Densho eNews - December

From the Director: Tom Ikeda

"December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy..."
--President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Today is the 69th anniversary of a date that causes discomfort for many Japanese Americans. It is a date that reminds Japanese Americans of the wartime hysteria and prejudice that led to the removal and incarceration of people of Japanese descent from the West Coast during World War II. Since 1941 much has been researched, written and learned about the injustice of what happened to Japanese Americans during World War II. But what still needs to happen is to apply these learnings to divisive issues facing our country today.

During peacetime many racist tendencies exist only as slumbering thoughts, but they emerge during wartime into vicious words and hurtful actions because of fear and ignorance. Through education Densho hopes to make things better during the next crisis by helping Americans to be a little more informed, a little more thoughtful, and a little more accepting of the next group to be targeted. We do this work not only to make our country better, but to honor and remember the 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II.

An end of year note of appreciation: As 2010 comes to an end, I want to express my deep appreciation for your interest and support in Densho. More people than ever came to Densho's websites to learn about the Japanese American experience. We also had more donations from more people than in any previous year. These expressions of interest and support are the fuel that inspire and keep us charging forward. Thank you!

From the Archive

War Hysteria: Pearl Harbor and the Media

For this month's From the Archive article, Densho is republishing a piece we featured back in December of 2006. For many Japanese Americans, the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor is a painful reminder of the ease with which constitutional rights gave way to racism and fear. The attack unleashed an unprecedented level of anti-Japanese sentiment throughout the country. Newspapers rushed to print sensational headlines of spying and subversion, while journalists and public officials often made no distinction between Japanese Americans and Imperial Japanese soldiers. This hysteria had very real consequences, not only for the Japanese American community, but for U.S. society as a whole.

>> Read more of this article

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Archive Spotlight

Justice Charles Z. Smith: Reflections on Pearl Harbor

In this month's Archive Spotlight, Charles Z. Smith, former Washington State Supreme Court Justice, discusses his feelings upon hearing about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Having never personally met a Japanese American prior to 1941, he describes believing in the war propaganda of the time and not being able to distinguish between Japanese Americans and the Japanese nationals responsible for the attack. This video clip is also featured in this month's From the Archive article.

>> View the interview excerpt
>> Register for the free Densho Digital Archive

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Densho News

Interviews in the Bay Area

Last week Densho was in the Bay Area conducting 7 interviews in the newly renovated Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj). We were able to use some of the museum's exhibit artifacts as background displays for the interviews and also enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of the San Jose folks! All of the interviews were interesting and covered a wide range of topics including an interview with Iwao Peter Sano, a Nisei who was in Japan during World War II, was conscripted into the Japanese army, surrendered with his Japanese unit to the Soviets when the war ended, and was in a Siberian prison camp for almost 3 years. Thank you to Steve Fugita at JAMsj for working with us, and to the California Civil Liberties Public Education Fund (CCLPEP) and the Manzanar National Historic Site for providing funding.

>> Learn more about the Japanese American Museum of San Jose

Over 280,000 Pageviews for Densho's Japanese Website

Last month the Tokyo Broadcasting System aired an 11-hour miniseries drama about the Japanese American experience spanning a 99 year time period. During this month over 29,000 people visited a website that Densho created to help Japanese understand the history of Japanese Americans. The average visitor spent 10 minutes at the website and viewed 10 different pages giving this website over 280,000 pageviews during the month. This website was made possible with the support of the US-Japan Foundation.

>> Visit the website

Challenge Match - Three Weeks to Go

Thank you to the Tateuchi Foundation and the Terasaki Foundation Lab for providing over $90,000 in challenge matches over the last 2 months. With 3 weeks left in the challenge match time period, we've raised over $75,000, putting us within $15,000 of taking full advantage of these challenges. Thank you to all who have already donated, especially to the 110 new donors! For those of you who haven't donated, over the next three weeks the foundations will be matching donations, and then this amount will be tripled with a $2 for $1 challenge grant by the National Park Service. The result of these matches is that for every one dollar donation, Densho receives six dollars in benefit! If we successfully complete this challenge match, Densho will receive a total of $550,000 to do interviews and to create an online encyclopedia. You can donate using a secure online server or you can mail us a check at 1416 S Jackson, Seattle, WA 98144.

>> Donate to Densho online

Another Successful Sushi & Sake Gala

Over 600 people ate sushi and drank sake at last month's Sushi & Sake Gala to help raise over $140,000 for Densho's interview program and its online encyclopedia project. An added feature at this year's event was a dinner program where Executive Director Tom Ikeda gave an overview of the first 15 years of Densho.

>> View photos from the event

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