Los Angeles

Japanese Americans Honored by LA County Supervisors

In a tumultuous political climate, officials said, remembering the past has is more important than ever.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors proclaimed Feb. 19 a Day of Remembrance in Los Angeles County to mark the 75th anniversary of a presidential decree that authorized the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Representatives from the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute and the Japanese American National Museum spoke about the importance of remembrance.

On Feb. 19, 1942, with the signing of Executive Order 9066, President Franklin D. Roosevelt forced more than 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent into internment camps.

Just three weeks earlier the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors had adopted a resolution urging the federal government to take that action.

"This resolution gave support and affirmation to a decision making process clouded by hysteria and bigotry," Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas said of the board's 1942 action.

It was not until June 6, 2012 the Board of Supervisors rescinded and revoked its action in support of Japanese internment, Ridley-Thomas said.

Supervisor Janice Hahn, who co-sponsored the motion to create a Day of Remembrance, said it was also important to pay tribute to the men of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, a Japanese American military unit that fought in Europe during World War II while many of their families were in internment camps in the U.S.

Nicole Sato, program coordinator at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute, spoke at the presentation to the board and stressed the importance of remembering what happened to Japanese Americans to ensure similar injustices never happen again.

"In light of today's events happening around the world and in our country we believe even stronger that what happened to the Japanese American community 75 years ago should not happen to anyone regardless of age gender race or religion," Sato said. "Civil liberties should not be taken away or denied to anyone by executive order or such actions."

Added Ridley-Thomas: "We should take stock of our moment in time right now with respect to others who are under the hammer of unconstitutional behavior. I did say it. I meant it and I will not retract it," he added, amid applause from the audience.

Various Japanese American organizations throughout Los Angeles are hosting events this year to promote the idea of remembrance and share the experiences of people who were interned.

On Feb. 25, Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute will host a panel of former internees who will share their experiences of life at the camp in Tule Lake.

On April 15, it will host an exhibit showcasing artwork that depicts life in the internment camps.

On Feb. 26 the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in San Pedro will host a staged reading of the play "Question 27, Question 28," which explores Japanese Internment through the voices of a variety of Japanese American and non-Japanese American women.

All of the play's lines come from "interviews, transcripts and testimonials" by women who lived through that time period.

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