Dining room at Keiro Retirement Home. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)
Dining room at Keiro Retirement Home. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

Dear Editor,

I am writing to thank Rafu for the Nov. 14 article about Hayahiko Takase and his views of the pending Keiro sale. I was extremely glad that Mr. Takase, as a board member of Keiro Retirement Home, spoke up. It is very courageous of him, especially since he and his wife are both residents of Keiro Retirement Home.

I had given up expecting anyone from the Keiro boards or staff members speaking up as it has been over two months since the Save Keiro protest began. I just wish more people will have the courage to speak out. I’m sure there are more board members who did not agree with the sale of Keiro.

It takes courage to speak out, but at a time like this one must decide what is more important: maintaining your position on the board and remaining “friends” with the group, or to speak up on behalf of the elderly residents for whom Keiro was founded in 1961.

When the sale was approved by the attorney general (Sept. 2), the Japanese community was stunned. It is as if they never knew this was coming. When the conditions cited in the AG’s letter were made known to the public, I was really startled to learn Keiro in all likelihood would exist for only five years and then everyone will probably be kicked out.

I asked myself, “Was this ever mentioned by Keiro prior to the sale?” Everyone I asked also did not know about this either.

As previously reported in The Rafu, the AG denied the request to hold a public hearing by U.S. Rep. Judy Chu and 15 other congressmembers from California. One main reason cited was that the AG office had performed “a thorough review of more than 2,000 pages…which featured a detailed history of approximately 60 community meetings over the course of two years regarding the sale.”

I recently researched some of these 60 meetings (actually 62 are listed on pages 800-803 in Vol. 2) and checked some of the venues listed to ask people if they recall any of the listed meetings and what was discussed. No one recalls any discussion of the sale. Fourteen (14) of the meetings listed were for staff employees and eleven (11) were for residents and families. However, none of the residents/families recall any discussion of the sale.

Keiro documents mailed to families for a couple of those meetings contain nothing about the sale. So one has to wonder: 1) How can the AG state they did a “thorough review”? 2) Why did Keiro insert the list of meetings and mislabel them as “List of Community Meetings Held”? Was this deliberately done so that the AG would give Keiro a waiver of a public hearing? And all of the 62 listed meetings predates the Pacifica sale. Is this being honest?

I ask the community to look over the documents, which are posted on the www.savekeiro.org website. The Rafu’s Mr. Wimpy Hiroto apparently read through the documents at the Keiro office (see his column dated Sept. 23) and he did not see anything fishy, but like the AG office he did not research any of these meetings. It’s easy to fool people by swamping them with numbers.

In addition to the list of meetings, on Page 804 is a list of publications that purportedly were also used to inform the community about the sale. There are seven Umbrella of Care (U of C) newsletters listed but only one, the last one on the list dated March 2014, that announces the sale is in escrow (to Ensign). All previous U of C did not mention Keiro was in the process of selling and no specifics whatsoever are written in any of the newsletters.

Please check the AG docs and investigate for yourself. I could go on but you get the drift by now. It’s very clear to me that the information provided by Keiro is inaccurate and misleading. I believe the AG relied on these lists and thought the community was well-informed so there was no need for a public hearing and therefore waived it.

If you were surprised to hear of the sale being in escrow with the possible five-year-only life of Keiro, you are not the only ones. I maintain these details were never discussed. Many people have written to The Rafu asking Keiro to be more transparent with details of the sale but it took weeks and weeks of pressure from the community before Keiro finally called a public meeting on Oct. 15 at Nishi Hongwanji. That meeting, as everyone knows, was a farce.

Prior to that meeting, in the Sept. 29 Rafu edition, Mr. Shawn Miyake was asked, “Will Keiro have an open meeting with the community to discuss the sale?” His answer was “We’ve already done that. **Throughout the last three years we’ve done that in many, many locations”** (my italics). If he really believes that, he should provide documents confirming this to The Rafu for all the 62 meetings.

In a March 29, 2010 Discover Nikkei article, Mr. Miyake states that “a clear reason why we’re sustainable is the large L.A.-area Shin-issei population of about 50,000 people. Add to that number the 180,000 JAs in…..the region.” He projects Keiro will be “going strong for the next 20-30 years.” Mr. Miyake now claims the sale is necessary due to the change in demographics. If he was wrong back then, he could be wrong now.

People, if escrow goes through we will lose something very special, including a cherished legacy in the Japanese community. As Mr. Hiroto wrote in his June 25 column, “We are on the verge of losing our greatest achievement and not a word of sorrow. The iconic flagship of our community is going under and not a lifesaver in sight.”

Further, “Keiro without question is the greatest Issei/Nisei success story in our century old history … **The public was never warned and thus caught unaware when the storm clouds burst”** (my italics). Keiro, as we know it, will live for only five more years if the sale goes through. This would be a fitting eulogy.


Dave Watanabe

Disclosure: Although I am a member of the Ad Hoc Committee to Save Keiro (AHCSK), I write this as an individual. The views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the AHCSK or The Rafu Shimpo.

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