California attorney general apologizes for agency’s role in WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans

California attorney general apologizes for agency’s role in WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans
Bryan Ke
August 11, 2023
California Attorney General Rob Bonta has formally apologized for his office’s past role in forcing over 100,000 Japanese Americans to relocate to incarceration camps during and after World War II.
Key details: Bonta’s office first issued the apology on Wednesday, which was followed by a video by the California attorney general uploaded to Twitter on Thursday.
Bonta’s office’s apology notably came on the 35th anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. On Aug. 10, 1998, former President Ronald Reagan signed the law that grants repatriations to surviving Japanese Americans who were interned by the U.S. government.
Bonta’s office’s apology also came three years after California formally apologized for its past actions against Japanese Americans.
The forced relocation and incarceration of Japanese American citizens remains among the darkest periods of our history, and the suffering it caused Japanese American families across California is incalculable,” Bonta said.
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His office’s initial involvement: Former California Attorney General Earl Warren testified in front of Congress in support of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s implementation of Executive Order 9066, which saw the incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans living in California’s West Coast during World War II.
Warren also enforced the California Alien Land Law of 1913, which stopped immigrants from Japan and other Asian countries from purchasing agricultural land in California.
California Attorney General Robert Walker Kenny followed Warren’s footsteps in 1943 by creating a special unit within his office to enforce the land law. Kenny’s office also joined Oregon and Washington in submitting an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court that supported the incarceration of civil rights hero Fred Korematsu.
Addressing the past horrors: Bonta also noted that while what happened can never be erased, “we must take steps to atone for past wrongs by answering the call for accountability, truth and reconciliation, racial healing and transformation.”
“The California Attorney General’s Office deeply regrets its past complicity in these heinous violations of civil rights, and with this apology, recommits to its mission of protecting and defending civil liberties for all Americans,” he continued.
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