California to Apologize for Japanese Internment

Former WWII Era Internment Camp Preserved As Manzanar National Historic Site

Former WWII Era Internment Camp Preserved As Manzanar National Historic Site

On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which ordered 120,000 men, women and children of Japanese descent to leave their homes and businesses behind and be forced into ten concentration camps scattered across the western United States. Now, California lawmakers are posed to apologize for the internment with a vote on a resolution Thursday that would accept accountability for the state's participation in one of the darkest chapters of American history.

HR 77 was introduced by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D), to seek "the California Legislature to officially acknowledge and apologize while these camp survivors are still alive."

The resolution does not offer compensation or restitution for those interned, but it does highlight past injustices and points to current events as a parallel to the lead up to internment.

"Given recent national events," the legislation reads, "it is all the more important to learn from the mistakes of the past and to ensure that such an assault on freedom will never again happen to any community in the United States." 

The resolution goes on to detail the history of racism against Asians before the war in California, including the California Alien Land Law of 1913 that barred anyone of Japanese ancestry or anyone with Asian heritage from purchasing or leasing land in California. After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, drawing the United States into World War II, fears that Japanese Americans would side with Japan in World War II drove the push for interning them.

Feb. 19 marks the 78th anniversary of Japanese internment, a day that's come to be known as a Day of Remembrance. Two Japanese interment camps were located in the state, at Manzanar and Tule Lake.

"While our nation’s capital is hopelessly divided along party lines and President Trump is putting immigrant families and children in cages," Muratsuchi told the Pacific Citizen. "The California Legislature, with HR 77 will be issuing an official, bipartisan measure for its own actions taken that led to the incarceration of over 120,000 loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry behind barbed wire.”

Photo: Getty Images

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