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Japanese-American Internment Survivor Fears History Will Repeat Itself

As Americans observed the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans remembered what happened after the attack: the forced internment of more than 100,000 because of their race.

One survivor of internment camps is worried history might repeat itself.

Actor Rodney Kageyama remembers it well. He was a little boy when his family was forced into internment. Every year the anniversary brings a little trepidation.

"It just brings a little twinge to me," he said. "Hey, I'm an American."

Japanese Americans were set to hold a candlelight vigil in Little Tokyo on Wednesday to show solidarity with Muslim Americans following the suggestion of a new registry for immigrants from Muslim countries. A similar registry was done after 9/11 but abandoned after criticism of racial profiling.

"I think, you know, oh not again. Not again. We went through so much," Kageyama said. "I don't want to see them going through what we went through."

An immigration advisor to president-elect Donald Trump has said any registry would focus only on immigrants from so-called at-risk countries, but critics say that would in effect be a Muslim registry, and a first step toward internment. During World War II, no Japanese Americans were found to have performed any act of espionage or sabotage.

"Our community feels an obligation to speak up any time this sort of thing comes up again and tell people this is wrong," said Chris Komai of the Little Tokyo Community Council. "Why make the same mistake again when we know that Muslim Americans are already serving in the armed forces and showing that they are good Americans too?"

Historians also remind us many Japanese Americans came out of the internment camps and fought for America during World War II. In fact, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was one of the most decorated in history.

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