New Law to Support The Memorialization of Japanese Americans During WWII

On Wednesday, January 4th, 2023, President Joe Biden signed a new law that will help preserve the history of the U.S. government’s internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

During World War II, Japanese Americans faced significant horror and discrimination. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the US government implemented measures that resulted in the forced relocation and incarceration of Japanese Americans, most of whom were US citizens. Over 110,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were US citizens, were forcibly removed from their homes and placed in internment camps. These camps were often located in remote and harsh locations, and the living conditions were poor. Japanese Americans were subjected to discrimination, prejudice, and segregation, and many lost their homes, businesses, and possessions as a result of their incarceration. The internment of Japanese Americans is now widely considered a grave injustice and a violation of their civil rights.

Despite facing significant discrimination and adversity, including the forced incarceration of many of their families in internment camps, over 33,000 nisei soldiers volunteered to serve in the US military during the war. Nisei soldiers were Japanese American soldiers who served in the US military during World War II. The term “nisei” refers to the second generation of Japanese immigrants, or those born in the United States to Japanese immigrant parents. These soldiers fought bravely and with distinction, serving in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific Theater. Many nisei soldiers faced additional challenges and discrimination within the military, but they persevered and made significant contributions to the war effort. The bravery and patriotism of the nisei soldiers helped to prove their loyalty to the United States and shatter stereotypes about Japanese Americans.

In order to not only support those discriminated against in these dark times, but to also empower those who fought for our country, a legislation was passed that reauthorizes funds that help preserve memorial sites where thousands of Japanese Americans were detained. It also offers grants to Japanese American nonprofit organizations for the purpose of educating the public about the historical importance of these events.

The Norman Y. Mineta Japanese American Confinement Education Act was introduced in the House in March of 2021, and passed later that year. Mineta, the first Asian American Cabinet secretary and a former secretary of transportation, experienced two years of confinement in an incarceration camp before passing away in May 2021.

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