Rev. Paul Nagano gives an invocation at the beginning of the Shinnenkai. At right is Kathy Masaoka of NCRR. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

Rafu Staff Report

Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR) held its annual Shinnenkai on Sunday at the community lounge of Teramachi in Little Tokyo, hosted by Steve and Patty Nagano.

The informal event included an invocation by Rev. Paul Nagano and a toast led by Jim Matsuoka. With David Monkawa providing an overview, the following NCRR members discussed events and issues that the organization was involved in over the past year:

Richard Katsuda — NCRR sent a group to the Japanese American National Museum’s conference in Seattle, which observed the 25th anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, and will also do a presentation in May for the Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California on the 1981 hearings of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians.

NCRR also joined in opposition to a massive solar ranch that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power wants to build near the Manzanar National Historic Site, and to Tulelake Airport’s proposed fence that would run through the Tule Lake Segregation Center site in Northern California, Katsuda said.

Haru Kuromiya – NCRR joined a coalition seeking historic/cultural monument status for the Tuna Canyon Detention Station site in Tujunga, now part of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course. The Los Angeles City Council voted for landmark status but the property owner responded by filing suit against the city. Kuromiya’s father was detained at Tuna Canyon.

Kanji Sahara – NCRR showed its support for the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force at meetings of the Planning Commission and the City Council in Huntington Beach. Church and farm buildings on the Warner-Nichols site date back more than a century and are artifacts of the prewar Japanese American community in Orange County. The council gave the property owner permission to demolish the buildings but gave the task force 18 months to relocate the buildings or purchase the land that includes them.

Kay Ochi – Work on a book documenting the history of NCRR (originally known as National Coalition for Redress/Reparations) is progressing, with help from Professor Lane Hirabayashi of UCLA and designer Qris Yamashita.

Also, NCRR has been asked to donate to the construction of a statue of the late Mervyn Dymally at the Dymally School of Nursing, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. As a member of Congress, Dymally was an early supporter of redress and helped secure backing from the Congressional Black Caucus, Ochi said.

Kathy Masaoka – NCRR spoke out in support of a monument to Korean “comfort women” that was unveiled in Glendale’s Central Park. Although there has been opposition from Japanese nationals, Japanese immigrants and some Japanese American Korean War veterans, NCRR’s position is that women who were forced in to sexual servitude by the Japanese military during World War II are still seeking justice, just as Japanese Americans did during the redress movement.

Also, NCRR continues to support youth-oriented programs such as Bridging Communities, which brings together Japanese American and Muslim American students, Masaoka said.

With guitar in hand, Phil Shigekuni from San Fernando Valley JACL led the group in singing “If I Had a Hammer” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

NCRR is currently planning the annual Day of Remembrance program, to be held Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. at JANM.

Haru Kuromiya and Richard Katsuda were among those giving presentations on the past year’s events. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

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