Redress for Japanese Latin Americans/ Comparisons with other redress and reparation efforts

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This article series was part of the spring 2007 Student Editor Program - Asian Pacific Americans and American Public Policy. For more information about how to use this site in the classroom, see the main informational page or contact Congresspedia Managing Editor Conor Kenny at File:Conoremail.png.

This article is part of Congresspedia’s coverage of Japanese Americans and Japanese Latin Americans and U.S. Policy During World War II

The series was part of the Student Editor Program - Asian Pacific Americans and American Public Policy.

Contents

Introduction

During World War II, Japanese Americans and Japanese Latin Americans were subject to injustice and racism. Both groups struggled to receive reparations from the U.S. government, be it monetary compensation or a simple apology. It is important to compare the JA redress and JLA redress to reparation efforts for other subjugated groups: Native Americans, African-Americans and Holocaust Survivors. It is also neccesary to bring attention to redresses yet to happen and groups currently persecuted and mistreated.

Native Americans

In the beginning of the 19th and 20th centuries, European settlers were fixated upon the idea of a "manifest destiny." The manifest destiny was the belief, by Europeans living in the United States, that they were to occupy all territory between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.[1] Until the late 19th century, Europeans and Native Americans continued to wage wars against each other. The Native Americans fought to defend their land and the Europeans fought to claim the land. There are countless events, affecting many tribes, that lead to the payment of reparations to Native Americans today. However, some of the more horrifying events that merit attention are the Massacre at Sand Creek, the Massacre at Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears. These three events are major examples of the brutal atrocities Native Americans faced in a fight for their land.

The Massacre At Sand Creek - On November 29, 1864, General John Chivington lead a regimen of cavalry against a group of Cheyenne Indians who had set up camp in Sand Creek upon being invited to do so by the United States Army.[2] Chivington and his men raided the camp at day break, following Chivington's orders to "kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice." The Massacre at Sand Creek was a merciless annihilation.[3]

The Massacre At Wounded Knee - On December 28, 1890, The U.S. Army led Big Foot and his tribe of Sioux Indians to Wounded Knee to camp. The camp, still filled with Sioux Indians, was then massacred by the Army and their Hotchkiss guns. By the end of the battle, nearly 300 Sioux Indians were killed, including Chief Big Foot, and 25 U.S. army soldiers were dead.[4]

The Trail of Tears - The term "The Trail of Tears" is used to describe the forced migration of the Cherokee Indians from their lands in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama, to a reserve further west in Oklahoma. Andrew Jackson's "Indian Removal Policy"[5] permitted the migration, which took place between 1838 and 1839. These groups of Cherokee Indian were forced to make these long journeys with nothing but the clothes on their backs. As a result, many of them died from harsh conditions, starvation and disease. An estimated 4,000 Cherokee Indians died on this abnormally long and hostile trek.

Reparation Efforts - Although many of the following methods reparations are not necessarily paid out to the Indian tribes mentioned earlier, the fact that reparations are being paid out shows that the Government recognizes the injustices that Aboriginals of the United States faced in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Here are some pieces of legislation that led to the payment of said reparations:

H.R. 355 - The objective of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Equitable Compensation Amendments Act of 2005 is "to amend the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Equitable Compensation Act to provide compensation to members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe for damage resulting from the Oahe Dam and Reservoir Project, and for other purposes".

S. 1501 - The Crow Tribe Land Restoration Act's objective is "to develop a program to acquire interests in land from eligible individuals within the Crow Reservation in the State of Montana, and for other purposes".

H.R. 4322 - The Indian Trust Reform Act of 2005 states that its objective is "to provide for Indian trust asset management reform and resolution of historical accounting claims, and for other purposes".

If you want to learn more about Native American Redress and their respective pieces of legislation, please visit The Orator.com

African Americans

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and freed slaves in the south. But reparations for centuries of injustice did not come quickly. In 1865, General William T. Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15, known by most people as the promise of "40 acres and a mule" for freed slaves in the South. The order immediately settled an estimated 40,000 African Americans on confiscated land. But, after the war, President Andrew Johnson overturned the order and the land was returned to the original white owners. African Americans still have not received any payment or compensation for the wrong done.

It wasn't until the late 1950s, after almost 100 years of racism and segregation, that the civil rights movement began and African Americans finally received a form of redress for their mistreatment...equality. Their "redress" can be characterized through the following important legislation:

Brown v. Board of Education - May 17, 1954. A landmark court case that determined segregation in public schools was unconstitutional and overturned a previous court ruling justifying "separate but equal."

Civil Rights Act of 1964 - July 2, 1964. Signed by President Lyndon Johnson, this act prohibited all discrimination (race, color, religion or national origin). It also gave the federal government the power to enforce desegregation.

Voting Rights Act of 1965 - Aug. 10, 1965. This act's purpose was to help African Americans in the South vote, by making literacy tests and poll taxes illegal.

Executive Order 11246 - Sept. 24, 1965. President Johnson issued this order to enforce "affirmative action," helping prospective minority employees.

Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act) - April 11, 1968. This added to the previous Civit Rights Act by accounting for housing discrimination.

Civil Rights Restoration Act - March 22, 1988. Congress passed this act so private institutions that receive federal funds must abide by non-discrimination laws.

Civil Rights Act of 1991 - Nov. 22, 1991. Civil Rights laws were again strengthened, specifically to protect employees from discrimination.

The reparation efforts for African Americans is different from the redress of JAs and JLAs because of context. A temporary internment, though cruel and unfair, is incomparable to centuries of enslavement. An apology and monetary compensation do not make up for what African Americans have faced for the bulk of American history. They are waiting for their compensation, and must fight against deep rooted racism in the meantime.

Holocaust Victims

The Holocaust occurred during World War II and consisted of the systematic degradation, humiliation and extermination of six million Jews. Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party and the Chancellor of Germany, masterminded the genocide and, by the end of the war, culminated in the methodical murders of approximately 11 million people.

In the aftermath of World War II, the world struggled to recover and rebound from the severe trauma endured from 1939 to 1945. In 1948, the State of Israel declared its independence and, in 1951, Israeli authorities made a claim to the four powers occupying post-war Germany regarding compensation and reimbursement, based on the fact that Israel had absorbed and resettled 500,000 Holocaust survivors. They calculated that since absorption had cost $3,000 a person, they were owed $1.5 billion by Germany. They also figured that $6 billion worth of Jewish property had been pillaged by the Nazis, but stressed that the Germans could never make up for what they did with any type of material recompense.

The Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany was signed on September 10, 1952, and was effective on March 27, 1953. According to the Agreement, West Germany would pay Israel for the slave labor and persecution of Jews during the Holocaust, and compensate for Jewish property that was stolen by the Nazis.

The Israeli Knesset debated whether to accept Holocaust reparations from Germany. Menachem Begin was among the members of the opposition who considered the reparations offer blood money. However, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer signed an agreement that the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany — East Germany never provided any compensation to Holocaust survivors) would provide $715 million in goods and services to the State of Israel as compensation for taking in survivors; $110 million to the Claims Conference for programs to finance the relief, rehabilitation, and resettlement of Jewish Holocaust survivors; and direct reparations to selected individuals over a 12-year period. Germany was once compensating 275,000 survivors. Today, the number is approximately 120,000.

In addition, other countries instituted certain acts of redress. Examples of such acts by the United States are listed below.

“Holocaust Victims Redress Act” (S. 1564/H.R. 2591)

“U.S. Holocaust Assets Commission Act of 1998” (S. 1900/H.R. 3662)

Holocaust reparations are not limited to national entities. Survivors have received compensation for damages from corporate entities as well. After years of denying dormant accounts of Holocaust victims even existed, in 1997, Swiss banks produced a list of thousands of people with accounts that had seen no activity since the War. While the fund was an important step in acknowledging the role the Swiss played during the War, it was largely a public relations effort. The fund was voluntary and admitted no liability — the banks had set it up rather than acknowledge responsibility for laundering the profits of Nazi looting and slave labor in factories. They set up a voluntary fund to aid elderly survivors of the Holocaust, and contributions to the fund quickly mounted to $200 million. Payments ranging from $500 to $1,200 were sent to more than 100,000 Eastern European Holocaust survivors in November and December 1998. Those in Western Europe received disbursements in February 1999.

It was not until March 1998 that an agreement was reached to negotiate a global settlement of many legal claims against the banks. The three most prestigious Swiss banks—Union Bank of Switzerland, the Swiss Bank Corp. and Credit Suisse—agreed to set up a $1.25 billion restitution fund in the U.S. to repay Holocaust victims for economic losses facilitated by the Swiss.

Volkswagen AG admitted it used labor from 15,000 slaves forced to work under appalling conditions during the war, and announced plans to set up a $1.7 billion fund to compensate these workers (many of whom are now dead) with a dozen major German businesses, including Deutsche Bank, Daimler-Benz, Volkswagen, and Siemens.

Redresses Yet to Happen

Darfur

Darfur ("The Land of the Fur"), is currently in the middle of a raging battle. Although tensions have been running high for quite a while over land and grazing rights, the conflict began in September 2003 when a rebel group began attacking Sudan government targets, on the basis that the government favors Arabs and oppresses black Africans.[6]

There are two main rebel groups who are deeply involved in the conflict: the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Also thrown into the mix is a group referred to by the United Nations as the "Janjaweed." This radical rebel group is against both the SLA and the JEM rebel groups and has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians. There have been accounts of women being abducted and abused as sex slaves before being released weeks later. An estimated 200,000+ civilians have been killed since the conflict began, and civilians are continually being displaced from their villages, which are constantly being destroyed and pillaged. Many of these civilians seek shelters in camps located in Chad and Darfur's main towns but still lack simple necessities there.[7]

The United States and many human rights groups refer to the Darfur conflict as a type of genocide. However, upon further investigation by the UN, there does not seem to be an intent to wipe out any one race.[8]

The conflict is still a huge issue in our world today, for it has not yet ended. Reparations can't even be considered at this stage in the conflict.


Aborigines of Australia

In 1770, Lieutenant James Cook of the British Empire claimed the east coast of Australia as New South Wales. From there, the British continued to colonize, beginning their conquest in Sydney. In the midst of the colonization of the Aborigine peoples, British unknowingly brought along diseases: small pox, measles and chicken pox. Australian natives had no immunity toward these diseases and many died from sickness. In addition to this, judging from the Aborigines' nomadic lifestyle, the British assumed the natives had no concept of ownership and deemed it fair to take whatever land they needed for crops.[9]

A recent injustice the Aborigines suffered is known as the "Stolen Generation." This term describes how the Australian government took Australian Aboriginal children away from their homes and placed the children in internment camps. The "Child Removal Policy" (also known as the "Aboriginal Act of 1905") legally backed these cruel actions. This act permitted the government to forcibly remove Aboriginal children on the basis that the Aborigine population was incapable of supporting itself. The purpose of the internment camps was to teach Aboriginal children English, Christian beliefs and Christian ideals. The camps also "helped" them become integrated into the modern society.

According to the "Bringing Them Home" Report, a report dedicated to the Aboriginals wronged by the "Child Removal Policy", "the physical infrastructure of missions, government institutions and children's homes was often very poor and resources were insufficient to improve them or to keep the children adequately clothed, fed and sheltered."

As with most other issues, the idea of reparations on this issue has been debated, especially within Australia. Many people take different views on whether the act of taking a child away from his/her home to "integrate them into modern society" is morally right. For now, the biggest argument exists over whether or not reparations should be paid or not. Even if the government was ethically wrong in forcibly taking children from their homes, the act was permitted by law, thereby making it legally permissible.

Conclusion

Different groups of people have been persecuted and oppressed to varying degrees over the course of time, as evidenced by the victimization of Native Americans, African Americans and European Jews. Subjugated peoples, in modern times, have received different degrees of redress and reparations. While these efforts do not erase the atrocities that have previously occurred, they make it easier for the wronged and exploited peoples to regroup, renew and restore their lives to order.

It is important to note that while Japanese Americans have received modicum amounts of redress, Japanese Latin Americans have not been recognized with the same level of compensation.


Articles and resources

References

  1. Roy H. May Jr., "Joshua and the Promised Land," Global Ministries.
  2. "New Perspectives on the West," PBS.
  3. [1]
  4. "Massacre At Wounded Knee, 1890," EyeWitness to History, 1998.
  5. "The Trail of Tears," PBS.
  6. [2]
  7. "Q&A: Sudan's Darfur conflict," BBC, September 6, 2007.
  8. "Q&A: Sudan's Darfur conflict," BBC, September 6, 2007.
  9. "European discovery and the colonisation of Australia," Culture and Creation, August 30, 2007.

Unlinkable references

1.) Russell McGregor, Imagined Destinies. Aboriginal Australians and the Doomed Race Theory, 1880-1939, Melbourne: MUP, 1997

2.) Eric K. Yamamoto et al., Race, Rights and Reparation, Aspen Publishers, 2001.

3.) The Rabbit-proof Fence. Screenplay by Christine Olsen. Dir. Phillip Noyce. Australian Film Commission, 2002.

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