California Planning to Issue Official Apology for Japanese Internment During World War II

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, ushering in one of the darkest eras in United States history. More than 120,000 men, women and children of Japanese descent were forced to leave their homes and businesses and were crowded into 10 concentration camps scattered across the West.

Thursday marks the 78th anniversary of the Japanese internment, a day that has come to be known as a Day of Remembrance — but this year, California lawmakers are hoping to do more than just remember. The California Legislature is planning to pass a resolution issuing an official apology “for its past actions in support of the unjust exclusion, removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, and for its failure to support and defend the civil rights and civil liberties of Japanese Americans during this period.”

Introduced by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, who was born in Japan, the resolution details the history of racism in the state that preceded internment and the war, including the California Alien Land Law of 1913 that barred anyone of Japanese ancestry and those from other parts of Asia from purchasing or leasing land. In 1945, lawmakers issued a $200,000 grant to the attorney general’s office to prosecute Japanese Americans who may have violated the land law.

Along with highlighting past injustices, the resolution emphasizes parallels with current policies.

“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.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Gabrielle Canon