CWRIC Hearings Remembered as Milestone in JA History

From left: Moderator Naomi Hirahara and panelists Duane Kubo, Jim Matsuoka, Harry Kawahara, Evelyn Yoshimura and Sumi Seki. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

By J.K. YAMAMOTO, Rafu Staff Writer

When the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) held public hearings across the country in 1981, nearly 40 years had passed since the mass incarceration of West Coast Japanese Americans. Now, 37 years later, the hearings themselves are a part of history.

Over the course of three days, 153 Japanese Americans testified about the impact of the camps on themselves, their families and their community.

There were moments of high drama. Ewan Yoshida of Alaska said that he and his father were separated by the government and never saw each other again; he still did not know if his father was dead or alive.

When Nisei veteran James Kawaminami was testifying, Lillian Baker, a vocal opponent of redress, attempted to snatch the papers from his hands. A struggle ensued, the audience was up in arms, and guards escorted Baker and a friend from the room.