*BLOG / FILM

Story of Japanese Americans in WWII: Recorded + Corrected

A photo of Manzanar by Little Tokyo resident Toyo Miyatake.

I spent the morning at Visual Communications, the media arts organization where I will be working this summer.  VC has a long history in Little Tokyo supporting Asian Pacific American cultures, primarily through the production, distribution and preservation of films created by and/or about Asian Pacific Americans.

In this role, VC has also served as an eyewitness to history.  In 1981 the organization videotaped the Los Angeles hearings of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians – all twenty six hours of the proceedings.  Today, with the support of Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (formerly the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations) that footage is available on DVD as a series called “Speak Out for Justice.”

Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal

It would appear that others also understand the importance of keeping a truthful record of our country’s history.  Even if it comes decades late.

Yesterday, acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal revealed that one of his predecessors, Charles Fahy, had deliberately hid a report from the Supreme Court stating that Japanese Americans on the West Coast did not pose a military threat.  According to the report, no evidence existed to prove Japanese Americans were disloyal or acting as spies, as some at the time had suggested.  Even so, Fahy insisted that relocating Japanese Americans was a “military necessity.”  (Read the full story by the LA Times here.)

Scholars have long agreed that the rulings to create internment camps were among the worst in the court’s history.  But finally, the Justice Department has acknowledged its mistake on record.

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