UPDATE on National Historic Landmark

Sharing a message received today....

     Good news!  This morning the Advisory Board of the National Park System
voted to recommend National Historic Landmark designation for the Poston
Elementary School, Unit 1 at the Colorado River Relocation Center (Poston)
site. This vote was a major benchmark in the NHL process. 
     The Board's recommendation will now go through the National Park Service Director to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who officially designates NHLs.
      It usually takes 2 to 6 months (more or less) until Secretary Salazar acts
on recommendations.    

Alexandra Hernandez

Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program
National Park Service, Intermountain Region


Poston born Defense Attorney/Rights Activist

Defense Attorney/Rights Activist Mia Yamamoto Receives Human Relations Award
Tue, Oct 18 2011
 By J.K. YAMAMOTO, Rafu Staff Writer

Mia F. Yamamoto
     Defense attorney and civil/human rights activist Mia F. Yamamoto is among the recipients of the 2011 John Anson Ford Human Relations Awards.
     The awards were presented by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations on Oct. 11 during a Board of Supervisors meeting. Named for a former county supervisor who established the Joint Committee for Interracial Progress (which later became the Human Relations Commission) in 1944, the awards go to individuals, organizations and companies that have had a positive impact on local communities.
Yamamoto was introduced by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas of the Second Supervisorial District.
     Born Michael F. Yamamoto (30-5-D )in the Poston internment camp in Arizona in 1943, she graduated from Cal State Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in government in 1966 and served in the Army from 1966 to 1968, receiving the Army Commendation Medal and Vietnam Campaign Medal. She graduated from UCLA School of Law in 1971 and co-founded the Asian Pacific Islander Law Student Association.
     Yamamoto served as a poverty lawyer for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (1971-74) and deputy Los Angeles County public defender (1974-84), and has been in private practice since 1984. She has been president of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the Japanese American Bar Association, and a board member of several other lawyers’ organizations.
     A recipient of the American Bar Association Spirit of Excellence Award (2008) and such titles as Southern California Super Lawyer (Los Angeles Magazine, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008) and Criminal Defense Attorney of the Year (Century City Bar Association, 2006), she has spoken and written extensively on such issues as juvenile law, the death penalty, gun control, racial discrimination and police misconduct.
     Ridley-Thomas said that Yamamoto “completed her transition from male to female in 2003 and continues to advocate for transgender rights while sharing her personal story as an out transgender woman of Japanese American ancestry.”
     Transgenders are often described as the most discriminated against and least understood segment of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) population.
     Stating that Yamamoto is “recognized in the API and LGBTQ communities as a leader who connects issues and communities to fight for human rights, justice and dignity,” Ridley-Thomas thanked her for “outstanding service to the people of Los Angeles County.”
     Yamamoto noted that the ceremony was being held on National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11), which was established in 1988 to promote awareness of LGBTQ rights.
“I accept the John Anson Ford Award on behalf of a community which has been oppressed and marginalized for far too many years,” Yamamoto told the Rafu Shimpo after the ceremony. “I am nobody special; however, whenever a transgender person of color is included, then maybe somewhere another transgender child of color is given the hope that there is a place for him or her in the world.
     “And I give thanks to the many heroes and martyrs of the civil rights movement for providing the wave on which the rights of so many previously excluded people, including LGBT people of color, have been realized and recognized. For that, I am thankful.”
Source: http://rafu.com/news/2011/10/defense-attorneyrights-activist-mia-yamamoto-receives-human-relations-award/


Students interview Fibber

Fibber recalls life in Arizona internment camp
Baseball legend shares struggles, decision to overcome atrocities
 Photo: WWII Japanese internment camp and baseball legend Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama (Poston 227-2-A), right, shares part of his journey to a junior English class, including Juan Ruelas, May 16, 2012.
By Stephan Melendez, Writer
May 18, 2012

      Freedom is cherished by many Americans and envied by foreigners. But what happens when an individual who is born on American soil has their rights taken away and shipped to a war relocation camp at the expense of their nationality?
      Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama (Poston 227-2-A) is a victim of such an atrocity, and lives to tell about it to those who will listen. Hirayama agreed to tell part of his story to Greg Stobbe's junior English class, May 16, after most competed their projects on Japanese internment in World War II.
      At the age of twelve, Hirayama was relocated to a war relocation camp during World War II because of his family's Japanese decent. His family was forced to leave their home town in Exeter, California, and move to an internment camp No 2 in Poston, Arizona.  In fact The Hirayama family had lived with Caucasian families for a generation in Exeter.
      "I had never seen so many Japanese kids in one place before the camp in Arizona," Hirayama said. "My family was the only Japanese family in Exeter."
      While in the camp his family struggled to cope with the harsh living conditions in the dessert.
      "The food was horrible, but for some reason my father liked the authentic Japanese food," Hirayama exclaimed, "but I hated Japanese food because I loved my mom's American cooking."
      The Hirayama family endured additional hardship, when Fibber lost his mother to breast cancer a year before Executive Order 9066. After three years, the Hirayama family, along with other families, were free to leave after the war ended.        
     As a follow up, Hirayama was invited by Brandon McCormick, who interviewed him in early February 2012 for an English class presentation. As a part of the real life application curriculum, Hirayama told Greg Stobbe's English class on May 16 about his life turned upside down by the American government during World War II. He explained how he moved on in life. He talked to the student about how to have a good attitude even when bad things happen to good people. 
     Apart from the touching life story, Hirayama said he helped touch others in ways no other person can achieve, but by only relating to one another.
      After WWII ended and he was released, the Hirayama family returned to the Central Valley. Fibber then finished his last two years of high school and then attended Fresno State College (California State University, Fresno), where he played football and baseball. After graduation, he moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he played professional baseball, winning two World Series rings. Many view Fibber as a world-class baseball ambassador.
      "He really inspired me to not only strive for a higher career in baseball, " said John-Paul Caprilglio, "but to learn how to cherish life and not take it for granted. But the biggest life lesson I learned was to keep moving forward no matter the obstacle."
      Throughout the entire class period, Hirayama could not emphasize enough how important it is for young people today to have a great attitude towards life and let nothing bring you down. 

      Another student affected by Hirayama's story was Kristen Rosenthal.
"Having met an individual who endured so much and had his life stripped away made me cry," Rosenthal said. "But he pressed onward, giving me hope and made me realize how thankful I should be for my freedom."

      In the early 2012 school year, Stobbe's English class studied and read the novel Farewell To Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston. Hirayama's class discussion gave the students a real life perspective on how to cope with being exploited, harassed and abused.
   Despite how his family was treated, Hirayama has a positive attitude devoted his life to community development in many ways. Congressman George P. Radanovich (R) honored Fibber during the dedication ceremony of Gateway High School, October 16, 2008. 
     The Feather Online and Fresno Christian High celebrates the life of Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama and thanks him for sharing part of his story today.

Source: http://www.thefeather.com/?page=articles&id=58224


UpDate: Barrack Relocation Project

We did it!  
With your help, we have met our goal of $10,000 for the Poston Barrack Relocation Project.

Many thanks to the following 54 generous sponsors for helping us reach our total for the reach our total in preserving this important part of Poston's History.

M/M Don Aoki
Ben Arakawa
Albert &Janice Eddow
Mary Jane Fujimura
M/M Mas Hashimoto
Duke Hatakeda
Colleen Hayashi
Glenn Hayashi
Kimberly Hayashi
George Higashi
Mary Higashi
Takeo Ichikawa
Dianne Ishimine
Joanne Ishimine
M/M Robert Iwamasa
M/M Richard 'Babe' Karasawa
Lynette Kanegae
Barb Kanki
James Kanki
M/M George Kiyomoto
James & Jean La Spina
Rev/M Sab Masada
Kaye Masatani
Georgia Maslowski
Sandra Minner
Arthur Mino
Rev/M Paul Nagano 
Allan Nakamura
Joan Nakatsu
Evelyn Okamoto
Phyllis Quay
James Reynolds
Irene Roche
Jo-An Takamoto Sabonjian
M/M Larry Sakai
John Shimashita
George Shindo
M/M Robert Shintaku
Floyd Shirk
Sachi Snyder
Kouichi Tanaka
Vernon Taniguchi
Ken Tashiro
Ernest Tsuchida
Genevieve Velasquez
Robert M. Wada
Karen Wade
Akiko Yagi
Lois Yamakoshi
Shoji Yamamoto
Katherine Yamasaki
Margaret Yamashita
Phyllis Yoshikawa
T. Yuki Farms

Photos: Local Parker Valley resident, Jon Villalobos and his crew worked in 108 degree temperatures to empty the barrack in preparation for its relocation.

     The asbestos inspector visited the site last week and we are in the process of obtaining the necessary permits.  The barrack moving company will begin bracing the barrack on June 18, 2012.
      We have a tentative plan to relocate the barrack on June 28, 2012.  
There are plans to have a blessing ceremony for the barrack relocation and the filming of the actual barrack relocation by filmmaker, Carolina Konda.
      We are planning to have a special blessing ceremony in coordinating with Colorado River Indian Tribal Council member, Johnny Hill.
      Stay tuned for more information on details of the barrack move and the blessing celebration, if you are interested in attending...........


Power of Words

UCLA removes ‘internment’ from professorship’s title
May 17, 2012 
By Nichi Bei Weekly Staff

LOS ANGELES — Professor David K. Yoo, director of UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center, announced that the endowed chair and professorship of the Asian American Studies Center has been renamed The George and Sakaye Aratani Professor of the Japanese American Incarceration, Redress and Community.
     “After considerable consultation, Dr. Lane Hirabayashi, who is the current holder of the Aratani Endowed Chair, and I decided to update the former title (that used the word ‘internment’) to reflect current scholarship on the subject,” Yoo said.
     According to Hirabayashi, the recent “‘Power of Words’ national campaign has renewed the insistence” of avoiding U.S. government euphemisms in place of “more accurate terminology to reflect the realities of what actually happened to Japanese Americans during World War II.” Specifically, Hirabayashi notes, “the word ‘internment’ is both a legal and technical term that refers to the government’s arrest and imprisonment of foreign nationals.” 
     Thus, “in this sense … the Justice Department’s arrest and detention of Issei right after Pearl Harbor was internment,” Hirabayashi said in the statement. “It is a misnomer, however, to apply the same term to the Americans of Japanese ancestry who were put into War Relocation Authority camps, because almost 70% of them were in fact U.S. citizens,” he added.
     Hirabayashi initiated the request for the change at the end of last year in consultation with the Asian American Studies Center, which administers the academic endowment that George and Sakaye Aratani funded in 2005.
     UCLA’s Academic Senate approved the name change at the end of April.

Source: http://www.nichibei.org/2012/05/ucla-removes-internment-from-professorships-title/


New photos on Poston, 1943

Old Photos From the Los Angeles Times
by Scott Harrison 
May 11, 2012
June 6, 1943: Los Angeles--Times staff photographer George Watson and staff representative Chester G. Hanson take a tour of the Poston War Relocation Center.

Starting on June 8, 1943, The Times published a five-part series on the Poston camp. Hanson reported in Part 1: "The Japanese Relocation Center at Poston is situated 16 miles south of Parker, Ariz., in the heart of the Colorado River Indian Reservation. The reservation borders the Colorado River for some miles."
     "The first of the evacuees arrived from various parts of California on May 8, 1942. A little more than a year ago Poston, which got its name from an Arizona pioneer, was nothing but a portion of the reservation land overgrown with mesquite and other desert brush. Today it is a city of 15,916 men, women and children … crude in many aspects but still a city. It has, also, its agricultural phase."
    "The project was laid out to accommodate 20,000 persons. At its peak it had 18,000. The majority of these Japanese came from Southern California areas–but many came from Central and Northern California points. The land set aside for the project covers about 70,000 acres."
   "Eight photos by Watson – a full photo page – were published June 8, 1943, accompanying the first installment of the Poston series. Three additional photos were published with the remainder of the series. This photo gallery includes both published and unpublished images all taken by George Watson during his tour."

To view some of the photos, visit our other site, "Pictures" (top left side of screen), or click on this link: Poston in Pictures

Source: http://framework.latimes.com/2012/05/11/japanese-internment-poston/#/25


Former Postonite talks at Villanova

Haverford man describes life in World War II internment camp at Villanova talk
By Cheryl Allison
  April 24, 2012
A. Hiro Nishikawa, PhD

     It will be 70 years this July since  A. Hiro Nishikawa, PhD,  (Poston 18-2-A)  and his family were put on a train and sent from the San Francisco area, where he was born, to a makeshift barracks city in the southwestern Arizona desert.
     The years since then have dimmed memories. Fewer Americans today recall or are aware that places that could be described as concentration camps once existed on their country’s soil – especially among the generation of the Villanova University students who heard the Main Line resident speak last week.
     For Nishikawa, whose early childhood years were spent at Poston War Relocation Center, though, those memories are as sharp as the sting of the sandstorms that occasionally roared across that barren “no man’s land.”
     A nearly 30-year resident of the Haverford Township section of Haverford, Nishikawa is retired after a career as a biochemist in the pharmaceutical industry. He is also a member of the Japanese-American Citizens League in Philadelphia, who has been active in recent years on civil rights issues.
          Nishikawa was 4 when he, two brothers, and his mother and father were sent to Poston
18-2-A in the summer after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. His youngest brother would be born there, and Nishikawa would finish first grade at the camp school before the facility was closed in late 1945, when he was 7.
     Poston, which housed 17,000 at its peak, was second largest of 10 internment camps that were set up, mostly in western states, to hold some 110,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry living in the United States. Nearly 70% of them were American citizens.

     With photographs from government archives and one or two family images – since cameras were confiscated, there are very few personal photographs from the period, he explained – Nishikawa described conditions at the camp.
     It consisted of blocks of tarpapered wooden barracks, without running water, arranged around men’s and women’s latrines, a mess hall, a laundry building, and a recreation building. When it was hastily raised in a landscape that had been nothing but “sagebrush, tumbleweed and lots of sand and dust,” it instantly became Arizona’s third largest municipality, after Phoenix and Tucson, Nishikawa noted.
     In the summer, temperatures reached 116 degrees. One of his vivid memories is of playing under the raised barracks, one of the few places to find shade. The problem was, “nature’s creatures” – gila monsters, rattlesnakes, scorpions and tarantulas – also quickly found refuge there. “As a 4- to 5- year-old, you had to learn to make sure you didn’t run into these animals,” Nishikawa said.
     At the camp, his father, who had worked as a professional chef in San Francisco, found work as one of the camp cooks for $19 a month. Like other families, they lived in one room of one of the barracks.
     While there was school for the children with teachers who “came in from outside” and other activities – one photograph shows boys playing baseball on a field “like any sandlot in America, the only difference being the barracks in the background” – there is no question, Nishikawa said: The camp was a prison. The barbed wire around the perimeter, the watchtowers, and the armed sentries patrolling inside told the residents that.
     Inside the camp, he said one “unanticipated consequence” of the new social order was that “family and parental authority began to fall apart,” the traditional “respect and interaction with parents” upset.
     There was despair, also. He recalled, at age 5, hearing a new word: suicide. The rate was high among single men, middle-aged and older. “They had been ripped from their professions. In the case of non-citizens, their assets had been taken. They didn’t know what they would have [after the war]. They didn’t want to be a burden on their families.”
     There was resistance to internment by some. Made to fill out “loyalty” questionnaires, some resented or felt insulted by items questioning their patriotism. Some even chose to renounce their American citizenship to be repatriated to a Japan at war, where they faced deprivation and were looked on as “foreigners.”
    A Supreme Court decision in late 1944 finally set the stage for the closing of the camps, some months before the war ended. The result was “this diaspora after the camps,” Nishikawa said. Many of the internees moved east, to New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania. Some, aided by Quaker groups, came to Philadelphia.
     Nishikawa’s family was given “some money and train fare” to San Jose, Calif., where his father eventually bought a Chinese restaurant in nearby Gilroy. He worked as head cook, Nishikawa’s mother was head waitress, and Nishikawa himself, when he was old enough, cleared tables and washed dishes.
     That is “what happened” during and immediately after the war years. But Nishikawa also wanted to explain “how and why” internment happened. A hundred and fifty years of laws and policies that tightly restricted immigration and naturalization, especially of persons of color, including people from Asia, helped set the stage, he explained.
      “Given these conditions of law that prevailed, the environment on the eve of Dec. 7, 1941, made it very easy for the government to say, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’ and nobody objected.”
     Finally, Nishikawa talked about the connections he sees between the history he lived through and events since Sept. 11, 2001.
     There has been gradual recognition of “the degree of injustice” to Japanese-American citizens in the years since World War II, he said. And it was notable, he added, that after 9/11, then-President George W. Bush made a point of attending a Muslim service and imploring other Americans “not to react arbitrarily against individuals seen to be the enemy.”
     When there were hundreds of incidents of violence and hate in the following months, Nishikawa said, the Japanese-American Citizens League, with other organizations like the Jewish Defense League, “got involved in trying to connect with the public and point out what was wrong with this kind of thinking.”
     But there are indications, such as a clause in a military funding bill last year that would allow the military to indefinitely hold prisoners regardless of citizenship without charge that tell him, “We’re not home free.”
     And, Nishikawa said he understands why some Americans today find it hard to listen to and accept this chapter in the country’s history.
     A question one student asked him illustrated the difficulty. When she told an acquaintance about the talk, the response was, “Those were not concentration camps;” Japanese-Americans “had their families there. They were not being killed.” How would he respond to that view?
     There is a historical definition of the term that applies, Nishikawa said, but added, “I understand the sensitivity.”
     “There are euphemisms all over the place. . . . We don’t want to talk about things that are ugly,” he reflected. The irony, he said, is that in his mind, “concentration camp,” in the context of the Holocaust, is itself a euphemism.
     Those, he said, “were death camps.”



Time is Running Out.....Deadline May 15, 2012

Help Us Bring Back this Barrack!

     A few years ago, a local Parker, Arizona resident, Virginia Ramsey donated an original two-tiered roofed Poston barrack. This is considered a historic structure, since it was used primarily for storage by Ms. Ramsey, and is close to its original state.  
     Currently, the Poston Community Alliance, Inc.  is trying to return the barrack to the Camp 1 restoration site.
     The barrack is located 15 miles away from the site, in the town of Parker, Arizona.  Moving the deteriorating barrack is a difficult task. The U.S. National Park Service requires hiring a consultant to help develop a "moving" plan, and the barrack first must be physically stabilized before the move can begin.
More Funding Sources Needed
     An additional $10,000 is needed to stabilize the barrack.  The restoration project site has been recommended to be a "National Historic Landmark" and is currently awaiting approval from the Secretary of the Interior.
     The U.S. National Park Service grant’s deadline for raising the funds to return the barrack to Poston is May 15, 2012.
We hope that the families are interested in our project and want to help us to ensure that future generations will be able to see the ‘remaining’ structures of Poston which were constructed by the hands and labor of our Issei and Nisei. 
We cannot let this important evidence of the camps be neglected and destroyed by erosion and time.

Help us save this Poston barrack and move it back to Poston camp 1.

Send your "tax-deductible" donations to: 
Marlene Shigekawa, Treasurer
Poston Community Alliance
956 Hawthorne Dr.
Lafayette, CA 94549
Deadline:  May 15, 2012


Mochi Ice Cream

Hashimoto to Receive Spring Jokun
Little Tokyo community leaders honored by Japanese government.
Frances K. Hashimoto
     Frances Kazuko Hashimoto (Poston 26-13-C) will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays. She was born at the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona in 1943. After the war, the family returned to Little Tokyo, where Hashimoto spent much of her time both working and playing at the family business.
     After graduating from USC in 1966, she worked as an elementary school teacher for four years. When her mother (Haru Hashimoto Poston block 26-13) got into a car accident, Hashimoto decided to enter the family business full-time, and she began learning in earnest the art of making Japanese confections. In 1970, she became the CEO of Mikawaya.
     As a successful entrepreneur, Hashimoto has grown the company from a small neighborhood store into a large corporation with five retail branches. During this time, due to her great passion for the community that she had grown up in, she began her service in many local organizations and has served in many varying posts.
     From 1994 to 2008, Hashimoto served as the president of Little Tokyo Business Association; she now serves as its chairperson. During her tenure The Little Tokyo Business Association was revitalized and continues proudly to serve the community. One of her numerous accomplishments is that she strengthened the ties between Little Tokyo and Minami Otsu Dori Shotengai in Nagoya by delegation exchanges, organizing fundraising for Nisei Week, arranging business seminars, and lobbying the city governments of both countries. She continues collaborating with many other Japanese American organizations, the City of Los Angeles, and non-Asian businesses; Hashimoto is constantly promoting the revitalization of Little Tokyo.
     As the first female general chairperson of Nisei Week Japanese Festival in 1982, and again in 1990, Hashimoto reinvented the festival by introducing more entertainment and by highlighting the rich cultural traditions of Japan. The performances attracted more spectators and participants to the festival and gave them all an opportunity to discover the charms of Little Tokyo and Japanese culture.
     As a result, more and more people started to come to Little Tokyo regularly to enjoy Japanese culture, even after the festival. In addition, she arranged for delegations from Nagoya, Los Angeles’ first sister city, to participate in the Nisei Week Festival and vice versa, promoting the cultural and economic exchange between the two cities.
     Her company Mikawaya, has been offering traditional Japanese confectionaries to the communities in Southern California since 1910. Under Hashimoto’s leadership, Mikawaya has expanded its operations significantly. Now its signature product, “Mochi Ice Cream,” is sold in many Japanese restaurants and supermarkets all over the country, enabling many people to experience and appreciate the Japanese confectionary culture.

Source: http://rafu.com/news/2012/05/hashimoto-watanabe-to-receive-spring-jokun/