Casey Peek accepted the award for Art Shibayama at the Feb. 16 ceremony at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles


From the Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress

The 2002 Fighting Spirit Award will be presented at the DOR to Isamu Carlos
Arturo “Art” Shibayama of San Jose. The Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress
selected Shibayama for his activism and fighting spirit in seeking justice
for Japanese Latin Americans and his on-going struggle to receive reparations
from the U.S. government through his lawsuit, Shibayama v. Reno (USA).

During World War II, the United States government kidnapped over 2200
Japanese Latin men, women and children to be used in a hostage exchange
program with Japan. Shibayama and his family, natives of Lima, Peru, were
forcibly removed from Peru in 1944 and imprisoned at Crystal City; Texas for
two-and-a-half years. Once an affluent businessman, Shibayama’s father
struggled to support his family of eight children through a variety of odd
jobs after they were released from camp. The family traveled from Texas to
the Seabrook Farm in New jersey and then to Chicago to find suitable work.
The elder Shibayama passed away in 1976.

By 1993, most eligible Japanese Americans had been issued an apology and
reparations from the government through the passage of the Civil Liberties
Act of 1988. However, many Japanese Latin American were being denied the
$20,000 because the legislation provided compensation for only U.S. citizens
and permanent residents. The Japanese Latin Americans had their passports
taken from them before their imprisonment in the U. S. and were now being
denied redress for their illegal alien status during the War.

Shibayama and his brothers were denied redress on this technicality. Although
Shibayama served in U. S. Army from 1952-54, he did not beome a U.S. citizen
until 1970. In the mid 1990's, he joined the Campaign for Justice: Redress
Now for Japanese Latin Americans! (CFJ) and participated in several lobbying
delegations to Washington D.C.

In 1996, the CFJ and lawyers helped a small group of Japanese Latin Americans
file a lawsuit against the U.S. government to win reparations. The offer of
an out-of-court settlement in 1998 was accepted even though only $5000 was
provided for each surviving former internee. Shibayama and his brothers,
Kenichi javier Shibayama and Takeshi Jorge Shibayama, both of Chicago,
refused the settlement along with 14 other former internees. These
“opt-outters” believed that the settlement was not sufficient given the
larger amount given to Japanese Americans.

“The Shibayama brothers’ lawsuit remains pending at this time. NCRR pays
tribute to Art Shibayama for his principled stand against this grievous
injustice, “ stated Kay Ochi, NCRR Co-Chair

The Day of Remembrance is sponsored by the Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress
(NCRR) formerly known as the National Coalition for Redress Reparations, the
Japanese American Citizens League/ Pacific Southwest District, and the
Japanese American National Museum. The DOR will take place on Saturday, Feb.
16, 2002 at the national museum from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Reservations are
required; call (213) 625-0414 Ext. 2230.

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