Sunday, February 20, 2011
ER member, Miho Kim, selected to be a candleholder for Day of Remembrance
Eclipse Rising expresses heartfelt prayers for peace for this Day of Remembrance 2011, a gathering to commemorate the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII on Feb. 20, 2011 in San Francisco. Our co-founding member Miho Kim will serve as one of the candle lighters for this event, and we regard this as a valuable opportunity to stand together on the side of justice, on both sides of the Pacific, in the United States and in Japan, so that state-sanctioned racist injustice manifest in the internment shall never be repeated in history.
Public Enemy #1: Japanese Americans during WWII, and Zainichi Koreans Today
Eclipse Rising has a unique perspective on the internment of Japanese Americans.
While Japan's colonization of the Korean peninsula ended seven decades ago, we the Zainichi Koreans and our lived experiences are living proof that its colonial policies remain intact within its own borders, unbeknownst to much of the unsuspecting world. To this day, Japan continues to refuse to grant civil, political and constitutional rights to descendants of former colonial subjects of the Japanese Empire. We continue to actively hide our Korean names, in fact, far more so than did Koreans when an assimilationist law existed to prohibit the continued use of Korean names in Imperial Japan, because the cost of retaining our cultural identity is often loss of livelihood in Japanese society. Discrimination in employment, housing, marriage, schools, etc. run rampant. In fact, it is illegal in Japan to hire a Zainichi Korean into public sector jobs at all, due to pervasive racist prejudice against us as potential criminals that can turn against Japanese interests and compromise its national security.
Among many forms of racist violence against us, the Korean schools and communities throughout the country are under violent assault by popular ultra-nationalists that label Zainichi who retain their cultural identity as Koreans as dangerous and offensive terrorist threat to Japanese society. The Japanese government continues to condone, if not perpetrate, racist epithets uttered by officials against our peoples, such as the Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro, among others, with impunity. In light of persistent violence and harassment across the country the Zainichi -- many of whom are children -- continue to suffer, Japanese criminal justice system has not punished perpetrators for their hate crimes.
Nor have the courts of Japan delivered a single just verdict for its crimes of sexual slavery and forced labor. The surviving victims continue to suffer unspeakable shame and insult, and they are our ancestors and elders. We see their tears in the tears of thousands of Japanese Americans whose family perished in the internment camps, as well as in other communities of color that witness their children get shot on the streets, not uncommonly by law enforcement ironically meant to protect them. We see their tears in the tears of many day laborers and excluded workers in this country, who toil amidst profound invisibility and vulnerability. Indeed, their very realities today are reminiscent of what the first-generation Japanese Americans experienced, as Japan’s rural peasants seeking a better life for their children, leaving behind increasing repression and exploitation by the imperialist Meiji government. Similarly, our elders are mostly poor farmers, driven away from their motherland, after generations of hostile feudalist oppression, followed by brutal Japanese colonization.
We, as inheritors of a tragic past, insist on, and celebrate, our right to be healed and exercise of that right as a community. The Day of Remembrance, at the end of the day, is not about victimhood, but is about honoring the Story of Triumph, which has its beginnings in our experience as victims of injustice.
Naming the injustice, speaking up to tell our story, as painful as it may be, to rally support for reconciliation, healing, and ultimately, positive social change - we believe that is what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. would see as the "arc of history bending towards justice." And Eclipse Rising is inspired by precisely this journey - albeit arduous - courageously undertaken by many of our friends in the Japanese American community, as we follow suit and advocate for an end to the prevailing grip of state-sanctioned racism at home – both in the United States and in Japan.
February 20, 2011
--Building Solidarity Network between the Oppressed Communities in the US and Japan--