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Report on Redress: The Japanese American Internment

Yamamoto, Eric K.
June 4, 2015

Source: (-0001) In Pablo De Greiff, ed., The Handbook of Reparations. Oxford, New York, USA: Oxford University Press. Pp. 257-283.

“How does a country repair its harm to a vulnerable minority targeted during times of national fear because of race? How did the USA redress its then popular yet unconstitutional World War II incarceraton of 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans in desolate barbed wire prisons without charges, hearings, or bona fide evidence of military necessity? In response to a congressional inquiry, political lobbying, and lawsuits, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 directed the President to apologize and authorized over $1 billion in reparations. Congress also created a fund to educate the public about the government’s false assertion of ‘national security’ to restrict civil liberties. Some considered redress a tremendous victory — rewriting history and personal healing. Others questioned reparations for one US group but not others. Japanese American redress served as a catalyst for repartions movements worldwide. This report on redress examines its genesis, legal implementation, and apparent effects. It also explores wide-ranging political mobilization and social meanings of redress and ‘unfinished business’. Reparations cannot be measured by laws alone. Diverse communities must engage contested questions of history, justice, and belonging. Reparations claims face often unforseen benefits and limitations. The report concludes with these ‘lessons learned’ to date.” (excerpt)


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