San Diego officially apologizes for supporting Japanese American incarceration during WWII

Japanese American concentration camps
  • The San Diego City Council officially apologized to the Japanese American community and passed a resolution that rescinded Resolution 76068 on Tuesday.
  • “The Council of the City of San Diego apologizes to all people of Japanese ancestry for its past actions in support of the unjust exclusion, removal, and incarceration of Japanese Americas [sic] and residents of Japanese ancestry during World War II, and for its failure to support and defend the civil rights and civil liberties of these individuals during this period,” the apology read.
  • Resolution 76068, which ordered the FBI to forcibly remove residents of Japanese descent from the county and transfer them to the 10 concentration camps in the western part of the U.S., came into effect after then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 9066 (E.O. 9066) on Feb. 19, 1942.
  • More than 120,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes and transferred to the concentration camps in the western U.S. and Arkansas weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. Among those were 1,900 San Diego residents of Japanese descent.
  • “It is incredibly important that we identify the racist acts of the past and injustices of the past and address them head-on,” Council President Sean Elo-Rivera said. “We can acknowledge the wrong that the city committed.”

San Diego officially apologized and announced the revocation of a 1942 resolution that supported the incarceration of many Japanese Americans during World War II.

Council members on Tuesday acknowledged the city’s racist past when it imprisoned more than 1,900 San Diego County residents of Japanese descent in the concentration camps in the western United States and Arkansas during WWII.

It is incredibly important that we identify the racist acts of the past and injustices of the past and address them head-on,” Council President Sean Elo-Rivera said. “We can acknowledge the wrong that the city committed.”

The San Diego Council had passed a resolution that would rescind Resolution 76068, which ordered the FBI to forcibly remove residents of Japanese descent from the county and transfer them to the 10 concentration camps in the western part of the U.S. The forced removal went into effect after then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 9066 (E.O. 9066) on Feb. 19, 1942.

In addition to rescinding the 1942 resolution, which they described as “racist, unjust and a form of hate,” the San Diego council also approved an apology to the Japanese American community.

The Council of the City of San Diego apologizes to all people of Japanese ancestry for its past actions in support of the unjust exclusion, removal, and incarceration of Japanese Americas [sic] and residents of Japanese ancestry during World War II, and for its failure to support and defend the civil rights and civil liberties of these individuals during this period,” the apology read.

Over 120,000 people of Japanese descent were incarcerated during WWII weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This isn’t simply a matter of looking backwards, but also hopefully recognizing how quickly political ploys can turn into real harm and how important it is that we take a stand against that,” Elo-Rivera said, emphasizing that the Tuesday’s actions were to help the Japanese American community heal and to prevent past events from happening again.

Japanese American community members and leaders welcomed the city council’s actions. They also noted how the 1942 resolution had taken away the properties and dignities of thousands of Japanese Americans.

The trauma of that racist act, the shame that it brought upon the Japanese American community to be targeted as spies, was deep and painful. You are reaffirming your commitment — the city’s commitment — to the promises of the Constitution,” Kay Ochi, president of the San Diego chapter of the Japanese American Historical Society, whose U.S. citizen parents were incarcerated in Arizona from 1942 to 1945, said.

The recent apology came after several cities in the United States and in Canada apologized for past atrocities committed against Asians. Some of those cities include Denver, San Francisco, San Jose, Antioch and Vancouver.

 

Featured Image via Don Graham (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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