THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES
The immigration, internment, resettlement, and redress histories of Japanese Americans (JAs) and Japanese Latin Americans (JLAs) are intertwined. Understanding of this integral relationship exposes a bigger picture of government abuse and violations during WWII. The incarceration experience of JAs is now put into a broader international context of mass relocation, internment and forced deportation of persons of Japanese, German, Italian, and Jewish ancestry. They show a shocking picture of how the U.S. government initiated and orchestrated a conscious, systematic, planned program of massive civil and human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity spanning two continents before, during, and after WWII.
The struggle of former JLA internees for truth, acknowledgement, and justice began in the early 1980’s and is integrally linked to the development of the Japanese American (JA) redress movement. Japanese Peruvian internees testified at the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) hearings in 1981, and their wartime experience was included in the 1983 CWRIC report to the U.S. Congress, Personal Justice Denied. JP internees and supporters submitted verbal and written requests to Japanese American (JA) organizations, members of Congress, and CWRIC Commissioners, urging inclusion of redress to JP internees. With the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (CLA)—which restricted redress to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents of Japanese ancestry—the JLAs were deemed ineligible for redress because they were classified as so-called “illegal aliens.”
To this day, the U.S. government refuses to grant proper redress to the JLA internees. This chapter of JA and JLA history, of U.S. history, of world history must not be allowed to close until the U.S. government makes proper amends for wrongdoing that is at the level of severity of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The significance and relevance of this unfinished WWII issue is underscored as “new” enemies are being scapegoated in the never-ending war on terror.
The JLA fight for the right to truth, government accountability, and non-recurrence of such civil and human rights violations continues through litigation, legislation, educational outreach and grassroots organizing.