San Diego apologizes and officially rescinds its WWII support for the incarceration of Japanese Americans

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The San Diego City Council on Tuesday rescinded a resolution it passed 80 years ago supporting the incarceration of Japanese Americans in prison camps during World War II.

Council members called the camps and the 1942 council resolution supporting them “racist”, “unjust” and a form of “hate”. In addition to rescinding the 1942 resolution, the council approved an apology to Japanese Americans for the impact of the camps.

“It is extremely important that we identify the racist acts of the past and the injustices of the past and that we address them head on,” Council Chairman Sean Elo-Rivera said. “We can recognize the wrong the city has done.”

Local Japanese American community leaders welcomed the council’s decision, noting how those sent to the camps lost their property, educational opportunities and dignity.

During World War II, more than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry – considered a national security threat because of their ethnicity – were forcibly transferred to 10 prison camps in the western United States and in Arkansas. In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the legality of their incarceration in a long-condemned decision that it ultimately overturned in 2018.

Elo-Rivera said the purpose of Tuesday’s actions was to help the Japanese-American community heal and to prevent authorities from committing such injustices again.

“It’s not just about looking back, but also hopefully recognizing how quickly political gimmicks can turn into real damage and how important it is that we take a stand against that,” he said. he declared.

The council’s actions were requested by the San Diego chapter of the Japanese American Historical Society.

Kay Ochi, president of the society, said the prison camps and the council resolution supporting them reflected the racism, prejudice and fear of the time. His parents, American citizens born in 1920, were incarcerated from 1942 to 1945 in Arizona.

“The trauma of this racist act, the shame it caused the Japanese-American community to be targeted as a spy, was deep and painful,” she said. “You reaffirm your commitment – the city’s commitment – to the promises of the Constitution.”

Council member Monica Montgomery Steppe said the council move was an obligation.

“I think it’s our duty to use our platforms to speak out against hate in all its forms,” ​​she said.

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