Redress for Japanese Latin Americans/ Media, politics and community

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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

Media portrayal

  • The usage of propaganda by the United States government during World War II created an image of Japanese Latin Americans as less than human.
  • The major media outlets would print pictures of the JLAs being transported to internment camps making them appear as a threat to the United States.[1]
File:Smallmen.jpg
Italian, German and Japanese residents of Latin America leaving a temporary internment camp in the Panama Canal Zone to join their male relatives in U.S. internment camps. April 7 1942. Courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

Who Writes History

  • A poll was conducted of 100 7th graders at St. Joseph’s of Fullerton in Baltimore, MD asking what they knew about the internment camps in the United States during World War II.

The following questions were asked:

  • What is an internment camp, and who was kept there?
  1. Twenty-two of the 100 students knew what an interment camp was and that Japanese people were kept there.
  • What is a concentration camp, and who was kept there?
  1. 100 students knew what a concentration camp was, and stated that Jewish people were kept there.
  1. Forty-two of the 100 saw the movie The Siege.

After seeing the results, one must have a paradigm shift and look at who writes history.

  • Only twenty 7th graders said that the United States government placed citizens and non-citizens alike in internment camps, but forty-two have seen the movie The Siege (A movie centered on Muslim Americans being put into interment camps).
  • No student even mentioned that gays and lesbians were also put into concentration camps; let alone being the first people put there.[2]
  • Statistical information pertaining to World War II[3]

Present Day

  1. The film is about the civil disobedience of JLAs during the time of their internment.
  2. Its focus is on the Heart Mountain Camp in Wyoming where JLAs fought for there basic rights as citizens of the United States.[4]
  3. Conscience and Constitution shines light on an issue that most Americans are unaware of.[5]

Public Policy Approach

What advocacy groups did JLA’s have?

  • During WWII
  1. In 1929 the Japanese American Citizens League was founded to specifically aid JLA's.
  2. It wasn't until later in the 20th century (1980s) that more JLA advovacy groups began to take shape.
  • Presently
  1. Campaign for Justice (JLA)
  2. Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)
    1. 2005-2006 JACL Program for Action
      1. Talks about plans for the future regarding vision and membership.

Proposed Public Policy

Resolutions proposed by the JACL:

  1. Mandates that all road signs that bear the name "jap" be removed and replaced.
  2. Term "jap" is officially recognized as a derrogatory term under Congressional Resolution 290.
  3. Adopted as amended by the National Council of the JACL on August 13, 2004.
  1. Part of the mission to "maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and prejudice."
  2. Hopes to create a national curriculum for all fifty states that provides information regarding Japanese American history and wartime experiences.
  3. Assistance with the National Education Committee will allow for the creation of a budget and workplan.
  1. Currently there is a crisis within the JACL in which there are decling numbers.
  2. Members are dying and aging, and therefore new members must be sought out in order for the organization to survive.
  3. Promotion of the educational and cultural mission of the organization is the major selling point for expanding membership.
  1. Over 2,200 JLAs were denied their civil rights and liberties during WWII.
  2. 900 individuals were deported from the United States back to Japan.
  3. The passage of the Wartime Parity and Justice Act is sought.

Redress in the Community

Examine how the redress is viewed in two categories

  • Americans’ views
  1. When redress first became an issue in 1983: Texas Democrat Sam Hall, who was elected to represent the First Congressional District of Texas, was firmly opposed.
  2. He had a low "Americans for Democratic Actions" rating and a low "Americans Civil Liberties Union" rating.
  3. His conservative attitudes placed redress on the bottom of his priority list. # Therefore, he only held hearings on the issues but never brought it fully to the Judiciary Committee.[6]

Read more: Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and the Passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 by Leslie T. Hatamiya

Reactions from Public Officials

  • Janet Reno: June 12, 1998 when the Department of Justice granted Japanese Latin Americans reparations in the sum of 5,000 dollars.

"This was a tragic chapter in the history of our nation, it's time to right this wrong and close the book."

  1. Full press release issued by the Department of Justice from June 12, 1998
  • President Bill Clinton in a press conference on June 12th, 1998: CNN Article

"I offer a sincere apology for the actions that unfairly denied you fundamental liberties during World War II"

Reactions from the JLA's View

  • Grace Shimizu-Director of Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project

In response to a 2001 bill introduced to the house by Democratic Senator from Hawaii Daniel Inouye in support of redress

"We are very appreciative of Senator’s Inouye’s support". "He has great influence in Washington because he has served as a congressman and senator from Hawaii for over four decades. With his backing, Japanese Latin Americans will finally get equitable redress, and a new generation of Americans will become more aware of the dangers of mass-based roundups of civilians based on race."

  • Alicia Nishimoto- Internee who was removed from Peru to a Texas desert.

This reaction comes in a CNN article after the 1998 reparations were announced.

"I can't say that it was a fair settlement, I would be lying if I said I am very happy today. I wanted to get equal justice."

  • Art Shibayama- Another Internee originally from Peru

Reaction to 1998 reparations

"But people made mistakes, big mistakes. I was discriminated against so many times, I was offered the $5,000 settlement but I opted out because it was another discrimination, a slap in the face, the offer said nothing about how we were brought here—not even an apology."

  1. Complete text from Asian Week

New Developments by Japanese Latin Americans For Redress

The Life of a Japanese Latin American Family

  1. The book was originally published in The Monthly, (Berkeley, California)
  2. The above story details the tumultuous life of one JLA Shibayama, who is now 68 years of age

Resolution 5- Issued by the JACL (Japanese Americans Citizens League)

  • This resolution called for, in part, Japanese Latin Americans to be included in the Wartime Parity and Justice Act.
  1. "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Council of the Japanese American Citizens League encourages the inclusion of the wartime and redress experience of Japanese Latin Americans in all internment and redress education materials and events of the Japanese American Citizens League;"
  2. The complete resolution

Articles and Resources

Articles

  1. Leslie T. Hatamiya, Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and the Passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 Stanford University Press, 1993.
  2. Janet Reno, Japanese Latin Americans to Receive Compensation for Internment during World War II USDOJ, June 12, 1998.
  3. Bill Clinton, US to pay Japanese Latin Americans held during WWII CNN, June 12, 1998.
  4. Art Shibayama, Reactions to Reparations Asian Week, April 27, 2000.
  5. Leah Brumer, Stealing Home The Monthly.

Resources

  1. Campaign for Justice
  2. St. Josephs's of Fullerton
  3. World War II Fact Sheet
  4. Heart Mountain Camp
  5. Internet Movie Database
  6. Japanese American Citizens League
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