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Sunday, January 7, 2007

Japanese Abducted from Latin America During WWII by the US

The following is an article taken from the site for NCRR, Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress, I had the honor of working with the Los Angeles chapter of NCRR which is a WONDERFUL group of individuals dedicated to bringing justice to the Japanese Americans who suffered such great harm by the US government during WWII as well as current subjects, when they sponsored the Los Angeles portion of Bob Watada's speaking tour. Rosa Watada, Ehren's step-mother, who is Japanese Peruvian, told me the story of how the US government kidnapped thousands of Japanese from Latin America during WWII to be held as ransom by our government. Although I have visited Manzanar and have several friends who were interred as children at other camps, I had never heard this HORRIFYING story before.


From December 1941 to February 1948, the U.S. government orchestrated and financed the mass abduction and forcible deportation of 2,264 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry from 13 Latin American countries to be used as hostages in exchange for Americans held by Japan. Over 800 Japanese Latin Americans were included in two prisoner of war exchanges between the U.S. and Japan. The remaining Japanese Latin Americans were imprisoned without due process of law in U.S. Department of Justice internment camps until after the end of the war.

Stripped of their passports en route to the U.S. and declared “illegal aliens”, most of the incarcerated Japanese Latin Americans were forced to leave the U.S. after their release from camp. However, since many were barred from returning to their home countries, more than 900 Japanese Latin Americans were deported to war devastated Japan. Over 350 Japanese Latin Americans remained in the U.S. and fought deportation in the courts. Eventually, about 100 were able to return to Latin America. It was not until 1952 that those who stayed were allowed to begin the process of becoming U.S. permanent residents. Many later became U.S. citizens.

Japanese Latin Americans were subjected to gross violations of civil and human rights by the U.S. government during WWII. These violations were not justified by a security threat to Allied interests. Rather, it was the outcome of historical racism, anti-foreign prejudice, economic competition, and political opportunism. The U.S. government has yet to properly acknowledge this wrongdoing against the Japanese Latin Americans.

The entire article, including NCRR's campaign for redress of this issue can be found here


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