They didn’t suffer. They really didn’t suffer. And that’s my opinion. I don’t think they suffered. For them to put some of it back into the community would not be such a bad thing. (Jenni Miyagawa) It was perhaps good for Sansei to be involved in that, to understand what that meant for their parents, and again many great sacrifices and injustices that they suffered because of that. (David Hayama) People in the community also agree that redress has strengthened community ties. The following is an opinion by a Sansei who grew up in a suburban White American neighborhood: I think it brought the Japanese community close nationally, everybody close together. . . . I supported it because it brought people closer. For Sansei there hasn‘t been an issue like redress that bound us together. . . . The issue is not an emotional issue, but it makes .mww. i l us feel like something we have to fight for, something we get excited about. (Cynthia Ube) This sense of community has become more intense over discussion as to which organizations should receive all or part of the individual redress payment. Various community organizations, some of which have critical financial difficulties, are hop- ing for donations to expand their services for the community. I guess I don’t feel as community oriented as a lot of people do, but it has a lot to do with the way I get along with people. 1 get along individually with people more than community oriented. But I still think the community has helped us a lot, helped us make it through, made everything easier for us. And the community somehow should get some of it back. (Jenni Miyagawa) The perception that it is the ethnic community organizations that mounted the long and extensive redress campaign, without which redress would never have hap— pened, has motivated donations of redress money to community organizations among many recipients-to—be. Others say that they are fully entitled to spend the money, perhaps on a trip to Japan or buying a car. However, most of the Sansei interviewed, all of whom are nonrecipients, show rather less interest in how their parents spend the money, saying “It’s their money.” The ways in which the Sansei have increased their interest, involvement, and ties with the community vary. Whatever their level of contact, for the majority of the Sansei, the redress movement has played a vital role in strengthening their ethnic identity and their ties to the community. Theoretical Considerations I have shown that the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War and the redress campaign affected the ethnic identity among the third- generation Japanese Americans, despite the fact that they themselves were, except for a small number, not direct victims of “camp.” Learning about the missing segment of their ethnic group’s history, observing the community tied together to work for one goal, and seeing the rectification made by the Government have made the Sansei realize the uniqueness of being Japanese Americans. There are, in particular, several aspects in which the redress movement has crys— tallized or reshaped the ethnic identity of the Sansei. One such aspect involves the Sansei’s renewed recognition of racial discrimination against Japanese Americans and other Asian Americans. As Ochiai described, their memories of receiving verbal racial abuses in their childhood faded as they later enjoyed the general reputation of being a model minority and good performers in school. By recognizing internment as an ultimate form of racial discrimination against Japanese Americans, however, the Sansei’s jigsaw pieces of memories of discrimination they had suffered in childhood resurfaced as a whole picture. Although the discrimination they received is less institutionalized and harsh than that endured by the Nisei, the Sansei also have constantly encountered remarks about 310 YASUKO I. TAKEZAWA Pearl Harbor and even more naive but routine questions and comments such as where they are from and how “good” their command of English is. These remarks indicate, at least to Japanese Americans, many Americans’ ignorance of the difference between Americans of Japanese descent and Japanese nationals and their “alien” status in America even after more than three generations. Now with redress, the Sansei realize that it was this very confusion between the two different nationality groups that caused the misfortune of evacuation and internment for their parents during the Second World War. This point is supported by the following testimony given by one Sansei at the Commission hearings in 1981. I am a Sansei . . . born 13 years after the implementation of Executive Order 9066. But that order, with its far reaching consequences has touched my life and the impression it has left with me is what I want to share with you. . . . from the time I was old enough to attend school, people have asked me what I was. Classmates asked: “Are you Chinese? Or, are you Japanese?” Strange kids I’d never see again asked. And the answer “American” never seemed to satisfy. . . . Occasionally I’ve been complimented on my good command of English language. . . . As I see it, this is very like the problem we face with Executive Order 9066. It seems we have been content to accept just the fact that it happened and some of us haven’t even got that far. (Jane A. Yambe, real name)14 Mary Waters (1990:160) points out how Asian Americans are disturbed when they are asked about their ancestry. She goes on to argue, “all ethnicities are not equal, all are not symbolic, costless, and voluntary”; Asian Americans, thus, do not have an “option” to “have a symbolic ethnicity” as White Americans do (1990:151). In en— countering questions about their ancestry, the Sansei realize that outside society labels them as “Japanese” merely because of their physical differences, no matter how “American” they may behave and identify themselves as. Because of this dis— crepancy in reality between their own identity and outsiders’ perception of them, the Sansei can relate to the racism that caused internment during the Second World War and become keenly aware of the existing racial prejudice and discrimination against their own group and other minorities in American society. Through the redress movement, political Sansei stood up against the label of “Japs” who “bombed Pearl Harbor." Examples can be found in phrases such as “Day of Remembrance,” “Remember the concentration camps” in the flyer for the 1978 Day of Remembrance event, and “I survived 9066” on T—shirts given to partic- ipants on the 1983 Day of Remembrance. The repudiation of the accusation concern- ing Pearl Harbor against Japanese Americans is also shown in the following testimony at the Commission hearings. In July 1981. John Miller of Seattle’s KINGTV reported that he was flooded with responses after his commentary on the World War II internment of Japanese Ameri- cans. . . .He said that typical of the more restrained responses was the man who indig- nantly asked whether Japanese Americans thought that “true Americans” had forgotten Pearl Harbor. I do not know about others, but Japanese Americans have not forgotten that “day of infamy.” Neither have we forgotten the years of infamy that followed Pearl W.....,.—...~. m «mam». gamma p. Harbor; the years when our government drove out families from their homes to concentration camps for an average term of three and half years. . . . It greeted our pioneer forebears when they immigrated to this country, and it continues, as Miller’s responses indicate, to be an ugly reality for us today. (Diane Narasaki, real name)is Citing the internment of United States citizens to balance the rhetoric surrounding Pearl Harbor is itself an active response to social prejudice against Japanese Ameri~ cans. Through redress, pieces of their childhood memories of racial remarks and the suffering of their imprisoned forebears came to be linked together and synchronized. The redress movement has also served to lead the Sansei to appreciate their ethnic history. The Sansei had been previously exposed to little knowledge about their ethnic history because of the Nisei’s long silence and the Sansei’s inability to com— municate with their grandparents, most of whom spoke only Japanese with a poor command of English. Through learning about camp and observing and participating in the redress movement, they have come to understand the struggles and hardships that their forebears endured and the latter’s significant achievements even after their total economic ruin due to evacuation. Furthermore, the Sansei’s perceptions of their parents and other Nisei seem to have undergone a transformation. As described earlier, the majority of the Sansei initially questioned why the Nisei “cooperated” with the evacuation order, which appears to them to be an un—American response. On the other hand, they designate the Nisei in the postwar period as 200 percent American, which implies, in a sense, that the Nisei are not typically “American” either. It is in the drive for redress that the Nisei spoke out to the public and demanded apology and monetary compensa- tion from their oWn government, all which is in the tradition of American political practice. This is also true of the increased level in the Nisei’s consciousness of the civil rights of other minorities, as well as their own. Furthermore, the Government’s acknowledgement of its injustice to all Japanese American internees makes clear the Government’s official commitment to the View that Japanese Americans should possess and enjoy United States Citizenship in the full and entire sense. For the Sansei, this acknowledgement means that, at last, their parents’ generation too could be considered truly “American,” morally as well as legally. Internment and the consequent redress movement opened a new phase in the evolution of the Japanese American identity. Internment itself was an experience unique to Japanese Americans, and so was redress. Yet the process itself and means used in the quest for redress were as much symbolically American as the Govern— ment’s recognition of its past inequity. In this process, pride gradually replaced past Shame of the Nisei; just as the shame of the Nisei was once passed onto the Sansei, the pride of the Nisei has now been passed on to the Sansei. While the experiences of internment and redress are unique to Japanese Ameri- cans, the process in which their ethnic identity was reformulated is not an isolated case. This empirical study of the ethnicity of the third-generation Japanese Americans has wider implications for our understanding of ethnicity and ethnic change in general. I have shown, among other things, that the feelings associated with the historical experiences of members of an ethnic group is critical for the formation of ethnicity. What De Vos calls “sense of survival” (1975) and Keyes calls “intense 312. YASUKO I. TAKEZAWA suffering experience of the ancestors of a people” (1981) often provide the experiential foundation for ethnic identity. These concepts serve as heuristic devices to explain the reassertion of ethnicity among Japanese Americans, as well. Among the Sansei, a history of past suffering, a shared group history that the Issei and the Nisei suffered unreasonably as “martyrs” due to the Government’s injustice, has been constructed. One Sansei said that, to the Nisei, camp means “shame,” and to the Sansei, it means “guilt.” The belief that the Sansei’s educational and economic opportunities and social status are based on their forebears’ suffering, struggles, and efforts and, hence, that they owe much to their parents and grandparents has brought greater unity both to the community at large and between different generations. The formation of the history of past suffering is not unique to Japanese Americans. It is certainly true for African Americans in their slavery and for Jews with the Holocaust. In each case, affective bonds that bind the group together are based on the sense of past suffering. This chapter has focused on the third-generation Japanese Americans. How, then, will the ethnic identity be maintained among the fourth, fifth, and forthcoming generations? It may be predictable that the ethnic history discussed here will be cherished with pride among these descendants. The degree of their continued iden- tification with this story may depend on how strongly they feel about racial discrim- ination and prejudice they encounter in their own times. We will have to wait another decade or two to examine this question. NOTES 1. Cf. William Peterson (1966). Recently, however, criticism of the “myth” of the “success story” and the idea of a “model minority” of Japanese Americans has been presented by Asian American scholars and political activists. See, for example, Bob Suzuki (1980). 2. The program automatically funds the amounts due to individual Japanese American without the yearly process of appropriation approval. 3. An average of four to five hours per person of personal interviews was conducted from 1987 to 1989 with about fifty Japanese Americans (split almost equally between the Nisei and the Sansei) in the greater Seattle area. 4. Archive materials included testimonies at the hearings conducted by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment and various documents, records, and community newsletters pertinent to redress. 5. This research was funded by the Toyota Foundation from 1988 to 1989. 6. The Sansei subjects were raised and have, for most of their lives, continued to live in the greater Seattle area. They are between their late 205 and early 405, which automatically excludes them from receiving individual payments. 7. All names, unless indicated as real names, are pseudonyms. Save for omissions, as shown with . . . , all quotations from interviews are rendered in the original. 8. According to Nagata’s survey research (in press), when her respondents were asked to identify the manner in which their parents had discussed the internment, approximately 50% answered that it was mentioned as an incidental topic in passing; an additional 20% stated that it appeared in a conversation as a reference point in time; and only 30% reported that their parents discussed camp as a central topic in itself. 9. There were three Nisei men who challenged the evacuation order: Min Yasui of Port- i i E ,«wflw .wy-um. Wm“ ,WV 4,...“ , Mn“... “0...”... mammaumw. “AW, land, Oregon. Fred Korematsu of San Francisco, and Gordon Hirabayashi of Seattle. All three were convicted of violating the evacuation and/or curfew orders in 1942 and imprisoned. They were finally vindicated in 1986 after disclosure of the War Department’s suppression of pertinent documents at the original trials. 10. Also from personal interviews with redress leaders. 11. In July of 1981, hearings by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians started in Washington, DC, followed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Una— laska, Chicago, New York, Cambridge, and then again Washington, DC. Over 750 people, including Aleut victims of evacuation, Japanese Americans, former government officials, interested citizens, and scholars who studied the subject matter of the Commission’s inquiry testified before the Commission. 12. In survey research, O‘Brien and Fugita (1983) reported that 74.3% of the Sansei respon- dents either strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, “currently, Japanese experience discrimination in social situations.” 13. On the other hand, a similar View of the Issei——that the Issei suffered more than anybody including the Nisei—is shared among the Nisei. 14. A written testimony submitted to the Commission hearings in Seattle in 1981. 15. A written testimony submitted to the Commission hearings in Seattle in 1981. REFERENCES Cohen, Abner (1969). Custom and Politics in Urban Africa: Hausa Migrants in Yoruba Towns. Berkeley: University of California Press. Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (1983). Personal Justice Denied: Summary and Recommendations of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. San Francisco: Japanese American Citizens League. De Vos, George (1975). Ethnic Pluralism: Conflict and Accommodation. Pp. 5—41 in Ethnic Identity: Cultural Continuities and Change, George De Vos and Lola Romanucci-Ross (eds.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Despres, Leo (1967). Cultural Pluralism and Nationalist Politics in British Guiana. Chicago: Rand McNally. Geertz, Clifford (1963). The Integrative Revolution: Primordial Sentiments and Civil Politics in the New States. Pp. 105—57 in Old Societies and New States, Clifford Geertz (ed.). New York: Free Press. Isaacs, Harold (1975). Idols of the Tribe, Group Identity and Political Change. New York: Harper and Row. Kashima, Tetsuden (1980). Japanese American Internees Return, 1945 to 1955: Readjustment and Social Amnesia. Phylon 41:2: 107—115. Keyes, Charles F. (1981). The Dialectics of Ethnic Change. Pp. 4—30 in Ethnic Change, Charles F. Keyes (ed.). Seattle: University of Washington Press. Maykovich, Minake K. (1972). Japanese American Identity Dilemma. Tokyo: Waseda University Press. Mass, Amy Iwasaki (1986). Psychological Effects of the Camps on the Japanese Americans. Pp. 159—162 in Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress, Roger Daniels, Sandra C. Taylor, and Harry H. L. Kitano (eds). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. Morishima, James (1973). The Evacuation: Impact on the Family. Pp. 13-19 in Asian— Americans: Psychological Perspectives, Stanley Sue and Nathaniel Wagner (eds). Palo Alto: Science and Behavior Books. 314 YASUKO I. TAKEZAWA Nagata, Donna K. (1989). Long—term Effects of the Japanese American Internment (jamw Impact upon the Children of the Internees. Journal of Asian American Psychological A55!» ciation 13: 48—55. O‘Brien, David J., and Stephen S. Fugita (1983). Generational Differences in Japanese Amer: cans’ Perceptions and Feelings about Social Relationships between Themselves and Candi sian Americans. Pp. 223—240 in Culture, Ethnicity, and Identity, William C. McCready (ed‘ New York: Academic Press. Peterson, William (1966). Success Story, Japanese—American Style. New York Times, January91 1966. 7 Spicer, Edward (1971). Persistent Cultural Systems: A Comparative Study of Identity System That Can Adapt to Contrasting Environments. Science 174: 795~800. Suzuki, Bob (1980). Education and Socialization of Asian Americans: A Revisionist Analysis of the Model Minority Thesis. Pp. 155—175 in Asian-Americans: Social and Psychologica; Perspectives Vol. II. Russell Endo, Stanley Sue, and Nathaniel Wagner (eds). Palo Alto Science and Behavior Books. 7 Takezawa, Yasuko, I. (1989a). “Breaking the Silence”: Ethnicity and the Quest for Redress Amen Japanese Americans. Unpublished dissertation. Seattle: University of Washington. Takezawa, Yasuko, I. (1989b). Nikkei Amerika—jin ni okeru Dento no Soshatsu t0 Ethnicity (“The Invention of Tradition” and Ethnicity Among Japanese Americans.) Shikyo (En Marge de l’Histoire) 19: 53’66, 98—99. Tsukuba, Japan. Tateishi, John (1986). The Japanese American Citizens League and the Struggle for Redress, Pp. 191—195 in Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress; Roger Daniels, Sandra C, Taylor and Harry H. L. Kitano (eds). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. Waters, Mary C. (1990). Ethnic Options. Berkeley: University of California Press. ...
View Full Document

This note was uploaded on 12/13/2010 for the course ASIANAM ASIANAM 10 taught by Professor Jameskyung-jinlee during the Fall '10 term at UC Irvine.

Page1 / 16

takezawa - Children of Inmates The Effects of the Redress...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 16. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online