Grant Ujifusa Honored

Thursday, January 26, 2012

     Grant Ujifusa was presented with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays for his contribution to the preservation and promotion of the history and culture of Japanese Americans and for promoting mutual understanding between Japan and the United States.  Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki presented this award on behalf of the government of Japan at his residence in New York.
     Mr. Ujifusa was a key player in securing the passage of the historic Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The legislation provided redress for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. While he is well-known for convincing senior Republican leaders in the House to vote for redress, Mr. Ujifusa is probably best remembered for reversing President Ronald Reagan's publicly-stated opposition to redress with the help of New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, who was guest speaker at the presentation.  He reminded President Reagan that during World War II he spoke at an unusual posthumous presentation of the Distinguished Service Cross to Sergeant Kazuo Masuda.   The then Captain Reagan accompanied an incensed General Stilwell from Washington DC to California to the Masuda home where the presentation was made with maximum exposure.  Racist thugs had threatened Masuda's family when they returned to their home after relocation and the General would not tolerate this treatment of a Gold Star family.  (JSFC visited Seabrook, NJ where many Japanese American internees were released.)
       Mr. Ujifusa, a third-generation Japanese American, grew up on farm in Wyoming. In 1904, his grandfather came from Okayama to help build the railroad. Mr. Ujifusa's mother, Mary Ujifusa, was fluent in written and spoken Japanese. Proud of her Japanese heritage, she was also committed to equal rights for all Americans. From his mother, Mr. Ujifusa learned why civic engagement was both necessary and rewarding.

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