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San José commemorates 33rd annual Day of Remembrance

By Masao Suzuki |
February 20, 2013
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San Jose Taiko
Above:
San Jose Taiko (Fight Back! News/Staff)
South Bay Committee Against Political Repression (local chapter of the national
Three generations of Japanese Americans prepare to lead a procession through San
Molly Kitajima, guest keynote speaker, who was incarcerated in a concentration c
Mayor of East Palo Alto Reuban Abrica presents a proclamation to NOC chairperson
Upper right:
South Bay Committee Against Political Repression (local chapter of the national Committee to Stop FBI Repression). (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Upper left:
Three generations of Japanese Americans prepare to lead a procession through San Jose Japantown. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Lower right:
Molly Kitajima, guest keynote speaker, who was incarcerated in a concentration camp in Canada during World War II. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Lower left:
Mayor of East Palo Alto Reuban Abrica presents a proclamation to NOC chairperson Reiko Nakayama. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

San José, CA - On Feb. 17, the San José Day of Remembrance program commemorated the anniversary of Executive Order 9066 issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. 300 people came to the San Jose Buddhist Church hall to remember E.O. 9066, which led to the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II. At the beginning of the program the emcee, Will Kaku, said that the official apology from the government stated that the concentration camps “were due to racial prejudice, wartime hysteria and a failure of political leadership. Although those words pertain to events from 71 years ago, they serve as a warning to us today.”

The first of the evening’s guest speakers was Molly Kitajima, a nisei, or second-generation Japanese American, who was born and grew up in Canada. She told the audience how the Canadian government not only put over 20,000 Japanese Canadians into concentration camps following the U.S., but went further by seizing their land under eminent domain and sold it off cheap. Ms. Kitajima also spoke of her trip to Cuba with other Japanese Americans and their meetings with Japanese Cubans. She ended by saying, “I stand, head high, with those who endured this hardship,” and continued, “I will stand up for others who would be discriminated against as I was.”

The theme of the program was “The Changing Face of America,” which was seen in the diversity of speakers. For the first time, the San José Day of Remembrance invited a speaker from the Sikh community, to express solidarity between Japanese Americans and Sikhs who have been harassed and killed in the years following 2001, and in particular the massacre at the Sikh gurdwara (temple) in 2012. Simran Kaur, Advocacy Manager for the Sikh Coalition, which formed in response to anti-Sikh violence after 2001, proclaimed “Let us stand up together!”

Another highlight of the program was the proclamation presented by the mayor of East Palo Alto, Reuban Abrica, to the Nihonmachi Outreach Committee (NOC), which has organized Day of Remembrance events for 32 years in San José. The proclamation was accepted by NOC’s chairperson, Reiko Nakayama.

The Day of Remembrance included a performance by the San José Taiko (Japanese folk drums), including a piece entitled “Day of Remembrance” to commemorate the event. Also speaking were the local Japanese American Congressman Mike Honda, and representatives of the Buddhist Church, the Wesley United Methodist Church and the South Bay Islamic Association, which is just a few blocks from Japantown.

For more photos of the event: San José commemorates 33rd annual Day of Remembrance (Photos)

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