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Japanese Americans join Unity Vigil

By Masao Suzuki |
June 11, 2017
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Japanese Americans were among those that joined the June 10 Unity Vigil.
Japanese Americans were among those that joined the June 10 Unity Vigil. (Fight Back News / Staff)

San José, CA - On June 10, 1000 people joined a Unity Vigil called by Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), People Acting in Community Together (PACT), and Meet a Muslim. More than 130 religious, community, oppressed nationality and other organizations endorsed the vigil, which was organized on a week’s notice.

The vigil was prompted by the anti-Muslim group Act for America which put out a nationwide call for protests to be held on June 10. Their San Jose event was called just a week ago, and with the local Facebook page being hosted by a self-identified Trump campaigner in Virginia, their turnout was expected to be low. And it was, with the Unity Vigil participants outnumbering the anti-Muslim group by 20 to 1 or more.

One prominent group in the unity vigil were Japanese Americans, who have been turning out to solidarity events for American Muslims in large numbers. The Japanese American community remembers the World War II incarceration of 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent, who were rounded up en masse on the West Coast and sent to concentration camps in desolate areas in the interior. Racist discrimination, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership drove the concentration camps for Japanese Americans just as they do today with the rising attacks on American Muslims and anti-Muslim policies by the Trump administration.

The Nihonmachi Outreach Committee (NOC) of San Jose brought their banner from a solidarity march with American Muslims in March that said “1942 - 2017: 75 years of resistance. No to islamophobia, no to concentration camps.” Another large group of Japanese Americans from San Francisco and the East Bay, the Nikkei Resisters, brought signs with copies of the 1942 posters ordering Japanese Americans into the camps. Other Japanese Americans at the vigil included members of the Silicon Valley Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the San Jose JACL, the Sequoia JACL, the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, the Asian Law Alliance, the Wesley United Methodist Church, and the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple.

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