By Tom Oshidari, photos by Chris Cassell and Jack Owicki (Pro Bono Photo)
On Sunday, February 17, Nihonmachi Outreach Committee (NOC) presented the 2019 Day of Remembrance at the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin. Never Again is Now was the theme, referring to the present day, ominous climate of history repeating itself. Since the Redress Movement of the ‘80s, Japanese Americans have offered the mantra that the injustice that caused over 120.000 persons of Japanese ancestry to be incarcerated in 1942 should never have happened and a similar injustice should never again happen. Unfortunately the parallels between what happened to Japanese Americans then and what is happening to targeted groups—Muslims, undocumented immigrants, migrants—today is all too clear.
Fahad Alam of the South Bay Islamic Association spoke briefly to express appreciation for the support the Japanese American community has shown to the Muslim community since 911. Teresa Castellanos of the San Jose Unified School District and involved with immigrant rights for over 30 years recounted how she sees the Never Again is Now effect in her community. Former incarceree, Chizu Omori, recalled some of her experiences from her time at Poston, AZ.
Following the candlelight procession where Melanie Shojinaga and Madison Tamichi represented San Jose JACL as banner bearers, Donald Tamaki, one of the lawyers who reopened the landmark Korematsu case before the Supreme Court and successfully overturned Fred Korematsu’s conviction, was the featured speaker. He very clearly explained how the three branches of government—Legislative, Executive, and Judicial—which should act as checks and balances on each other, failed in the case of the Japanese incarceration when the Executive and Judicial branches bowed to the claims of “military necessity” while requiring no proof. With today’s Trump Administration travel ban, the Supreme Court has upheld its validity in the name of “National security,” again without proof, despite Trump’s highly inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric during his presidential campaign. There is the further possibility that if the Supreme Court again abdicates its responsibility and bows to the Executive claim of “National emergency” at the southern border, the President by Executive Order will usurp the Congress’ budgetary power and appropriate funds to build “The Wall.” In closing, Mr. Tamaki urged us to:
Do the work necessary to change this culture—
Change hearts and minds—
And take our country back.
There is no time to lose.
Doing nothing is not an option.
Let’s —get —busy.