Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | JANM
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Discover Nikkei Discover Nikkei, a project of the Japanese American National Museum that collects stories submitted by people of Japanese descent around the world -- the Nikkei diaspora, if you will -- is taking stock of all of us. They need anyone who's of Japanese descent to take this quick survey. The survey closes at 10 am PT on July 25, so take a few minutes to full it out now. Here are links to the survey in four languages: ENGLISH: 日本語: ESPAÑOL: PORTUGUÊS: The results of the survey will be announced at the XVI COPANI (Conventions of the Association of Pan American Nikkei) conference in Cancun, Mexico this September, where Discover Nikkei will hold workshops. Discover Nikkei it's a terrific resource for the Japanese American community, as well as a great hub of cultural conversation about Japanese Latin Americans and Japanese folks from all over the world. Did you know that there are a lot of Japanese immigrants living in Latin America? The largest Japanese population in South America is in Brazil (that's why the Discover Nikkei site is available in Portuguese, the language of Brazil, in addition to Spanish). Peru has the second largest Japanese population in South America. You may remember a man with a Japanese surname, Alberto Fujimori, was president until he fled to japan in the midst of a corruption scandal. His daughter, Keiko Fujimori, just narrowly lost the election for the presidency last month on a right-wing ticket. Japanese Americans also share some of the tragedy of history with Japanese Latin Americans. Hundreds Japanese Peruvians were rounded up and illegally deported to Crystal City, a U.S. Justice Department prison camp in Texas, during World War II with the intent to be traded for U.S. POWs. Few returned after the war, and the rest were left stateless. Japanese Peruvians are still waiting for the redress and official apology that were granted in 1988 to Japanese Americans for internment. Personally, I'd love to know some Japanese Latin Americans, and learn how their culture is different and colored by Spanish and Portuguese traditions. Here's some more info about Discover Nikkei:

I had the pleasure in April of giving a presentation, "From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspaper," followed by a panel which I moderated, looking at the vibrant history of Japanese community newspapers. The program, which was organized by Discover Nikkei, was held at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Discover Nikkei is a project of JANM, and hosts its own very cool website that showcases the Nikkei experience from people of Japanese descent all over the world. Like the newspaper industry in general across the U.S., publications that serve Japanese communities -- both Japanese-speaking and English-speaking Japanese Americans -- have suffered from tough economic times, falling advertising dollars and declining readership. But also like the rest of the industry, Nikkei newspapers are evolving to suit the needs of the future. That's the framework I wanted to establish in my presentation, which I've embedded above. I followed my talk with brief introductions by four panelists describing their history and various current approaches to Nikkei media, and then a panel discussion about what's in store for the future. I've embedded videos of the entire program below, which was shot, edited and assembled by the Discover Nikkei staff as an album of video clips on this page.

It's been a couple of weeks since the Japanese American National Museum's national conference was held in Denver. Sorting through the many bits of video I took over the conference, which ran July 3-6, my favorite parts were the tribute to JA veterans on the Fourth of July, and the July 6 bus tour to Amache, the internment camp in southeast Colorado. The conference brought a bevy of famous and not-so famous speakers and panelists (I moderated a panel on Hapas, mixed-race Americans who are the future of the JA community) to Denver's nice new Hyatt right by the nice new Convention Center. The famous included the likes of actor George Takei, a superstar in the JA pantheon; Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawai'i), a Medal of Honor World War II veteran of the all-JA 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team; Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), who as a baby was interned at Amache with his family; former Congressman and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta; JA leaders and activists such as John Tateishi and Dale Minami; authors including mystery novelist Naomi Hirahara; Cynthia Kadohata, who writes books for pre-teens; and Uma Krishnaswami, who writes multicultural children's books from a South Asian perspective. The conference, which had the awkward and ungainly title but righteous theme of "Whose America? Who's American?," also brought more than 800 attendees and volunteers for the four-day span, meeting and greeting and learning about the history, present and future of not only Japanese Americans but also of Americans in general. One of the noteworthy speakers was Anan Ameri, the director of the Arab American National Museum, who spoke at a Plenary Session alongside JA scholars about internment, civil rights and the question of American identity posed in the conference title.

It's been a busy start to the conference organized by the Japanese American National Museum. We worked from home, setting up media coverage including sending a reporter and photographer from The Denver Post on a bus trip to Amache, the WWII internment camp in southeast Colorado. The result this morning is a powerful, well-written A-1 -- front page -- story by Jordan Dresser, with photos by Helen Richardson (kudos to the staff, who added a couple of the extra photos from the print edition onto the online story). Last night Erin and I attended our first official conference event, because Erin wasn't feeling 100% during the day. We went to a reception for the conference at the home of Kazuaki Kubo, and mingled with Denver's Japanese American leadership, and the likes of former JANM Executive Director Irene Hirano (who recently married Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawai'i, who wasn't at the reception but will be at the conference today for the veteran's salute), former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta and actor/JANM President George Takei.

The JANM conference that starts today in Denver has a whole bunch of interesting and important panels, workshops and discussions. I'm moderating one on Saturday, about Hapas -- mixed-race Asian Americans. But some of the most powerful parts of the conference will be the ones that bring people together with their past. Today and Sunday, caravans of buses will be taking conference attendees to southeast Colorado, to the Amache concentration camp near the town of Granada (the official name of the camp was Granada Relocation Center) where more than 7,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned during World War II. Erin and I will be hosting one of the buses on Sunday. The day will begin at 6am and we'll return in the evening -- the drive to the camp takes about 3 1/2 hours through desolate eastern plains terrain. I'll blog about the trip afterwards, but I wanted to share a couple of links about Amache:

The Japanese American National Museum is sponsoring a conference in Denver over the Fourth of July weekend, called "Whose America? Who's American? Diversity, Civil Liberties, and Social Justice." Erin and I are helping out the conference, and one of Erin's main projects has been contacting and inviting Colorado Japanese American veterans to the conference's Welcome Ceremony on July 4, during which the vets will be honored for their service. Many of them are elderly veterans of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, who fought in Europe during WWII even though many of them had family members living behind barbed wire in U.S. concentration camps. These men, as well as their lesser-known Pacific campaign counterparts, the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) who fought in the Pacific, for the country that imprisoned them at the start of the war just to prove their patriotism, remain today the most highly-decorated combat unit for its size and length of service in U.S. military history. In one celebrated battle, the men of the 442nd, whose motto was "Go for Broke!," suffered over 800 casualties to save 211 men of a Texas "Lost Battalion" in the Vosges mountains of France towards the end of the war. It should be a moving tribute to these men, and the veterans will include both Hawai'i Sen. Daniel Inouye, who lost an arm as a member of the 442nd, and former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, who served in the Army during the 1950s. They'll join over two dozen Colorado veterans as well as JA veterans from all over the country who are attending the conference.