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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Japanese Day of Rememberance

Update: House Resolution 122 passed yesterday unanimously.

Whereas the Day of Remembrance provides an opportunity for all people to reflect on the importance of political leadership and vigilance and on the values of justice and civil rights during times of uncertainty and emergency: Now, therefore, be it

:←→ Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) recognizes the historical significance of February 19, 1942, the date Executive Order No. ←→9066 was signed by President Roosevelt, restricting the freedom of Japanese Americans, German Americans, and Italian Americans, and legal resident aliens through required identification cards, travel restrictions, seizure of personal property, and internment; and

(2) supports the goals of the Japanese American, German American, and Italian American communities in recognizing a National Day of Remembrance to increase public awareness of these events.

February 19th is the Japanese Day of Rememberance due to Executive Order 9066, signed by Franklin Roosevelt, which forcibly relocated all Japanese in the western United States to internment camps. This event is surely a scar upon America's history, even though many, such as Michelle Malkin, try to defend this horrendous incident. Today, many of my Japanese friends have spoken to me of the similarities between Executive Order 9066 and the Patriot Act. In fact, it has been the Japanese community which has come to the forefront of defending Arabs and Muslims in our country. The short documentary,
"Day of
" (Japanese standing for Arabs and Muslims) is well worth viewing (eight minutes long). Our country cannot forget that we have fallen victim to mass hysteria which resulted in HORRENDOUS human rights abuses in the past, so I invite you to share in remembering so that we will pay tribute and never repeat this history again. (I am posting about this a week ahead of time because listed below are events in several cities commemorating this dark day in our history)

World War Two

Japanese Internment Camps in the USA

Map of Japanese Internment camps in the USA

Amache (Granada), CO
Opened: August 24, 1942.
Closed: October 15, 1945.
Peak population: 7,318.

Gila River, AZ
Opened July 20, 1942.
Closed November 10, 1945.
Peak Population 13,348.

Heart Mountain, WY
Opened August 12, 1942.Closed November 10, 1945.
Peak population 10,767.

Jerome, AR - Opened October 6, 1942. Closed June 30, 1944. Peak population 8,497
Manzanar, CA - Opened March 21, 1942. Closed November 21, 1945. Peak population 10,046.
Minidoka, ID - Opened August 10, 1942. Closed October 28, 1945. Peak population 9,397
Poston, AZ - Opened May 8, 1942. Closed November 28, 1945. Peak population 17,814
Rohwer, AR - Opened September 18, 1942. Closed November 30, 1945. Peak population 8,475
Topaz, UT - Opened September 11, 1942. Closed October 31, 1945. Peak population 8,130
Tule Lake, CA - Opened May 27, 1942. Closed March 20, 1946. Peak population 18,789

A bomb exploding in Pearl Harbor

On December 7th 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. US citizens feared another attack and war hysteria seized the country.

State representatives put pressure on President Roosevelt to take action against those of Japanese descent living in the US.

On February 19th 1942 Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Under the terms of the Order, some 120,000 people of Japanese descent living in the US were removed from their homes and placed in internment camps. The US justified their action by claiming that there was a danger of those of Japanese descent spying for the Japanese. However more than two thirds of those interned were American citizens and half of them were children. None had ever shown disloyalty to the nation. In some cases family members were separated and put in different camps. During the entire war only ten people were convicted of spying for Japan and these were all Caucasian.

Japanese internees making bedding

Life in the camps was hard. Internees had only been allowed to bring with then a few possessions. In many cases they had been given just 48 hours to evacuate their homes. Consequently they were easy prey for fortune hunters who offered them far less than the market prices for the goods they could not take with them.

"It was really cruel and harsh. To pack and evacuate in forty-eight hours was an impossibility. Seeing mothers completely bewildered with children crying from want and peddlers taking advantage and offering prices next to robbery made me feel like murdering those responsible without the slightest compunction in my heart." Joseph Yoshisuke Kurihara speaking of the Terminal Island evacuation.

They were housed in barracks and had to use communal areas for washing, laundry and eating. It was an emotional time for all. "I remember the soldiers marching us to the Army tank and I looked at their rifles and I was just terrified because I could see this long knife at the end . . . I thought I was imagining it as an adult much later . . . I thought it couldn't have been bayonets because we were just little kids." from "Children of the Camps"

Some internees died from inadequate medical care and the high level of emotional stress they suffered. Those taken to camps in desert areas had to cope with extremes of temperature.

The camps were guarded by military personnel and those who disobeyed the rules, or who were deemed to be troublesome were sent to the Tule Lake facility located in the California Rocky Mountains. In 1943 those who refused to take the loyalty oath were sent to Tula Lake and the camp was renamed a segregation centre.

In 1943 all internees over the age of seventeen were given a loyalty test. They were asked two questions:

1. Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered? (Females were asked if they were willing to volunteer for the Army Nurse Corps or Women's Army Corps.)

2. Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, to any other foreign government, power or organization?

In December 1944 Public Proclamation number 21, which became effective in January 1945, allowed internees to return to their homes. The effects of internment affected all those involved. Some saw the camps as concentration camps and a violation of the writ of Habeas Corpus, others though, saw internment as a necessary result of Pearl Harbor. At the end of the war some remained in the US and rebuilt their lives, others though were unforgiving and returned to Japan.

Events in cities in the US commemorating the Japanese Day of Rememberance (if you have any others which I have not posted here, please leave it in the comment box and I will post it here for you)

Day of Remembrance Events

Sat., Feb. 24—Day of Remembrance; 2-5 p.m.; Merion Meeting, 615 Montgomery Ave.; film screening of "Going for Broke," a new documentary abou the JAs who served in the 442nd RCT, 100th Battalion, and the MIS; free. Info: Chris Uga,

Sun., Feb. 18—Chicago Day of Remembrance; 2 p.m.; DeVry University, 3300 N. Campbell Ave.; featuring author, Dr. Greg Robinson who wrote, "By Order of the President"; free parking. Info: Midwest JACL office, 773/728-7171.

Fri.-Sun., Feb. 16-18—Utah Day of Remembrance; Ogden Marriott Hotel, 247 24th St.; event will feature a welcome mixer, panel discussion on 25th St., tour of the historic 25th St. Japantown and a banquet; registration is $50/person that includes the mixer, bento lunch and banquet; individual prices for each meal are available. Checks may be sent to: Day of Remembrance, National JACL Credit Union, P.O. Box 526178, Salt Lake City, UT 84152 or at
Pacific Northwest

Sat., Feb. 17—Portland Day of Remembrance; 1-4 p.m.; George C. Hoffman Hall, Portland State University, 1833 S.W. 11th Ave.; "Fighting for Civil Rights in an Era of Terror" will feature a panel discussion with Peggy Nage, Prof. William Funk, Brandon Mayfield, Charles Hinkle and Helen Ying; event also includes the screening of "A Most Unlikely Hero" and will feature appearances by Capt. Bruce Yamashita and filmmaker Steve Okino; free. Info: 877/843-6914 or
Northern California

Sun., Feb. 25—Day of Remembrance 2007; 1:30-3:30 p.m.; Santa Lucia Room, Salinas Community Center, North Main St.

Sat., Feb. 17—"Carrying the Light for Justice: Day of Remembrance 2007: Continuing to Build Communities"; 2 p.m.; Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC), 1840 Sutter St.; speakers include author/playwright Philip Gotanda, Samina Sundas and Mariko Nakanishi; program will also feature the screening of "Pilgrimage" by Tad Nakamura and "Meeting at Tule Lake by Anders Tomlinson; the annual Candle Lighting Ceremony will follow; admission is $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Info: 415/921-5007 or

Sat., Feb. 24—Stockton Day of Remembrance; 10-2 p.m.; featuring Shizue Seigel, author of "In Good Conscience" and workshops such as "How to do an Oral History of a Family Member."
Central California

Sun., Feb. 18—Day of Remembrance Dinner; 5:30 social, 6:30 p.m. dinner; Pardini's Restaurant, 2257 W. Shaw Ave.; keynote speaker, James Hirabayayshi, Pinedale internee and professor emeritus in Anthropology and Asian American Studies. Info: Ken Yokota, 559/431-4662 or

Sat., Feb. 17—Day of Remembrance Film Festival and Dinner; Merced College; film festival begins at 2 p.m. in Library Room 1, dinner at 5:30 p.m. in the Cafeteria; film festival is free, dinner is $15; guest speaker is Shizue Seigel, author of "In Good Conscience." Info: 209/631-5645.

Southern California
Sat., Feb. 17—Day of Remembrance 2007; 2 p.m.; George and Sakaye Aratani Central Hall, Japanese American National Museum, 369 E. 1st St.; "From 'Military Necessity' to 'National Security' … Challenging the Use of Executive Power from World War II to Iraq"; panelists will discuss the role of other branches of the federal government and the importance of activism in safeguarding civil liberties for all. Reservations: 213/625-0414.

Mon., Feb. 19—Day of Remembrance 2007; 3:30-5:30 p.m.; University of Hawaii, Architecture Auditorium, 2410 Campus Rd., Room 205; program will include Taylour Chang's documentary film, "Unrecht: An Untold Chapter of Hawaii's Past"; Doris Berg, Joe Pacific and representatives of the Muslim-American community will make brief presentations.

February 25, 1-5 pm
Gallery Route One
Pt Reyes, California
Artists Judy Shintani, Mallory Saul, Reiko Fujii will be available to talk about their families’ experiences and share tea and rice crackers.
This is part of the exhibition Far From Home, February 9 – March 18. The show examines the experience of cultural dislocation as expressed in the work of foreign born and second or third generation American artists.

Government propaganda film made in 1944, "A Challenge to Democracy"

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