A testimonial to Minoru Yasui

Material Information

A testimonial to Minoru Yasui
Series Title:
Calendars, memorabilia, and photographs, 1940 - 1986
Publication Date:
Physical Location:


Booklet printed for Minoru Yasui Testimonial, which was held March 3, 1984 at the Regency Hotel in Denver, Colorado.
General Note:
Carton 58, Folder 7

Record Information

Source Institution:
Auraria Library
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Auraria Membership

Auraria Library
The Minoru Yasui Collection

Full Text
MARCH 3, 1984

March 3, 1984
WHEREAS, Minoru Yasui is the recipient of the highest honor awarded
by the U.S. Department of Justice to a private citizen
the Public Service Certificate; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Yasui has made outstanding contributions to the civil
rights cause and community relations efforts in Denver and
Colorado; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Yasui was Executive Director of the Denver Commission
on Community Relations for 16 years; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Yasui was a founding member of the Urban League of
Denver in 1946 and he assisted in the founding of the Latin
American Research and Service Agency in 1965 and he
initiated, organized and developed Denver Native Americans
United in 1968; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Yasui has been active in the Japanese American Citizens
League since 1931 and served as national chairman in 1981
of the National JACL Redress Committee; and
WHEREAS, it was through Mr. Yasui's efforts that the Commission on
Youth and the Commission on Aging became realities; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Yasui was chairman of the Colorado State Advisory
Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 1979
and remains a member of this board today; and
WHEREAS, he has also been active in programs for prison inmates and
today serves on the Advisory Board of the Colorado Prison
Association; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Yasui's distinguished contributions have made Colorado
a better place and he is very deserving of the Public
Service Certificate;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Richard D. Lamm, Governor of the State of
Colorado, do hereby proclaim March 3, 1984, as
in the State of Colorado
GIVEN under my hand and the
Executive Seal of the State of
Colorado, this seventeenth day of
February, A.D. 1984.

AREA CODE 303 5T5-2721
WHEREAS, Minoru Yasui, a distinguished citizen of this city, is
being honored on March 3rd, 1984, by his multitude of
friends in the Denver community; and
WHEREAS, Minoru Yasui served as Executive Director of the city's
Commission on Community Relations for 16 years, during
which time the Commission achieved prominent status in
developing a Commission on Youth, a Commission on the
Aging, and a Commission on the Disabled among its many
other activities; and
WHEREAS, Minoru Yasui has been an active member of the civil rights
movement in Denver, with his efforts cutting across ethnic
lines and' addressing concerns of every new ethnic minority
to emerge in Denver; and
WHEREAS, Minoru Yasui was a founding member of the Urban League of
Denver, assisted in the founding of the Latin American Research
and Service Agency (LARASA), developed the Denver Native
Americans, and is a member of the Mayor's Task Force on Indo-
Chinese Refugees; and
WHEREAS, Minoru Yasui has been active in the Japanese American Citizens
League for more than 50 years, and remains yet today a leading
force in the League's efforts for just compensation for the
more than 120,000 internment victims of World War II:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FEDERICO PENA, Mayor of the City and County of Denver,
Colorado, by virtue of the authority vested in me, do hereby
proclaim that March 3, 1984 be known as
"Minoru Yasui Day in Denver"
and urge Mr. Yasui's many friends and acquaintances to pay
proper honor and respect to him on this special day.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the official
seal of the City and County of Denver to be affixed this 22nd

Gary Hart
February 6, 1984
Dear Min:
I am very pleased to join our friends in the
Mile-Hi Chapter of the Japanese-American League
in paying tribute to you for your many years of
service in our community.
I would also like to take this opportunity
to lend my support to the efforts you and others
have made to rectify the injustices suffered by
Japanese Americans during and immediately follow-
ing the period of World War II. In standing up
for the rights of our fellow citizens of Japanese
ancestry, you have strengthened and reaffirmed
the rights of every American.
Please convey my personal regards to everyone
attending the dinner in your honor.

'TUCmieb Elates Jfoenaie
February 2, 1984
Dear Min,
I understand that you will be honored at a
retirement dinner on March 3. I am sorry I cannot
be with you.
Your work' with the Japanese-American League
and the Nikkei organizations has been outstanding.
I compliment you on a job well done and for your
leadership in the community.
All best wishes for the years to come.

In his book Justice at War, author Peter Irons applies a one-word description
to each of the four Nisei whose challenges of discriminatory treatment at the hands
of their government in World War II led to the United States Supreme Court.
Gordon Hirabayashi, then a University of Washington student and Quaker paci-
fist who on principle declined to report for evacuation, is characterized as the
Fred Korematsu, who had worked as a shipyard welder in the San Francisco
Bay area, had refused to accept evacuation because he wanted to be with the girl he
intended to marry. Irons calls him the loner.
Mitsuye Endo, a California state civil service worker, had like other Nisei submit-
ted to the Armys curfew and evacuation orders. But she had agreed to be the prin-
cipal in a habeas corpus suit challenging the authority of the government to keep
her imprisoned after her loyalty had been determined. She was characterized as the
The fourth member of this unlikely quartet was Minoru Yasui, a native of Hood
River, Ore., educated as an attorney, and described by Irons as a distinctive type of
constitutional challenger: the legalist.
Yasui, with his legal training, is indeed a legalist. But as his countless Denver
friends and associates know, he is far more. He is a tireless human rights advocate,
community leader, a supporter of good causes, a volunteer who was always too will-
ing, if his own wellbeing were to be considered, to help. He was the man who for
many years almost single-handedly kept the local Japanese American Citizens
League chapter viable. Above all, he was the man who, as director of Denvers Com-
munity Relations Commission, helped the city meet and solve the legitimate and
knotty issues raised by the new public consciousness about civil and human rights.
That record of service and achievement is in keeping with the action that first
drew national attention to Minoru Yasui and insured him a place in the history of
efforts to preserve the rights of American individuals.
In the early spring of 1942, a panicky nation allowed its military to impose dis-
criminatory restrictions against a particular class of Americans. As a prelude to the
Evacuation, Gen. John L. DeWitt ordered a curfew on all persons of Japanese ances-
try. Yasui contended that such an order applying to American citizens was uncon-
stitutional in the absence of martial law. The order, he said, makes distinctions
between citizens on the basis of ancestry, and that infringes on my rights as a
Up to that point, despite a certain precocity, his life had differed only in detail
from that of other Japanese Americans. Born in 1916, he was the second of seven
children fathered by Masuo Yasui, a relatively prosperous Issei merchant who had
gained prominence in Hood River. Minoru, or Min as he was better known, earned
both his bachelors and law degrees at the University of Oregon, where he also
received a second lieutenants commission in the U.S. Army Reserve.
There were few opportunities in 1939 for N isei attorneys fresh out of law school.
Yasui went to Chicago where he was employed by the Japanese Consulate-

General to write letters and speeches and take on other work requiring the use of
English. After the outbreak of war he resigned and soon afterward received Army
orders to report for active duty at Fort Vancouver across the Columbia River
from Portland.
But even before he could be formally inducted the Army told him he wasnt
wanted. It was obvious his Japanese background was the reason. Angry at the
rejection, Yasui opened a law office in Portland. Shortly, General DeWitt issued his
curfew order.
Against the counsel of more cautious associates, Yasui sought a legal test of
the order by intentionally violating the curfew. He was jailed, charged, and released
on bond. In November of 1942 Yasui was brought back to Portland from the
MinidokaWRA campin Idahotostandtrial in U.S. District Court. Judge JamesAlger
Fee reached a curious decision. He agreed the military could not issue orders bind-
ing on citizen civilians in the absence of martial law. But then he ruled Yasui had lost
his citizenship by having worked for the Japanese consulate, and was subject to the
curfew. He was fined $5,000 and sentenced to one year in prison.
Yasuis appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was directed to
the U.S. Supreme Court. While the wheels of justice turned slowly, slowly, Yasui was
kept in solitary confinement forthe next nine months in the Multnomah County Jail
in Portland until the Supreme Court got around to hearing both, his and the
Hirabayashi cases.
The high court reversed both findings in Yasuis appeal. It ruled that Yasui had
not lost his citizenship, but that the Army did indeed have the authority to issue
orders binding on civilians. The court also upheld the $5,000 fine but freed him on
the grounds that he already had spent nine months in prison. Yasui was returned to
Minidoka, and from there relocated to Chicago where among other jobs he worked
as a laborer in an ice plant.
Moving to Denver shortly afterward, he took the examination for admission to
the Colorado bar. Although he scored the highest marks of all the candidates, he
was denied a license on the grounds that he had a criminal record. Only after
vigorous appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court was the license issued. For many
years Yasui practiced law in an office near 20th and Larimer Streets that he shared
with his brother-in-law, Toshio Ando.
Yasuis concerns with human relations led to his appointment to Denvers Com-
munity Relations Commission. Mayor Bill McNichols named Yasui as the Commis-
sions full-time director, a post he filled with distinction until his retirement in 1983.
Throughout this period he also served the Japanese American Citizens League in
many capacities, and was honored as its Nisei of the Biennium in 1952 and
JACLer of the Biennium in 1982.
Yasui currently is chairman of JACLs Redress Committee working for passage
of the Civil Liberties Act of 1983 (HR 4110), which would implement the recommen-
dations of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. One
of its recommendations is payment of $20,000 to each survivor of the wartime
evacuation program. Yasui, along with Hirabayashi and Korematsu, is involved in
the coram nobis suits which seek reversal of their convictions in the wartime cases
on the grounds that their trials were tainted by government misconduct.
Bill Hosokawa


Gene Amole TESTIMONIAL BANQUET REGENCY HOTEL MARCH 3, 1984 Master of Ceremonies
Pledge of Allegiance American Legion Dept, of Colorado Jr. Vice Cmdr., John Noguchi Nisei Post Sr. Vice Cmdr. Harry Nakagawa
Opening Statement Gene Amole %
Invocation Reverend Hidemi Ito Simpson United Methodist Church
Welcome Statement Dr. William Takahashi
* DINNER *************************************
Introduction of Head Table Gene Amole
Main Speaker Honorable Bob Matsui
Congratulatory Dance (Sho-Chiku-Bi) Mdm. Miyoka Bando
Testimonial Speakers Dr. William Takahashi Honorable William McNichoIsJr. Ms. Edna Mosely Mr. Bernie Valdez Rabbi Manuel Laderman

Presentation of gift to
True Yasui
Presentation of Awards
To Min Yasui
Mrs. Takashi Mayeda
Mountain Plains District JACL
Mr. Ron Shibata
Nikkei Community
Mr. Bob Sakaguchi
Sakura Square
Mr. Herb Inouye
Denver Central Optimist Club
Mr. Nobuo Furuiye
Brighton Japanese American Association
Mr. Ron Ida
Fort Lupton JACL
Mr. Jack Uno
U.S. Dept, of Justice
Mr. Gilbert G. Pompa
Mr. Minoru Yasui
Reverend U. Sugiyama
Denver Buddhist Temple



A writ of error coram nobis is an old, little used English common law petition by
a person convicted of a crime to vacate such conviction on the grounds that the
prosecution knowingly used improperorfalse evidence, orwithheld pertinent infor-
mation at the trial or appellate court levels to sustain such conviction.
In 1943 and 1944, the United States Supreme Court upheld the power of the
U.S. military, in time of war, to impose its orders upon a civilian population without
the declaration of martial law by proper authorities, and further upheld as constitu-
tional the power of the federal government to treat U.S. citizens differently on the
basis of ancestry.
These Supreme Court decisions were based upon documentation provided by
the military and by attorneys of the U.S. Department of Justice. Now, forty years
later, through the Freedom of Information Act of 1976, certain critical documents
indicating that some of the allegations by the military were deliberately falsified,
and certainly that other material information was knowingly withheld from the court
by government attorneys, have come to light.
On the basis of such official documentation, painstakingly dug up in the Nation-
al Archives and other official sources, Korematsu, Hirabayashi and Yasui are seek-
ing to have their initial World War II convictions vacated, and criminal charges
against them for exercising their civil rights as citizens be dismissed, by means of
writs of error coram nobis.
If successful, these current proceedings would not reverse or overturn the
U.S. Supreme Court decisions of 1943-44, but would effectively eliminate the foun-
dations on which those Supreme Court cases rested. If successful, no longer would
it be accurate to state that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the forcible evacuation
and subsequent relocation and incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry
from the West Coast during Worid War II as a constitutional and legal exercise of
war powers of this nation.
The impact of such cases, if successful, would serve to protect the civil rights
of all persons in these United States.


Brighton Japanese American
Nisei Post #185 American
Mile High JACL
Japanese Association of
Colorado ($1,000)
Johnny Downs
Mr. & Mrs. Harry Ida & Family
Ron Ida
Warren Ida & Family
Tri-State Buddhist Temple
Fort Lupton JACL
Kitayama Brothers
Gorsuch, Kirgis, Campbell,
Walker, and Grover
Japanese Kitchen
Dr. Ben Matoba
Mr. & Mrs. Mike Tashiro
Tanaka Farms
Mayeda Farms
Lafayette Florist
Anti-Defamation League
Gene Amole
Brighton Nisei Womens Club
George Kaneko
Roy & Yoshiko Inouye
Mr. & Mrs. Oshi S. Taniwaki
Dr. & Mrs. Bob Mayeda
Mr. & Mrs. Tom loka
Mr. & Mrs. Charles Komaru
Mr. & Mrs. Henry M. Suzuki
Kiyoto Futa
Pacific Mercantile
Simpson United Methodist Church
Hirato & Misaye Uno
Mr. & Mrs. Kay Sakaguchi
Jim Kanemoto
Denver Buddhist Temple
Dr. Takashi Mayeda
Mountain Plains District JACL
Flanagan Assoc./Tony Gist

Dr. William Takahashi Silkie Hansen James Hada
Tom Masamori Bob Sakaguchi Mitz Kaneko
Ron Ida Henry Suzuki Sam Koshio
Dr. Takeshi Mayeda John Noguchi Kay Nitta
Shige Morishige Susumi Hidaka Yosh Arai
James Kanemoto Miyoka Bando Roy Inouye
Jack Uno John Hanatani Kenzo Fujimori
Sadako Tsubokawa Shun Aoyagi George Kuramoto
Joe Ozaki Frank Uyenishi Gladys Taniwaki
Harry Nakagawa James Inouye Phil Hernando
Barbra Coopersmith Ted Barros Bernard Valdez
Richard Castro Leo Cardenas Jim Terada Dale Arnold Ti-Hua Chang

Mile-Hi Japanese American Citizen League
Brighton Japanese American Association
Community Graduates Program Committee
Nisei Post 185 American Legion
Tri-State Buddhist Church
Japanese Association of Colorado
Denver School of Judo
Sakura Square
Denver Sister Cities Inc.
Denver Commission On Community Relations
Latin-American Research and Service Agency
Colorado Alliance of Pacific Asian Americans
Fort Lupton JACL
Denver Central Optimists
Denver Buddhist Church
Simpson Methodist Church
Bando School of Dance
Anti-Defamation League
KMGH-TV Channel 7
KBTV-Channel 9