Historic AAPI Presidential Forum in Las Vegas Aug. 12

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein will join former President Bill Clinton on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Secretary Hillary Clinton, and Libertarian presidential nominee Governor Gary Johnson to address the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) national community on August 12, 2016, at a historic AAPI Presidential Election Forum in Las Vegas.

Get the latest news about this event on APIAVote.org and AAJA.org.

In addition, discussions are in final stages with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign.

This quad-partisan AAPI Presidential Election Forum is presented by the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote).

Upwards of 4,000 leaders from business, real estate, journalism, health care, law, faith, and more, are expected to be inside The Colosseum at Caesars Palace for the Presidential Election Forum. More than 40 organizations are holding conferences, seminars, and symposiums to discuss issues relevant to their industries, professions, and communities.

In addition, more than 50 AAPI community Watch Parties will be held across the country, joining this historic event in real-time.

At the Forum, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) led by Rep. Judy Chu, Rep Mike Honda, and other members of Congress will have a special message on how AAPI voters actually can swing this year’s election outcome as they have in the past two cycles.

Doors open at 1:00 p.m. PST. Press credentials will NOT provide access to candidates, candidate arrivals, or allow for any filming or photography at the event or on Caesars property.


Media Contacts

AAJA: Kathy Chow
EMAIL: kathyc@aaja.org
PHONE: 916-539-0440

APIAVote: Alton Wang
EMAIL: awang@apiavote.org
PHONE: 202-780-8801

Japanese Americans speak out in support of Muslims and Arab Americans

Japanese Americans from the Bay Area Day of Remembrance Consortium this morning expressed their support and solidarity with the Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and South Asian American communities at a press conference at the National Japanese American Historical Society. this Tuesday, December 22 at

The press conference is in response to anti-Muslim hate and rhetoric that has increased following recent terrorist attacks.

The following community leaders were scheduled to speak this morning:

  • Hiroshi Shimizu—Former incarceree, Topaz incarceration camp, Tule Lake Segregation Center, Chair of the Bay Area Day of Remembrance Consortium
  • Samina Sundas—Founder and Executive Director of American Muslim Voice
  • Hiroshi Kashiwagi—Former incarceree, Tule Lake Segregation Center.  Poet and writer
  • Karen Korematsu—Co-founder of the Fred Korematsu Civil Rights Foundation. daughter of late Fred Korematsu, Supreme Court challenger
  • Rev. Ronald Kobata—Resident Minister, Buddhist Church of San Francisco, representative of Japanese American Religious Federation (JARF)

Following the press conference there will be a brief vigil.

Members of the consortium include: Asian Improv aRts, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, API Legal Outreach, Campaign for Justice: Redress NOW for Japanese Latin Americans!, Center for Asian American Media (formerly NAATA, Japanese American Citizens League-SF Chapter, Japanese American Religious Federation, Japanese Community Youth Council, Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Northern California, Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project, Nakayoshi Young Professionals, National Japanese American Historical Society, Nichi Bei Foundation/Weekly, Rosa Parks Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program, and the Tule Lake Committee.  Other organizations: Japantown Task Force, Kimochi, Inc., Sansei Legacy.

Featured photo via nichibei.org.

East West Eats: Favorite Asian Recipes from Top Bay Area Chefs

EastWestEatsMockUpThe Asian American Journalists Association San Francisco Bay Area Chapter is offering East West Eats: Favorite Asian Recipes from Top Bay Area Chefs for a special pre-order price of $55.00 through Oct. 30.

The cookbook carries on the tradition of AAJA-SF’s signature culinary event and benefits our student scholarship program.

The delectable compilation provides samplings from:

Francis Ang of Dirty Habit
Brian Beach of Le Colonial
Helen Mok Chan of Yank Sing
George Chen of Shanghai 1930 & China Live
Eric Ehler of Seoul Patch
Remi Hayashi Girouard of Goody Goodie
Robert Lam of Butterly
Belinda Leong of B. Patisserie
Richie Nakano of Hapa Ramen
Ronny Ng of M.Y. China
Alexander Ong of Betelnut
Charles Phan of Slanted Door
Vittal Shetty of Amber Restaurants
Hiro Sone of Ame & Terra
Lissa Doumani of Ame & Terra
Philippe Striffeler of Anzu
Daniel Sudar of Ysk Castro Inc.
Scott Whitman of Sushi Ran
Michael Yakura of Dobbs Ferry
Chris Yeo of Straits & Sino Restaurants
Martin Yan of M.Y. China
Cream & Sugar
Tim Luym of Attic
Willy Ng of M.Y. China
Nathan Payo of Roy’s

East West Eats was conceived as a fundraiser for AAJA’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter, and has helped raised thousands of dollars for our student scholarship program.

To order your copy, email ellen.t.lee@gmail.com or pattitom@gmail.com and provide the information noted in this form.

To become a project sponsor and be recognized in the cookbook, or for more information about the cookbook fundraiser, visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/east-west-eats-cookbook#/story and contact ellen.t.lee@gmail.com.

Japantown Foundation to Accept Grant Requests of Up to $10,000

San Francisco Japantown Foundation

Starting June 29, 2015, the San Francisco Japantown Foundation will accept applications from qualified organizations for direct grants of up to $10,000.

Applications will open on Monday, June 29, 2015, and are due by Friday, July 31, 2015, before 5:00 p.m. PT.

Our 2015 grants program will provide (a) direct unrestricted grants for organizations; and (b) planning grants for organizations focused on enhancing an existing structure of building in Japantown, or creating a product or service that would advance Japantown.

Organizations awarded a planning grant will have an opportunity to collaborate with the Foundation potentially resulting in additional funding of up to $15,000.

Learn more about our grants program.

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CAPE, Verizon Launch Mini-Docs Showcasing AAPI Talent

CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) and Verizon just launched Season 2 of the #IAm Campaign, a series of mini-documentaries showcasing the voices and achievements of Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders.

This is the second year that CAPE, a non-profit organization that champions diversity in entertainment and media, joined forces with Verizon to produce this #IAm digital awareness campaign.

Season 2 highlights the inspiring stories of the following seven artists:

  • Jason Chen, musician
  • Arden Cho, actress (“Teen Wolf”)
  • Cassey Ho, lifestyle and fitness guru (Blogilates)
  • Daniel Dae Kim, actor (“Lost,” “Hawaii Five-0”)
  • Ki Hong Lee, actor (THE MAZE RUNNER, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”)
  • Ted Kim, Yong Kim, and Chris Oh, founders of Seoul Sausage Co.
  • Constance Wu, actress (“Fresh Off The Boat”)

In addition to releasing the mini-documentaries, the #IAm Campaign will host two free live events, hosted by comedian Paul “PK” Kim, featuring the artists and live performances:

  • Los Angeles: Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 6 pm – 8:30 pm (May 27)
  • New York: Japan Society, 333 E. 47th St., New York, NY, 6 pm – 8:30 pm (June 18)

“Reuniting with Verizon and working with these seven artists on this year’s campaign was an amazing and uplifting experience,” said Michelle K. Sugihara, CAPE’s Executive Director. “This campaign reminds us all to embrace our identity, take risks, and dream big. I hope it inspires everyone to share their #IAm story.”

Jessica Shih, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Relations at Verizon stated, “Verizon is thrilled to be collaborating with CAPE to build an online platform for all individuals, not just Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders, to share their own journeys and stories. Through the mini-documentary series and live events, we hope to empower the community to inspire each other to achieve their dreams.”

To learn more about #IAm and to join the conversation online, visit http://www.iam-campaign.com. Follow and share your own story on social media at #IAm.

18MR: Support #BaltimoreUprising

The text below is from an email this morning sent by PaKou Her, campaign director at 18MR.

This morning, my 6-year old daughter caught less than a minute of television news coverage about the wave of protests in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death while he was in the custody of Baltimore police officers.

This morning, my 6-year old daughter caught less than a minute of television news coverage about the wave of protests in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death while he was in the custody of Baltimore police officers.1 She turned to me and said, “Mommy, I think the police hurt a Black person.” I replied truthfully, saying, “Yes, I think they did.”

As the nation’s eyes turn toward Baltimore, it can be easy to feel hopeless, exhausted, and spent. As Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, it can be tempting to turn away and tell ourselves that while this is horrible, we are not Black America.

But if there’s anything we’ve learned from Ferguson, it’s that Black America’s struggle against the long arm of police brutality is a struggle in which we’re all intertwined.2 As AAPIs, we can choose to be silently complicit with the status quo, or we can pick up the mantle of #Asians4BlackLives.

At 18MR, we’re doing the latter – and we want you join us.

No matter where you live, you can support the organizers and activists who are trying to make a difference in Baltimore. Here are 3 things you can do right now to help:

1. Donate to the #BaltimoreUprising legal defense fund to ensure that every person arrested during the rebellion in Baltimore has access to proper legal representation, regardless of the charges.

2. Follow and share the real stories of what’s happening from people who are living and organizing in Baltimore. We suggest you start with these folks on Twitter. You can also Tweet and post status updates using the hashtags #BaltimoreUprising, #FreddieGray, #BlackLivesMatter, and #Asians4BlackLives.

3. Demand police accountability in the death of Freddie Gray. By adding your name to Color of Change’s petition, you can help increase the pressure on Maryland’s Governor Hogan to ensure he puts in place the necessary independent oversight required to bring Gray’s killer to justice and overhaul the Baltimore police department.

Sadly, as AAPIs, we face yet another moment that demands our solidarity, support, and allyship. I urge you to join me and others at 18MR to make the right choice today by supporting those in Baltimore fighting for their dignity, humanity, and lives.

Help me tell my daughter that while it’s true that the police are hurting – and killing – Black people, many of us are fighting to make it stop.

In struggle,
18MR Campaign Director

[1] The Mysterious Death of Freddie Gray The Atlantic, 4/22/2015
[2] Why Ferguson Matters to Asian Americans RaceFiles, 8/20/2014

Dowa no Omatsuri: A Festival of Children’s Stories

San Francisco Japantown Foundation

2015 Dowa Poster Final SMLThe children of Nihonmachi Little Friends (NLF) will present their annual theater production and auction, “Dowa no Omatsuri: A Festival of Children’s Stories” on Sunday, March 8, 2015, at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, 3301 Lyon Street in San Francisco.

Well-known community personalities Ms. June-ko Nakagawa and Mr. Benh Nakajo will serve as co-hosts for the theater program.

Nihonmachi Little Friends is a previous grantee of the San Francisco Japantown Foundation. Ms. Nakagawa serves on the foundation’s board of directors.

Featured will be GenRyu Arts and the students of NLF. The preschoolers will present their version of the children’s tales of “Three Little Pigs, Part 2” and “Rainbow Express”. The elementary school-age children will perform an original story, “The Magic Diary”. A silent auction beginning at 12pm in the lobby will precede the 1:30 performance and will feature a special performance of live music by The Shut-Ins, a mostly…

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Guest Post by Tamlyn Tomita: UZUMASA LIMELIGHT a Must-See

UZUMASA LIMELIGHT is a Japanese movie that my mom and I absolutely loved.

The film is only playing for a week starting tonight, December 5, in Los Angeles. Screenings will only be extended if it brings in audiences. I rarely, if ever, tell people to go see a film or watch a TV show, but this one is special.

UZUMASA LIMELIGHT is a Japanese movie about a kirare-yaku, an actor who acts in samurai films and specializes in sword-fighting and dying and mentors a young actress. If you are a fan of chambara and jidaigeki, or samurai films, this film was made for you.

UZUMASA is directed by Ken Ochiai, a Japanese director who studied film at USC and stars Seizo Fukumoto, who has been acting for 50 years specializing in this cinema art form, but UZUMASA is his very first starring role. It’s also the first film for the lead actress, Chihiro Yamamoto.

The film is subtitled “Hope for the Next Generation” and is sweet, touching, and thoughtful. Very Japanese in tone and storytelling, it is beautifully telling of the Japanese heart and soul.

UZUMASA is in Japanese with English subtitles and in very limited release playing at: Laemmle Royal in Santa Monica, Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, and Edwards Westpark 8 in Irvine. Only 20 theaters in North America are screening the film from now through December 11. Screenings after these dates will be subject to change. Check theaters for showtimes.

Please go to uzumasalimelight.com for more information. Thanks for reading, and I hope you get to see UZUMASA LIMELIGHT!

~ Tamlyn Tomita

Aarti Kohli is the new deputy director at Asian Law Caucus

Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus has a new Deputy Director. Aarti Kohli will fill the position that Chris Punongbayan vacated when he became co-director and then executive director of ALC, the nation’s first legal and civil rights organization serving low-income AAPI communities. Aarti joins the Caucus just in time to attend the 6th Annual Advancing Justice Conference in her new leadership role with one of the Advancing Justice affiliates. The conference, AAPIs Standing Together for Racial Justice, is from Sept. 25-26 in Washington, DC.

Below is text the email scheduled for release on Sept. 3.

Dear Friends,

Kohli_AartiOn behalf of our staff and board, I am delighted to announce that Aarti Kohli has joined Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus as our new Deputy Director. Aarti Kohli is an experienced nonprofit lawyer, manager and philanthropic adviser with more than fifteen years of experience in issues impacting low-income and undocumented immigrants.

In her most recent role as Principal of Kohli Strategic Consulting, Aarti managed a project on the politics of demographic change and immigration reform at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. In 2013, she analyzed and conducted advocacy on pending immigration reform legislation in Congress with various national organizations, including the National Immigration Law Center and the Emerson Collective.

Prior to starting her own consulting practice, Aarti was the Director of Immigration Policy at the Warren Institute at UC Berkeley School of Law where she led the institute’s immigration initiative on issues of equity for immigrant families, particularly access to education, employment and legal protections in the deportation process. Formerly, she worked on a range of issues, from bankruptcy to voting rights, as Judiciary Committee counsel to Representative Howard Berman (D-CA). Before working for Congress she served as Assistant Legislative Director at UNITE union in Washington, DC where she lobbied on behalf of low-income garment workers.

I am very excited about the energy, ideas, and skills that Aarti brings to Advancing Justice – ALC. Her commitment to underserved communities on the local and national level allows us to continue and expand our more than four decades of social justice advocacy. Please join me in welcoming Aarti by sending us a tweet or posting your message on our Facebook page!

In Solidarity,

Chris Punongbayan
Executive Director

APIAVote Seeking Storytellers

Christine Chen, APIAVote, on C-SPAN

The fantastic nonprofit APIAVote is looking for storytellers to help write and produce stories about Asian American and Pacific Islander voters and the impact of election laws on AAPI communities.

APIAVote is a nonpartisan national nonprofit that mobilizes AAPIs in electoral and civic participation. The organization is building a national communications team led by a professional working journalist who will also serve as the team’s editor and mentor. The team will craft and distribute pieces to various ethnic and mainstream media.

Ideal candidates are journalism students or individuals who have experience in writing for any form of media (print/audio/video/online/photography). Individuals can work remotely. The team will develop stories across the country.

Interested individuals should submit a resume and work samples to jobs@apiavote.org by August 31, 2014.

Japanese American state legislator upsets incumbent Hawai’i governor

Hawai’i Governor Neil Abercrombie (on the right) congratulates opponent State Senator David Ige (second from right) on Ige’s victory in the state’s Democratic primary on August 9, 2014.

Saturday’s primary election in Hawai’i saw AAPI candidates win impressive victories in top races. How do these races impact national AAPI politics?

Voter turnout was extremely low likely due to Tropical Storm Iselle, which hit the islands on Friday, and the impending arrival of Hurricane Julio. However, absentee voter turnout was up 12 percent.

State Senator David Ige, a veteran Japanese Amercian state legislator, upset incumbent Governor Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary. The last time an incumbent governor lost a primary was 1962. Hawai’i’s first governor, Republican William F. Quinn, was defeated by Democrat John A. Burns, a former Delegate to Congress. Burns led a new coalition of labor and Japanese Americans that turned the 50th state blue after years of Republican domination.

Although he chaired the powerful Senate Ways and Means committee, Ige was not a household name. Despite a campaign war chest a fraction of the size of Abercrombie’s, Ige leveraged a strong grassroots campaign to tap into constituent dissatisfaction with the governor’s style and controversial decisions. Ige notably had the support of former governors George Ariyoshi, the first AAPI governor in the U.S., and Benjamin Cayetano, the first Filipino American governor.

AAPI electoral power is still strong in Hawai’i, but voters don’t cast their ballots strictly along ethnic lines. Gov. Abercrombie counted numerous AAPIs as supporters, including former State Senator Randy Iwase, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2006.

Ige will meet Republican Duke Aiona, a former lieutenant governor, in the general election. Should Ige win the general in the heavily Democratic state, he will be one of the few AAPI governors in the union. Ige hasn’t played much on the national scene before and likely lacks ambitions for higher office. One of the most tech-savvy officeholders in the country, I suspect that we will see his influence more in public sector innovation than on the national AAPI front.

Sitting Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui, a Japanese American from Maui, comfortably won his primary and will join Ige on the Democratic gubernatorial ticket in the general election. It will mark the first time since 1974’s ticket of George Ariyoshi and Jean King that two Japanese Americans were the top-ticket team of any political party in Hawai’i. Governor Abercrombie picked Tsutsui as LG to replace Brian Schatz, who was appointed U.S. Senator following Daniel Inouye’s passing.

Senator Schatz faced a vigorous primary challenge from Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa. As of this writing, the race was still too close to call with Schatz leading with only 1,635 votes and a number of precincts still to vote because of polling place shutdowns due to the tropical storm.

Senator Inouye asked Governor Abercrombie to appoint Hanabusa as his successor, but the governor instead went with Schatz, his LG at the time. Inouye loyalists were shocked at the governor’s decision, but others supported Governor Abercrombie’s selection.

Abercrombie later inflamed the issue by seemingly calling into the question the validity of Senator Inouye’s wish, raising questions about whether Japanese American voters would respond with support for Ige. It’s not clear how much this issue played into Abercrombie’s defeat, or in the Hanabusa-Schatz match-up.

If Hanabusa crosses the finish line ahead of Schatz, she will join Senator Mazie Hirono, and Hawai’i would have two AAPI women Senators representing it in Washington. Hirono and Hanabusa have been comfortable appearing on the national scene, appearing at progressive gatherings like Netroots Nation.

All the top candidates for Hanabusa’s seat in Congress were AAPIs. State Senate President Donna Mercado Kim (Filipina/Korean), State Representative Mark Takai (Japanese), and Honolulu City Councilmember Stanley Chang (Chinese) ran strong campaigns and gave voters distinctly different options. Kim was the early-on favorite and the fundraising powerhouse. Takai, a 20-year veteran of the state house and a Lt. Colonel in the Hawaii National Guard, eventually prevailed and will likely win the general.

If elected, Takai will likely be quite interested in the national AAPI political movement. His previous engagements on the national scene were largely as an advocate for veterans and our servicewomen and men. But once he makes the transition from being the political majority to the ranks of the politically under-represented, Takai will quickly see roles he can play in advancing AAPI empowerment.

25th Anniversary of UCLA Granting Tenure to Don Nakanishi

Photo of Don NakanishiTwenty-five years ago today (May 25, 1989), a widely watched three-year multi-racial struggle involving thousands of supporters came to a successful end with the granting of tenure to Don Nakanishi at UCLA. Prominent civil rights attorney Dale Minami led the legal fight, Dale Shimasaki coordinated the legislative advocacy, and Glenn Omatsu and many others organized student and grassroots support.

The fight for Nakanishi’s tenure is widely regarded as a “landmark movement in academia,” and has been taught nationally as an important case study for student-community mobilization. A year after gaining tenure, Nakanishi was appointed Director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and helped to develop it as the largest and most prominent program of its kind.

Nakanishi retired in 2009 after 20 years as the Center Director and 35 years as a professor at UCLA.

In the video below, he speaks on May 20, 2010, about his writings and Asian American politics at a gathering celebrating the UCLA Asian American Studies Center 40th anniversary.