Riverside Metropolitan Museum

Reading the Walls Online Exhibit - Room #2 : Case 7

Saburo Kido and the Japanese American Citizens League

<p>Photograph, Japanese American Citizens League. Source: Hoksokawa, Bill, JACL in Quest of Justice, William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1982.  </p>
<p>In November of 1942, JACL board members convened at an emergency national 
conference in Salt Lake City. Among the topics discussed was the reinstatement 
of the Nisei through selective service in the United States armed forces.  </p>

<p>Mike Masoka, National Secretary, concluded that, "I have come to inescapable conclusion that this 
matter of Selective Service is the cornerstone of our future in this country 
Gentlemen, in order to bring this discussion to a head, I call for a resolution 
to the President and the Army of the United States asking for a reclassification 
of the draft status of the American-born Japanese so that we shall be accorded 
the same privilege of serving our country in the armed forces as that granted to 
every other American citizen." [Hosokawa, Bill, JACL In Quest of 
Justice, William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1982, p. 199.]</p>

<p>Miné Harada Kido recalled later that, her husband Saburo strongly agreed, 
"Yes. He . . . Said, ‘That’s, that’s one of our rights, you know. Unless we get 
that right back,’ he says, ‘we’ll never be considered, . . . Citizens, you know, 
first-class citizens. . . " [Source, Rawtisch, Mark H., Interviews with Members 
of the Harada Family, Mark H. Rawitsch, 2003, p. 121.]</p>

<p>Photograph, JACL Leadership just prior to outbreak of war. Source: Hosokawa, Bill, JACL in Quest of Justice, William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1982.</p>

<p>In the center row from left to right, are Teiko Ishida Kuroiwa, Dr. Thomas T. 
Yatabe, Saburo Kido, Jimmie Sakamoto and Walter Tsukamoto. In the front row, the 
first two are Yasuo Abiko and Mike Masaoka.</p>

<p>At the November 1942 emergency JACL meeting in Salt Lake City, Mike Masaoka, National 
Secretary of the JACL, stated that, "The national JACL has always insisted upon 
our treatment as equal partners in the war effort with every other American. We 
believe that we are entitled to share in the sacrifices and the heartaches of 
our country. . . Somewhere on the field of battle, in a baptism of blood, we and 
our comrades must prove to all who question that we are ready and willing to die 
for the one country we know and pledge allegiance to." Source: Hosokawa, Bill, 
JACL In Quest of Justice, William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1982, p. 193.</p>
<p>Piece of Ironwood. Riverside Metropolitan Museum, Harada Family Collection.
<p>Sumi Harada used this piece of ironwood as a front door stop after her return to Riverside, perhaps as a memento of the experience of Kido’s brutal beating. Saburo’s wife, Mine had vivid memories of that night.

". . . they [JACL] asked the government . . . to reinstate the Nisei . . . he [Saburo] had to go around and explain what . . they had decided . . . the animosity grew in the camps . . . around one-thirty, the men rushed in . . . six of them came in . . . one of the men . . .hit Kido . . . and one of them men had a huge . . . more than eighteen inches long ironwood club . . . I was scared . . . All the time I was living in Salt Lake, no matter how hot the house got, I couldn’t open the windows . . ." [Rawtisch, Mark H., Interviews with Members of the Harada Family, Mark H. Rawitsch, 2003, p. 122-124.]
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At the November 1942 emergency Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) meeting in Salt Lake City, Saburo Kido and the delegates discussed matters such as camp conditions, potential additional threats to their rights as citizens, and reclassification of Nisei for selective service in the armed forces. At this meeting, they discussed that the Nisei should be re-classified as eligible for selective service rather than as volunteers. Saburo as did others advocated that with selective service the Nisei would be treated as equals with other American citizens. News of the JACL’s decision to support selective service classification for Nisei was not received favorably by all camp residents. Kido’s life was threatened by fellow internees. Camp officials offered to relocate him but not his family. He refused, believing that he had to remain with his family and stand up for his beliefs and those of the JACL. Additional exterior lights and Poston Police were stationed near the Kido’s "apartment." In early December 1942, the Kidos, did submit an official request to relocate to Salt Lake City, where the JACL had offered Saburo a job.

At the end of December, the War Department announced the formation of a Nisei combat unit. This was featured in The Poston Chronicle produced by the "internees" on January 29. On January 30, 1943, Saburo Kido was brutally beaten with an ironwood club by fellow internees. His attackers had barred the doors of the neighbors to prevent their aid. Saburo remained in the hospital for 14 days. On February 23, 1943, the Kidos received their leave clearance and moved to Salt Lake City. The attackers were turned over to the Yuma County Sheriff’s office for trial in Arizona Superior Court. By early March, all three attackers had been released, one for lack of evidence, and the other two received suspended sentences with conditions of future good behavior.

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