The Venice Japanese American Memorial Marker Committee will host its 4th annual fundraiser at Hama Sushi Restaurant, 213 Windward “on the circle” in Venice on April 23.

Proprietor Esther Chaing once again will donate 100 percent of the profits from her famous box lunch bento to the VJAMM Committee, and 10 percent of all sales at dinner. To pre-order a $20 bento box of chicken teriyaki, cucumber salad, edamame, spicy tuna and California roll, shrimp and vegetable tempura, plus water or soda, contact Phyllis Hayashibara at (310) 390-1576 or phyllishayashibara@gmail.com. Please make checks payable to Hama Sushi and mail them to Phyllis at 3361 McLaughlin Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066. Due to the popularity of this bento fundraiser, you must pre-order so Hama Sushi will know how many bento to prepare.

Over the past three years, Chaing has donated over $7,500 to the VJAMM Committee. Her donations will help make it possible to fund a 9-foot-6 solid black granite obelisk with a 3-by-3-foot base, to be installed on the northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln boulevards. This marks the spot where some 1,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu lined up with only what they could carry to an unknown destination for an unknown duration of time, over several days in April, 1942. The men, women, and children came with their bundles of bedding, toiletries, clothes, eating utensils, and other portable personal effects, in compliance with Instructions to All Persons of Japanese Ancestry, posted on poles around the neighborhood. Their destination turned out to be Manzanar, soon to be the first of ten War Relocation Authority prison camps completed in the interior of the U. S., to incarcerate the Japanese, “aliens and non-aliens” alike, for the duration of World War II.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, authorizing the U. S. army to declare areas of Washington, Oregon, and California militarily sensitive in the wake of Japan’s attack on the U. S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. This led to the forcible removal of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of whom had been born in the U. S. and were therefore U. S. citizens, from their homes and businesses on the West Coast. Constitutional rights of due process and the writ of habeas corpus were utterly denied to those who simply “looked like the enemy.”

Organizers said their motivation is to prevent such an injustice from happening again to any minority group solely on the basis of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion.

Program begins at 11 a.m. and includes the screening of Stephen Nagano’s eight-minute film, “Six Weddings and a Dress.” Chiyomi Ogawa wore the wedding dress her aunt sewed for her wedding in Manzanar, and she shared the satin and lace gown with five other Japanese American women after the war ended. Distribution of pre-ordered Bento box lunches begins at noon and continues through 2 p.m. For curbside pick up, call (310) 717-3393, and organizers pre-ordered boxes to your car.

Call Hama Sushi at (310) 396-8783 for dinner reservations. For more information about the VJAMM, visit www.venicejamm.org.

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