Masao Suzuki

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Masao Suzuki


Masao Suzuki is chair of the Joint Nationalities Commission, Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!.[1]

He is a Professor of Economics at Skyline College, San Francisco Bay Area.

Open Letter to the Biden Campaign on “Unprepared”

Open Letter to the Biden Campaign on “Unprepared” was released May 12 2020.

":Our demands: The country’s greatest priority at this moment is to beat the COVID-19 crisis, and this requires embracing principles of antiracist solidarity and international cooperation. The Biden campaign can and should beat Trump and the GOP with a message centered on our real public health needs and the progressive values that are required to meet those needs. The “Unprepared” ad must be taken down, and all campaign messaging that fuels anti-Asian racism and China-bashing must end. We refuse to allow the Biden campaign to sacrifice our dignity in the name of political expediency."

Signatories included Masao Suzuki, Professor of Economics at Skyline College.

IWK/LRS

Masao Suzuki is a former member of I Wor Kuen, an Asian American revolutionary organization. Founded in 1969 in New York City and inspired by the Black Panther Party, IWK organized in the community, on campus and in the workplace. IWK's newspaper, Getting Together, was published in Chinese and English. In 1979, IWK merged with the August 29th Movement , which grew out of the struggles of the Chicano people, to form the League of Revolutionary Struggle\. Masao and other former members of the LRS today work with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!.[2]

East Wind

In 1982 Masao Suzuki was a Contributing Editor to East Wind. He was a student at U.C. Berkeley and a member of the Philippines Education Support Committee.[3]

In 1985 Contributing Editors to the League of Revolutionary Struggle Asian journal East Wind included:

SAN FRANCISCO : Wilma Chan, founding member of the Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco); Gordon Chang, Asian American history instructor at Stanford University; Forrest Gok, Paper Angels Productions board of directors and former staff of San Francisco Journal; Jon Jang, jazz recording artist/producer of Are You Chinese or Charlie Chan?: Happy Lim, journalist, poet, writer, and Secretary of the Chinese Workers Mutual Aid Association in the 1940s; Masao Suzuki-Bonzo, graduate student in economics, Stanford University; Ranko Yamada, attorney.

Unity

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In 1983 Masao Suzuki-Bonzo, an an activist with Campaign Against Military Intervention in the Philippines, was a contributor League of Revolutionary Struggles' Unity.

Middle East Action Committee

A fledgling committee is organizing a "non-partisan rally and sleep-out" starting Wednesday at 10 p.m. in White Plaza to oppose U.S. military action in the Persian Gulf. Plans for the rally include speakers "from all sides of the political spectrum," open mike discussions, vocal groups and bands, a letter-writing table to contact representatives in Congress, construction of a wall with murals and a refreshment stand. To ensure visible student action after the rally, there will also be a stand to make black armbands and "shocking, provocative and newsworthy" posters for Big Game, according to rally organizer Tom Clyde, a senior. "The main [purpose] is really to stimulate more debate and discussion on the issue," said Masao Suzuki, a member of the Middle East Action Committee, which supports the rally. "It's an issue that will ultimately affect young people more than others. The Stanford community can play a very important role because we attract a lot of media attention." Clyde agreed that media coverage of the rally was important.

'The main [purpose] is really to stimulate more debate and discussion on the issue. It's an issue that will ultimately affect young people more than others.'[4]

LRS controversy

When posters appeared at Stanford University in 1990 exposing Gordon Chang as a League of Revolutionary Struggle member, several people leapt to his defense.

“Teachers should be judged by their academics, not through their supposed political life,” according to the statement. The statement was signed by a number of officers in the Asian American Student Association, including chair Edward Morimoto and former chair Joseph Park.

An individual fitting Terrell’s general description was spotted hanging the posters by several people, including Nan Bentley, a History Department administrator. Chaparral editor David Hyatt also saw a man fitting Terrell’s description distributing the posters.

The accusations play upon “a lot of racist stereotypes ... of Asians being sneaky, subversive and manipulative,” according to Elsa Tsutaoka, office manager of the Asian American Activities Center.

The accusations against Chang are “really unfortunate because we’re right in the middle of trying to convince him to come here,” said Jean Kim, director of graduate residences.

“I think this is really low,” said economics graduate student Masao Suzuki, who has been active in the Asian American Student Association’s attempt to get a tenured professor position.[5]

Stanford Daily editors met 22 May 1990 with more than 70 members of campus groups to discuss Friday's coverage of two related articles about the League of Revolutionary Struggle. Members of the Asian American Student Association, ASSU Committee on Democracy in Education, Black Student Union, MEChA, Stanford Central American Action Network, Stanford American Indian Organization and others expressed discontent with The Daily's coverage at the tense 40-minute meeting. Editor in Chief John Wagner told the audience, "It is a learning process for us to listen to your ideas. . . . We are interested in what you have to say." Sunday, AASA members requested a meeting with Daily editors, and Wagner agreed. One article centered on an anonymous poster distributed around campus Thursday. The flier accused Gordon Chang, who is considering coining to Stanford as a tenured professor in Asian American studies, of being a leader of the League

Judy Wu, an AASA officer, drew loud applause when she said, "I for one have fought for Asian American studies because I believe in it. I was not duped and I don't think anyone else was." Senior Steven Levitsky of Stanford Central American Action Network said the juxtaposition of the two stories "legitimizes the message of the flier."

"All year long students of color have been under attack on this campus, and it is really paralyzing our communities," said Ana Mata, co-chair of MEChA. "Any relations that The Daily had with MEChA are ruined" because of the innuendo in the article, she said. Masao Suzuki, a graduate student in economics, asked heatedly near the end of the meeting, "Does The Daily know about the type of McCarthyism that went on in the 1950s?" Valerie Mih, an AASA officer and an at-large member of The Daily's editorial board, said, "The Daily has to do more than give a meeting. ... A correction should be given the same exposure as original misinformation."[6]

Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s

The Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s was the Committees of Correspondence's first national conference held in Berkeley, California July 17-19, 1992.[7]

Workshops that were held at the conference on Saturday, July 18 included:[8]

Asian Pacific What are the dynamics of the role of the Asian-Pacific community within the working class and the nation? What is the relationship between the anti-discrimination struggle of the Asian/Pacific peoples and the general movement for social emancipation and democracy?

NCC candidate

At the Committees of Correspondence Conference, July 19,1992, Masao Suzuki was a candidate for the CoC NCC.[9]

"Is Islam taking the place of communism..."

According to Naomi Nakamura on June 2 2002, members of the San Jose Japanese American community met at the Yu-Ai-Kai (Japanese American Seniors' Center). They were there to learn more about the attacks on Arab Americans, Muslims and civil liberties following Sept. 11. Susan Hayase moderated the program on behalf of the Nihonmachi Outreach Committee. In her introduction, Hayase said, "It is happening again," and pointed the connection between the mass arrests of Japanese Americans following Pearl Harbor and the detention of Arab and Muslim Americans today.

Fadi Saba, a member of the Coalition for Civil Liberties, said that the attacks on Arabs and Muslims today echo the Palmer Raids of the 1920's, where the U.S. government rounded up and deported thousands of immigrants suspected of being communists. Mark Schlosberg, of the American Civil Liberties Union, warned the audience about the USA Patriot Act, which expands police powers, labels civil disobedience as terrorism, and targets immigrants. Maha Elgenaidi, of the Islamic Networks Group, raised the question, "Is Islam taking the place of communism in a new cold war?" She also called on individuals to educate themselves and for the community to speak out as a group.

After the panel presentation, members of the audience shared web sites on civil liberties, the concentration camps for Japanese Americans during World War II, and anti-war information. There was a discussion about the Arab Americans who had been fired by Cadence Designs and Macy's. Towards the end of the discussion, Masao Suzuki, a member of the Nihonmachi Outreach Committee, said there was a need to "build a base in the Japanese American community, build ties with Arab, Muslim, and South Asian Americans, and criticize U.S. foreign policy."[10]

FBI attention

One early morning fall 2010, professor Masao Suzuki was in the driveway of his west San Jose home. As he tells it, his daughter was in the car, waiting to be driven to Prospect High School. Suzuki had just finished loading the things he’d need that day to teach economics classes at Skyline College into his trunk when a man walked up to him.

“’He said, ‘Are you Masao Suzuki? I said, ‘Yes I am.’ And he said, ‘I’m from the FBI,’ and he showed me his badge.”

Suzuki, a longtime local political activist, says the man tried to question him, but he refused. He says the man told him he would have to instead question his neighbors and co-workers.

“I just said, ‘I don’t want to talk to you,” Suzuki recalls.

Although he never heard from him again, there’s no doubt in Suzuki’s mind that the young dark-suited man was an FBI agent. Suzuki believes the visit was part of an FBI investigation seeking to convict him and other anti-war activists of terrorist activities under the PATRIOT Act. He believes this because on that same day—Sept. 24, 2010—the FBI raided the Chicago and Minneapolis homes of several of his colleagues—activists who’d organized protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention. In those raids, the FBI seized computers, cell phones and documents, and served federal grand jury subpoenas to 14 people.

In other parts of the country that day, at least 20 others were questioned. Last month new subpoenas were served on another group of activists. A total of 23 people have been ordered to appear at a Chicago Grand Jury on Jan. 25.

The search warrants issued by the U.S. District Court on Sept. 23 indicate that the FBI was looking for evidence related to a law prohibiting “material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.” Suzuki is named on the search warrants issued to the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee along with others who were subpoenaed.

Suzuki is a 20-year member of San Jose’s Nihonmachi Outreach Committee (NOC), whose mission is “educating the public about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.” In 2008, representing NOC, Suzuki joined a coalition of peace organizations who demonstrated at the September 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

A flier promoting the protest, which proclaims “U.S. Out of Iraq Now!,” names Suzuki as the contact and includes his cell phone number. This flier lists the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee and dozens of other participating organizations including CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, the War Resisters League and dozens of Midwestern student groups, labor unions and peace centers.

Following the alleged encounter in his driveway last September, Suzuki says, he was shaken. He soon got wind of the FBI’s activities in Chicago and St. Paul. He says he warned his neighbors, his students and the vice president of his union—the [[A[merican Federation of Teachers]]—that the FBI might be calling on them. He also contacted an attorney, Dan Mayfield of San Jose.

Mayfield is a member of the National Lawyers Guild, a civil rights advocacy group that, along with the ACLU, is closely following this grand jury and the FBI’s activities. He says Patrick Fitzgerald, a high-profile U.S. attorney for northern Illinois, is taking the PATRIOT Act’s definition of “terrorist act” and a change in the definition of “material aid” from a recent Supreme Court case and putting them together to intimidate people and organizations.

“It’s unclear whether Fitzgerald wants to use this to run for higher office but we’ve seen this type of thing before—Rudy Giuliani started out as a U.S. attorney,” Mayfield says, adding: “Isn’t it interesting that Fitzgerald, a politically savvy holdover from the Bush administration, is interested in people who organized demonstrations against the RNC that was held in his backyard?”

On Dec. 2, Suzuki and representatives from the South Bay Labor Council, American Federation of Teachers, Council on American-Islamic Relations and the San Jose Peace Center met with Rep. Mike Honda’s aides. They had Honda send a letter of inquiry to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Honda’s office says it’s still waiting to hear back from Holder.

Mayfield says that since Sept. 24 there’s been a lot of push-back to the FBI’s moves. The National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU and hundreds of labor unions, state and federal legislators, and human rights groups have asked Holder to stop this grand jury. A new national organization, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, is organizing demonstrations in 20 U.S. cities on Jan. 25.

Suzuki and Mayfield have organized an affiliate, the South Bay Committee Against Political Repression, which is holding teach-ins and a rally on Jan. 25 from 4 to 6 pm at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library at Fourth and San Fernando streets in San Jose.[11]

US Social Forum

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Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack! table at the US Social Forum - Another World is Possible in San Jose, California. — with Masao Suzuki, Chrisley Carpio, Jared Tony Hamil, Steff Yorek and Gregory Lucero.[12]

Japanese - Muslim solidarity

On March 25, 2017, 200 people marched from San Jose Japantown to San Jose City Hall to express the solidarity between Japanese Americans and American Muslims. Since the election of Donald Trump, many Japanese Americans have been mobilized to oppose the anti-Muslim government policies such as the travel ban from majority-Muslim countries. The march was sponsored by the Nihonmachi Outreach Committee (NOC) and the South Bay Islamic Association (SBIA).

As people assembled for the march, Susan Hayase - former NOC chair and the vice-chairperson of the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund in the period after the fight for redress and reparations - emceed a short program that included welcomes by Reverend Shinya Goto of the First United Methodist Church and Faisal Yazadi of the Evergreen Islamic Center.

The lead banner expressed the theme of the day: “1942-2017, 75 years of resistance. No to concentration camps. No to Islamophobia.” On the way to city hall, the marchers chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, Islamophobia has got to go!” and “Two, four, six, eight, the fight for justice will not wait!” People joined the march along the way.

Once at city hall, emcee began the rally saying, “Welcome, and thank you so much for being here! My name is Lisa Washio-Collette, and on behalf of the Nihonmachi Outreach Committee, we thank you for attending this grassroots day of solidarity between Japanese Americans and American Muslims! The Nihonmachi Outreach Committee is a progressive organization based in the San Jose Japanese American community that is dedicated to educating the public about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, and as a consequence, is committed to defending all people on issues of civil rights, equality, justice, tolerance and peace. We are grateful to be co-sponsoring this event with the South Bay Islamic Association.”

The rally was co-emceed by Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Other speakers at the rally included Judy Mine, Silicon Valley Japanese American Citizens League (JACL); Faisal Yazadi (EIC); Masao Suzuki (NOC); Susan Hayase; Fumiaki Tosu, Casa de Clara Catholic Worker; Jesus Ruíz, People Acting in Community Together (PACT); Ash Kalra, State Assembly District 27 that includes Japantown; Tom Oshidari, San Jose JACL; and Robert Greenfield, African American Community Service Agency.[13]

Charlottesville rally

On August 13, more than 500 people rallied outside the San José City Hall in solidarity with the fight against white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia. The candlelight rally honored Heather Heyer, who was killed by an American fascist from Ohio. San Jose activists spoke in solidarity with the 19 others injured when the fascist drove his car at high speed into people protesting the white supremacist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville.

Masao Suzuki of Nihonmachi Outreach Committee (NOC) spoke of the rising resistance to Donald Trump and the white supremacists he emboldens. Suzuki led the crowd in a Japanese chant, “Ganbatte!” (Persevere in the struggle!).

The San Jose rally was organized by Women’s March – San Jose and STAND San Jose. It included speakers from Rise Up for Justice and Showing Up for Racial Justice. Reverend Jennifer Goto from People Acting in Community Together (PACTS) and Zahra Billoo of Council on American Islamic Relations also spoke of the fight against white supremacy.[14]

References

  1. FBNews!Donald Trump, the Republican Party and their attack on citizenshipBy Masao Suzuki, Freedom Road Socialist Organization | September 10, 2015
  2. San Jose Peace and Justice Center Event April 2012 Fight Back! Newspaper: Fighting War and Political Repression
  3. East Wind Vol 1 No 1
  4. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 198, Issue 37, 13 November 1990]
  5. [Michael Friedly, Poster attacks alleged political ties of Chang First Published: The Stanford Daily, Volume 197, Issue 60, 18 May 1990]
  6. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 197, Issue 62, 22 May 1990 ]
  7. Conference program
  8. Proceedings of the Committees of Correspondence Conference: Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the '90s booklet, printed by CoC in NY, Sept. 1992 (Price: $4)
  9. [http://www.nathannewman.org/EDIN/.left/CoC/.conference/.election.html, Committees of Correspondence Conference, July 19,1992 Final Corrections to the Balloting Committee Report by Steve Willett]
  10. [Fightback News, War Hysteria, Then and Now by Naomi Nakamura | June 2, 2002]
  11. Jose.com Local Activist Masao Suzuki Claims FBI Targeted Him by Diane Solomon on Jan 20, 2011
  12. June 27
  13. FB News, Japanese American and American Muslim solidarity march By staff | March 28, 2017
  14. [1]