TOKYO — To recognize the important contributions of Japanese Americans in building and strengthening the U.S.-Japan relationship, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel hosted an exhibition showcasing works from the Los Angeles-based Japanese American National Museum (JANM) at his residence in Tokyo on Oct. 5.
At the reception, the ambassador displayed 18 pieces from JANM’s collection that were created by select Japanese American artists, many of whom were incarcerated during World War II. The exhibition shares the experiences of Japanese Americans so that people from around the world remain vigilant in upholding principles of democracy and diversity.
Emanuel stated, “The internment of Japanese Americans was a shameful period in American history. This exhibition allows us to confront our past face-to-face and learn from it.”
On the importance of JANM’s work to promote historical understanding through artistic expression, Emanuel explained, “Japanese Americans have made immeasurable contributions to transform the United States and Japan from one-time foes into lifelong friends. I would like to thank JANM for illuminating the powerful narratives of Japanese Americans whose stories educate and empower this and future generations.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) also gave his support, stating, “Japanese American art serves as a deeply meaningful form of expression, and I am genuinely excited to see Ambassador Rahm Emanuel’s initiative in hosting an exhibition featuring artwork from the Japanese American National Museum collection in Tokyo. This diverse body of works telling Japanese American stories of immigration, incarceration, and post-war life is deeply personal to my own experience as a descendant of Japanese immigrants. This exhibition will provide an incredible opportunity for cultural exchange between our two nations.”
“The Japanese American National Museum is proud to present amazing and unique art pieces from Japanese American artists,” said William T. Fujioka, chair of JANM’s Board of Trustees. “These pieces show the artists’ vision and life through immigration, incarceration during World War II, and post-war life. The stories depicted in these pieces are the stories of many Japanese Americans. It’s my family’s story.
“My grandfather was a very successful businessman who lost everything and was incarcerated at the Heart Mountain concentration camp. My father was a decorated veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Both taught me to celebrate and honor my Japanese heritage and take pride in our story of struggle, perseverance, and success.”
Located in Little Tokyo, JANM is a repository of Japanese American history with a community archive of over 160,000 objects. An official Smithsonian affiliate and designated one of America’s Cultural Treasures, JANM illuminates the stories and the rich cultural heritage of people of Japanese ancestry in the U.S. through exhibitions, public programs, award-winning documentaries, and educational initiatives.
Photos courtesy Press Office, U.S. Embassy, Tokyo