Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress

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Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress is based in Los Angeles.

History

In 2000, the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Coalition for Redress/Reparations (NCRR) decided to adopt its non-profit name, Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress, with the same acronym, NCRR. The new name better reflects the ongoing work of NCRR: active participation in the broad areas of civil rights as well as continued commitment to redress for Japanese Americans and Japanese Latin Americans.

NCRR was founded in 1980 by Nikkei (Japanese Americans) from across the country. They held the firm belief that our community had to come together to fight for proper redress for what our government did to Nikkei during World War II.

The members were united around five founding principles:

1. To call for $25,000 monetary compensation for each individual who suffered deprivation of liberty during the War;

2. To push for a community trust fund to repair at least some of the damage to our communities brought on by the exclusion and internment;

3. To work toward overturning the wartime court cases of Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi, and Min Yasui;

4. To educate the general public about this tragedy so as to prevent such events from happening again;

5. To support similar campaigns against injustice.

NCRR has steadfastly followed these guiding principles since 1980. We worked with the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the National Council for Japanese American Redress (NCJAR), and the Nikkei members of Congress to win passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (CLA).

But foremost has been our drive to empower the grassroots community, to help give voice to Japanese Americans who felt that they had nothing to say or that what they did have to say was not important

NCRR helped many of them to speak out at the 1981 hearings of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC). We held countless forums to educate and activate the community to participate in the Redress Movement. In 1987, we organized a lobbying delegation of over 120 Nikkei to Washington D.C.

Since the historic signing of the CLA in 1988, NCRR has vigorously fought to ensure that redress becomes a reality for all those who were deprived of liberty during World War II. In 1989, when appropriations for the CLA became stalled, we rallied the community to push for appropriations. In October 1990, redress became a reality, as Japanese Americans began to receive redress in the form of a presidential apology and $20,000 monetary compensation.

When it became apparent that many individuals were being denied redress due to overly strict interpretations of the CLA, NCRR spearheaded many campaigns on behalf of denied categories. Among those that have finally obtained redress are the railroad and mine workers; the minor relocatees to Japan; children that were Redress advocates at DOR born outside of camp prior to January 21, 1945; and partial redress for Japanese Latin Americans.

NCRR has worked closely with members of the Japanese American Bar Association to press for redress in the courts for those denied reparations. As a founding member of Campaign for Justice for Japanese Latin Americans!, NCRR continues to push for legislation that would grant equity in redress for Japanese Latin Americans and Japanese Americans denied redress, and that would restore full funding for public education about the internment experience (only $5 million of the intended $50 million from the CLA was actually appropriated).

Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress continues to support the many struggles for justice. We are participants in the Summer Activist Training, the fight for the rights of workers, and international support for such groups as the comfort women brutalized by wartime Japan. NCRR is also active in efforts to make Little Tokyo a thriving community, which includes the campaign for a recreation center.[1]

2003 NCRR Day of Remembrance

The Day of Remembrance was commemorated 2003 in Little Tokyo with a program entitled “Race Prejudice, War Hysteria, Failure of Political Leadership: Then & Now,” presented by Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR), Japanese American Citizens League/Pacific Southwest District (JACL), and the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), at JANM’s George & Sakaye Aratani Central Hall.

The NCRR Fighting Spirit Award was given to Janice Yen, community redress activist and a founding member of NCRR, and Los Angeles Human Relations Commission Executive Director Robin Toma was honored with the JACL Community Achievement Award. Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) delivered the keynote address at the event emphasizing on importance of passing on the story of the Japanese American internment experiences to the future generations and criticizing the anti-Muslim American hysteria after the 9/11.

“Today, we are here at this museum because it is a depository of all the information. We have to ask ourselves why we are here. For me the answer is to pass on the information.

Guest speakers included Congressman Xavier Becerra and Omar Ricci of Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), touched on recent comments by Rep. Howard Coble and comparing the Nikkei World War ll experience with what many of the Muslim Americans have been going through since 9/11.

Becerra disagreed with Coble’s comments declaring that what happened 60 years ago to Japanese Americans was wrong.” However, he claimed that Coble would listen and acknowledge injustice of the internment if he had a right information. “I won’t give up on anyone just like Issei who believed in hope, justice and finally got a citizenship after all those years,” Becerra stated.

In her speech, Yen said, “Unfortunately, a fight for economic and social justice is not going well. It is an ongoing process. We must continue to look for and construct a municipal power. The challenge for us today is greater than ever.”

Born a month after the signing of Executive Order 9066 in 1942, Yen has worked with the redress campaign and other civil rights issues for over 22 years. She is also the assistant producer for the film produced by NCRR and Visual Communications, “Stand Up for Jus-tice,” which portrays a Mexican-Irish American, Ralph Lazo, who voluntarily went to the Manzanar to accompany his Japanese American classmates.

Toma, who has devoted himself to the Japanese Latin American redress movement, agreed with Yen. “It is a moment like this when we have a chance to reflect not only what happened and what is happening and to recognize what a critical time we are living at,” said Toma.

Toma asked the audience what the community can do to fight against the dehumanization in the war hysteria. The commissioner noted that the number of hate crimes increased 12 percent in three months after Sept. 11, 2001 in the Los Angeles County.

The event took an emotional turn when Denise Uyehara performed excerpts from “Big Head,” a project made possible by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, which conveys messages from former IA internees and Muslim Americans facing discrimination.[2]

Officers, 2002

Board of Directors

References