LETTERS: MIS veteran’s son responds Tule Lake apology

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Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent in response to a column that appeared in the Oct. 24, 2019 issue of the Nichi Bei Weekly (“RABBIT RAMBLINGS: Dear JAVA, where is your sense of compassion and understanding?” by Chizu Omori).

Dear Editor:

I felt compelled to respond to Chizu Omori’s letter to JAVA. I am a lifetime member of JACL. Her essay had many valid points but I wanted to add one possible reason that JAVA cannot accept the JACL’s apology to resisters.

Chizu Omori brings up many good points in her letter to the editor. She mentions the “valiant and brave” men who served in the military. I would like to put a face behind her description of the actions of the Nisei and Kibei in the military. My father Minoru was a Military Intelligence Service veteran, and he made it very clear that he didn’t have a lot of sympathy for those who chose to stay behind and not join the army.  He recognized that there was clearly an ironic injustice with the U.S. government incarcerating their family and friends in the concentration camps, while expecting them to enlist and fight for a country that had betrayed them. But he felt that while his fellow veterans went off to bloody battlefields and suffered all the hardships of combat, the resisters stayed behind, not dodging bullets or in danger of getting lynched by white soldiers who thought MIS soldiers were Imperial Japanese soldiers who had killed an American GI, taken his uniform, and were trying to infiltrate the lines (this actually happened to my dad in the Philippines), or exposed to any other life threatening action of a war zone.

The resisters had clean sheets and hot meals. This may not sound like a big deal, but as many veterans will tell you, one of the things they missed most were the simple comforts of life that we all take for granted. 

And upon returning home, dad had nightmares for the rest of his life about the horrors he had witnessed. The slaughter of surrendering Japanese soldiers and civilians, the emaciated living skeletons of soldiers and civilians trapped without food on bypassed isolated islands, the radioactive dust of Hiroshima that he walked in a month after the dropping of the bomb, starving children raiding garbage cans to survive in his ancestral province of Okayama, poverty and misery and desperation and hopelessness and death beyond the ken of human understanding or experience.  

That is what he and many other veterans saw, lived, experienced, and could not forget.  So, yeah, if the veterans are not particularly understanding of the apology, perhaps this is why. 

Sincerely,
Mike Namba
Sacramento, Calif.

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The 2024 Films of Remembrance sheds light on the forced removal and incarceration of the Japanese American community into American concentration camps during World War II.