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Representatives Don Young and Doris Matsui Introduce the Japanese American Confinement Education Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation to permanently reauthorize the Japanese American Confinement Site (JACS) program to preserve and educate Americans on the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. 

Just over seventy-five years ago, the U.S. Federal Government, through Executive Order 9066, rounded up and imprisoned 120,000 Japanese Americans. Based solely on race, Japanese Americans were stripped of their homes, possessions and civil liberties, and forced to live in remote military barracks. Yet, as time passes, the memory of mass, wrongful government roundup of innocent American citizens has grown increasingly distant.

(Pictured: Congressman Don Young attends President Reagan’s bill signing ceremony of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Congressman Young served as an original cosponsor of this bill, which granted reparations to Japanese Americans interned during World War II.)

"The forced internment of our fellow citizens through Executive Order 9066 is one of the darkest chapters in American history. The fact that it occurred during my lifetime highlights just how fresh of a wound this is for Japanese Americans across our country," said Rep. Young (R-AK). "In 1988, I was proud to support the Civil Liberties Act, which took crucial steps to acknowledge our nation's wrongdoing and to recommit ourselves to never letting racially-based incarceration happen again. Tragically, many of our young people no longer study this terrible moment in history, which puts our ability to learn lessons from this era at risk. I am proud to join my friend, Congresswoman Doris Matsui, as we introduce the Japanese American Confinement Education Act. If we do not acknowledge, reconcile, and learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it. This bill takes crucial steps to educate younger generations about the horrors of Japanese internment. It is my great hope that we take these lessons to heart, and honor the families who were devastated in the very country they called home."

“The imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II will forever be one of the most atrocious violations of American civil rights in the 20th century. Those of us in the Japanese American community know too well what discrimination feels like, what kind of mark it leaves, and most importantly, what we can do to stop it,” said Congresswoman Matsui.  “The Japanese American story is one that is not told nearly enough. It is one of pain, one of redemption, and one of enrichment. This bill will ensure that these lessons live into the future – that we continue bending the moral arc of this country by sharing these stories, lifting our voices, and fighting so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. The essence of the American experience isn’t that we’re perfect, it is that we heal from seeing where we’ve been and teach our younger generations to build a more inclusive, equitable future.”

Background:

The Japanese American Confinement Education Act would permanently reauthorize the Japanese American Confinement Site (JACS) program within the National Park Service (NPS), which is currently set to expire in 2022. This program has been one of the primary resources in the preservation and interpretation of the U.S. Confinement Sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. Additionally, the legislation establishes a separate, new 5 year, $2 million per year competitive grant to create educational materials about the Japanese American confinement. This grant would require the recipient museum to develop and nationally disseminate accurate, relevant, and accessible resources to improve awareness and understanding of Japanese American Confinement in WWII.

Original Cosponsors: Representatives Rob Bishop (R-UT), Mark Takano (D-CA), Liz Cheney (R-WY), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Don Young (R-AK), Ed Case (D-HI), Ken Buck (R-CO), Adam Smith (D-WA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

The Japanese American Confinement Education Act is supported by:

  1. Japanese American Citizens League
  2. Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation
  3. National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
  4. Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation
  5. Japanese American National Museum
  6. JACS Consortium

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