In a recent statement, President Joe Biden called the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II “one of the most shameful periods in American history.”
The White House published Biden’s statement on Feb. 19 — the Day of Remembrance of Japanese American Incarceration.
Sunday marked 81 years since former President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the removal of those deemed a threat to national security to relocation camps.
Over 120,000 Japanese Americans were wrongfully incarcerated.
The order came two months after the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor resulted in anti-Japanese sentiments across the U.S. and ushered in what Biden called in his statement “one of the most shameful periods in American history.”
Men, women, and children were forced to abandon their homes, their jobs, their communities, their businesses, and their way of life. They were sent to inhumane concentration camps simply because of their heritage. And in a tragic miscarriage of justice, the Supreme Court upheld these immoral and unconstitutional policies.
In the statement, Biden also recognized the 33,000 Japanese Americans who “fought in defense of the nation’s freedom with valor and courage” while serving in the U.S. military during World War II.
The incarceration of Japanese Americans reminds us what happens when racism, fear, and xenophobia go unchecked. As we battle for the soul of our nation, we continue to combat the corrosive effects of hate on our democracy and the intergenerational trauma resulting from it.
Biden concluded the statement with an apology and a reference to the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial located in Bainbridge Island, Washington:
“We reaffirm the Federal Government’s formal apology to Japanese Americans for the suffering inflicted by these policies. And we commit to Nidoto Nai Yoni – to ‘Let It Not Happen Again.’”
Earlier this year, Biden signed the Norman Y. Mineta Japanese American Confinement Education Act into law.
The new law allocates funding for the preservation of incarceration camps across the U.S. and designates $10 million toward a federal grant program aimed at promoting the history of Japanese American incarceration.