Skip to main content
Lance Lew, coordinating producer for “Asian Pacific America With Robert Handa,” on the show’s set with host Robert Handa. (Photo: Joachim Custodio)

By P.C. Staff

In the U.S. today, there are few Asian American TV programs whose total focus is on the Asian American experience. NBC Bay Area’s “Asian Pacific America With Robert Handa” is unique in this regard and will be producing a program, set to air on Aug. 6 that will highlight all aspects of the Japanese American Citizens League.

“There are few local organizations that support and serve both cultural and community activism with senior and youth participation in this area. That is why this focus on the JACL is an ideal one for discussion on ‘Asian Pacific America With Robert Handa,’” said Lance Lew, NBC Bay Area’s coordinating producer for the show.

“While I was growing up, I always felt the JACL was an organization to serve the Japanese community, but it was not until I became more active with the Enmanji Temple that I truly understood its mission — to provide a voice for the Pan-Asian communities. We are members of the Sonoma County JACL, and my son, Spencer Lew, is currently its youngest board member,” Lew added. “The JACL’s goal is to build their legacy with younger members by giving them a voice to the conversation as they navigate the ever-evolving mission of the organization. I am proud that my family is carrying on this tradition.”

The show will be comprised of four segments focusing on various activities of the JACL. JACL National President Gary Mayeda will be the program’s first guest.

JACL National President Gary Mayeda

“The JACL is honored to be featured in an upcoming episode of ‘Asian Pacific America With Robert Handa.’ With our national headquarters being in San Francisco, viewers will get to know more about our organization and what we strive for. The program will be very timely since we will have just completed our National Convention in Washington, D.C., in July,” Mayeda said.

To highlight what local chapters are doing in Northern California, Sonoma County Co-President Mark Hayashi will share its chapter activities.

“The Sonoma County Chapter of the JACL was organized in August of 1934. Today, we continue to expand our involvement in cultural, civil rights and community activities, as well as host a wide range of activities in addition to collaborating with other ethnic, civil and human rights organizations,” Hayashi said. “This will be a wonderful opportunity to share our activities with the program’s audience.”

Amelia Huster will be representing the new generation of JACL members.

“I am really lucky to be able to represent high school youth on the Berkeley JACL board as well as on this program. I am most interested in civil rights advocacy and learning about the JACL’s history of involvement and adding to it. There are so many bright, progressive young people that want their voices to be heard, and it’s critical to put them in places where they can do so effectively,” Huster said.

The final segment of the show will look at the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It will also highlight JACL’s collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s “Righting a Wrong:

Japanese Americans and World War II” exhibition in Washington, D.C., with guests Nancy Ukai and Patti Hirahara. The exhibit is set to run through February 2018.

“In October of  2016, the Berkeley JACL presented a ‘Talk Story and Treasures’ program, where we focused on Nikkei artifacts that told tales about the Japanese American incarceration. This event helped raise funds for the current exhibition at the Smithsonian, ‘Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II.’ In doing this project and seeing all the wonderful artifacts that people had preserved, I am now working on a new JACS (Japanese American Confinement Sites) grant project titled ‘50 Objects/50 Stories of the American Japanese Incarceration,’ which will show how an object can tell a unique story about this time in history,” said Ukai, who is a Berkeley JACL board member.

Hirahara, a member of the Greater Los Angeles JACL, will be making her second appearance on the show. She will share her perspective on writing the Smithsonian article for the Pacific Citizen, and she will talk about her upcoming presentation at the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, N.Y., in the fall.

“Asian Pacific America With Robert Handa” is a weekly half-hour show covering Asian newsmakers, events, community accolades and youth perspectives.

Currently, it is the only running Asian cultural affairs show on network television in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. It airs Sundays at 5:30 a.m. on NBC Bay Area, channel 11 or cable channel 3, and at 6 p.m. on COZI TV, channel 186.

For more information, visit