Navy Officer Talks Diversity, Heritage at JACL National Convention


Story Number: NNS110720-23Release Date: 7/20/2011 9:11:00 PM
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By Natalie Morehouse, special to Diversity Directorate Public Affairs

LOS ANGELES (NNS) -- A Navy judge advocate spoke on a panel entitled, "Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Diversity: Strength or Weakness," at the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) 42nd National Convention in Los Angeles, July 8.

Lt. Janelle Kuroda, volunteer income tax assistance program manager at the Office of the Judge Advocate General's Legal Assistance Policy Division in Washington, D.C., represented the Navy on the panel, which included JACL national executive director Floyd Mori, award-winner documentary producer Curtis Chin, and Father Vien Nguyen, social activist in the Vietnamese community of New Orleans.

During the panel, Lt. Kuroda reflected on the strengths of diversity within the Navy and how her Japanese background was an asset to mission accomplishment while on board the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG 68) as the staff judge advocate for Commander, Combined Task Force 151.

"I'm honored to be able to represent the U.S. Navy at the JACL convention to discuss the strengths and importance of diversity," Kuroda told the audience. "Prior to meeting with the commander of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force's counter piracy force, I assisted our admiral with various cultural norms and expectations. Simple expressions of understanding and respect helped demonstrate goodwill and international cooperation to protect international waterways."

Kuroda also reflected on the importance of her heritage to her Naval career.

"One of the reasons I joined the Navy was to continue the legacy of my granduncle, who was part of the 100th Infantry Battalion, a primarily Japanese-American volunteer unit that fought in World War II," noted Kuroda. "They were battling not only the enemy - in fact, they were given the nickname the 'Purple Heart Battalion' due to their high casualty rate and amounts of Purple Hearts earned; however, they were also battling prejudice at home."

"My granduncle was able to serve in the 100th thanks in part to the support of JACL, who urged the U.S. government to allow Japanese Americans to serve in the U.S. military during World War II," continued Kuroda. "JACL also encouraged the ethnic Japanese population not to resist the evacuation and internment order, but to accept it, persevere, and seek restitution after the war was over. After the war, JACL was instrumental in lobbying for civil rights reforms for the Japanese and the Asian-American/Pacific Islander community. I'm proud and humbled to speak at the JACL convention because of the long and distinguished history of the organization in advancing the civil rights of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders."

Today, JACL works with other communities on civil rights issues and connects Japanese American youth and American Muslim youth through the workshops, discussions on identity, culture, religion, and civil rights.

Founded in 1929, the JACL is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the United States. The JACL monitors and responds to issues that enhance or threaten the civil and human rights of all Americans and implements strategies to effect positive social change, particularly to the Asian-Pacific American community.

The Navy's participation in the conference is part of a fleet-wide effort to promote opportunities available through a career in the Navy, while strengthening and sustaining relationships with key diversity groups.

For more information on Navy Diversity outreach, visit http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/Diversity.

For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel - Diversity Directorate, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp-diversity/.

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