April 1999

CONTACT: Kim Ina, PH/FAX: (415) 566-3487
E-MAIL: kimina@children-of-the-camps.org

Children of the Camps
Coming to PBS Beginning May 1999

Children of the Camps, a powerful one-hour documentary that portrays the lingering personal impact of the WWII internment experience on Japanese Americans, will be presented on PBS beginning in May 1999. Check with your local PBS station for exact broadcast dates and times.

Unlike any other program on the subject, Children of the Camps shares the experiences and the long-internalized anger, grief and shame felt by Japanese Americans who were children when interned behind barbed wire in 10 U.S. concentration camps during World War II.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, which led to the mass evacuation and subsequent incarceration of 110,000 U.S. citizens and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry for the duration of World War II. More than half of those interned were children.

"I remember the soldiers marching us to the Army tank and I looked at their rifles and I was just terrified because I could see this long knife at the end . . . I thought I was imagining it as an adult much later . . . I thought it couldn't have been bayonets because we were just little kids," says one of the documentary's participants.

The documentary is the result of a three-year long project by Dr. Satsuki Ina, a university professor and family therapist living in Sacramento, California. Dr. Ina, who was born in the Tule Lake internment camp, has developed and conducted for more than ten years a three-day workshop for other former fellow child internees. The workshop helps participants articulate and share their childhood experiences for the first time, and ultimately to come to a better understanding of how this early trauma manifests itself in their adult lives and how they can overcome it.

With the expertise of a group of community-conscious filmmakers, Dr. Ina was able to capture on video one of these workshops. The six participants openly share their stories and experiences in order to help initiate a healing process for other Japanese Americans, as well as the greater public, after over 50 years of silence.

"Until we can talk about it and make a connection with the grief and anger, we will each still be unconsciously trying to get out of camp," said Dr. Ina. "Our experience was unique, but it's an example of the broader experience of racism, how it permeated our lives, and how we each attempted to survive it. It's about trauma and suffering, but it also is about our strength."

"The larger and indeed powerful effective message of this project is that we must never again allow institutionalized racism to destroy the lives of our fellow citizens," says Warren Robbin Ware, President of the Sacramento Chapter of the NAACP.

The workshop participants featured in the film are:

  • Howard Ikemoto, who was interned in Tule Lake CA at age 2;
  • Marion Kanemoto, who at age 14 was exchanged for American prisoners of war overseas in Japan;
  • Bessie Masuda, who was interned in Rohwer AK at age 12;
  • Ruth Okimoto, who was interned in Poston AZ at age 6;
  • Richard Tatsuo Nagaoka, who was born in the Rohwer AK camp; and
  • Toru Saito, who was interned in Topaz UT at age 4.

Children of the Camps was produced by:

  • Satsuki Ina, Ph.D., Producer
  • Stephen Holsapple, Director/Editor and Bay Area Emmy Award-winner;
  • Emery Clay, Director of Photography and also a Bay Area Emmy Award-winner;
  • Kimberly Ina, Associate Producer;
  • Audrey Kasho-Wells, Creative/Administrative Producer; and
  • Howard Fujimoto, Financial Manager

The Children of the Camps documentary is one component of the Children of the Camps Educational Project. Using the documentary and other materials, the project will offer Community Education and Training Workshops to organizations, health professionals and educational institutions.

The documentary, as well as workshops in the state of California, is made possible by a grant from The California Endowment and The California Endowment's CommunitiesFirst Program. The California Endowment's mission is to expand access to affordable quality health care for under-served individuals and communities and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians.

Video copies of Children of the Camps, the Documentary, are available for purchase from the National Asian American Telecommunications Association (NAATA) at (415) 552-9550, or at their Web site: www.naatanet.org.

To ensure that the prime-time broadcast of Children of the Camps, the Documentary, has the greatest possible impact, the project's producers are encouraging interested people to plan group viewings in their homes and/or communities, and to help publicize the program.

Viewer's guides and publicity materials, as well as other resources and information on the project and internment history, are available at the Children of the Camps Web site: http://www.pbs.org/childofcamp.

Or contact Kim Ina at the Children of the Camps Documentary and Educational Project at (916) 452-3008 or by email at: kimina@children-of-the-camps.org.

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