Thursday, July 10, 2008


Frank Abe of KIRO NewsRadio Seattle asked Cynthia Kadohata a question about her debut novel THE FLOATING WORLD. How did a Japanese family of migrant farm laborers find themselves in a car in 1950’s Arkansas? Instead of answering, “Camp,” she snapped her answer, “There’s activism. And there’s art. My work is art.”

The United States of America is the only country founded in “The Great American Experiment - Democracy.” If the American experiment absorbed the cultures of JACK AND JILL, RUMPELSTITLSKIN, THE UGLY DUCKLING, the hungry experiment would chew on the stories POON GOO, the giant, and NUR WAW, the Mother of Humanity welcome a new culture and grow, the yellows who came for gold, thought. Democracy would welcome THE WATER MARGIN, the story a China formed by alliances between regional families, races, and gangs bound by oaths that joined disparate philosophies in a fight for the land. In THE WATER MARGIN, in all of the heroic tradition, the government was just another gang. The American experimental democracy promised cultural integrity and political freedom.

Yellows know JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, CINDERELLA, RUMPELSTILTSKIN from their childhood as American stories. President Clinton has declared Kingston’s lies about Chinese history and Far Mulan the official United States version of Chinese culture .

For the ChineseAmericans the message is simple: serve the white man. You don’t believe me? Whites expect you to know the white THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA. You have the right to expect the whites to know Nah Jah the three headed boy. You didn’’t know you had that right did you? Thanks Socioology and Asian American studies for your ignorance about Asain America.

The Japanese have been in America, on the mainland for over a century. They have the right to expect their fellow Americans to know KAGUYA HIME, the girl who glowed like the moon. Japanese America had a Japanese Kabuki style stage and a production of a folk play, about the rise of a family of samurai against the government to avenge their judgment that their master’s death was unjust. This suggestion that every Nisei child of 1930’s Seattle knew CHUSHINGURA comes from a review of an all-girls production being staged at Seattle’s Nippon Kan, by James Omura, in a part Issei part Nisei paper.

MOMOTARO, the story of a boy found inside a large peach, is the Japanese match for JACK AND THE BEANSTALK. CHUSHINGURA is the plot to the opera of Japan, the grand Kabuki. References to both occur in John Okada’s NO-NO BOY, a JapaneseAmerican novel, published in Japan and a flop in America where it was written. Was it rejected by JapaneseAmericans as the lack of sales indicated?

The America that accepts MOTHER GOOSE, from England and The Bros. Grimm from Germany pointedly rejects Yellow children’s stories from Yellow cultures.

No art is lower than opera. No art coalesces the high and the low into singing the same song like an opera. An art –like an opera -- that is not activist, is an art without content. An art without content is entertainment. Verdi’s revolutionary operas rouses voices to sing like heroes, Wagner’s heroic Viking women singing on the mountaintops in winged helmets and armor. The heroic Peking and Cantonese operas. The Japanese Kabuki.

The JACL contends that Japanese Americans aren’t activist. That’s why the JACL exists as the entry into an America free of Japanese influence.

The Nisei might not be activist, but their parents the Issei had to be activists, or they wouldn’t have come. Issei Sessue Hayakawa had his own Hollywood studio. He owned Haworth Studios and starred in Haworth’s movies. He played an American Indian, a suave Mexican gigolo, Chinese, and Japanese and imaginary Pacific islanders. Rudolph Valentino came to him looking for work. Hayakawa turned him down. Hayakawa was the top of the Holllywood heap.

He quit Hollywood after he discovered the white partners in his Haworth studios conspired to split the insurance money following his death in an earthquake scene. Luckily technician told him not to stand where he was supposed to stand. He went to New York and wrote a novel, developed the novel into a night club act, took the nightclub act to France, the French made a movie of his novel and he became a French movie star and nightclub raconteur. When Germany and Japan signed an alliance and walked into Paris, he left the stage. That was another form of art as activism. When the Americans liberated Paris, he went out in the streets and met a group of American troops and invited them to dinner.

Hayakawa was born into a Samurai family in Japan. He was as an Issei. Kadohata’s vision of art being separate from activism was born in America.


Taro and Mitsu Iwamatsu were painters more known for their Fauvist action approach to drawing and painting till the militarists took over the state. They fled Japan after artist friends had been taken Gestapo style in the middle of the night. The Iwamatsu’s landed in New York, where Taro took the name “Yashima” and went to work drawing and writing for the U.S. Office of War Information. He was the author illustrator of the messages John Okada chucked, out of B-24 runs over occupied islands in the Pacific. He is known to American children for his children’s books. MOMO’S UMBRELLA has been in print since 1977. He published two “picture books” in America. HORIZON IS CALLING, the story of Japanese militarists driving him out of the country, and THE NEW SUN the story of his return and recovering his son, Mako. These were normal size books of full page illustrations and a caption of two lines in English and two lines in Japanese. If there is a Japanese American reading of Yashima’s combined graphic art and captions that justifies taking the works seriously as JA literature, I wish a JapaneseAmerican critic would argue that case. None did when the picture books came out. Too activist. But JapaneseAmerica has another chance to embrace or ignore Taro Yashima.

Momo, of MOMO’S UMBRELLA , is shepherding a university press though a reprinting THE NEW SUN according to her father’s design. The new, NEW SUN is due out next year.

Sessue Hayakawa and Taro Yashima and Mitsu Iwamatsu prove that the separation of art and activism was not invented by the Issei.

Mako, the son left behind as a baby by Taro and Mitsu was too sickly to travel. He was 16 when sailed alone to America. He’s an Oscar nominated actor, starred On-Broadway with PACIFIC OVERTURES and was the founding director of the Los Angeles EAST WEST PLAYERS. He wanted to be known as a great Yellow director of the great Japanese American play about camp. He slipped me $200 to write him that play. A play for him to direct, not act. He was an activist. He slipped writers a little encouragement, a little courage, with his money. His private gift bound us like brothers. I would send him sample pages of ideas that came to me. There was a play based on Hiroo Shinoda, the Japanese soldier that fought WWII in a Phillippine island until the 1970’s when Japan sent his former commanding officer and relatives to command him to leave. Mako as Shinoda and Pat Morita as a fictional draftee from America drew an enthusiastic phone call, but fizzled.

He let the world know that by a great JA play he meant a camp play, when he announced a whole season of four to be written plays dedicated to camp.

It’s not his fault the writers let him down, and the actors are busy kissing themselves all over.

A critic in the tradition of lone Jimmie Omura might see a parable of JA history in the story of art and activism from Japan come to America to have “art” separated from dangerous “activism” by the JACL.

Isn’t it curious that Omura considered the editor of the JACL newspaper the PACIFIC CITIZEN Larry Tajiri, a good friend? Memories of the San Francisco 30 club for Nisei journalists, and walks around the city where they talked of the Great JapaneseAmerican Novel they expected the other to race them to write.

Omura the lone champion of a free press in JapaneseAmerica and Tajiri the lover of books movies and writing, who turns against his love of art and leads JapaneseAmericans to write as a service to white supremacy as Sociologists. Sociology is white religion disguised as science. That explains why JA has had no newspapers, no magazines since CURRENT LIFE and the Rocky Shimpo.

Larry Tajiri was the spokesman for Mike Masaoka’s JACL policies, and confidential informant to the FBI code named “T-1”( Masaoka himself was code named Confidential Informant T-11) Why did Tajiri give George FurIya a moment of JACL fame in the pages of the PACIFIC CITIZEN?
Furiya was unpublished, unknown. Why praise for an unpublished writer who cusses the JACL out? Furiya wrote to Tajiri:

I notice those bastards in the JACL turned quisling when the invasion ran over 'em. What the hell's the matter with you guys out there on coast. The fact that had to evacuate you can't deny, of course: and it would have been sheer folly not to cooperate with the fascist military boys to make the evacuation as nice as possible. But the JACL boys didn't just cooperate; they actually went and kissed the army's ass.

Tajiri wrote in the Jan. 17, 1948 issue of the PACIFIC CITIZEN:

An Unpublished Novelist

"There are uncomplete novels in his trunk and one of these days George will be back to finish them. Maybe one of them will be published and he will be famous. You might remember the name. George Furiya."

Old fashioned literary research turned up a letter to the Tajiri’s from George Furiya. The letter is refreshingly written in the rhythms of spontaneous spoken language. This is a taste of the prose of George Furiya, Larry “T-1” Tajiri believed deserved a read.

Dearest Larry and Guyo,

Anyway, how are you? And you, Guyo. The bugs are well under control, so don't worry. The old saying about children would describe my bugs well if it had been written by Milton: The bugs are not seen, neither are they heard. Or something. Anyway, I'm fine. I notice those bastards in the JACL turned quisling when the invasion ran over 'em. What the hell's the matter with you guys out there on coast. The fact that had to evacuate you can't deny, of course: and it would have been sheer folly not to cooperate with the fascist military boys to make the evacuation as nice as possible. But the JACL boys didn't just cooperate; they actually went and kissed the army's ass. Not even a single protest, be it to the nisei's everlasting shame. By the fact of not protesting (not that it would have done ay go, of course) you actually gave recognition to necessity for evacuation when you knew damn well that no such necessity existed. What the JACL should have done was this: We recognize no necessity for evacuation, and we say to plainly †hat we are all following your orders under duress (whatever duress means). Then the JACL should have gotten busy to try to get that phony military order revoked. Because as long as that military order hangs over the heads of the dumb nisei, it's going to mean that the nisei have been guilty of what the military boys said they were guilty of. Worse the order is going to hang like sword Damocles over the heads of the nisei, poised to come down this time like a ghetto-system, this time like the hostages for the white-American prisoners o the Japs, ad infinitum. I know that safety from West Coast mob-rule was one of the arguments used in favor of evacuation by the JACL quislings-in-effect, but moving inland from the West Coast hasn't safety; they've just hung that sword of Damocles over their heads. Anything can happen as long as sword hangs there. Hell, the JACL didn't cooperate with the army. In France, they call that kind of thing collaboration. The invasion has come and gone, but what the hell is everybody doing? I think what the Pacific Citizen should start campaigning to get that military order revoked.---And for Christ's sake, tell the boys to cut out some of that flag-waving, will? It's really disgusting. Carl Craw came back and told Shiro: "That Mike Masaoka is sure some flag-waver, isn't he?"

South America? Wonderful, from this distance. The most charming people in Argentina were French. (God, how I love the French! One thing this war proved: I'm a damn good Frenchman and damn good Russian.) Padilla's Free Man of America really exists in Latin America--at least, so far as I'm concerned. I had only to mention that was North American. From then on, I was never a Japanese to these refugee Europeans and the Latin Americans. I was a North American. Not even an eyebrow raised. For the first time in my life, I was an American--with nobody to question or doubt that fact. I tell it was terrific. Can you wonder that I consider North Americans the worst kind dopes? These refugee Europeans and Latin Americans never spoke to me as Japanese. They always spoke to me as an American. They never doubted my loyalty to the United States. (Dangerous word, that loyalty. But not now. I mean I won't go into why that word's a dangerous one. What I mean is all this hullabaloo about loyalty this-and-that, disloyalty this-and-that in the evacuation business, no one from DeWitt and Roosevelt down to the least of the JACL quisling's (sic) quislings exactly described what they meant by loyalty disloyalty. What I mean is I am definitely against turning the Japanese people over to Wall Street and the No-dogs-And-Chinese-Allowed boys? Is that disloyalty I traveled eight thousand miles submarine infested waters to come back to the United States from a more or less good life-time job in B.A. with the Asahi. Does that constitute loyalty?- --Anyway, to Latin Americans, Padilla, and the whole French people, my love. Sao Paulo is still a wonderful city to me. Did tell you about my Turkish girl, 22-years, educated in France, widow of a French infantry lieutenant, with whom I was on tu -terms, Spanish and halting French? Lovely. I should have fallen in love with her. And so forth. Sighted two submarines, dodged two torpedoes the night, didn't even so much as get excited, and the navy gunnery crew was given orders by the ensign in command to shoot me on sight if they caught me signaling to any ship, the damn fool (the kind of thing that me despair for America.)

A long letter, but a well-meant one. I love you both, and thanks for letter. It was most touching. Now guess what I'm doing now. I'm on Long Island, stuffing dirt into pots at the Japan Nurseries, Inc., $50 a month with room and fish-diet, 11 hours a day. You should see me. Positively boorish. A muzhik, a muzhak--the Russian for peasant. Am getting my unemployment insurance soon, however. Then to work.


George Furiya

Japanese Americans will have to find George Furiya’s novel, and confirm or prove Omura’s memory of a firm friendship or wishful thinking.

Tajiri went from editing the PACIFIC CITIZEN to culture editor at the DENVER POST with the Czar of JA publishing, Bill Hosokawa. He wrote knowledgeably and appreciatively about operas, plays, movies like a white critic of white art in a white newspaper. Everything…every thing that JapaneseAmericans didn’t have.

These actors in the story of JapaneseAmerica were found in the course of separating fact from fiction to define and appreciate the art of John Okada’s NO-NO BOY.

Were we suckered by a good title NO-NO BOY that fizzed with personality and “style?” The subject was the American definition of the author’s Japanese blood. The flesh and blood existed in reality. Did the ideas, the city, the people exist? Were they still alive? A journalist’s questions preparatory to sniffing out an interview.

A visit to Seattle showed the Boys that Okada’s Seattle was still Seattle. The Aiiieeeee! Boys liked John Okada’s NO-NO BOY for its honest portrayal of tensions against No-No Boys tearing apart the Japanese Americans of Seattle.

John Okada volunteered for the army from camp Minidoka, and served in intelligence in the Pacific, he was a living example of the perfect JACL internee, volunteer, hero, but he didn’t write about himself. We liked that he wasn’t writing about himself. This was a true novel.

I do not remember one reference to the JACL in Okada’s novel other than his choice of th derogatory term invented by the JACL, “No-No Boy” to designate the internees that foiled the WRA questionnaire the JACL was so sure had been soo cunningly designed it trap thousands of internees into volunteering for the army from a prison camp that the JACL’s Mike Masaoka became volunteer no. 1 in August. In the 1957 that the book was published the “No-No Boys” was a JACL synonym for “traitors,” a term known only to Japanese Americans in the hush of conversation when John Okada wrote. NO-NO BOY was an operatically activist novel before Japanese America had an opera.

The Aiiieeeee! Boys liked NO-NO BOY so much, we re-released it in 1974 under our secret identity, CARP Press with cover and book design by Robert Onodera, and an afterword that willingly exposed Hajime “Jim” Akutsu as Okada’s model for his protagonist “Ichiro.”

We didn’t know it at the time, but by combining our names and races in AIIIEEEEE! we were re-enacting the meeting of three men of three different faces, three races, three walks of life becoming blood brothers, in the Oath in the Peach Garden to save China and die on the same day. A knowledgeable Yellow critic would have pointed out the similarities between the alliance of four Aiiieeeee! Boys and the 3 brothers of the Oath in the Peach Garden and racist significanse of THE FIVE CHINESE BROTHERS.

But we have no critics. We—Asian America haven’t had critics since Seattle’s Broadway High School graduate James Matsumoto Baking Powder Omura edited San Francisco’s CURRENT LIFE until Dec. 7th 1941, and Tetsuko Toda hired Omura to car to Denver to edit the ROCKY SHIMPO. In the ten camps Toda unleashed Omura in the ROCKY telling the news to that was shortly told and useful to the internees, and editorials that criticized the government and “the Constitution” was the code, to the JACL and the words he recommended in his editorials, be used. Omura was the only critic the people had to nag everybody as an objective Nisei outside observor of the ten camps. Each a city of ten thousand souls. The Issei subscribed and the Nisei gathered round to hear news from the ROCKY. Think of a movie peek at this news from the ROCKY scene at Minidoka, Idaho, the ROCKY at Heart Mountain, Wyoming, the ROCKY at Amache, Colorado.

If we had a critic, or at least a gossip we would know what Pat Morita the comic, remembers hearing a voice between the barracks at Tule Lake calling “Errr-Rocky here! Errr-Rocky Shimpo!” A magazine should have pulled that out of Pat in public, and not passed in private like a secret.

Take any avenue to check for the facts of NO-NO BOY. It will eventually lead to the conclusion that Seattle had an unusually large number of contenders for leadership of the American born Nisei and the JACL. James Sakamoto, the blind boxer turned publisher of the first all-English JapaneseAmerican newspaper, and a founder of the JACL, Bill Hosokawa, an editor on Sakamoto’s JAPANESE AMERICAN COURIER before the war, and the post war JACL Czar of JA publishing, James Omura, a cantankerous opponent of the JACL. Gordon Hirabayashi, the first to resist by violating tie Army curfew order. All come from Seattle.

Min Yasui of Portland was the second Nisei to violate the curfew. Though a lawyer and he should have known better, he agreed to attach his case Ex Parte to Hirabayashi’s.

I’ve heard that members of sainted Min Yasui’s Portland JACL say their venerable Japanese American Citizen’s League has differences with me. They don’t like me and yet they’re sponsoring my flight to Portland to talk to you.

The difference Portland JACL has with me, might be the Day of Remembrance they didn’t support as the JACL but as individual Issei, and Nisei everyone wanted to happen. No one wanted to organize, to lead but were willing to be one of a group of sponsors, they were willing, even anxious to be organized.

The first and only JapaneseAmerican use of the paid political ad in history, began at the 1979 Portland Day of Remembrance. The text to the OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR HAYAKAWA in favor of redress was on a table with a lined sheet for signing and a can for contributions to buy ad space in the Washington Post. Min Yasui read the letter, clapped his hand on the table, took out his wallet, and signed then and there. Later he asked that his name be removed from the letter but keep the five bucks for the cause.

George Takei, Mr. Sulu of STAR TREK signed. The Mayors of Seattle, Puyallup, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles and more mayors signed. Jane Fonda signed. And signatures from five dollar Japanese Americans that filled a third of a page in the Washington Post and caught Sen Hayakawa off guard.

Getting to the bottom why a vet John Okada wrote NO-NO BOY about a pariah and not himself, led to AIIIEEEEE’s! research into the book that led to Seattle and that led to the JACL betrayal of Japanese America into the camps and the JACL creation of the 442nd as the cowards of camp and their private JACL police at home. The JACL controlled JapaneseAmerican history, and suppressed knowledge of the resisters winning a Presidential Pardon that gave JapaneseAmericans their civil rights back into the time of camp. It was the resisters from Hirabayashi to the draft resisters of 1944, and Endo’s Habeas Corpus suit that demanded the governent tell her why she was interned, that opened the wire gates of camp. If it were up to the JACL JapaneseAmerica would have gone extinct in camp.

Aiiieeeee’s! conclusion about JapaneseAmerican history is the opinion of four rogue writers. JapaneseAmerica hasn’t been heard from. If JapaneseAmerica wants to celebrate it’s traitors and forget it’s heroes, so be it. That’s news.

Why don’t Yellow activist artists in Oregon know about artist activists California? Why are Oregon civil rights activists not linking the WWII Resisters refusal to be illegally drafted from camp, with Lt Ehren Watada’s refusal to obey the illegal deployment to Iraq? Watada’s right close. We don’t know Yellows a mile down the road because we have no newspapers, we have no magazines. Because we have no magazines. Activists in Portland don’t know that actress Momo Yashima has put together a presentation of resistance leader Frank Emi, and WWII draft resister from Heart Mountain Wyoming, Yosh Kuromiya, and Ht Mt internee drafted into the Army, with service in Military Intelligence, Paul Tusneishi, who resigned his membership in the JACL and has been a one man campaign for Japanese America’s recognition of the heroes of JA civil rights.

Ehren Watada called the resisters in Los Angeles from Seattle. It was put on You tube and licked a column in the San Jose Mercury-News. The resisters reached from the camps of WWII to today, men in their 80’s and 90’s to link up with Lt. Watada.

The activists in Portland might bring Momo’s show to town, and arrange a meet up the road at Ft. Lewis, between Lt. Ehren Watada and the resisters. Just a thought.

The Aiiieeeee! Boys all publish in white magazines. Some big. Some small. White anthologies, in white company, From Ishmael Reed adventures into book publishing and magazine publishing all kinds of publishing we learned the joy of publishing among a truly multi-racial American magazine. Made us conscious of Yellows having no publishers. The publishers faking it for us are like Lee & Lowe. Michi Weglyn approached them with the idea of doing a version of KAGUYA HIME. Lee & Lowe said all their Asian stories were sociologically accurate and they did not publish traditional Asian stories.

If we publish at all, we have no choice but to step into the white man’s pocket.




At least the Aiiieeeee! Boys have published books with their names on them. There’s no mistaking your reading a book by Chin, Chan, Inada or Wong. Stepping into a book by one of us is like stepping into my private Men’s room. You don’t have that book by Chin expecting to read about Britney, or Madonna, or Lisa Liu bragging about knowing nothing of Chinese children’s stories. True! The men’s room with my name on it, is in a White house. True the books come from White pockets. I’m grateful to be published. My ego bows to White generosity. But I’m bothered by the fact I’ve chosen to be a writer, of a people that have no publishers, no theaters...

A people has theater, and critics. Sessue Hayakawa took a job at “Toda” a Japanese theater company in Los Angeles, Little Tokyo run by a man named Toda. A people has magazines, movie stars, heroes, and Zippo lighters for making fire. No record of Toda. No reviews of Toda’s shows. THE LAST OF THE LINE, a William Ince film about Indians becoming drunks in the cities starring Sessue Hayakawa as a son of a chief that goes to the city and the worst happens. Hayakawa writes of being discovered by Ince at a performance of the HURRICANE at the Toda theater.

The Yellow magazine has yellow critics. Critics that know as much us, as we know about ourselves. We read each other and knew enough to detect a fake Chan, a fake Wong, a fake Inada a fake me. We were all you needed to know as long as we were the only AA writers.

Then Kingston said she learned THE BALLLAD OF MULAN as a child listening to her mother. Neither Chan, Inada, or Wong had said anything about Chinese or Japanese stories of our childhoods. Did we have childhoods?

If we call ourselves Chinese, or Japanese, as we do, and call ourselves American as we do, we should know the literary world of our people, we should know Chinese children’s stories and the national myth, in China’s case, the heroic tradition, the first novel of the Ming dynasty, ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS, the expansion of THE BALLAD OF MULAN into a rather bloodthirsty five hour play ending with taking off her armor and emerging a luminous woman), the novels THE WATER MARGIN, MONKEY, and GENERAL YUE FEI, to match our knowledge of white culture and children’s literature.

These are the heroes of yesterday’s history and today’s comic books that define China, as King Arthur defines England, Washington defines The United States of America, Fidel defines the Cuban Revolution.

At least have enough of the stories to not be faked by Kingston’s keeping secret from her readers that Mulan was not really tattooed. The Chinese mothers fuming over Maxine writing that Mulan was tattooed by her parents used to be normal in Chinatowns. Parents give birth to perfect children. Unmarked skin. Uncut hair. Tattoos are the mark of a criminal. Why would parents want to mark their child a criminal?

You saw Shawn Wong in WHAT’S WRONG WITH FRANK CHIN? say that Kingston had gotten me, meaning my writing, perfectly. That she had rewritten the “Chinatown Dreamgirl” scene from CHICKENCOOP into her WOMAN WARRIOR and had me “down to a tee,” meaning my “style” not my misogynist “content.”

She characterizes her mother dancing through her childhood chanting the rhymes of THE BALLAD OF MULAN . By characterizing her childhood, she had made every Chinese-American …at least every Chinese –American writer responsible for the literature of the Chinese childhood. Specifically, to answer the question: Is Kingston’s Far Mulan real? Thirty five years ago nobody yellow could answer. In 2008, you can read the reviews of WWWFC? and see that nobody Yellow can answer that question today. A Kingston-like voice reads that she took the tattoos off of Yue Fei’s back, went back in time to 550 AD and put them Far Mulan, because it was the feminist thing to do, and no one Yellow notices. Kingston gave the interview in 1986 to Kay Bonnetti. Pres Bill Clinton gives her his Humanities Medal in 1997, making her mutilated Far Mulan the official US telling of the Chinese children’s story and history. The first intrusion of a head of state into the folklore, history, and literature of another culture. As much as the US hated Nazi Germany, the government never endorsed a rewrite of RUMPELSTILSKIN.

Usually the imitator is forgotten or at best becomes Rich Little in Vegas and the original given a lifetime of steak dinners and free booze. But ChineseAmericans and AAmericans are different.

That’s why the AIIIEEEEE! boys need Yellow critics. It’s not up to Chin, Chan, Inada and Wong to speak in defense of their own work. It’s up to the people. It’s up to the people to claim their heroes. When they claim their heroes they make their writers reputation. The people sing the song we wrote about the heroes. The people cheer the operas we wrote about their heroes. The people commissioned an artist to sculpt a bust, a statue, paint a portrait, perform an inspired work and donate the statue, the portrait, the work inspired by the hero, to the people’s park, or people’s museum, or shopping center.

Until then we are hitching a ride in the white man’s pocket.

There is no great writer without a great people. Art elevates the people. And the people elevate their art. If AAwriters are that great AA’s should have heroes with names that cross every yellow’s lips every day.

The heroes and the writers are in the market for a people we call ours. A people with publishers. A people with critics. A people with readers. If we have all that, I’m proud to say that the single most mentioned name in 20th century AsianAmerica was Mike Masaru Masaoka. And I’d like see JapaneseAmerica prove itself a people by mounting an opera telling his place in JA history. And in writing, music, and JapaneseAmerican voice the opera taking charge of JapaneseAmerican history.

I can imagine MOSES MASAOKA with Randy Kim with his trademark acting rubber likeness of Masaoka’s large lips and cheeks and a wig of Masaoka’s wavy hair as Mike Masaoka. Glasses. His Masaoka looks like Charlton Heston wearing glasses. And his Shakespearean voice. A little W.C. Field’s twang and he’s Masaoka at his most Moses.

Randy Kim as he was called before the N.Y. Shakespeare in the Park production of Pericles and his name bulked up to Randall Duk Kim, was the increasingly celebrated Yellow actor in New York from around 1970 on till the end of the century. He had done a couple of Steve Tesich’s plays, and couple of mine at the American Place Theater and Shakespeare’s PERICLES at Joe Papp’s Shakespeare in the park.

Famous for his voice, his Shaksepeare in Missouri, Randy shook his head at ever doing a movie or tv because “they’re a director’s media. The live theatre is the actor’s medium.” And he was an actor. He knows theatre history. The history of Shaespeare. The history of Shakespearean actors. He believes he is the reincarnation of Edwin Booth, the actor brother of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

Imagine him as Masaoka, in MOSES MASAOKA. Kim’s Masaoka and Clyde Kusatsu as Bill Hosokawa. What did the JapaneseAmerica make of the apparent split between Sakamoto and Hosokawa? And what did they make of Hosokawa becoming Boswell to Moses Mike’s Dr. Johnson, from Heart Mounntain on to his death. It has to come from a JapaneseAmerican mind, a JapaneseAmerican writer. Perhaps a diabolical JapaneseAmerican writer could write the opera where Masaoka says, to Bill Hodsokawa, “Himmler sent pictures reports of Treblinka to American Intelligence and my friend and mentor senator Elbert Thomas, of Utah to my sight.”

“You’re not saying….”

“These are things I can’t talk about.”

A diabolical part JapaneseAmerican writer?

, Sen Elbert Thomas (played by George Washington), for advice.

“Because of December 7th, your future in politics is over. Read these.” The Senator might be written by the diabolical JapaneseAmerican as handing Masaoka State Dept files on what happened in Treblinka and Sobibor in 1939. “Taking over the JACL might be your only chance at eventually earning enough American trust to run for office.”

“I hoped to run for President of the United States in my lifetime.”

“Don’t worry White Americans are not the Nazis.”

“No, that’s not why…”

“If you were to lead the JACL with an official secret understanding with the government, like Jacob Gens, you realize that you would be as hated as he was by his own people.”

“A secret understanding?”

“Jacob Gens was the President of the Judenradt of Vilna Ghetto Lithuania. An organization similar to the JACL. ”

“The Field Executive of the JACL would secretly be, in reality, American?”

“The Judenradt posed as activists for Jewish civil rights in a Nazi ghetto.”

“A secret American, a secret agent, a secret G-Man,” Masaoka says.

“A secret American!” Bill Hosokawa says.

The Senator says, “ He gathered the names of those wanting to fight for their rights against the Nazis, and,” he snaps his fingers, “He turned them in. Unlike Gens, your Nazis are going to win this war.”

Masaoka laughs.

Bill Hosokawa points in the air, but says nothing.

The Senator continues, “Your organization will continue to exist under the wartime mandate: to drive the race to extinction.”

“The sociologists call it ‘assimilation,’” Masaoka says.

Bill says “assimilation” simultaneous with Mike’s story.

The good Senator says, “You would be leading your people to a better world.”

“I would lead my people to a better world, a better America!”

“Yes! You would be the Prophet that saved your people the wrath of the white race by voluntarily going extinct.”

“I would, wouldn’t I? I’d be Moses!”

“Mike, listen to me, Mike. I agree with you 100%,” Bill Hosokawa says. “But you can’t talk this way today.”

“But Greenwood, Oklahoma. I didn’t want the JACL mistaken for the NAACP,” Masaoka says.

“America’s changed what it says,” Hosokawa says.

“They burned Greenwood to the ground!”

“No one’s said they’ve changed what they believe.”

See Masaoka through Hosokawa’s admiring eyes to convince Randall Duk Kim that Masaoka is a role worthy of being explored by great actor’s great acting. The trick is to convince him he was chosen for his acting, and he was, and no one thinks for minute, not for a second that Randy’s anything like the thoroughly traitorous Masaoka.

Give a taste of Masaoksa:

Some of my friends and some who are not my friends, also call me Moses. Moses Masaoka. They say that like the Biblical prophet, I have led my people on a long journey through the wilderness of discrimination and travail. They say that I have led them within sight of the promised land justice for all and social and economic equality in our native America, but that we will not reach it within my lifetime.

Masaoka is larger than the life of the obvious craven self-interested slob Masaoka is, but Masaoka character of Shakespearean dimensions, because of the 110,000 Nisei that followed and trusted him. He led them to the promised camps. Can you blame him for not going in?

The US Gov’t gives Masaoka a people to lead, and right away, he betrays them. For their own good, Hosokawa says. The Japanese characteristic timidity, he explains. Once Masaoka has JA into camp, he betrays his people again by aksing they be drafted from camp. For his third betrayal he refuses JACL support to court cases to test the constitutionality of the Army’s orders, and turns against Yasui and Hirabayashi’s challenges. Next he joins the WRA in a questionnaire designed to trick the men into volunteering for the Army from camp. It fails. While he’s in the Headquarters of the 442nd in Europe, the JACL supports the gov reinstate the draft in all of its papers around the ten camps, and the gov reinstates the draft in 1944.

The JACL’s being FBI finks was the worst kept secret in in camp. After camp the fink rap kept the whiff of gov’t control swirling about everything the JACL did. As if to emphasize the point, Masaoka became successful as the JACL’s first Washington lobbyist. For years "The Japanese American Story," a Japanese American history by Bud Fukei, Minneapolis: Dillon Press. 1976 pp iv-xvii.
With Mike Masaoka guest writing the chapter titled "Why the Japanese Americans Cooperated," and Bill Hosokawa’s NISEI : THE QUIET AMERICANS , Boswell adoring Dr. Johnson were the first and for a long time the only Japanese American in the trade books. Being editors of respected papers. Fukei of the Seattle Times, Hosokawa of the Denver Post made them anonymous readers publishers use. But being Nisei readers of Nisei books compromised their anonymity.

He shepherded his people into extinction without a whimper without a sigh. He died a fat and happy quisling.

The Portland JACL brought me to town in 1979 to fulfill a promise I’d made to Dr. Jim Tsujimura, ophthomologist and Nat’l Pres (they love that title) of the JACL, in the plush soft leather of his new black Continental Mark V.

He wanted a Day of Remembrance to pair up with the Day he’d seen celebrated in Seattle over the last Thanksgiving Day weekend. Seattle had never done anything like it before and neither had Portland.

Both Portland and Seattle were the main feeders of the concentration camp at Minidoka, Idaho and Tule Lake. Califorinia. The fits of activism that took over a day in Seattle and Portland occurred because a number of Japanese Americans had read NO-NO BOY by John Okada. The combining of groups and individuals for the cause of redress, smacked of the combining of outlawed talented men and women to fight for their China against the Imperial gov on the inside, and the horsemen invaders from the outside.

In doing literary research into what makes John Okada’s NO-NO BOY great we had stumbled on the real history of Japanese from the newspapers of Okada’s hometown of Seattle into the camps. I handled the paper, the tools of the libraries to research to verify the facts, to separate fiction from fact. For a limited time we had access to the people, to everybody he knew, everybody real in his book, combined and created by John Okada. The greatness of NO-NO BOY does not rest on how well he imitates the favorite writer of the moment, or triple tongues the tropes pleasingly, alone, but on how well he manipulates the facts to his purposes. Whatever those purposes are. I don’t know what those purposes are, but I know they weren’t the same very plain purposes as the JACL. To aggrandize their wartime leader Mike Masaru Masaoka as the savior of the race! All the JACL publicity piped to bigshots was designed to make Masaoka famous.

Famous for leading the JA to volunteer for camp in 42, famous for being Volunteer No. 1 in 1943, famous for lying about themselves, their leader Mike Masaoka and the 442nd freeing the JAs’ from camp in 45.

Okada leads the reader to Akutsu to the editorials of James Omura, that encouraged the JA’s resisting the draft in the ten camps to stand on the Constitution. The vigilant Yasui who understood “Stand on the Constitution” as code for the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee stand on resisting the draft from camp and blew the whistle on Omura.

It was Omura’s journalism, his dissemination of the news from Heart Mountain in the Denver ROCKY SHIMPO to reach Noboru Taguma at Amache. Min Yasui interviewed Taguma for the FBI as he awaited trial for resisting the draft. Noboru’s son Kenji learns his laugh-all-the-time father was one of a group of Amache resisters who referred to themselves as Amache Indians and he turns his life in a new direction toward journalism. He is the editor of the San Francisco Nichi Bei. News of Amache reached Heart Mountain through the pages of the ROCKY. I learned of the existence of the organized resistance at Heart Mt from the front page of the ROCKY.

The discovery of the Heart Mountain Resistance, is the inevitable effect of reading John Okada’s NO-NO BOY, a novel, a fiction set in a real Minidoka and a real Seattle that reaches a climax at a real “Club Oriental” known in the world as the Wah Mee Club in Maynard Alley. And ends thirty pages later with Ichiro all smiles warmth and sunshine into the dark of night zooming into California.

We know more about Jim Akutsu, Okada’s model for the protagonist “Ichiro” than we know about Okada. We know that Okada went to Minidoka and volunteered out in 1943, he served in Military Intelligence, with frontline units in the island hopping campaign. He was always accompanied by a guard. He was to be shot dead rather than risk capture by the Japanese enemy. The only glimpse we have of his service in the elite of Nisei, M-ID the first to get shot no matter what. Good going Nisei! The preface on board a B-24 four engined bomber with a “blond giant.” An unidentified Nisei explains why he volunteered. “If they put me in camp, they could kiss my ass,” the white giant says. “I have my reasons.” The Nisei answers. We don’t know the missions he was on, his decorations, has arms qualifications, his rank because his family has never seen a photo of him in uniform.

Might the blond giant been Okada’s guard sanitized of his mission? Might the dialog be the key to the book? Questions better asked and answered by Sansei, or Yonsei, or Gosei. Better hurry. You’re below 100,000. Below 98,000. You’re down to 92,000 including Hawaii. You were 123,313, all mainlanders when the camps let you out 60 years ago. If you were chipmunks and had gone from 123, 313 to 92,000 you’d be declared a protected species.

But you’re not chipmunks.

I wonder if Akutsu told his story to John Okada exactly the same as I’ve heard him recite to people several times in several places.

I mentioned all the names that I’ve associated with Akutsu, first. Like Min Yasui the Portland curfew violator. I mentioned Min fikrst, then Akutsu told me he went to Min Yasui, after he was released to Minidoka for advice on his stupid idea of writing to the Japanese gov through the Spanish consul, to come and get him.

Frank Emi has a letter from Akutsu trying to sell his repatriation to Japan as strategy to resist the draft. The carbon copy of his answer says the FPC stands on the Constitution and get yourself a lawyer.

If Akutsu had told Okada about his trudge through the snow to Yasui’s barrack and his letter to the leader of the organized resistance at Heart Mountain, I have no doubt that Okada would included them in NO-NO BOY. Why did Akutsu leave out of his memory that Jimmie Omura at the ROCKY SHIMPO refused to forward Akutsu’s letter to Ht. Mt. Fearing a trap set by the FBI with the JACL help of Min Yasui of the Denver office of the JACL was about to snap. Min Yasui, a curfew resister in 1942 was a JACL shill and FBI fink in 1944. Omura came out with his LET US NOT BE RASH to distinguish between crazy tricky thinking draft resisters saying “repatriate me” and those whose resistance to being drafted from camp rests on constitutional grounds.

Had John Okada known about the ROCKY, and Omura’s Lone Ranger news and “Hi yo, Silver,” editorials coming through the mail every week, with news releases from Ht. Mt by the Emi bros. Had Okada known about the handsome, self-effacing, third degree black belt in Judo then, he’s sixth degree now, leader of the FPC in Heart Mountain. Okamamoto the leader of title, was being held at Tule Lake from 1944 on. The leader from the super hero cartoons of men. Superman. Batman. Nisei Man. Emi the man vs Project Director Robertson “May I have a transcript of the proceedings?” Emi vs the JACL’s Nobu Kawai in six weeks of dedbate in the Heart Mountain Sentinel.

Emi was tried as one of Okamoto, the six leaders of FPC and the accused a co-conspirator journalist James Omura of Denver versus the USA. He’s accused of talking people into resisting the draft. His strategy is to admit to the charge. No one asks the identity of the leader who forced the line “We won’t go” in their public bulletins. They knew Frank would admit it was him. In the course of the trial he only takes issue with Jack Nishimoto falsely testifying to having witnessed Frank Emi promising a young man, in the men’s room that the FPC would take care of the young man’s mother, if he’s sent to jail, for not appearing for his pre-induction physical.

Frank Emi and Okamoto’s FPC were convicted and Omura acquitted but socially and financially ruined. Then a fairy tale ending. The leaders of the FPC win an appeal. The draft resisters are pardoned by Pres Truman on Xmas Eve 1947.

THE GREAT JAPANESE AMERICAN NOVEL might be a version of NO-NO BOY written with the camp story JapaneseAmerica that completes what John Okada began.

But the author of the JA history now being taught “throughout the land” to use Masaoka’s prophetic words, is the JACL. No mention of Omura, the Rocky, Okamato, Emi, the FPC or the draft resistance.

James Omura saw his nemesis as JACL leader and Volunteer No. 1 and secret agent Jr. G-Man Mike Masaoka. On the field of publicity, in the world of white newspapers, and Japanese vernaculars, in wartime, Omura was the lone defender of freedom of the press - Omura was so obviously right in everything he published. The authoritative white histories of Japanese America admit what Masaoka did was probably illegal and his claims to freeing the Japanese from camp are wrong, but he was right to volunteer for camp because Americans are bigger and stronger than any little Jap. But Americans aren’t Nazis. You the JACL are the Nazis. You’ve done the white racist work to become more “American,” that’s why you keep your wartime name. The Nazi’s have changed their name. Is it arrogance, loyalty or stupidity that explains JACL’s refusal to repudiate their corrupt WWII leader Mike Masaoka. They admit, they boast that he led JapaneseAmerica into camp for good reasons. They admit that the JACL betrayed JA into camp.

Why hasn’t JapaneseAmerica taken charge of their own history and seen that James Omura’s best writing was bronzed by, dare I say it, a “grateful”people?

No wonder JapaneseAmerica’s going extinct. Before you go, I want you to know you had artists, strange sorts of person to be sure, who are so few, especially when

of person to be sure, who thought that what Okada led to, should be celebrated as the fruit of knowing how to read

compare to the number of books fiction and non fiction by Jews about their European camps that existed about the same time as the WRA camps in America, and ended at about the same time at the end of WWII.

In the 60 years since the close of camp there have been three JA works. Okada’s NO-NO BOY, A novel, Michi Weglyn’s book of bitchy gotchya fact and history YEARS OF INFAMY, Lawson Inada’s DRAWING THE LINE, a book of poetry, with title poem DRAWING THE LINE about a young architecture student, sketching Heart Mountain the volcano shaped like a heart from an angle not available to him in camp and the poem contemplates the young artist’s resistance to the draft.

The continued existence of the JACL might appear intimidating to some former internees, or the JACL might really intimidate JapaneseAmericans and control JapaneseAmerican publishing and that explains why JapaneseAmericans so few have written about or talked about camp.

There are two documentary films by JA’s on the JACL, the camps, James Omura and FPC. Emiko Omori’s RABBIT IN THE MOON and Frank Abe’s CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION. Both aired on PBS. Both have close-ups of Frank Emi answering an interviewers questions. Both agree on basic facts. Both back way off from making a JA judgment about whose the good guy and whose the bad guy.

The JACL aren’t shy about whose good and whose the bad.
From Bill Hosokawa’s "JACL: In Quest of Justice" New York: William Morrow & Co., 1982.

JACL had in fact made considerable efforts to help some of the draft resisters. Joe Grant Masaoka and Min Yasui first met with Nisei from the Amache camp at Granada being held at the Federal Correctional Institution outside Denver. Yasui, who had gone to jail to challenge the curfew order as discriminatory, endorsed restoration of Selective Service because it ended discrimination. Next they visited Amache to talk with confused young men being pressured by activists to resist military service. Then they traveled to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to talk with some fifty imprisoned draft violators from the Heart Mountain camp. (To put the number of resisters in perspective, it is necessary to note that more than seven hundred men from Heart Mountain signed up for the draft and took their physical examinations. (p.273)

Hosokawa writes pure fiction here. No threatening activists at Amache. But Yasui talked to Noboro Taguma. Masaoka and Yasui spoke to six out of sixty three Heart Mountain draft resisters in Cheyenne, Ike Matsumoto and Yosh Kuromiya were interviewed by Min Yasui. Accounts of Taguma, Matsumoto verify each other form different camps. "Visit to Cheyenne County Jail with Japanese American Draft Delinquints. JACL Report to the FBI" April 28, 1944 authored by Yasui differs greatly.

The three non-JACL works proclaimed the existence of an honorable resistence in camp. Moses Mike responded in his last book, THEY CALL ME MOSES MASAOKA:

"Some historians, writing from the isolation of their ivory towers, have contended the draft resisters were the real heroes of the Japanese-American story because they had the courage to stand up for a principle. These historians are wrong! The significanse is in the relatively small number of dissidents in the face of gross injustice. The heroes are the men and their families who demonstrated their faith in America."

A 4th JapaneseAmerican work fights its way to currency from a fabled outskirt of Chicago. David Mura’s FAMOUS SUICIDES OF THE JAPANESE EMPIRE is about to be released. At least a part of the novel is set in Heart Mountain. It may have a set of facts that differ from everything known in the facts of Heart Mountain, and all the JapaneseAmerican fictions about Heart Mountain.

What survives of JapaneseAmerica has time to read and view dvd’s on tv and decide how much the facts Heart Mountain really mean to the reputation of a people that landed here five generations ago.

What if Mura’s book says, as fact An alien called FPC burst into the barrack and turned all internees into horny toads?

It will be JapaneseAmerican response that will make everyone’s reputation as spokesmen.

Frank Chin