Chicago Shimpo
Never Again Is Happening Now
Japanese Americans March in Chicago

• Japanese Americans voiced, “Never again is happening now!” and marched in the downtown Chicago on June 30th to protest the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy that brought back the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during WWII, the taking of their belongings, property, and civil rights. Nearly eight decades later, more than 2,300 children of illegal immigrants were separated from their parents, and President Trump’s Executive Order 13841 cleared the way for indefinite family detentions.

• Ryan Yokota, who took a leadership to organize a demonstration march for the first time in the Japanese American (JA) community, said, “ We felt a great deal of outrage at the loss of humanity and the violation of civil and human rights that is being displayed in U.S. government policies.” He also said, “The idea of separating small children far from their families in various jail facilities throughout the country couldn’t help but outrage me both as a parent, and as someone whose own family had been incarcerated in the JA WWII concentration camps.”

• About 150 Japanese Americans with the people from Asian American communities gathered at Chicago Bronze Cow, close to the south entrance of the Chicago Cultural Center. While they were waiting for a march starting at 10 a.m., they flocked under shade trees to escape from the heat wave.

• One of them was Masato Shinsako, who brought a handmade sign with photos from Tule Lake Relocation Center. Sansei (third generation) Shinsako’s parents and grandparents were put into Tule Lake, and he was born in there in 1943.
• He said, “I don’t believe in the government right now. I don’t believe in Trump. I don’t believe in his staff. I don’t believe in anything that his government says.” To participate in the march, he drove from Oak Park. “What they are doing to the people in the border is wrong. They did it to us in 1941. In 1942, they put us in the camps. That is not going to happen again although they are doing it now at the border,” Shinsako said.

• Richard Meher, who has an American father and a Japanese mother, was born and raised in Yokohama, Japan. Now he resides in Evanston and speaks fluent Japanese.
• He said in Japanese, “I knew about today’s demonstration and heard that the Japanese American Service Committee was going to organize a march, so I thought that this one was the best to participate in.”
• “As I am a parent, legislation like this, separating children from their parents, has to be overturned. We have to tell this message strongly to our representatives before it becomes too late,” Meher said.

• With a banner written as “Japanese Americans Rise Up + Stay Vigilant”, the 150 people marched to Dailey Plaza and merged into a major protest group organized by the Families Belong Together.

• Isaber and Lorian are the second generation of Chinese Americans. Isaber said, “Our parents are immigrants, so we grew up here. I think that it’s especially important to us to participate in the march.”
• Lorian said that they had the privilege to be raised and educated in the U.S., and she had a responsibility and obligation to make a voice for the people, who were trying to escape from economic difficulties like her parents did. She also said that minorities like her were facing some kinds of oppression, so they had to make a voice not to be ignored.

• Jane Kim is a Korean American and a member of KAN-WIN. She said that it was really important to make a voice against the present government. “We care about the people who are immigrants and related to immigrants and who are not related to immigrants. We care about human rights and to protect people by keeping families together. That’s very important,” she said.
• Although the temperature was well above the 90s, a small number of JA Sansei showed up. According to Ryan Yokota, organizing for the march started just five days before June 30th and the pre-march meeting was held two days before the march, so that the organizing members relied on social media to mobilize people. “So the challenge moving forward will be to develop outreach means that target all age groups appropriately,” Yokota said.

• The demonstration marches were held across the U.S., and a march held by 150 JAs and the Asian communities was small enough to be overlooked by mainstream media. Yokota, however, said that the Chicago Sun-Times covered the march, “So the presence of Japanese Americans in the march was not entirely absent in mainstream media.” As JAs and the Asian communities move forward, they are going to make media outreach efforts.
• Yokota thanked Lisa Doi and Mari Yamagiwa of JACL Chicago saying, “This couldn’t have happened without the partnership with them.”

• The march was supported by: Chicago Japanese American Historical Society, JACL Chicago, the Japanese Mutual Aid Society, the Japanese American Service Committee, the Midwest Buddhist Temple, the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum-Chicago Chapter, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, Invisible to Invincible: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago (i2i), the Hana Center, the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, KAN-WIN, and Christ Church of Chicago.

Japanese Americans with Asian communities march to protest the Trump Administration's Zero Tolerance Policy.

Masato Shinsako holds his hand-made sign.