100th BATTALION AND MIS VETERANS INSTALL NEW OFFICERS
Two World War II AJA veterans groups — the 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans organization and the MIS (Military Intelligence Service) Veterans Club of Hawaii — installed their new officers and boards of directors on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28 and 29, respectively.
Three MIS veterans, their families and even the families and friends of deceased MIS veterans, welcomed the “Year of the Rabbit” at a luncheon shinnenkai at the Natsunoya Tea House on Sunday, Jan. 29. The three World War II veterans — James Moy and Wilbert “Willie” Toda and, from Kauai, Norman Hashisaka (and his wife Mabel) — were recognized at the gathering. Toda’s musical friends serenaded the audience with their ‘ukulele and guitar tunes with Toda joining in on several songs with his harmonica.
Military Intelligence Service soldiers used their Japanese language skills to interpret and translate captured documents, persuade Japanese forces to surrender, interrogate captured prisoners and, in Okinawa, to persuade civilians hiding in caves to surrender. They demonstrated kindness and compassion in postwar Japan, hastening Japan’s recovery and advancing U.S.-Japan relations.
Outgoing president Lawrence “Larry” Enomoto administered the oath of office to the new officers. Their fathers had served in the Military Intelligence Service. They are: Karen Kikukawa, president (daughter of Tsugio Aoyama); Bev Ramsey, vice president (daughter of James Hiroshi Saito); Gregg Hirata, secretary (son of Teichiro Timmy Hirata); and Sherman Takao, treasurer (son of Judge Frank Takao). Wilbert Toda, Larry Enomoto (son of G.N. Toshio Enomoto), Mark Matsunaga (son of George Matsunaga) and Keith Matsumoto (son of Herbert Matsumoto) will serve as directors.
“We have to maintain the legacy,” Kikukawa told the audience, urging them to get involved in this summer’s celebration marking the 80th anniversary of the unit’s formation. She reminded the audience that they would not have the luxuries they have today if not for the sacrifice and service of the MIS and other World War II AJA soldiers. Kikukawa said her father always used the term “AJA” rather than “Japanese Americans,” reminding her that she is an American first and foremost and of Japanese ancestry second. “We will follow through for them,” Kikukawa said.
The attendees also received a progress report from University of Hawai‘i Foundation officials Christine Koo and Jon Han regarding the endowed scholarship that was created at the University of Hawai‘i. Fittingly, the scholarship is for students pursuing studies in Japanese language or culture with preference given to students who plan on a career teaching Japanese language. The Military Intelligence Service of Hawaii/Makiki Japanese Language School Endowed Scholarship Fund was established in 2003 with donations from MIS veterans and proceeds from the dissolution of the Makiki Japanese Language School. Students attending any campus in the UH System can apply for the scholarship. In the 20 years since its establishment, 65 scholarships have been awarded to 38 students, several of whom have received it more than once. The fund’s goal is to award scholarships to as many students as possible within the guidelines established by the UH Foundation. Most of the scholarships range from $2,000 to $3,000 and have resulted in the expending of $127,100 from the Military Intelligence Service of Hawaii/Makiki Japanese Language School Endowed Scholarship Fund.
More sing-along music by Friends of Willie Toda continued until the conclusion of the program.
Just a day earlier, on Saturday, Jan. 28, about 65 members, friends and supporters of the 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans organization gathered at the Kamoku Street clubhouse that the Club 100 veterans, as they called themselves, built in 1952 with funds they began collecting while in training at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, and continued to collect throughout the war. The multifaceted program included the installation of the club’s 2023-’24 officers; a talk by 100th son David Fukuda about the 100th Battalion’s fighting in Italy; and the unveiling of a replica of Central Pacific Bank’s “Legacy Wall” honoring its Nisei founders, among them 100th Battalion veteran Sakae Takahashi.
The first order of business was the installation of the new officers by immediate past president Ann Kabasawa. Janice Sakoda, whose father, Gary Uchida, served in the 100th Battalion’s Headquarters Company, is the club’s new president. Serving with her on the club’s executive board of directors are: first vice president Avin Oshiro (son of Seie Oshiro, Able Co.); second vice president Carly Ikuma (granddaughter of Edward Ikuma, Headquarters Co.); secretary Bev Descalzi (daughter of George Yamamoto, Able Co.); treasurer Kathi Hayashi (daughter of Tokuichi Hayashi, Able Co.) and immediate past president Ann Kabasawa (daughter of Ray Nosaka, Baker Co.). The chapter representatives are: Amy Kwong (Able), Jan Nadamoto (Baker), Irene Anzai (Charlie), Joyce Chinen (Dog) and Lawrence Enomoto (HQ/Medics).
David Fukuda’s father, Mitsuyoshi “Mits” Fukuda, was a teacher at Konawaena High School when he was called to active duty and became an original member of the 100th Infantry Battalion. Mits Fukuda arrived in Italy as the commander of E Company and rose through the ranks to become the only Nisei to command the 100th Battalion in World War II. He also served as executive officer of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, of which the 100th had been designated the first battalion, but was allowed to keep its original name, the 100th Infantry Battalion. Maj. Fukuda made U.S. Army history by becoming the first AJA to command an infantry battalion.
In his talk, David Fukuda traced the 100th’s fighting in Italy, from landing at Salerno on Sept. 22, 1943, until June 24, 1945, in Aulla, a province of Massa and Carrara. Most of his talk covered the period before the 442nd Regimental Combat Team arrived in Europe. He talked about his journeys to Italy with other 100th Battalion descendants and pointed to six places where he was able to definitively document his father’s movements. Fukuda’s PowerPoint presentation detailed how the 100th traversed certain battle sites in Italy. Maj. Fukuda, who died in 1988, was the last member of the original 100th Battalion to leave Europe in October 1945.
Finally, the program included the unveiling of a replica of Central Pacific Bank’s three-panel “Legacy Wall” honoring the bank’s founding in 1954. Diane Murakami, executive vice president for commercial markets, and Jon Teraizumi, senior vice president and senior commercial banking manager, represented the bank. Murakami said the “Legacy Wall” was previously exhibited in the lobby of the main branch on Alakea Street and was later moved to the corporate offices on the 20th floor, where CPB’s clients can still view it.
The panels trace Central Pacific Bank’s establishment to its Nisei founders, including 100th Battalion veterans, Sakae Takahashi (Baker Co.) and Hideo Kajikawa (Headquarters Co.), and 442nd Regimental Combat Team veteran and future U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye. Jan Sakoda noted that although he was not a founder, 100th veteran Mike Tokunaga (Charlie Co.) was also involved in CPB’s efforts to provide banking opportunities to all of Hawai‘i’s people. Murakami said it is important to remember what the founders’ service to the bank. They “persevered with the ‘go for broke’ mentality for all of Hawai‘i consumers and businesses,” she said.
Former CPB director Dennis Hirota spoke emotionally about recently meeting the grandson of one of the bank’s early shareholders. Sakae Takahashi had helped his grandfather obtain a loan for his business from CPB after having been turned down by Hawai‘i’s other established banks. The grandson still had the paper certificate for the 150 shares of Central Pacific Bank stock that his grandfather purchased to support the bank.
Three of Sakae and Bette Takahashi’s four adult children attended the unveiling of the “Legacy Wall.” Mark Takahashi, who had arrived the night before from the East Coast, where he lives, spoke on behalf of his sisters, Karen and Kathy, and twin brother, Brian. He applauded the work of the 100th Battalion descendants to keep the unit’s legacy alive. Having just listened to David Fukuda’s talk, he noted several parallels between their fathers’ lives, with one exception — his father married a haole woman from New York, while Mits Fukuda married a local woman.
“The 100th transformed their lives,” said the ‘Iolani School alumnus. “Service with the 100th was a defining moment in my father’s life — not just fighting the Nazis and authoritarianism, but prejudice at home. That was so important and they were so successful,” he said. ”He never talked about the war, but my memories of him are about the values: work hard, study hard, do good things. He was always there for us,” Takahashi said of his father, who died in 2001. It was the reason his father got involved in politics, serving two decades, in Hawai‘i’s territorial and state Senate. He got involved in establishing Central Pacific Bank to provide equal opportunities to everyone in the community and to build a better and more just Hawai‘i.
“One of his great joys was to see a very small bank become what it is today,” Mark Takahashi said. “On behalf of the family, I thank everybody for coming out and for moving the story forward.”
HUI O LAULIMA GRANTS AWARDS
On Thursday, Jan. 26, Hui O Laulima — a member-club within the Hawai‘i United Okinawa Association — announced their 2023 cultural grant recipients. HOL, a non-profit women’s organization, offers grants to individuals and organizations that promote and perpetuate the unique culture of Okinawa in Hawai‘i’s island communities.
HOL awarded $10,000 in grants to three organizations for specific projects aimed at perpetuating Okinawan culture. “Each awardee demonstrated potential to promote and expand the influence of our vibrant and colorful Okinawan culture,” noted HOL cultural grants committee chair Karen Fuse.
Congratulations and best wishes to each of the following recipients for a successful year:
- Jimpu Kai USA Kin Ryosho Ryukyu Geino Kenkyusho Hawaii Shibu: Airfare support to Okinawa for two teachers to continue research/documentation, performances and conduct workshops through the Okinawa Prefectural University of the Arts.
- Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai-Jimpu Kai Maui: Airfare support for Cheryl Nakasone sensei for her monthly classes on Maui.
- Tamagusuku Ryu Senju Kai Frances Nakachi Ryubu Dojo: Airfare support for two students to travel to Okinawa to take their certification tests, accompanied by their sensei.
“REDRESS” FILM AVAILABLE TO WATCH ONLINE
Hawai‘i native Emi Kuboyama, who began her legal career as an attorney with the Office of Redress Administration, created “Redress,” a short educational film, as told by those who both administered and participated in the Japanese American reparations program. The film tells the important history about how the Office of Redress Administration came to be and how the program helped Japanese American incarceration survivors find justice. “Redress” is streaming free on its website japaneseamericanredress.org.
Eighty-one years ago, on Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, forcibly sending more than 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals into incarceration centers during World War II. Nearly half a century later, President Ronald Reagan issued a formal apology for the unconstitutional mass incarceration and signed H.R. 442, the Civil Liberties Act, which sought to make amends via financial reparations to surviving Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. The bill was specially numbered as H.R. 442 to honor the all-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history for their size and length of service.
“We gather here today to right a grave wrong,” said President Regan on Aug. 10, 1988, before signing the historic bill. “The legislation that I am about to sign provides restitution payment to each of the 60,000 surviving Japanese Americans of the 120,000 who were relocated or detained. Yet no payment can make up for those lost years. So, what is most important in this bill has less to do with property than with honor — for here, we admit a wrong; here, we reaffirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under the law.”
The Office of Redress Administration was created by the Civil Rights Division by Section 105 of the law and charged with the responsibility of identifying and verifying Japanese Americans eligible for the monetary redress as well as processing payments and apology letters. The program lasted 10 years and provided tax-free restitution payments of up to $20,000 to more than 80,000 eligible Japanese Americans.
In 2017, Kuboyama visited the University of California, Berkeley’s Advanced Oral History Institute, with the idea to record oral histories on redress. At the campus’s Oral History Center, Kuboyama met Todd Holmes, a historian who would become the “Redress” project’s co-creator and videographer. They received a Japanese American Confinement Sites grant from the National Parks Service, and Kuboyama and Holmes conducted interviews with former Office of Redress Administration staff and community leaders who were affiliated with the program, which turned into The Office of Redress Administration Oral History Project. The interviews and transcripts are available at the Densho Digital Repository.
Kuboyama and Holmes then teamed up with filmmaker Jon Ayon, web designer Heidi Holmes and project consultant antonio antonio to use the footage to create “Redress,” using the interviews from the former ORA workers to narrate the film. “Redress” also shares the hard work of those who pushed the government into passing the Civil Liberties Act, old government-aired TV footage, including incarceration survivors who shared memories of the camps’ harsh conditions without running water and electricity as well as the long-lasting psychological effects of being incarcerated solely based on race.
“Because of this evacuation,” shares one woman, “I really denied my children their Japanese heritage, and I wanted to erase that part. I wanted to be 100% American and be accepted.”
In addition, the film also touches upon lesser known facts; such as reparations for Aleuts who were evacuated out of the Aleutian Islands during WWII. Japanese forces had occupied Kiska and Attu Island, in the western Aleutians and islanders were taken to Hokkaido, where there were held as prisoners of war. The U.S. government, fearing another invasion, relocated hundreds of Aleuts to incarceration centers in Alaska. “Redress” also discusses how thousands of Japanese Latin Americans were rounded up and deported to the U.S. for incarceration with the intention of being exchanged for American prisoners of war held by Axis nations. Many Japanese Peruvians were held at gunpoint, passports and papers confiscated, forced to board a ship to America only to be classified as “illegal aliens.” The Civil Liberties Act required that a person must have been a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien during the war to be eligible for redress. “Redress” follows the ORA’s winding terrain as they navigated the complexity of the bill.
The project’s aim was to document the complicated history of Japanese American redress, and Kuboyama hopes that “Redress” honors those who fought for the historical bill and highlights government officials who worked with the community to carry it out, and that the film aids further discussions on how lessons from the Japanese American redress can contribute to future movements.
For more information and to view the film, please visit japaneseamericanredress.org.
REGISTER FOR 80TH ANNIVERSARY ANNUAL BANQUET
On Saturday, March 5, the Sons and Daughters of the 442 Regimental Combat Team will host its 80th Anniversary Annual Banquet to celebrate the service of veterans who fought in World War II. The banquet will take place at Hale Ikena and will include food and entertainment. Tickets are $50 per person, and veterans and widows of veterans may attend free of charge. Registration forms and payment must be received by mail at 933 Wiliwili St. no later than Monday, March 6.
For more information, please 442sd.org or contact Juanita Allen at 808-840-0627, email@example.com.