Paul Bannai oral history interview, part 5 of 8, September 15, 2002


Dublin Core


Paul Takao Bannai's political career starts in 1972 when he is elected to Gardena City Council. Later, in 1973, he is elected to California State Legislature with the help of President Reagan and the widow of an Assemblyman. Paul is the first Japanese American elected to the California State Legislature. He runs for four terms in the Assembly.

In 1980, Paul is invited to come to Washington DC and is hired as Executive Director of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC). Paul hires Nisei staff members to help him. One of the tasks of Paul's job is to have hearings throughout the different places of the United States. He asks several Japanese American organizations, one of them is the Japanese American Citizens League, to help gather Japanese Americans to share their experience about evacuation.

Paul has hearings across the United States which leads to the report. He explains why his name is not on the report because he is an evacuee and spends time at Manzanar. Therefore, an attorney is hired to write the report. With the report, the Congressional Senate, and Congress, Paul can subpoena anyone he wants. Paul wants to subpoena the people who made the decisions for evacuation, such as General DeWitt.

After Congress reads the report, Congress recommends reparations be given, and the head of the Government would officially apologize. Later, President Reagan asks Paul to stay to run the Veterans Administration. Pauls knows a lot about veterans and the help they need from his wartime experiences. When Paul retires, he recalls President Reagan giving him a customize belt buckle.

Paul stays busy during his retirement volunteering at the Veterans and Foreign War and Disable American Veterans. He says it is important to help others. Pauls discusses the morals and values passed on to him by his Issei parents, and he passes the same teachings to his children. Paul has three children and five grandchildren.



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Date of Birth

1920 Jul 04

Location of Birth

Incarceration Facilities

War or Conflict

Branch of Service

Entrance into Service


Bannai, Paul: narrator, Nakaishi, Russell: interviewer, and Go For Broke National Education Center: publisher, “Paul Bannai oral history interview, part 5 of 8, September 15, 2002,” Japanese American Military History Collective, accessed April 21, 2024,