Many thanks to Council Leader Britt Yamamoto (JALD ’19) for this article!
From July 22 to 25, members of the 2019 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) cohort met again to keep the flame (and reunion streak) alive – this time in Boise, ID to recognize the opening of the Tokyo Olympics and to experience first-hand a living memorial of the Japanese American incarceration.
Thanks to the coordination and hospitality of 2019 JALD member, Andy Fujimoto, the cohort met with the Consul General of Japan in Portland, Masaki Shiga, and his staff to celebrate the people-to-people and commercial ties that bind the United States and Japan. In addition to the JALD group, local Idaho producers of everything from Wagyu beef to potatoes (of course!) came to meet with the CG and his team at a special trade meeting at the JUMP community gathering place in downtown Boise that also featured Senator Kelly Anthon, Majority Caucus Chair. Later in the day, the 2019 JALD cohort took the stage at a large public event to represent the meaningful and lasting connections that advance Japan-U.S. relations.
During the trip, the 2019 JALD group also had the privilege of touring the Minidoka National Historic site with Kurt Ikeda, the Chief of Interpretation and Education for the site. For many in the group it was their first visit to a site of Japanese American imprisonment, though many have parents and grandparents, as well as other family members, who were interned. It was deeply impactful to imagine that, had we all been born just a generation earlier, we too would have been imprisoned without cause and simply because of our ancestry. The group reflected on both our own families’ experiences and the experiences of those who are, today, imprisoned simply as a result of life circumstances outside of their control. Of particular note and resonance was the separation of families – particularly children – in the name of nationalism. Everyone came away changed by the experience.
The memorable trip was made possible thanks to Andy and Yoshie Fujimoto – thank you for sharing your home, your pool, and your llamas!
Since traveling to Japan in March 2019, the group has coordinated destination reunions in Seattle and Los Angeles and, during COVID, launched an online leadership development program mentoring young Japanese called the Japanese American Youth Leadership Initiative (JAYLI). Next up, the Honolulu Marathon in December!
–Council Leader Britt Yamamoto (JALD ’19)