Press

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 7, 2008

PRESS CONTACTS
Chris Komai - ckomai@janm.org - 213-830-5648

NATIONAL CONFERENCE, ‘WHOSE AMERICA? WHO’S AMERICAN?’

Deadline for Pre-Registration is June 5 for Denver Gathering set for July 3-6

Los Angeles

The Japanese American National Museum’s national conference, "Whose America? Who’s American? Diversity, Civil Liberties, and Social Justice", set for July 3-6 in Denver, Colorado, will feature United States Senator Daniel Inouye, former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, actor George Takei, attorney Dale Minami, authors Cynthia Kadohata and Naomi Hirahara, and many others speaking at formal sessions, workshops, special events, luncheon and dinner programs, as part of this rare national gathering.

"Whose America? Who’s American?" is part of Enduring Communities: The Japanese American Experience in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah, a three-year initiative partially funded by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and Aratani Foundation. It is organized by the National Museum in collaboration with educators, students, the Colorado Host Committee, and communities located in the five states. It involves regional educators and students with the goal of creating new curriculum that integrates the Japanese American World War II experience into each state’s histories. The constitutional issues involved in this story remain relevant today and will be explored at the conference.

Deadline to pre-register for the conference is Thursday, June 5. All-inclusive pre-registration fees for National Museum members are $405, but on-site registration is $500. For non-members, all-inclusive pre-registration is $465, but it rises to $560 for on-site registration. Conference packages include all July 3-6 sessions and activities, luncheon and banquet dinner on July 5, and a bus trip to the Amache campsite. For more information, go to http://www.janm.org/projects/ec/conference/.

"As with our first two national conferences, the Japanese American National Museum has organized an event that has broad appeal," explained National Museum CEO Akemi Kikumura Yano. "There are historic perspectives, current event discussions and many opportunities to share with people from across the country. Those who attended our previous events have told their friends and families that they are gatherings that should not be missed. Our last conference was four years ago, so we urge everyone who can come to not miss this event."

Inouye, one of the longest serving Senators and a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his heroism as part of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Mineta, the first Asian American to serve in a cabinet post as first Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton and subsequently as Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush, will be among the keynote speakers at the dinner program on Saturday, July 5, following the conference sessions. Takei, best known as one of the cast members from the original "Star Trek" television series, is Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees for the Japanese American National Museum and a community activist. He will emcee the luncheon on July 5 featuring keynote speaker Adam Schrager, author of the book, The Principled Politician: The Ralph Carr Story. As governor of Colorado, Carr invited Japanese Americans to come to his state when they were being forced from their homes during World War II. When threats emerged toward Japanese Americans, Carr declared, "If you harm them, you must harm me first." His courageous stand had consequences, as his promising political career ended abruptly.

Minami was one of the Sansei attorneys who took up the wrongful World War II convictions of three Nisei men: Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi and Minoru Yasui. Spurred on by law historian Peter Irons, Minami recruited other Nikkei attorneys to appeal the cases under a little known procedure known as the writ of coram nobis. Irons and Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga uncovered official documents that proved the government purposely withheld information that indicated that Japanese Americans were not a threat to national security, which was the pretext for their unlawful removal from their homes on the West Coast and parts of Hawai`i. Minami will be one of keynote speakers at the conference and Herzig-Yoshinaga will participate in the conference sessions.

Other individuals like former Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) executive director John Tateishi, co-founder of the National Coalition for Redress/Reparations (NCRR) Alan Nishio and Herzig-Yoshinaga, who was part of the National Council for Japanese American Redress (NCJAR) will talk about campaign for reparations, which culminated in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Professor Mitch Maki, who co-authored the book, Achieving the Impossible Dream: How Japanese Americans Obtained Redress, will also discuss this subject at the conference. The National Museum has been marking the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 with public programs, special events and collaborations.

Kadohata, the 2005 Newberry Medal recipient for her children’s book, Kira-Kira, and Hirahara, author of the award-winning Mas Arai mystery series, will be participate in the panel, "Past Present: How Children’s Book Writers Make History Relevant for Young Readers". Takei will participate in a panel, "Looking Like the Enemy: Japanese American Childhoods During World War II" and Professor Art Hansen will lead a discussion of "Stories of Resettlement: Nikkei Nation in Motion, 1942-1965".

Civil rights will be examined in panels such as "Security, Wartime Anxiety and Civil Liberties" with law professor Eric Muller and "The Patriot Act of 2001 and American Democracy: A Town Hall Meeting" with Dale Minami. Many of the Justice Department camps were located in the five states and a panel, "Alien Places and Alien People: Department of Justice Internment Camps During World War II", will provide more information on this subject.

Other activities are available, including optional visits to the Amache (Granada), Colorado campsite on Thursday, July 3 and Sunday, July 6. Presentations and workshops, such as "A Guide to Oral Histories: A How-to Workshop" and "Find Your Japanese American Roots" will be available Friday, July 4. A Mini Media Festival is scheduled for July 3-4 and 6 and a Youth Expo will be open July 3-6, where the work of young people (documentaries, display boards, art) will be on view.

Marking the Fourth of July will be a special veterans’ panel, "Fighting for Democracy", featuring two Japanese American Medal of Honor recipients: George Sakato of Denver and Hiroshi Miyamura of Gallup, New Mexico. Sakato fought during World War II and was recognized belatedly in 2000 by President Clinton. Miyamura served during the Korean Conflict and his Medal of Honor was held in secret while he was a prisoner of war. In conjunction with this panel, the National Museum will set up the display, Beyond the Call of Duty: Honoring the 24 Japanese American Medal of Honor Recipients, at the conference in the Centennial Ballroom Foyer of the Hyatt Regency Denver.

A full slate of programs are available on the Fourth of July and two separate trips are planned to the Amache campsite. To register or to find more information, contact the Japanese American National Museum at (213) 625-0414, or go to http://www.janm.org/projects/ec/conference/.