LETTERS: Bittersweet effort to honor Mitsuye Endo

Dear Editor

This letter is in re to … Nichi Bei Weekly article, “Senator asks Obama to honor Endo,” dated May 28, 2015 (page 4). It is indeed wonderful that Mitsuye Endo is finally being recognized for her wartime stand, ex parte Endo 323 US 283 (1944) that freed 120,313 (people of Japanese descent)  incarcerated without due process of which over two-thirds were American citizens. It is sad to note, too, that the Presidential Medal of Freedom recommended by Senator Brian Schatz, if awarded, will be posthumously.

This great Nisei woman, despite being asked by JACL leaders to drop the case and a WRA official offering her freedom out of the concentration camp, refused both offers. Instead, she stayed on, first at Tule Lake and later in Topaz concentration camps. She felt her case (would) have a better chance by remaining incarcerated. It must have been a psychological burden to not know who was for her and who against her. In addition, to agonize the outcome of her case. It was over a three-year wait when the U.S. Supreme Court was ready to announce in her favor. This announcement was held up by President Roosevelt until after his fourth-term election to the presidency was over.

In the article Senator Schatz states “….led to the Roosevelt Administration’s rec(i)ssion of Executive Order 9066 on December 17, 1944, a day before the Endo decision was handed down.” This was not the case. The only thing on that date that was pre-empted was the exclusion act, which forbade the Japanese from going into the West Coast to even include the Nisei serving in the U.S. Army. It became effective January 2, 1945. As to rescinding EO 9066, it was President Ford who did so on February 16, 1976. On January 19, 1977, he also pardoned Iva Toguri, the so-called “Tokyo Rose,” who took the rap for ten other Tokyo Roses. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time and written up negatively by an American reporter. She was also convicted o(f) perjured testimony of two Japanese witnesses.

Mitsuye Endo and Iva Toguri are two Nisei women who had yuki, courage, ganbaru, perseverance and gisei, sacrifice — among other values taught to us by our Issei forebears. They showed these values under differing circumstances. We must always remember the two Nisei women and be inspired for the stand they took as part of our Nikkei history.

Stanley N. Kanzaki, New York

Editor’s Note; In the article “Senator asks Obama to honor Endo,” dated May 28, 2015, it was erroneously stated in a statement by Sen. Brian Schatz that Executive Order 9066 was rescinded on Dec. 17, 1944. It was actually not rescinded until Feb. 19, 1976 by then-President Gerald Ford.

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