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SEATTLE — Members of Task Force Bayonet and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces gathered together for the Fifth annual Nisei Luncheon Sunday in Seattle to celebrate the Japan-U.S. alliance and to honor Nisei veterans.

“It’s pronounced NEE-SEY,” said Dale Watanabe, executive director of the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington. “It means second generation in Japanese.”

During World War II, many Japanese-American Soldiers, or Niseis, had to prove their loyalty to the United States by fighting against the Axis powers abroad, even though their families back home were confined in internment camps and faced racial prejudice, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Click here to keep reading and check out the gallery of photos below.

 

nisei group

More than 70 years ago, at the height of World War II, one regiment of the United States Army fought not only against the Axis powers in central Europe, but also to exonerate themselves from prejudices that led their families to be incarcerated back home. Today, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was composed almost entirely of Japanese Americans, is known as the most decorated unit in American history for its size and length of service—a distinction that was celebrated in Seattle on Sept. 17 at an event honoring their sacrifices while also celebrating two nations that have reconciled to become the closest of allies.

Members of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces, along with members of the broader Seattle community came together at this Japan-US Military Program (JUMP) event to honor the Nisei Veterans who served in the segregated 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), during World War II.

nisei eventThe event, held by the Nisei Veterans Committee in collaboration with the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington and with support from the Consulate General of Japan in Seattle, included American and Japanese forces, officials with Joint Base Lewis McChord, and veterans from the area who have served in Japan. The event also coincided with the annual U.S.-Japan Rising Thunder training exercises at the Yakima Training Center, and service members who had been participating were among those in attendance.

The event began with tours among the Japanese-American Memorial Wall and through the well-curated Medal of Honor Museum with WWII-era memorabilia from Nisei veterans within the NVC Memorial Hall. NVC members brought the displays to life with a plethora of wartime stories illustrating the Nisei veterans who lived them.

As the main event began and about 100 people in attendance gathered, Master of Ceremonies Allen Nakamoto explained that the aim of the Nisei Veterans Committee is to honor and remember the past, and to educate the future—a goal that was reflected at the event.

Major General Thomas S. James Jr., commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division and Task Force Bayonet, called the experience of joining veterans at the event “humbling.”

“Those of us that are currently serving understand the importance of the sacrifice of those that came before us,” he said. “I want to thank all the veterans here for serving, for it is only because of your service and sacrifice that we can serve today.”

nisei museumHe also recognized the importance of events like these to “build strong bonds and solidify the partnership we have with our Japanese allies.”

Lt. General Takashi Motomatsu, commanding general of the JGSDF’s 8th Division, Western Army, said training together like they had been doing in Rising Thunder is meaningful to both the friendship and strategic goals of both forces. Being such close allies, he added, is a testament to how far the two countries have come since the end of WWII more than 70 years ago.

Admiral Dennis Blair, USN (ret.), now the Chairman and CEO at Sasakawa USA, said the complex history that the two countries share is even more amazing given that the two allies now join together to defend peace, prosperity, and democracy.

“We believe that we must, and we can, live and defend those fundamentals,” Blair said. “We need to continue to support the powerful U.S.-Japan alliance which, I think, is key to the kind of world that we want our children to live in.”

The event also featured a video presentation from Nisei Veteran Sam Mitsui, who explained why “Good Things Grow from Horse Manure” while recounting his story of the Japanese-American experience during WWII. Closing out the event was an uplifting Okinawan-style Eisa Taiko performance by Okinawa Kenjin Kai Taiko that got everyone on their feet.

Major General James’ comments on the Nisei veterans perhaps best summed up the feelings of those in attendance at this special event:

niseiThe story of the Nisei is an amazing story of loyalty and love of country, as well as resilience, perseverance and courage,” he said. “These Japanese-Americans set the conditions for our military to realize how pointless the policies of segregation had been. Nevertheless, they served of our nation with distinction and the heavy price paid by Japanese-Americans, both in war during World War II, and by their family members back in the United States, should never be forgotten. If you look at the ranks of any of our formations today, you would never know that things were otherwise, which is a testament to the Nisei sacrifice.

“Today, we honor the Nisei veterans in attendance of the 100th Battalion, the Military Intelligence Service (an organization of MI personnel and interpreters that belonged to the 442nd) and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The unit’s motto was “Go for Broke,” and you did, leaving it all on the battlefield, with the 442nd earning over 9,000 Purple Hearts and eight Presidential Unit Citations, making it the most decorated unit of its size and length of service.”

Speakers, Nisei veterans, and distinguished guests

 

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• Adm. Dennis C. Blair, USN (ret.), chairman and CEO, Sasakawa USA
• Maj. Gen. Thomas James Jr., commanding general, 7th Infantry Division
• Lt. Gen. Takashi Motomatsu, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
• Mr. Rick Takeuchi, commander, Nisei Veterans Committee
• Mr. Sam Mitsui, Nisei Veteran
• Consul General Masahiro Omura, Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle
• Mr. Tay Yoshitani, chair, Japan-America Society of the State of Washington
• Mr. Dale Watanabe, executive director, Japan-America Society of the State of Washington
• Mr. Peter Kelley, President, National Association of Japan America Societies
• LtCol. James Kendall, USMC (ret.), Director of the JUMP Program and Fellow at Sasakawa USA

Event summary by JUMP Communications Manager Christa Desrets

Gallery

Photos by JUMP and courtesy Japan -America Society of the State of Washington

JUMP Seattle logosNews Release
August 31, 2016
For more information please contact:
Christa Desrets
cdesrets@spfusa.org
(202) 296-6694 x118

Beyond reconciliation: Event to honor Nisei veterans, celebrate U.S.-Japan alliance

SEATTLE — More than 70 years ago, at the height of World War II, one regiment of the United States Army fought not only against the Axis powers in central Europe, but also to exonerate themselves from prejudices that led their families to be incarcerated back home. Today, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was composed almost entirely of Japanese Americans, is known as the most decorated unit in American history for its size and length of service—a distinction that will be celebrated in Seattle on Sept. 17 at an event that will honor their sacrifices while also celebrating two nations that have reconciled to become the closest of allies.

Members of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces will come together at this Japan-US Military Program (JUMP) event to honor the Nisei Veterans who served in the segregated 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), during World War II.

The event, held by the Nisei Veterans Committee in collaboration with the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington and with support from the Consulate General of Japan in Seattle, will include American and Japanese forces, officials with Joint Base Lewis McChord, and veterans from the area who have served in Japan. The event coincides with the annual U.S.-Japan Rising Thunder training exercises at the Yakima Training Center.

Held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the NVC Memorial Hall in Seattle (map), the event will include a tour of the venue, a luncheon featuring Japanese cuisine, special guests and speakers, taiko drumming, and a special video presentation featuring Nisei Veteran Sam Mitsui.

The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. Please join us as we honor veterans and active duty forces while celebrating the deep friendship between the United States and our allies in Japan.

 

Click here to RSVP

 

JUMP is excited to welcome distinguished guests to the program including:

• Adm. Dennis C. Blair, USN (ret.), chairman and CEO, Sasakawa USA
• Maj. Gen. Thomas James Jr., commanding general, 7th Infantry Division
• Lt. Gen. Takashi Motomatsu, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
• Mr. Rick Takeuchi, commander, Nisei Veterans Committee
• Mr. Sam Mitsui, Nisei Veteran
• Consul General Masahiro Omura, Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle
• Mr. Tay Yoshitani, chair, Japan-America Society of the State of Washington
• Mr. Dale Watanabe, executive director, Japan-America Society of the State of Washington
• Mr. Peter Kelley, President, National Association of Japan America Societies
• LtCol. James Kendall, USMC (ret.), Director of the JUMP Program and Fellow at Sasakawa USA

About JUMP: www.JUMProgram.org
The Japan U.S. Military Program (JUMP) connects past and present service members, families, and government civilians who have served in Japan. Through social networks and events, JUMP builds relationships and provides opportunities for service members to engage with each other. JUMP provides a powerful foundation for sustaining the solid alliance between the U.S. and Japan.  JUMP is a collaborative venture of Sasakawa USA, the Embassy of Japan in the United States, and the National Association of Japan-America Societies.

About The Japan America Society of the State of Washington: http://jassw.org
JASSW was founded on July 24, 1923 by leaders from Seattle’s business, academic, and diplomatic communities with the mission of promoting mutual understanding and friendship between the peoples of Japan and Washington State by providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information. Today, the Society, one of 38 independent members of the National Association of Japan-America Societies, maintains a diverse membership of Japanese and American corporations and individuals from throughout the state and provides varied programs that build positive U.S.-Japan relations.

About the Nisei Veterans Committee: https://www.nvcfoundation.org
After facing racial discrimination, prejudice, and rejection by other veterans organizations in the Pacific Northwest, a group of recently discharged second generation Japanese-American Veterans formed the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee on March 25, 1946. At that time, one of the purposes of the group was to sustain the strong personal relationships that were forged during the war. Today, the NVC strives to preserve and honor the legacy of Japanese-American veterans and also provide educational, cultural, and social programs for the broader community. Membership is open to all honorably discharged veterans who support the patriotic goals and aspirations of the NVC.

About Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA: www.SPFUSA.org
Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA is an independent, American, non-profit, non-partisan institution devoted to research, analysis, and better understanding of the U.S.-Japan relationship. Through research and education programs, Sasakawa USA facilitates people-to-people exchanges and dialogue between American and Japanese policymakers, influential citizens, and the broader public.

2022 The Japan U.S. Military Program (JUMP)

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