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Where EAST meets the Northwest

OREGON EXPERIENCE. Oregon Experience, an original television series by Oregon Public Broadcasting, is premiering a new historical documentary on Monday, April 22 at 9:00pm. Oregonís Japanese Americans explores the history of the Japanese community in Oregon, from its early pioneer beginnings to its forced incarceration during World War II, and beyond. Some Japanese-American farmers (pictured) staked their futures in the Hood River Valley, where they cleared forest land, planted strawberries, and created orchards of apples and pears. (Photo courtesy of the Oregon Nikkei Endowment)

FORCED INCARCERATION. Oregonís Japanese Americans, an episode of Oregon Experience, is premiering on Monday, April 22 at 9:00pm on Oregon Public Broadcasting. The show follows the history of the Japanese community in Oregon, from its early pioneer beginnings to its forced incarceration during World War II (pictured). (Photos courtesy of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience)

From The Asian Reporter, V29, #08 (April 15, 2019), page 11.

New documentary explores the rich history, unjust treatment of Oregon Japanese Americans

Oregonís Japanese Americans

Written & produced by Nadine Jelsing

Edited by Dan Evans

Narrated by Cathy Kiyomura

Airs April 22 from 9:00pm to 10:00pm on

Oregon Public Broadcasting & online

Oregon Experience, an original television series by Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), is premiering a new historical documentary on Monday, April 22 at 9:00pm. Oregonís Japanese Americans explores the history of the Japanese community in Oregon, from its early pioneer beginnings to its forced incarceration during World War II, and beyond.

In the early 1900s, Japanese Americans had established a vibrant community in the Old Town district of Portland, Oregon, where more than a hundred businesses thrived. Japanese-American businessmen and farmers also staked their futures in the Hood River Valley, where they cleared forest land, planted strawberries, and created orchards of apples and pears. The Issei, or first-generation Japanese immigrants, began raising children, who were American-born citizens.

Families laid down roots in Oregon and were here to stay. Their success, though, fuelled anti-Japanese attitudes long before the start of World War II. The bombing of Pearl Harbor greatly magnified the growing racial hatred toward Japanese Americans.

In February 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the forced removal of all people of Japanese ancestry ó regardless of citizenship ó from the U.S. west coast.

Approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated at 10 internment camps located in isolated parts of the country. Most from the Portland area boarded a train for Minidoka near Twin Falls, Idaho. Those from the Hood River Valley were transported to Tule Lake in northern California or Heart Mountain in Wyoming. Families lived in rudimentary, uninsulated barracks surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. They were denied their civil rights.

Decades later, camp survivors, as well as their children and grandchildren, fought for an official apology from the U.S. government ó and won.

The one-hour documentary traces the rich history and painful experiences of Oregonís Japanese Americans. It follows the people who were forced to suddenly abandon homes, schools, and businesses, only to return after the war and start over as intense prejudice prevailed.

Oregonís Japanese Americans visits the national historic sites of Minidoka and Tule Lake to learn what life was like there during World War II. The program features archival film, photographs, and firsthand accounts from camp survivors.

Some of the interviews feature Linda Tamura, author and professor emerita, Willamette University; Henry Sakamoto, a Portland businessman and community activist who helped create Portlandís Japanese American Historical Plaza; retired surgeon Homer Yasui, who is the son of Hood River pioneer Masuo Yasui and brother of attorney Minoru Yasui, the first Japanese American admitted to the Oregon State Bar; Portland businessman and community activist George Nakata; former Oregon poet laureate Lawson Fusao Inada; and Matthew Stringer, executive director of the Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, Oregon.

Oregonís Japanese Americans premieres Monday, April 22 at 9:00pm on Oregon Public Broadcasting. Those without access to OPB are able to watch online at the same time at <www.opb.org/JapaneseAmericans>.

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