Frank Abe

Frank Abe is producer/director of the award-winning PBS documentary, CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION. He helped produce the two original “Day of Remembrance” media events in Seattle and Portland that publicly dramatized the campaign for redress. He was a founding member of the Asian American Theater Workshop in San Francisco and of the Asian American Journalists Association in Seattle, and was featured as a JACL-like camp leader in the NBC/Universal movie, FAREWELL TO MANZANAR. He was an award-winning reporter for KIRO Newsradio, the CBS Radio affiliate in Seattle, and is currently Director of Communications for the King County Executive in Seattle. 

Updated April 2015

education en

“Resistance Capital”: Writing in the Camps as an Act of Defiance

I want to thank the author of this study for putting a name to the sense of purpose I felt in writing an essay for the old Northwest Nikkei in 1992, on my feelings upon first reading the manifestos of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee. What I was obeying, she says in citing that piece, was my “inheritance of resistance capital”—the idea that writing by Japanese American camp resisters in 1944 created a kind of currency that can be grown and reinvested generations later by their spiritual descendants.

It’s one of several useful rhetorical constructs framed by ...

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culture en

Now Appearing Nightly; Mike Masaoka!

The problem with the new Broadway musical Allegiance is not just its historical inaccuracies, although it is riddled with them. It’s the fabrication of events that were impossible within the reality of America’s concentration camps. Unexpectedly, the one reality this show gets right is its portrayal of Mike Masaoka and the wartime Japanese American Citizens League — although making him the villain of the piece diverts attention from other, more uncomfortable truths.

Some background: In its tryout at San Diego’s Old Globe Theater in 2012, audiences reported their dismay at seeing Masaoka burlesqued as “sleazy” and a “scheming ...

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media en

Allegiance Uplifts by Doctoring Japanese American History

SPOILER ALERT: This theater preview reveals an absurd central plot point.

The implied pact the musical Allegiance makes with its audience is that you will see an honest retelling of the Japanese American incarceration, and come away feeling comfortably uplifted. The show does entertain, through derivative songs and animated production. It achieves its effect, however, by sacrificing truth for theatricality, revising history, and offering a ludicrous portrayal of the Heart Mountain resisters.

As producer/director of the 2000 PBS film, Conscience and the Constitution – which first framed the conflict between the organized resistance led by Frank Emi, and suppression of ...

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culture en

How Happy Ending In Staged “No-No Boy” Bowdlerizes Okada’s Novel

Successfully adapting any work to the stage presents a challenge. The fact that it isn’t easy doesn’t justify violating the author’s intent.

In response to our commentary about the slapping of a happy ending on the staged version of No-No Boy that is still being pitched for a national tour by the Pan Asian Repertory Theater of New York, dramatist Ken Narasaki acknowledges in a recent Discover Nikkei article that he couldn’t find a way to make the original ending work onstage. He also says we cannot criticize his ending without having seen the script.

John ...

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war en

Nikkei Chronicles #4 — Nikkei Family: Memories, Traditions, and Values

Discovering My Father Was a No-No Boy

This is the story of a rank-and-file supporter of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, one of the many never named who chipped in two hard-earned 1944 dollars to the defense fund for the young draft resisters.

His name was George Yoshisuke Abe, and yes, he was my father. Dad died in his sleep on April 1, his last laugh on all of us. He was 91.

In preparing for his service, I revisited a chronology he wrote some years ago, and was startled to discover something I’d completely overlooked: Dad was in fact a no-no boy.

This is ...

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