Due to the renovation of the San Jose Buddhist Church Annex, the 2016 Nihonmachi Outreach Committee (NOC) Day of Remembrance program was moved from its normal venue to the San Jose State Morris Daley Auditorium. The particular significance of being at San Jose State was that the old Men’s Gym ( renovated and re-dedicated as Yoshihiro Uchida Hall last year) was San Jose’s assembly center for Japanese Americans after Executive Order 9066 resulted in their forced removal from the area.
- Aggie Idemoto, President of the Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj), acted as Emcee for the evening. Among the many distinguished speakers, some excerpts are as follows:
- Reverend Hajime Yamamoto of Wesley United Methodist Church is from Japan. He explained that his family suffered in Japan during WWII, and until he came to the U.S., he had not heard about the suffering the Japanese Americans had to endure because of their forced removal and incarceration.
- Masao Suzuki of NOC addressed the history of wartime hysteria that eventually led to the unjustified forced removal of persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast.
- Mei Suzuki, Masao’s daughter, now a college student, who has been attending the Day of Remembrance programs all her life, spoke for the first time nd stressed that the WWII experience of Japanese Americans should never be forgotten by the next generation.
- Mike Honda, normally a fixture at the Day of Remembrance, was unable to attend this year. Instead, staffer Lenine Umali read a prepared statement from Mike.
San Jose Taiko again performed a rousing set just prior to the candle lighting ceremony where Reiko Nakayama of NOC and Sharon Uyeda, San Jose JACL Co-President, read the names of the American concentration camps with their populations.
A candle light procession then led the audience from Morris Daley Auditorium to reconvene at Yoshihiro Uchida Hall to hear Jimi Yamaichi’s first-hand account of his family’s assembly at the Men’s Gym through his eventual court acquittal of draft evasion charges at Tule Lake.
(by Tom Oshidari)