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Invisible Citizens: Japanese Americans (film)

Early documentary film that highlights the experiences of Japanese Americans during and after World War II through profiles of six Japanese Americans from around the country.

After a brief overview of Executive Order 9066 and the subsequent forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans, the first segment focuses on Shiro Tokuno. The segment begins at a contemporary Tule Lake Pilgrimage , where Tokuno talks about his wartime experience. He joined the Military Intelligence Service and farmed after the war. Active in sharing his wartime story, we see Tokuno in an elementary school classroom where he answers questions about the incarceration and his military service.

The next segment is on Sanji Kimoto, a veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who was blinded while fighting in France. We meet his wife, Renee, and follow him on his rounds as a Fuller Brush salesman. He talks about the war with another veteran, Takaji Goto, and his wife June, who talks about her late brother, the war hero Kazuo Masuda . Kimoto then goes to play cribbage with a white neighbor who recounts the prejudice Kimoto faced when he first moved into the neighborhood. The segment ends with Kimoto and his daughter Diane visiting the Go For Broke exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History in 1982.

Next is a segment on Mo Nishida, who lives in a bachelor apartment in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. We visit his apartment, the Sun Cafe, a bar, and accompany him on one of his jobs as a driver for elderly people. Nishida talks about the "single men's culture" of Little Tokyo and his insistence on living there because he "wants to be a Buddhahead."

Robert Moteki is a clinical social worker in New York, where he lives with his French wife and daughter. We see him in a counseling session with an unidentified Japanese American woman. Moteki talks about how he had been ashamed of being Japanese for most of his life, which he has overcome through psychotherapy.

In Berkeley, California, we visit the Channing House, a coop formed by Nisei for the care of elderly Issei . Several unidentified Issei are shown reminiscing about their wartime confinement. We then visit Kimochikai, a social service agency that feeds elderly Japanese Americans. One of the workers there is Terry Kameda, a Sansei with a six-year-old daughter. We follow him to an anti-war rally and to his daughter's Japanese bilingual school. He tells his daughter that he and his wife are getting a divorce and that he is moving to the mountains. We visit with him three months later in the mountains near Mt. Shasta, where he is determined to recreate traditional Japanese rural culture, which he feels that the Nisei abandoned in their rush to be American.

The last segment is on Jim and Nobu Kajiwara. We begin with the couple visiting the site of the shop they had owned in San Francisco before the war and end with a visit to the site of the Tanforan Assembly Center . Jim does clerical work, and he talks about the difficulties finding a job after the war. The Kajiwaras then visit Dave Tatsuno , who shows some of his home movies of Topaz . The Kajiwaras visit the grave of their son Jim, who had been killed in the Vietnam War.

The film ends with excepts of testimony from the New York hearings of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians featuring Moteki, Tadashi Tsufura, and S. Murano.

Filmmaker Tsuno, a Tokyo native, founded the New York based Downtown Community Television (DCTV), a community media center based in the Chinatown area, with her husband Jon Alpert in 1972. She has produced and directed numerous documentary films on a wide variety of topics and remains co-executive director of DCTV.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like Emi (1979); Mitsuye and Nellie: Asian American Poets (1981); Children of the Camps (1999)

Media Details
Release Date 1983
Runtime 57 minutes
Producer Keiko Tsuno
Writer Pat Sides
Narrator Pat Suzuki
Starring Shiro Tokuno, Asako Tokuno, Sanji Kimoto, Renee Kimoto, Takaji Goto, June Goto, Diane Kimoto, Mo Nishida, Robert Moteki, Phyllis Ogata, Terry Kameda, Jim Kajiwara, Nobu Kajiwara, Dave Tatsuno, Tadashi Tsufura, S. Murano
Cinematography Keiko Tsuno
Editing Keiko Tsuno
Studio Downtown Community Television Center
For More Information

For More Information

Invisible Citizens: Japanese Americans on Downtown Community Television Center website. .

Trailer for Invisible Citizens . .