Monthly Archives: June 2004

50th Anniversary of the 1954 Democratic Revolution

The theme for my fundraiser tomorrow is honoring the 1954 Democratic Revolution. The following is my speech for my fundraiser:

Fifty years ago this fall, a number of young Democrats swept the Republican-controlled Territorial Legislature in what has become known as the historic Democratic Revolution of 1954. Arguably, this was a turning point in modern Hawaii history.

If we were to travel back in time to the middle of the twentieth century, many of us would be shocked. Imagine a time of overt racism, abuse of laborers, and forced political pressure.

Minorities were not hired because of their race. There were organizations such as the Pacific Club that did not allow minorities to be members. The “Big Five companies” and the Republicans controlled the workers. The GOP provided a tax system favorable to plantation interests, restricted appropriations for social services and public education, and provided various government tasks for the economic elite. The territory of Hawaii only required itself to provide free education through the eighth grade. This made it hard for workers to further their children's education while the elite routinely sent their children to high school and college. When it came time for voting, plantation surpervisors would wait outside of the polling booths and watch the string that suspended the voter's pencil over the Republican side of the ballot. If the supervisor saw the string shift towards the Democratic side of the ballot, the worker might find himself blacklisted for voting the wrong way.

About ten years before the revolution, a “coffee drinking group” of political dreamers met regularly in hopes of changing Hawaii. The leaders were former police captain John Burns, nisei dentist Ernest Murai, former teacher Mitsuyuki Kido, ILWU leader Jack Kawano, and attorney and member of the Honolulu Board of Supervisors Chuck Mau. Kido recalled, “What triggered me into politics was the fact that youngsters that we enrolled into the 442nd Combat Team…wrote letters from their hospital beds in Italy and said, 'We're willing to sacrifice our lives and everything – are we coming back to a second-class society?” It touches me to know that many 442 soldiers fought in hopes of bettering the lives of future generations such as mine.

With the leadership of John Burns and the unity of the World War II veterans and labor workers, the 1954 Democratic Revolution was inevitable. Honor and discipline is what drove them. The practice of not shaming your family and oneself was common.

The leaders of the 1954 Democratic Revolution inspired me to enter politics. I apply their teachings to my time period. We are now living in a world where blaming others is common. Government must provide the tools, but we must all do our part. We need to teach our children to behave well and be willing to learn. After all, the World War II generation made the most of what little they had, and prospered. We can prosper again.

My goal is to emphasize honor and discipline in our society. Our history and struggles must be taught to our children. I hope to implement a code of honor at our schools to improve the behavior of our children, which will in turn help create better citizens.

Further, I will do all I can to diversify our economy in the knowledge-based industries such as technology, biotechnology, sciences, film, and alternative energy. We must use our brains to create intellectual and tangible property to be sold in the global economy. Ideas will create jobs.

Areas that I will continue to work on are issues regarding women and children, especially domestic abuse and sexual assault.

This is an exciting time for Hawaii. Together we can affect change to better our wonderful island home. I thank you for your support, and I look forward to working with you. Mahalo!

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Japan Trip

On Sunday, May 30, 2004, I returned from my family vacation to Japan. I was in Japan from May 17th to May 30th. My younger sister Mia had just graduated from University of Hawaii at Manoa's John A. Burns School of Medicine, so my “baby” sister Lara flew back to Hawaii from Portland, Oregon where she now resides and works as a civil engineer. Since my family was altogether, my father decided to take us to Japan, something he had wanted to do years ago when we were younger. This was my second international trip; the first was in 1999 to Vancouver, Canada with my law school friends for a snowboarding trip.

We spent time in Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Beppu, Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo. My ancestors on my father's side were from Yamaguchi and Hiroshima, and my ancestors from my mother's side were from Kumamoto. The trip was educational, spiritual, and fun. In Fukuoka, I had the tastiest gyoza. I got to visit Kumamoto castle, Osaka castle, and Nijo castle (Kyoto). In Hiroshima, I was invited by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii to have dinner with Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce, the mayor of Hiroshima, and the Governor of Hiroshima. My friends Stacey Hayashi and Scott Murakami participated in a week long conference between the two chambers. Also in Hiroshima, I was very emotionally moved by the musuem describing the bombing of Hiroshima by the United States during World War II. In addition, I visited numerous temples across Japan. The onsen at our hotel in Beppu was an interesting experience. I was impressed with everything in Tokyo.

I was happy to see my friend Akiko from Osaka, whom I met at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1996. I also was pleased to see Kyoko in Tokyo, a friend I met when I was in law school at Gonzaga University in 1998. I hung out with Scott Imaye, a Hawaii boy now practicing law in Tokyo.

On a spiritual note, I was honored to pray at the main temple for Jodo Shyu in Kyoto because it is the religion of my late grandfather Maurice Karamatsu, and my grandmother Bessie Karamatsu. I was told that my grandfather once carried a buddhist model back to Hawaii. I attended Christian churches and bible schools when I was younger and was exposed to Buddhism through my Karamatsu grandparents. In regards to Buddhism, I had an unusual experience in the spring of 1997 at a student leadership conference for the University of Hawaii system. A couple of unexplainable things happened to me at the hotel (This story and other unusual stories will be told in the future). The next morning, when I opened my bag, I had a Buddhist book. My two roommates swore they did not put it in my bag. On the trip, after seeing the main Jodo Shyu temple, I read portions of the book. The religion is not intrusive, thus it could co-exist with Shintoism and other religions in Japan. It is a philosophy and a way of life. Buddha gives you the teaching and explains the life of his time period, but it is up to the individual to reach enlightenment. What is interesting about this religion is that it teaches accountability. The following quotes struck me:

1. “The point of the teachings is to control your own mind. Keep your mind from greed, and you will keep your behaviour right, your mind pure and your words faithful.” My interpretation is that we control our destiny. One is accountable for one's actions, and cannot blame others for one's wrong-doing. Discipline of your mind is important.

2. “Life is ever changing; none can escape the dissolution of the body…Do not vainly lament, but realize that nothing is permanent and learn from it the emptiness of human life.” The physical body dies, but the wisdom of enlightenment exists forever. It is up to us to live an honorable and compassionate life.

What a trip!

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