portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article coverage united states

anti-racism | human & civil rights | resistance & tactics

2005 Day of Remembrance Recalls Gov't Mistreatment of Japanese Americans

There was an excellent comment posted to this article in SF that is included. Forget about german guilt, we need to start remembering our own and make sure it doesn't happen here, AGAIN. We all have to come together on this, jews, muslims, blacks, whites, americans. Beware of those that tried to divide. Rabbis, priests, politicians, talking heads...they are all wolves in sheep clothing. UNITY NOW!
On February 20th, 2005, the Nihonmachi Outreach Committee (NOC) will presents the 2005 Day of Remembrance, "Democracy and Dissent," at the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin at 5:30pm Details The program will include: speakers, cultural performances, a candlelight procession, and a reception.

In the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the FBI rounded up thousands of Japanese immigrants who were detained without charges. Then, on February 19, 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, forcing 120,000 Japanese Americans into concentration camps. The Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Incarceration of Civilians concluded that the World War II concentration camps for Japanese Americans were a result of "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership."

The 2005 Day of Remembrance will be the 25th annual program to commemorate E.O. 9066. In the past year a best-selling book argued that the government was right to put Japanese Americans into concentration camps and defended the arrests and detentions of Arab Americans and American Muslims since September 11, 2001. This makes it all the more important that you join us on February 20th as we honor the memory of the internees and renew our commitment to equality and justice for all people. The Nihonmachi Outreach Committee believes that Japanese Americans, as recipients of redress, must continue to seek the just treatment of all Americans.




Internment of Japanese Americans:
The Day of Remembrance

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

February 19th marks the Day of Remembrance, when in 1942 President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 9066 that led to
the incarceration of over 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry in
concentration camps during World War II. Over the years, the Day of
Remembrance has come to represent a special time for the Japanese
American community and others to honor past internees, remember this
history of collective guilt victims and educate the public so that it
does not recur for any other community.

In the post 9/11 era, the Day of Remembrance has also become a time to
express solidarity with the Arab and Muslim communities now became
victims of guilt by association similar to what Japanese Americans
experienced over 60 years ago.

The treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II is an abhorrent
chapter in the history of the United States.

Throughout World War II, much of the West Coast, particularly
California, had a long history of anti-Asian sentiment, culminating in
the denial of citizenship to Asians upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in
Ozawa v. US in 1922 and the Immigration Act of 1924 which created a
permanent quota system.

Not surprisingly, many Americans reacted with fear and anger when
Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. False reports of
spying and sabotage by Japanese Americans in Hawaii and on the West
Coast were combined with already existing racial prejudices to inflame
feelings of hatred against all people of Japanese ancestry i.e. Issei,
the first Japanese immigrant generation and Nisei, the second

Similar to the rounding up of Muslim and Arab males after the 9/11
attacks, within 48 hours of Pearl Harbor, 1,291 Japanese American men
are arrested, most of whom would be incarcerated for the entire
four-year duration of the war and separated from their families.

General John L. DeWitt was responsible for the defense of the West
Coast whose famous quotes include: "A Jap's a Jap. It makes no
difference whether he is an American citizen or not. I don't want any
of them . . . In his 1942 report calling for the evacuation of all
Japanese Americans on the West Coast, Gen. DeWitt wrote: "Racial
affiliations are not severed by migration. The Japanese race is an
enemy race and while many second - and third-generation Japanese born
on United States soil, possessed of United States citizenship, have
become 'Americanized,' the racial strains are undiluted."

On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt, acting on Gen. Dewitt's
recommendation, signed the Executive Order 9066 that authorized the
military to exclude persons of Japanese ancestry from designated
military areas. By June 1942, more than 110,000 Japanese persons, more
than 70 percent of them American citizens, had been forced from their
homes into temporary "assembly centers". These "assembly centers" were
ramshackle affairs built at racetracks and fairgrounds. From there, the
Japanese were moved to ten internment camps scattered in the more
inhospitable desert regions of the West where many of them would live
until the end of the war.

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, in a February 1942 memo to Attorney
General Francis Biddle, wrote, that the decision to evacuate the
Japanese Americans was based primarily on public and political
pressures rather than factual data.

Fred Korematsu, a 22-year old loyal Japanese-American citizen, who
violated Roosevelt's executive order by not reporting to an assembly
center, challenged the constitutionality of the internment of an entire
ethnic population class. In the landmark case the Supreme Court in 1944
held that Korematsu's constitutional freedoms were not violated and
found him guilty. More than 41 years after his internment, Korematsu's
criminal conviction was overturned and vacated in 1983 by U.S. District
Court Judge Marilyn Patel of San Francisco.

The Japanese-Americans allowed to return to their homes only at the
end of the war. However, it was not until 1952 that the McCarran
Immigration and Naturalization Act finally allowed Japanese

It was not until Feb. 19, 1976, the thirty-fourth anniversary of
Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066, that President Gerald Ford, through
Presidential Proclamation 4417, declared that the Japanese American
internment was a national mistake and described the February 19th
anniversary a sad day in American history.

While issuing the proclamation, President Gerald Ford emphasized: "We
now know what we should have known then--not only was that evacuation
wrong, but Japanese-Americans were and are loyal Americans. On the
battlefield and at home, Japanese-Americans -- names like Hamada,
Mitsumori, Marimoto, Noguchi, Yamasaki, Kido, Munemori and Miyamura --
have been and continue to be written in our history for the sacrifices
and the contributions they have made to the well-being and security of
this, our common Nation."

About four years later, in June 1980, President Carter signed a bill
establishing "the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of
Civilians," which determined that the major cause of the mass
incarceration was racism, opportunism and the failure of political
leadership. In its report issued in 1983, the commission recommended
that the former inmates be given an official government apology, given
$20,000 compensation to each surviving internee and establish an
educational trust fund.

President Ronald Reagan, on August 10, 1988, signed into law the
federal Civil Liberties Act of 1988 that included an apology. In this
act the Congress recognized that a grave injustice was done to both
citizens and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry by the
evacuation, relocation, and internment of civilians during World War
II. " For these fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties
and constitutional rights of these individuals of Japanese ancestry,
the Congress apologizes on behalf of the Nation."

Finally, in late 1989, the federal government started issuing checks
and apologies, inviting nine of the oldest internees to Washington,
D.C. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh got on his knees and presented
each one with a check and an apology and said he was sorry it took so
long. Beginning in 1990, a check of $20,000 in compensatory payment was
sent to all eligible living Japanese Americans who underwent the
humiliation of living in an American internment camp.

However, 15 years after President Reagan's apology some newcons are
giving a new twist to the unfortunate episode of internment. In the
current Anti-Arab and Anti-Muslim climate prevailing in America,
Michelle Malkin, in her book "In Defense of Internment," is applauding
the roundup and imprisonment of the Japanese. She argues that Civil
Liberties are not sacrosanct.

In the words of the University of Colorado law professor, Paul Campos,
"Malkin's book is an odious exercise in revisionist history, with a
distinctly fascist tinge .....using arguments that are often absurd on
their face."

Another neocon, Daniel Pipes, taking advantage of this hyper climate,
is suggesting that the wholesale relocation of American Muslims to
internment camps might be a good idea.

To quote Prof. Campos again, this is a dangerous argument. "After all,
none of the 9/11 hijackers was American - unlike, for example, Tim
McVeigh and Terry Nichols. It would be far more efficient to engage in
what Malkin calls "threat profiling" by setting up internment camps for
members of far-right political groups than for American Muslims," he

It will not be too much to say that the newcons are now bent on
distorting the history of Japanese Americans- internment in a bid to
foment hatred against certain ethnic and religious communities. People
of Japanese ancestry were sent to internment camps without any real
evidence. Ironically, the American Arabs and Muslims are being profiled
and harassed without any real evidence and for them the Patriot Act and
other government measures have converted the whole country into a
virtual internment camp.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Executive Editor of the online magazine
American Muslim Perspective  http://www.amperspective.com


Civil Liberties Act of 1988, "Restitution for World War II internment of Japanese-Americans and Aleuts," 50 App. USCA s 1989, 50 App. USCA s 1989

The purposes of this Act (sections 1989 to 1989d of this Appendix) are to -

(1) acknowledge the fundamental injustice of the evacuation, relocation, and internment of United States citizens and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry during World War II;

(2) apologize on behalf of the people of the United States for the evacuation, relocation, and internment of such citizens and permanent resident aliens;

(3) provide for a public education fund to finance efforts to inform the public about the internment of such individuals so as to prevent the recurrence of any similar event;

(4) make restitution to those individuals of Japanese ancestry who were interned;

(5) make restitution to Aleut residents of the Pribilof Islands and the Aleutian Islands west of Unimak Island, in settlement of United States obligations in equity and at law, for -

(A) injustices suffered and unreasonable hardships endured while those Aleut residents were under United States control during World War II;

(B) personal property taken or destroyed by United States forces during World War II;

(C) community property, including community church property, taken or destroyed by United States forces during World War II; and

(D) traditional village lands on Attu Island not rehabilitated after World War II for Aleut occupation or other productive use; (6) discourage the occurrence of similar injustices and violations of civil liberties in the future; and

(7) make more credible and sincere any declaration of concern by the United States over violations of human rights committed by other nations.

-SOURCE- (Pub. L. 100-383, Sec. 1, Aug. 10, 1988, 102 Stat. 903.)

More information:


add a comment on this article

. 16.Feb.2005 07:34



A Jap's a Jap? 17.Feb.2005 04:51

RitaPDX ritapdx@comcast.net

My wife's mother and aunt were imprisoned at Hart Mountain in WY. Reading the short stories that Yachiyo wrote, some dealing with her time in the concentration camp, breaks my heart. My wife's aunt, Yoshiko, died of TB contracted at Hart Mountain some time after being released to the East Coast. This travesty, injustice, crime against humanity is yet another nail in the coffin that contains my Amerikan citizenship. These supposed leaders now in power will do all in their power to marginalize and abuse ANY minority, be they Arab, Black, Female, Gay, or handicapped. They must be stopped by any means necessary!