JACL Ratifies Power Of Words Handbook: What Are The Next Steps?


Photo: Power Of Words II Committee/JACL
(click image above to view/print)

by Andy Noguchi

An amazing 86 to 0 unanimous vote of the National Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) Council ratified the Power of Words Handbook and Implementation Ideas on July 7, 2012, in Bellevue, Washington. This capped a three-year campaign for truthful and accurate terms, and retiring the misleading euphemisms created by the government to cover up the denial of Constitutional and human rights, the force, oppressive conditions, and racism against 120,000 innocent people of Japanese ancestry locked up in America’s World War II concentration camps.

Former World War II incarceree Mako Nakagawa of Seattle initiated this campaign in 2009. She, the Seattle Power of Words Committee, JACL activists, including eight serving on the Handbook Committee, along with supportive community leaders across the country, fueled this effort.

The Power of Words campaign can now move into an implementation phase to more widely use the new terms on local, regional, and national levels.

Diligent Power of Words Handbook Process

The 14-page Power of Words Handbook includes sections on recommended terminology, misleading euphemisms, and brief Japanese American history. It also includes historical photos, extensive references, and valuable resource materials. You can download the final Power of Words Handbook, and Implementation Plan Ideas from the following links (requires Adobe Reader software to view/print):

Power Of Words Handbook
Power Of Words – Implementation Ideas

Over an eight-month period, the JACL Power of Words II Committee focused its work, researched, and drafted the Handbook. It released a draft in May 2012 for one month of public comment that expanded into two months of input with dozens of good suggestions. The committee also circulated a greatly revised version to all JACL delegates a couple of weeks before the July 5 convention.

Representatives from all seven JACL Districts, plus a chairperson, made up the JACL Power of Words II Committee. They include Dawn Rego (Pacific Northwest District), Andy Noguchi (Northern California), Bob Taniguchi (Central California), Megan Gately (Pacific Southwest), Sandra Grant (Intermountain), Lisa Hanasono (Midwest), Hiro Nishikawa (Eastern), and Greg Marutani, Chairperson.

The past year’s work followed two previous National JACL debates and resolutions. The organization passed the original Power of Words resolution, led by Mako Nakagawa, at its Chicago convention in 2010 by an 80-2 vote. In 2011, the JACL called for a better draft Handbook by a 55-17 vote at its 2011 Los Angeles convention.

Widespread Support From Community Leaders Across The Country

By the end of this year’s JACL Convention, an impressive list of over 90 community leaders, JACL Chapters, and organizations across the country had signed on to the Supporters List (see below). We passed this out to all delegates prior to the ratification vote. Additional supporters are still encouraged to sign on. The Handbook, Implementation Ideas, plus updated Supporters List will be posted on the JACL web site at: http://www.jacl.org/powerofwords.

Implementation Ideas On The Horizon

Besides the implementation ideas adopted, the JACL National Council has already started the ball rolling. The JACL took its first major step at the convention. It unanimously passed an Emergency Resolution supporting a permanent memorial at the Tanforan Assembly Center site near San Francisco. The Power of Words language was strongly recommended in the resolution due to the initiative of Leslie Hamachi (U.C. Berkeley student), and Jim Duff of the Berkeley Chapter, assisted by Paul Uyehara of the Philadelphia Chapter.

There are several other areas where the National JACL might also implement the Power of Words. These include the creation of a Pacific Citizen Newspaper editorial policy on World War II language, and making revisions in future editions of the widely used JACL Curriculum Guide. I am proposing that the JACL take these common sense steps.

A great example of Power of Words awareness-raising took place during two well-attended workshops at the JACL convention organized by the Seattle Power of Words Committee, co-chaired by Stan Shikuma and Joan Yoshitomi. The workshops provided clear background on why the issue is important, ways to explain the new terms, and encouraged people to spread the word. Presenters included Professor Lane Hirabayashi of UCLA, author Barbara Takei, youth activist Kaila Yoshitomi, Dawn Rego of the JACL Power of Words II Committee, Stan Shikuma, and Mako Nakagawa, “mother of the modern-day Power of Words movement.”

We appreciate all who have had a chance to back this continuing campaign so far.

Thank you for your interest in the Power of Words.

Andy Noguchi, a member of the Power of Words II Committee, is the Civil Rights Co-Chair for the Northern California – Western Nevada – Pacific District of the Japanese American Citizens League, and serves in the same role for the Florin JACL chapter. Each year, Noguchi coordinates Florin JACL’s trip to the Manzanar Pilgrimage, in conjunction with the Council on American Islamic Relations – Sacramento Valley.

The views expressed in this story are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of the Manzanar Committee.


Join The Power Of Words Handbook Supporters List

(Partial list as of July 7, 2012)

The Power of Words II Committee continues to reach out broadly to people including historians, writers, academics, filmmakers, community groups, leaders, individuals, JACL Chapters and Districts, and many others. So far the following individuals and organizations have signed on to the efforts for more accurate language, replacing the misleading euphemisms, and supporting the substance of the Power of Words Handbook. Thank you to these early responders. The Supporters List will be updated periodically on the JACL web site at: JACL Power of Words.

  1. Frank Abe (Seattle, WA), Filmmaker, Conscience and the Constitution
  2. Konrad Aderer (New York City), filmmaker, Enemy Alien
  3. Keiji Asakura, Houston JACL Chapter (TX)*
  4. Asian Law Alliance (San Jose, CA)
  5. Asian Pacific Islander Faculty and Staff Association, Calif. State University – San Jose, Bonnie Sugiyama, President
  6. Richard & Pauline Caulk, Seabrook JACL (N.J.)*
  7. Jenny Chomori, Manzanar Committee
  8. Frank F. Chuman, JACL National President l960-1962: Author, Bamboo People, 100 year history of Japanese Americans in U.S.; Manzanar and Beyond; Memoirs of Frank F. Chuman, Nisei Attorney
  9. Marcia Chung, CCDC JACL District Governor*
  10. Donna F. Cole (Houston, TX)
  11. Densho (Seattle, WA), Tom Ikeda, Director
  12. Jim Duff, Berkeley JACL Chapter (CA)*
  13. Bruce Embrey, Manzanar Committee (L.A.)
  14. Florin JACL Chapter (Sacramento)
  15. David Forman (Honolulu, HI)
  16. Isao Fujimoto (Davis, CA), University of California, Davis Asian American Studies*, Emeritus Professor
  17. Greater L.A. Singles JACL Chapter
  18. Donna Graves, Project Director, Preserving California’s Japantowns*
  19. Mas and Marcia Hashimoto. Watsonville-Santa Cruz JACL Chapter (CA)
  20. Donald Teruo Hata, PhD, Emeritus History Professor, California State University Dominguez Hills*
  21. Linda Hattendorf (New York City), Filmmaker, Cats of Mirikitani
  22. Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga (Gardena, CA), Sr. Research Associate, Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC)*
  23. Lane Hirabayashi, Professor, UCLA Asian American Studies Department*
  24. Jodi Hottel, Speakers Bureau Coordinator, Sonoma County JACL Chapter (CA)
  25. Dr. Satsuki Ina (Sacramento), Filmmaker, From a Silk Cocoon
  26. Intermountain District Council (IDC) JACL, Governor Jeanette Misaka
  27. Jean Ishibashi, PhD, Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies, CSU-San Francisco*
  28. Alice Ishigame-Tao, President, SELANOCO Chapter JACL (CA)*
  29. Karen L. Ishizuka (Culver City, CA), Author, Lost and Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration
  30. Janice Iwanaga Yen, Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR)*
  31. Stanley Kanzaki (New York City), Author, Issei Prisoners of the San Pedro Internment Center; NY JACL Chapter*
  32. Hiroshi Kashiwagi (San Francisco), Author, playwright, actor
  33. Soji Kashiwagi (L.A.), Playwright; Pasadena Human Relations Commissioner*
  34. Suzy Katsuda (L.A.), Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR)*
  35. Carol Kawase, Sonoma County JACL Chapter (CA)*
  36. Leon Kimura, San Jose JACL Chapter (CA)
  37. Prof. Ben Kobashigawa (San Francisco), Professor, Asian American Studies, CSU San Francisco*
  38. Fred T. Kochi, Chairman of the Board, Gold Hill Wakamatsu Colony*
  39. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights & Education, Asian Law Caucus (S.F.)
  40. Kerry Kunitomi Cababa, Manzanar Committee (L.A.)
  41. Livingston JACL Chapter (CA)
  42. Lodi JACL Chapter (CA)
  43. Wayne Maeda (Sacramento), Lecturer Emeritus, CSU Sacramento Ethnic Studies*
  44. Manzanar Committee (L.A.), Bruce Embrey, Co-Chair
  45. Kathy Masaoka (L.A.), Co-Chair, Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR)*
  46. Gann Matsuda, Manzanar Committee (L.A.)*
  47. Alan Mikuni, Fremont JACL Chapter (CA)*
  48. Dale Minami (San Francisco), Coram Nobis Attorney, Minami & Tamaki LLP*
  49. Michio Murakishi, Chicago, IL
  50. Mako Nakagawa, primary author 2010 JACL Power of Words resolution, Seattle Power of Words Committee*
  51. George Nakano (Torrance, CA), Former Assemblyman, California Legislature*
  52. Bronwen Nishikawa & Robert Glass and Family (Chapel Hill, NC), Philadelphia JACL Chapter*
  53. Tom & Greer Nishikawa, Silicon Valley JACL Chapter (CA)*
  54. Alan Nishio, Board President, Little Tokyo Service Center* (Los Angeles)
  55. Andy Noguchi, Civil Rights Co-Chair, Northern California – Western Nevada – Pacific JACL District*
  56. Kay Ochi, Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR-LA)*
  57. Hideki Obayashi (Hawthorne, CA) Retired aerospace engineer; restaurateur
  58. Joyce Okazaki (Seal Beach, CA), Greater L.A. Singles JACL Chapter, Manzanar Committee
  59. Janet Okubo, President, Greater L.A. Singles JACL
  60. K. Natalie Hayashida Ong, Houston, TX JACL Chapter*
  61. Sacramento JACL Chapter
  62. Natsu Taylor Saito (Atlanta), Professor of Law, Georgia State University College of Law*
  63. Louise Sakamoto, Greater L.A. Singles JACL Chapter
  64. San Jose JACL Chapter (CA)
  65. Kiyo Sato (Sacramento, CA), Author, Kiyo’s Story (“Dandelion through the Crack”)
  66. Fumie Shimada (Sacramento, CA), Railroad and mineworker family redress leader
  67. Grace Shimizu, Organizer, Campaign for Justice: Redress Now For Japanese Latin Americans!*
  68. Jill Shiraki, Project Manager, Preserving California’s Japantowns*
  69. Sonoma County JACL Chapter (CA)
  70. Marie Sugiyama, Oral History Committee Chair, Sonoma County JACL (CA)*
  71. Judy Tachibana (Sacramento), Co-author, Tule Lake Revisited
  72. Kenji G. Taguma, Editor in Chief, Nichi Bei Weekly*
  73. Alan W. Takahashi (Torrance, CA), Financial Consultant
  74. Jere Takahashi, Lecturer, Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, U.C. Berkeley
  75. Rita Takahashi, Professor, California State University, San Francisco*
  76. Barbara Takei (Sacramento, CA), Co-Author, Tule Lake Revisited, Tule Lake Committee*
  77. George Takei, Actor, Narrator, and Community Activist
  78. Tosh Tanaka, President, Watsonville-Santa Cruz JACL Chapter (CA)
  79. Bob Taniguchi, Livingston JACL Chapter (CA); Co-Chair, Merced Assembly Center Commemorative Project*
  80. Jim To, Manzanar Committee (L.A.)
  81. Twila Tomita, Chapter Historian, Florin JACL (CA)
  82. Marielle Tsukamoto, President, Florin JACL Chapter (Sacramento)
  83. Christine and Stan Umeda, Northern Calif. Time of Remembrance Committee (Sacramento Region)*
  84. David Unruhe, NCWNP JACL District Governor*; Placer County JACL Chapter (CA)*
  85. Sharon Uyeda, San Jose JACL Chapter
  86. Watsonville-Santa Cruz JACL Chapter (CA)
  87. Pam Yoshida, West Valley JACL Chapter (CA)*; business owner
  88. Devin Yoshikawa, National JACL Youth Rep*
  89. Chris Zhang, Esq. (Cupertino, CA) Asian Pacific American Public Affairs Association member*, Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute*

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