Playwright and Activist Hiroshi Kashiwagi Decries “Another Fence At Tule Lake”

The following letter to the editor by playwright/poet and former Tule Lake incarceree Hiroshi Kashiwagi was submitted to the Herald and News, the daily newspaper in Klamath Falls, California, not far from the site of the former Tule Lake Segregation Center, in response to their story on the controversy about the proposed perimeter fence that would enclose the airstrip at the site (story linked below). It is reprinted here with the permission of the author.


Hiroshi and Sadako Kashiwagi.
Photo: Kashiwagi Family Collection

by Hiroshi Kashiwagi

I am the playwright/poet Hiroshi Kashiwagi. I am also a Tule Lake survivor, a No-No Boy and a renunciant—a recovered American.

It seems like we’ve lived with a fence all our lives, beginning at Arboga Prison, and then at Tule Lake Concentration Camp. I mean a barbed wire fence with guard towers and search lights at night, and sentries with guns that could explode in our faces.

Then, after we were released from Tule Lake, there was a symbolic fence, an imaginary one, to ward off the disdain and contempt of those in our own community toward us because we were confined at Tule Lake Segregation Center as “disloyals” and “troublemakers.”

Now, yet another fence at Tule Lake. This time a real one to cut off access to the camp site, the source of our painful memory, a sacred place we return to again and again for remembrance, for solace, for healing.

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National Park Service On Tule Lake Airport Fence: “We’ve Certainly Weighed In” On The Issue With FAA

Soji Kashiwagi of the Tule Lake Committee was one of several community members who railed against the proposed fence that would
enclose the airstrip at Tule Lake.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee

LOS ANGELES — On July 24, the National Park Service provided details and an update on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) proposed perimeter fence that would enclose the airstrip at the site of the Tule Lake Unit of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

At their public meeting in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo to gather community feedback on how Tule Lake should be managed over the next twenty years, Mike Reynolds, Superintendent, Tule Lake Unit of the World War II Valor in the Pacific and Lava Beds National Monument provided some background.

“It’s a public airstrip,” he said. “Modoc County leases the land to the City of Tulelake. It’s the City of Tulelake’s airstrip, so if we were all wealthy enough to own airplanes that are small enough, we could land there.”

“It’s an agricultural community,” he added. “The whole Tulelake and Klamath basin is primarily agricultural. The crop dusting business, which is critical to all that agriculture, is run out of that airport. 99 percent, or more, of the flights that take off are for crop dusting services. Spring, Summer and Fall, all day, sunrise to sunset, there’s little planes taking off every 15 to 30 minutes, providing crop dusting services.”

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Call To Action: STOP The Fence At Tule Lake

Over the last year, the Federal Aviation Administration has moved closer to building a fence to protect the airstrip at the site of the Tule Lake Unit of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument that would destroy the historic character of the site.

The Tule Lake Committee has launched a petition campaign to STOP The Fence At Tule Lake on Change.org and on Facebook.

Barbara Takei of the Tule Lake Committee writes:

The FAA proposes to construct a eight foot high, 16,000 foot long fence to close off the Tule Lake site, to protect the airstrip built on the campsite firebreak road. A “STOP the Fence at Tule Lake” Facebook campaign is being generated by Frank Abe and Lorna Fong; they’ve also started a petition on Change.org to let the chief of the FAA, Michael Huerta, of the opposition to the FAA’s fence proposal.

We need your help. For those of you who use Facebook, please SHARE it with your Facebook friends and urge them to sign the petition at https://www.facebook.com/StopTheFence.

If you don’t use Facebook, please forward the petition on to others in your address book; we want to generate a big response to let the director of the FAA, Michael Huerta, know how important this issue is to Japanese Americans and others who don’t want the history of Japanese Americans to be fenced off and destroyed.

Thanks for your help on this critically important issue.

The following statement by the Manzanar Committee was issued on June 2, 2012 (but not published on our blog until July 6, 2012). It is being re-published to provide background, as well as to reiterate our position on the issue.


A view down one of the streets of the Tule Lake
concentration camp,
November 3, 1942.
Photo: Francis Stewart
Photo courtesy Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

LOS ANGELES — On June 2, the Los Angeles-based Manzanar Committee announced its opposition to a proposed perimeter fence at the Tulelake Municipal Airport, operated by the County of Modoc.

The proposed fence would enclose the perimeter of the airport, which was part of the Tule Lake Segregation Center during World War II.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) documents, “…the purpose of this fence is to minimize the potential for aircraft-wildlife strikes (primarily deer), and minimize the potential for pedestrians and vehicles to inadvertently encroach on the airport’s runway (pedestrian-vehicle deviations).” Read more of this post

Manzanar Committee Opposes Construction Of Proposed Perimeter Fence At Tule Lake

A view down one of the streets of the Tule Lake concentration camp,
November 3, 1942.
Photo: Francis Stewart
Photo courtesy Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

LOS ANGELES — On June 2, the Los Angeles-based Manzanar Committee announced its opposition to a proposed perimeter fence at the Tulelake Municipal Airport, operated by the County of Modoc.

The proposed fence would enclose the perimeter of the airport, which was part of the Tule Lake Segregation Center during World War II.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) documents, “…the purpose of this fence is to minimize the potential for aircraft-wildlife strikes (primarily deer), and minimize the potential for pedestrians and vehicles to inadvertently encroach on the airport’s runway (pedestrian-vehicle deviations).” Read more of this post