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Virtual Panel Discussion: “Bridging the Past and Future”

In connection with the exhibition “Healing Nature: Gardens and Art of Manzanar”Bridging the Past and Future: Nikkei Cultural Legacies in America and the Evolving Role of Japanese Cultural Institutions is a panel discussion addressing the extent to which the internment camps have impacted the successive generations of Japanese-Americans in the modern era. Speakers include critically-acclaimed members of the Japanese-American community – a leader in modern U.S.-Japan intellectual exchanges, Daniel Okimoto, curator and filmmaker, Karen Ishizuka, and social justice advocate, June Shumann. This panel will also examine the changing role of Japanese-American museums and organizations as catalysts that bridge together generations, cultures, and perspectives, with hope for peace and mutual understanding.

This panel will be moderated by Portland Japanese Garden’s Aki Nakanishi, the Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art, and Education.


Panelists

Daniel Okimoto, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University 

Dr. Daniel I. Okimoto is Co-Chairman of the Silicon Valley Japan Platform (SVJP), and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University. Professor Okimoto co-founded the Shorenstein Asia/Pacific Research Center at Stanford, serving as its Director for more than ten years. He has been Vice-Chairman of the Japan Committee of the National Research Council at the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Okimoto has been awarded the “Order of the Rising Sun with Goldray Neck Ribbon” and “The Lifetime Achievement Award”.  President Barack Obama submitted, and the US Senate confirmed, Professor Okimoto’s appointment to the National Council of the Humanities from 2013-16. Professor Okimoto graduated from Princeton University, received his Master’s Degree from Harvard University, and earned his Doctoral Degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan.

June Schumann, former Executive Director, Japanese-American Museum of Oregon

June Arima Schumann is a retired activist. She is the founding director of Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Portland’s Old Town. Prior to that she was the Manager of the Community Services for Multnomah County Aging and Disability Services. Shumann was the project administrator for the committee that successfully nominated Minoru Yasui for the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Currently she chairs the Minoru Yasui Legacy Project. Schuman’s professional life began as an art teacher in public schools in Kansas and Pennsylvania. The influences of the civil rights movement of the 60’s and 70’s led to a career change to social work and social change. She worked in the field of gerontology for over 30 years in planning and advocating for the rights of older adults. Schuman is a Japanese American with her upbringing in both Japan and US. Her mother is a Nisei from Seattle, WA, and her father was a Japanese national. During WWII, Schuman’s family was separated on two sides of countries at war. Schuman, her mother, and sister were in Japan while her maternal grandparents and aunts were in the United States. Her family was reunited 1953.

Photo: Ira Chernova

Karen L. Ishizuka, PhD, Chief Curator, Japanese American National Museum

Karen L. Ishizuka, M.S.W., Ph.D. is a third-generation Japanese American specializing in Japanese American and Asian Pacific American history and culture and chief curator of the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) based in Los Angeles. Her book Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Sixties was on PEN America’s list of recommended books of protest. Lost and Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration chronicles the making of the exhibit “America’s Concentration Camps: Remembering the Japanese American Experience,” which she curated for JANM. Among her award-winning documentaries is Toyo Miyatake: Infinite Shades of Gray, an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival.  She pioneered the historical/cultural significance of home movies in the United States, co-edited Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories and served on the National Film Preservation Board. Ishizuka is also president of the Okura Mental Health Leadership Foundation.


Language Matters: There is no universal agreement on what we call the camps or the process that created them — ‘incarceration,’ ‘internment,’ and ‘concentration’ are a few of the terms that were interchangeably used. While some might find ‘concentration’ misleading because these were not extermination camps, the term predates the Holocaust and is by definition a place where large numbers of people are detained or confined under armed guard. We believe that awareness of the historical import of these words, as well as care in using them, is an important way to respect the collective memory of the victims and grants us greater power to confront injustice and cultivate peace.

“A concentration camp is a place where people are imprisoned, not because of the crimes they committed, but simply because of who they are. During World War II, America’s concentration camps were clearly distinguishable from Nazi Germany’s. Despite the difference, all had one thing in common: that people in power removed a minority group from the general population and the rest of society let it happen.” – Joint Statement by Japanese-American National Museum and the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors at the 1994 exhibition, America’s Concentration Camps: Remembering the Japanese American Experience