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An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Trust us, it's different: Koreans in Atlanta back a Japanese-American in Congress


The history books tell us that World War II ended in 1945. For many of us, the real end of the conflict came on the day our father or grandfather bought his first Toyota.

There are others for whom the war still isn’t over. On Friday, a group of Koreans in Atlanta will be holding a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Michael Makoto Honda, D-Calif. They expect perhaps 150 to attend, and have a goal of raising at least $25,000.

This is unusual. Honda is of Japanese extraction – third generation. And Koreans, here and in Asia, have unfinished business with their World War II foe – perhaps an apology or two for the Rising Sun’s conduct as an invader.

But Baik Jean Kim, president of the Korean American Grocers Association, who is putting Friday’s shindig together, says there is method in the Korean community’s support for Honda.

“We need Koreans to help him. Only he is talking about these things in Congress,” Kim said this morning.

Honda was born five months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Honda spent the first years of his life with his family in a Colorado internment camp. More important, the California congressman has taken on the Japanese government when it comes to the “comfort women” who were kidnapped and raped during World War II.

From the San Jose Mercury News in April:

Rep. Mike Honda harshly criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who addressed a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, for not explicitly addressing the “comfort women” who were sexually enslaved by the Japanese Army during World War II.

Honda, D-San Jose, had invited Yong-Soo Lee, 87 – one of only a few dozen victims of Japanese sexual abuse still surviving in Korea – to be his guest in the House Gallery during Abe’s speech. “My heart breaks for Ms. Lee and her sisters, as she must now return to Korea without having received an apology from Prime Minister Abe,” he said on a conference call with reporters later Wednesday.

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“It is utterly shocking and shameful that Prime Minister Abe continues to evade his government’s responsibility for the systematic atrocity that was perpetrated the Japanese Imperial Army against the so-called ‘comfort women’ during World War II,” Honda said. “I heard no apology today.”

The 6:30 p.m. Friday fundraiser for Honda will be at the Korean American Cultural Center located at 5900 Brook Hollow Parkway in Norcross.

***

Intrigue was working overtime on Monday, as was the AJC’s Katie Leslie:

In a stunning late night decision, the Atlanta City Council has voted down Mayor Kasim Reed’s appointment of disbarred former councilman H. Lamar Willis to the Fulton County / City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority.

The vote — seven yay, eight nay — marks the first time in recent history that the council has voted against a high-profile Reed initiative, and could signal a decisive turn in the mayor’s second term…

Willis’ appointment sailed through two committees before it was taken up Monday by the full council. In a rare move, Council President Ceasar Mitchell was tasked with casting the decisive vote when the council was locked in a tie. Councilman Michael Bond, who had previously supported Willis’ appointment, was absent from council chambers during the contentious decision.

***

Let’s all say it together, class: It’s not the tawdry escapade, it’s the cover-up that gets you in real trouble:

After a city employee accused then-Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis of sexual harassment, officials kept it quiet, bucking Georgia’s sunshine laws.

Finally, after a battle with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other news outlets over public records, on Friday the city released documents that show public officials had issued false public statements about the complaint and altered a key document.

What are we talking about? Davis allegedly sprayed a female city employee’s rump with “an aerosol product.” Lysol, we hear.

***

The special election for House District 80, the Brookhaven seat vacated by Mike Jacobs, a Republican, is not until July 14. But in a happy coincidence, Dubose Porter, chairman of the state Democratic party, chose Monday to endorse Taylor Bennett, an attorney and former Georgia Tech quarterback, in the District 80 race.

“As a small business owner, Taylor understands the importance of locally owned companies in a community, and the gravity of the roles those businesses play in the lives of that community’s families,” Porter said.

***

Forget the state House, the White House was the place to be for the entertainment elite last weekend, as the Obamas hosted 500 star-studded guests for a Price and Stevie Wonder concert. Because when you're president, you can throw these kinds of house parties.

The New York Post's Page Six reports that Atlanta movie mogul Tyler Perry was on hand. But more importantly, Connie "Mrs. Coach" Britton was there. The White House, though, wasn't eager to talk about it. From the Washington Post:

"The White House did not verify a gathering here of 500 people, some musicians, even after this had gained quite widespread notice on social media," [AP reporter Jim] Kuhnhenn said. "And I wondered why the White House did not at least verify the event."

"Jim, I don't have a lot to tell you about non-public events that occurred at the White House," [White House press secretary Josh] Earnest replied. "I think we have confirmed for you that the president and first lady did hold a private party here at the White House over the weekend. But given the private nature of the event, I don't have a lot details to discuss from here." ...

In subsequent questioning, Earnest said that "the president and first lady paid for the event," although he did not detail the exact cost.

***

Former U.S. Sen. Mack Mattingly, R-Ga., made an appearance at Jeb Bush's presidential announcement rally in Miami on Monday. Our WSB Radio colleague Jamie Dupree was on hand.

***

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, has opened a pair of part-time satellite offices in DeKalb and Clayton counties, to reach constituents who are further from his Equitable Building HQ in downtown Atlanta.

The DeKalb office, open the first and last Monday of every month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is at the Clark Harrison Building, 330 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur. The Clayton office, open the first and last Tuesday of every month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is at Clayton State University, 5823 Trammell Road, Morrow.

 


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