America’s forgotten internment – POLITICO


According to figures from the Ministry of Justice, which administered the payments, 145 Latin American Japanese (including some living in Peru and Japan) opted for the Mochizuki settlement, although many have reservations about the unequal sums. “We have suffered as much as them – in fact, when you think about it, maybe even more because we were torn from our own country and taken to a foreign country,” Rose Akiko Nishimura wrote in an affidavit. included in the Mochizuki opinion. The decision of whether or not to take the funds literally divided families. The Shibayama brothers rejected the settlement and, having lost a separate case they brought in the United States Federal Claims Court, filed their petition with the OAS in 2003. is ongoing, â€said Karen Parker, then a lawyer for Shibayama.

In its response to the petition, President George W. Bush’s State Department asserted that the United States had “already issued a full apology” after settling the issue. Mochizuki case, and argued that the Shibayama had in fact not exhausted their national options because they had not appealed the lost case to federal court. “The petitioners are essentially asking the Commission to provide reparations for the events for which the United States government has already offered relief,” the Ministry supported in 2004.

Around the same time, the JLA recovery movement found an ally in Congress: Representative Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), Who introduced a resolution that would have given equal compensation to the Japanese in Latin America. “We have to do it quickly, because there aren’t a lot of people alive today who can tell you from personal experience what we did,†Becerra said in 2004. But the bill is blocked in Congress, and the the last hearings on this issue took place in 2009. Becerra, who is now Biden’s health secretary, did not respond to a request for comment.

According to Nash, who also co-chairs the board of directors of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Civil Liberties Act was possible because Democrats viewed internment as a matter of civil liberties, while Republicans saw it as a matter of civil liberties. considered an unfair taking of property. – “both sides of the same argument.” But now he doubts that such broad support can be garnered.

Hypothetically, if Congress were to pass a bill giving $ 20,000 to the 300 Japanese Latin Americans who remained in the country, or their descendants, the government would pay around $ 6 million, which Nash calls “a mistake.” rounded in the federal budget â€. Shimizu of the Campaign for Justice, which also founded the Peruvian Japanese Oral History Project, says the number of beneficiaries may even be lower, given that some potential beneficiaries now live abroad. (The Campaign for Justice is planning a virtual meeting next year to take a more accurate census.) But beyond monetary compensation, the group is also asking for a public apology, full disclosure of the government’s actions over the course of the campaign. this period and the assurance that these violations have won that will not happen to any group in the future.

The campaign also wants to work in tandem with those seeking redress for slavery. “[W]We stand in solidarity and will not oppose the repair movement of the black community, â€Bekki Shibayama, Art’s daughter, wrote in an email. “Japanese Latin Americans have contributions to make to enact HR40,” the congressional resolution to create a reparations commission, which Biden supported while expressing private reservations.

It is not known how far the president is prepared to go in reparation programs. Asked in early November about reports that his administration was considering offering payments to immigrant families who had been separated at the US border under President Donald Trump, Biden called the information “garbage.” Meanwhile, in February, a government camp that houses migrant children opened in Carrizo Springs, Texas, about 16 minutes south of Crystal City. At the same time, the administration pledged support for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, especially after the wave of violence the community suffered during the pandemic.

But Saito, the law professor, says that when it comes to the human rights principles that the United States claims to uphold, America “tends to exempt itself from their application.” She says that although the United States has not ratified the OAS American Convention on Human Rights, Washington is bound by the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, which members of the OEA adopted it when it was founded. One possible explanation for the official resistance to the JLA’s reparations campaign to date is that it would catalyze public support to tackle other moral debts the government is not prepared to face: “There is has a lot more resistance to redress for people of African descent in the United States because it’s so huge, â€said Saito, who has worked with the JLA movement, in an interview. “Part of what we need to do is push for redress at every level possible, and if we can have small wins, we come close to getting bigger wins.”

The Campaign for Justice says it has sought strategies to continue pushing for redress “in international forums, national forums and in public opinion courts,” according to a statement from the organization. Yet much depends on the willingness of the US government to heed the demands of the OAS human rights body.

At a minimum, campaign members believe they can leave a public record for future generations. Shibayama took his case to the IACHR, in part, to tell the world how his family’s life had changed as a result of the government’s actions. His father, who had been a successful businessman in Peru, died mired in a deep depression. “The American government killed the spirit of my grandfather,” Bekki Shibayama told the IACHR, fighting back tears. “I only knew him as a shell of himself.”

“I see the layers of trauma that are passed down to these generations,” Ozaki adds. “That’s not what would make me proud to be an American.”


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