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'Star Trek' actor George Takei determined to keep telling his Japanese American story

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By YURI KAGEYAMA

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“Different people, different ideas, different taste, different food. He wanted to make that statement. Each of the characters was supposed to represent a part of this planet,” Takei said.

Expressing the ideals of Star Trek and the United Federation of Planets.

Thank you Helmsman Hikaru Sulu.

Sulu was not Japanese enough so in some Japanese dubs his surname is 'Kato'.

3 ( +14 / -11 )

Sad story but George Takei’s family knew nothing of the atrocities carried out by the Japanese Imperial Army on prisoners and their own countrymen.

To assume that some Japanese would not be fanatical in the US would have been a mistake hence the imprisonment.

Mr Takei became a successful actor and well known throughout the world due to the liberties found in the US.

Could he have achieved such success in Japan?

I doubt it.

-29 ( +12 / -41 )

Why keep playing the victim card nearly 80 years after the war ended? Let. it. go.

-28 ( +11 / -39 )

If someone spent years in those camps they are not playing the victim. They WERE a victim. My uncle, born in Oklahoma, had to spend years there. What pitifully little they could take with them to the incarceration camps was a crime in its self. His father had a truck farm and a store in town. They took both away and he wasn't even allowed after the war to go back and try to get them back.

FYI: The most decorated division in WWII was one of Japanese Americans, most of whom volunteered from these camps for the privilege going to fight for their country.

It was a sad thing that happened to these people. It was wrong. There were so such camps for German or Italian Americans.

28 ( +31 / -3 )

Why keep playing the victim card nearly 80 years after the war ended? Let. it. go.

In Takei’s case, he is an actor. An actor’s name that is not circulating in public is soon forgotten. Takei - like most actors - fears obscurity.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

FYI: The most decorated division in WWII was one of Japanese Americans

It was the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Not a division.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Anonymous -- Thanks for the correction. They were, then, the most decorated Regimental Combat Team. I'll try to remember the proper nomenclature.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

dagonToday  07:12 am JST

“Different people, different ideas, different taste, different food. He wanted to make that statement. Each of the characters was supposed to represent a part of this planet,” Takei said.

Expressing the ideals of Star Trek and the United Federation of Planets.

Thank you Helmsman Hikaru Sulu.

Sulu was not Japanese enough so in some Japanese dubs his surname is 'Kato'.

Well yea, being that the Sulu Sea is in the Phillipines. Not Japan.

I always felt that Rodenberry made a mistake in not making the Sulu character fully Japanese by using a Japanese name. It certainly wasn't out of ignorance, as Rodenberry and Majel Barret did their marriage ceremony in Japan in Kimonos. By 1966 the WWII anti-Japan sentiment was over, following the 1964 Olympics. So there really is no reson why the character couldn't have been Ensign Kato.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I was a bit too young for the first time Star Trek programs were on television, but I have watched the reruns ever since. I still do.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

kurisupisuToday  07:18 am JST

Sad story but George Takei’s family knew nothing of the atrocities carried out by the Japanese Imperial Army on prisoners and their own countrymen.

George Takei was born in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, California, United States. He is was and is a naturally born American citizen.

What the IJA did or didn't do is irrevelant to the treatement of U.S. citizens by the U.S. Government.

J-haters just can't seem to disconnect the these two separate issues.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

Why keep playing the victim card nearly 80 years after the war ended? Let. it. go.

He was a victim. It was a totally racially-motivated disregard for human rights. I researched this in high school and still remember a newspaper clipping headlined "Three Enemy Aliens Arrested." from just after Pearl Harbor. A German man was arrested with bomb-making materials, an Italian man - and they weren't even US citizens - with guns. A Japanese-American young woman was arrested for having just returned from study in Japan.

Given Trump's threat to set up camps for illegal migrants prior to their deportment, we need fresh and constant reminders that this HAS happened in the US, and it could well happen again.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

This is a fabulous article!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Given Trump's threat to set up camps for illegal migrants prior to their deportment, we need fresh and constant reminders that this HAS happened in the US, and it could well happen again.

There is a simple difference between what happened to George Takei and other Japanese-Americans and locking up illegal immigrants. The former was a shame and the wrong thing to do.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Gene Hennigh

There were so such camps for German or Italian Americans.

Assuming you meant to write "no" and not "so".

Over 10,000 Germans and several thousand Italian Americans were actually detained in internment camps. In Hawaii, "twenty-one of the 106 ethnic German and Italian civilians arrested within forty-eight hours of the Pearl Harbor attack were U.S. citizens". In many cases, the Germans were given trials and "evidence" of them being members of groups sympathetic to the Nazi cause was presented.

This persecution and internment, however, was not even close to the level that Japanese Americans experienced.

https://encyclopedia.densho.org/German_and_Italian_detainees/#Comparison_to_the_Japanese_American_Experience

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I was a bit too young for the first time Star Trek programs were on television, but I have watched the reruns ever since. I still do

Same here. The original series is superb - unforgettable characters.

A lot of respect for George Takei. A decent man.

Nichelle Nichols will always be my favourite though.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Both Germans and Japanese were incarcerated because of their ethnicity. Only the Japanese, however, received compensation. An historical wrong still awaiting rectification.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

I was shocked to learn that Canada was also took part in locking up Japanese Canadian nationals and robbing them of all their belongings and homes. Very shameful.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

elToday  10:37 am JST

It was a totally racially-motivated disregard for human rights. 

Were they not interred because they were Japanese? That had nothing to do with race, only nationality. Were the Germans interred because of their race, too? Is someone just falling back on the old race card?

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

If they had tried to lock up the German-Americans or Italian-Americans, that would have been most of the country.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

https://www.thc.texas.gov/public/upload/Jacobs%20Transcript.pdf

Here’s the story of one of those 11,000; Brooklyn born and bred before being shipped off together with his German born immigrant parents, to Texas. After the War, to add insult to injury, the family was dumped back in ruined Germany.

The Japanese were quite happy to make it all about themselves, when what they should’ve done is refuse any compensation until their fellow camp members received an apology and compensation and justice was truly done.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Were they not interred because they were Japanese? That had nothing to do with race, only nationality. Were the Germans interred because of their race, too? Is someone just falling back on the old race card?

The internment was overwhelmingly racially biased against people of Japanese ancestry, not their nationality, but people of German ancestry were not incarcerated based on their race.

Two thirds of the 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry who were incarcerated were US citizens born in the US. This was 40% of the total population with Japanese heritage in the US at the time. There were over 6 million people of full-blooded German ancestry, including over 1 million born in Germany, in the US in 1940. The vast majority of the 10,000 people of German ancestry (0.2% of the total) who were incarcerated were German citizens.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

What the IJA did or didn't do is irrevelant to the treatement of U.S. citizens by the U.S. Government

Really?

I don’t share the same opinion.

>

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

YayosuToday 04:12 pm JST

Were they not interred because they were Japanese? That had nothing to do with race, only nationality. Were the Germans interred because of their race, too? Is someone just falling back on the old race card?

The internment was overwhelmingly racially biased against people of Japanese ancestry, not their nationality, but people of German ancestry were not incarcerated based on their race.

Two thirds of the 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry who were incarcerated were US citizens born in the US. This was 40% of the total population with Japanese heritage in the US at the time. There were over 6 million people of full-blooded German ancestry, including over 1 million born in Germany, in the US in 1940. The vast majority of the 10,000 people of German ancestry (0.2% of the total) who were incarcerated were German citizens.

So what is your point? The US should have locked up 6 million german americans? If your point is that the US is the only racist country, I believe a short trip back in time to the films of the period will prove differently:

https://www.reddit.com/r/PropagandaPosters/comments/wj323w/last_scene_from_the_1945_japanese_propaganda_film/

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I was just pointing out that the facts do not support the original post suggesting that the internment decision was based on citizenship, not race. If race was did not factor into to equation, then there should have been 100,000 people of German heritage, and less than 10,000 people of Japanese heritage, incarcerated.

My point not that the US is racist, but that racial hysteria resulted in the unconstitutional internment of US citizens (80 years ago). And we need to remain vigilant even today especially in the current political climate. Another point to make is the US is a great country because it passionately debates, openly acknowledges, and learns from its mistakes. I have no doubt that the lessons of the internment camps contributed to President Bush courageously speaking out against the harassment of Arabs and Muslims in US within a week after the 9/11 attack.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

May is Asian & Pacific Islander month in the US

Public Broadcasting has been airing stories about this

"Betrayed: Surviving an American Concentration Camp"

https://www.pbs.org/video/betrayed-survivng-an-american-concentration-camp-1J4Nna/

Discover the story of a group of Japanese Americans and their incarceration by the U.S. government during World War II. Through the compelling voices of survivors of Minidoka, a concentration camp in the Idaho desert, Betrayed tells a universal story about unjust internment and the loss of civil rights.

Families were forced to sell off their properties, businesses, and homes. And when the concentration camps were over, they were not allowed to go back to the West coast. (Even if they had gone back anyway, many found that their homes were now occupied by white families.)

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Thousands of german americans were interred in camps in the US during World War 2. It is a fact. The media never reports it, George Takei never mentions it.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

It doesn’t fit the narrative, you see.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

The most decorated   regiment in WWII was the 442nd Infantry Regiment, comprised of Japanese/American soldiers. I called them a division earlier. My mistake.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Were they not interred because they were Japanese? That had nothing to do with race, only nationality. Were the Germans interred because of their race, too? Is someone just falling back on the old race card?

According to General DeWitt who supervised the relocation, anyone with a drop of Japanese blood would be considered Japanese. Since 1923 Japanese immigrants were not permitted to become American citizens so they could not demonstrate their loyalty. Their children were considered US citizens because they were born here but they too were put in the camps. When the Americans of Japanese descent where relocated, in most cases lost everything they had. The only difference between our camps and the German camps was ours were not death camps.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Thousands of german americans were interred in camps in the US during World War 2. It is a fact. The media never reports it, George Takei never mentions it.

There's a difference - they were not forced to endure a comprehensive program of removal followed by incarceration in WRA (aka concentration) camps. Instead, they were housed in the Justice Department and army camps scattered across the country

Eventually, they even got support from powerful politicians, so they were spared many of the horrible things that happened to the American citizens of Japanese ancestry

https://encyclopedia.densho.org/German_and_Italian_detainees/

German and Italian detainees

In addition to the forced removal of Japanese Americans for purposes of confinement in War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps, the Justice Department oversaw the internment of more than thirty-one thousand civilians during the Second World War. This total included approximately 11,500 people of German ancestry and three thousand people of Italian ancestry, many of whom were United States citizens. [1] These detainees were housed in the Justice Department and army camps scattered across the country, from Crystal City , Texas, to Ft. Lincoln , North Dakota, to Sand Island , Hawai'i.

Comparison to the Japanese American Experience

While civilians of Japanese ancestry were subject to a three-tiered process of exclusion, removal, and internment, most of America's ethnic Germans and Italians were spared from one substantial component: they were not forced to endure a comprehensive program of removal followed by incarceration in WRA camps. [24] Indeed, the sheer enormity of these two ethnic communities would have presented a substantial obstacle: Germans and Italians constituted the two largest foreign-born populations in the United States at that time.

Anti-Asian prejudice coupled with the fact that German and Italian immigrants—unlike Japanese Issei —were eligible for U.S. citizenship enabled members of these ethnic communities to become more closely enmeshed within the American social fabric than their Japanese counterparts. [28] The majority of German and Italian-born civilians living in the United States in 1941 had already received American citizenship. [29] In fact, President Roosevelt and Secretary of War Henry J. Stimson quickly dismissed the notion that Italian Americans posed any danger to the American war effort. [30] Given these factors, although General John L. DeWitt initially recommended the mass removal of ethnic Germans and Italians residing in coastal areas, it is not surprising that a congressional committee led by California Representative John H. Tolan rejected his proposal. (See Tolan Committee ). [31] People of Italian ancestry received an additional boost on Columbus Day 1942, when Attorney General Francis Biddle officially deleted Italians from the ranks of enemy aliens. [32]

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I reviewed primary materials such as newspaper articles and so on in California at the time and there was a lot of fear in light of Japan’s fanatical army and unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor that killed over 3,000 men. Can’t play by queen’s rules in a street fight.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

RedemptionMay 31 11:36 pm JST

I reviewed primary materials such as newspaper articles and so on in California at the time and there was a lot of fear in light of Japan’s fanatical army and unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor that killed over 3,000 men. Can’t play by queen’s rules in a street fight.

This. I suspect if WW3 were to break out, whoever the US is fighting would be severely profiled at a minimum. Of course our opponents would do far worse.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Yayosu

There were over 6 million people of full-blooded German ancestry, including over 1 million born in Germany

Since Eisenhower and Nimitz were German Americans, sending US's top generals to internment camps didn't help US's war causes.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Since Eisenhower and Nimitz were German Americans, sending US's top generals to internment camps didn't help US's war causes.

Are you saying that Eisenhower and Nimitz didn't possess the same undying patriotism that compelled Japanese Americans to volunteer from internment camps to defend the rights that they were denied?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

We had relatives interned at Manzanar. They have never said they were mistreated, other than the internment itself.

We had relatives who served in the 442nd Nisei regiment.

We had relatives who asked to be repatriated to Japan, and who were. Later on they asked family members to pay for them to come back to the US. Truth is stranger than fiction. The US allowed them to come back.

After the war, one of our relatives moved back to LA and restarted his business, and became a self made millionaire, back when a million was a lot of money.

I mention this because it is important to remember. Hatred is self defeating, but remembering facts is important.

I had several conversations with a Catholic priest who was working in Korea when the war started. He was interned by the Japanese, and repatriated after about six months. He told me that he was treated relatively well, but still, his health was forever ruined. He told me that the passenger ship he was on also held the US Marine guards from the US embassy, and that they were held in the bilge of the ship. I can hardly imagine being a prisoner of the IJA for six months or more. The priest during his time in Korea picked up calligraphy, at which I thought he was very good. So, while he was spreading the gospel, he was also learning from the Koreans.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

WandoraMay 31  12:58 pm JST

elToday  10:37 am JST

It was a totally racially-motivated disregard for human rights. 

Were they not interred because they were Japanese? That had nothing to do with race, only nationality.

You are wrong. Japanese nationals were mostly deported as Enemy Aliens. But of the 120,000 Japanese-Americans who were interned in camps most were U.S. citizens.

So yes, it was clearly racially motivated under the guise of national security. Which is exactly why tje U.S. government has apologized and paid reparations.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why keep playing the victim card nearly 80 years after the war ended? Let. it. go.

What else has he got?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The most decorated regiment in WWII was the 442nd Infantry Regiment, comprised of Japanese/American soldiers.

Clearly then, no racism was at play. It would not have been difficult for the US army to withhold commendations.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The most decorated regiment in WWII was the 442nd Infantry Regiment, comprised of Japanese/American soldiers.

Clearly then, no racism was at play. It would not have been difficult for the US army to withhold commendations.

That's a wildly irrational and broad generalization to say no racism was at play. It is fair to say there was less racism within the narrow US population segment of the Army as it generally recognizes military achievement over race. Also, most of the decorations were based on objective criteria, i.e. Purple Hearts for being wounded in action, so there was little room for bias due to race.

However, racism was clearly at play for subjectively decided honors. This is why the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest US military decoration, was awarded to only one Japanese American by the end of WW2. And it took more than 50 years after the end of WW2 to review the records and upgrade 20 of the originally awarded medals to the Congressional Medal of Honor, in the year 2000.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

factcheckerMay 31  07:39 am JST

Why keep playing the victim card nearly 80 years after the war ended? Let. it. go.

At the time of 9/11 I heard the same hateful crap about ethnic Arab Americans, Muslims in America, and even ethnic India Americans, pen them all up! George Takei spoke out against that. We must remember it and not repeat it.

> Gene HennighMay 31  08:17 am JST

If someone spent years in those camps they are not playing the victim. They WERE a victim. My uncle, born in Oklahoma, had to spend years there. What pitifully little they could take with them to the incarceration camps was a crime in its self. His father had a truck farm and a store in town. They took both away and he wasn't even allowed after the war to go back and try to get them back.

FYI: The most decorated division in WWII was one of Japanese Americans, most of whom volunteered from these camps for the privilege going to fight for their country.

It was a sad thing that happened to these people. It was wrong. There were so such camps for German or Italian Americans.

In the Iraq war an ethnic Arab American (Gold Star veteran) was killed fighting for the US Army and the racist Diaper Don sassed off his vile hatred to that soldier's widow. And of course, he kidnapped all those Hispanic children and placed them in concentration camps, all in the name of an 'invasion', a war that didn't and doesn't exist. He is an uncouth fascist lying pig.

But George Takei has seen and been through all this abusive crap before and he has a lot to say about it. We need to listen to what he says about it.

OTR, he mentioned it when I saw and met him at a Trekkie convention in 1992. He's a very smart and nice individual. And before he became a 'gay icon', he already was famous for being one of the first to refuse to take any role portraying anything that made fun of or made stereotypes of his ethnicity or race. IOW, none of that 'ah so' or 'ching chong' crap. He broke barriers. He is George Takei, actor. Period. And that alone is saying something.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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