LA Times: Japanese-American newspaper Rafu Shimpo must get 10,000 subscribers by year’s end, or close its doors

Little Tokyo's Rafu Shimpo, voice of the Japanese American community, faces closureNao Nakanishi, left, staff writer, and Kenji Tokunaga, right, Japanese typesetter, at the Rafu Shimpo newspaper in Los Angeles on April 28

LA Times (by Samantha Masunaga):

For 113 years, the Rafu Shimpo newspaper has chronicled the story of the Japanese American community in Southern California.

It survived World War II, when writers and editors were shipped off to internment camps. Before leaving, they hid the paper’s Japanese type under office floorboards.

But if the money-losing paper doesn’t raise about $500,000 in revenue — by more than doubling its subscribers — it could close in December, marking the end of one of the last English-Japanese dailies in the U.S., and the oldest.

Some of the things we cover you can’t get anywhere else,” said Michael Komai, 64, the paper’s publisher, whose family has run the Little Tokyo-based publication for three generations. “Some people aren’t going to know they’ll miss us until we’re gone.”

Like many papers, the Rafu has struggled to adjust to the changing media landscape. However, those issues have been amplified by its small community, aging readership and the greater assimilation of younger Japanese Americans compared with other Asian American communities.

The Rafu currently has a print circulation of about 7,800, down from a peak of 23,000 subscribers in the late 1980s. Its online subscriptions total about 800.

It became more of a challenge for the Rafu Shimpo to be the hyperlocal community voice because the community dispersed, grew older, and unlike most of the other major Asian news media, was not replenished by increased immigration,” said Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media, a nationwide organization for ethnic media.

The digital revolution, combined with the recession, has, of course, been tremendously challenging for the ethnic media sector overall,” she said.

The Rafu Shimpo — which means, literally, Los Angeles newspaper — got its start in 1903 as a mimeographed sheet put together by three USC students.

In the early 1920s, H.T. Komai, the current publisher’s grandfather, took over the paper. He ushered in several changes, including the development of a new English-language section to appeal to a younger generation after immigration laws stymied the flow of new arrivals from Japan.

As tensions built between Japan and the U.S., the paper ran editorials urging the Nisei — the second generation of Japanese in the United States — to show they were patriotic American citizens. The paper also proclaimed it was “100%” loyal to the U.S.

But on Dec. 7, 1941, hours after Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor, Komai was arrested by the FBI along with other leaders from the community who were labeled “enemy aliens.” That left his eldest son, Akira, in charge of the paper’s welfare.

Before Akira Komai was forced into a camp with other Japanese Americans along the West Coast, he hid the newspaper’s Japanese lead type in hopes that the Rafu could one day restart.

The last issue published before the staff was sent to the camps came out on April 4, 1942, and contains a letter from the newsroom with the headline, “We’ll meet again.” At the bottom of the page is a single-line advertisement in bold: “Buy your defense stamps at the Rafu Shimpo.

On Jan. 1, 1946, the paper resumed publishing.

In the postwar era, Japanese Americans returned to L.A., especially Little Tokyo, and the neighborhood became a vibrant community, according to Lane Hirabayashi, a professor in the Asian American studies department at UCLA. In the late 1960s, legislation opened up further immigration from Japan.

The community also began to spread throughout Southern California. Japanese Americans with higher incomes moved out, toward Gardena and the Westside, after civil rights legislation was passed outlawing housing discrimination.

During this period, the Rafu battled for dominance in L.A. against another Japanese American daily, the Kashu Mainichi, and a few other publications. Nearly all have since vanished, and several of their writers, editors and columnists were absorbed into the Rafu’s staff.

That included George “Horse” Yoshinaga, who penned the popular “Horse’s Mouth” column until his death this year at the age of 90.

Horse and I, we got along very well together,” said Maggie Ishino, 90, a part-time typist at the Rafu who transcribed Yoshinaga’s columns for 16 years. “He really had a great sense of humor.”

Ishino began writing her own column, “Maggie’s Meow,” in 2012. She continues to work at the Rafu and takes three buses to reach the office from her home in West Los Angeles.

Today, there are only a few Japanese American publications left in the country. The Hawaii Hochi, founded in 1912, is believed to be the only other English-Japanese daily in the nation.

The shrinking list of Japanese American publications contrasts with the dozens of publications geared toward the Chinese and Korean communities in L.A. and beyond. The disparity reflects shifting levels of immigration among those groups.

In 2014, there were 274,000 ethnic Japanese in California, all but 103,000 of whom were native-born, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This contrasts with the higher number of immigrants in the Chinese and Korean communities. There are 947,000 Chinese immigrants and 334,000 Korean immigrants statewide.

Like many print publications, the Rafu’s subscriber base is composed mostly of older readers. And like larger newspapers, the Rafu has been unable to make up for falling ad revenue.

Last year, the Rafu pulled in $549,502 from advertising, an 8% dip from just two years ago. The paper has lost $750,000 over the last three years, and is expected to lose $350,000 this year.

Editors said they plan to shift their coverage to appeal to younger readers and continue homing in on what makes their stories distinct from those of larger publications.

Only the Rafu covers every single summer Obon festival, the annual Nisei Week celebration in Little Tokyo, and numerous community events from awards dinners to bazaars. When someone in the Japanese American community dies, the obituary will probably appear first — if not only — in the Rafu.

 

Some community members have called for the paper’s management to look for new sources of revenue.

To reach a wider audience, the paper could include stories that appeal to readers interested in Japanese culture, or it could increase the Rafu’s digital presence, said Ellen Endo, former Rafu editor.

The paper recently got an Instagram account and is getting increasingly active on Twitter and Facebook.

The Rafu has also initiated the subscription drive, with a goal of 10,000 new online subscribers for $50 each annually. “This isn’t a one-year fix,” Komai said. “We need an immediate boost, but we also … need steady growth, steady progress.”

Community members have started to respond. About 550 people have signed up for an online subscription since March, when Komai published a letter about the paper’s finances on the front page titled, “The State of the Rafu Shimpo.”

 

The Japanese-Peruvians interned in the US during WW2

Photograph of Blanca Katsura in 2014Blanca Katsura and her family were among 1,800 Japanese-Peruvians to be interned in the US 

BBC News (by Jaime Gonzalez of BBC Mundo):

Blanca Katsura will never forget the night of 6 January 1943. She was 12 at the time and living with her parents and two siblings in northern Peru. On that night, two officials came to their home and took away her father. Mr Katsura, who owned a small general store, was arrested because he was part of Peru’s prosperous Japanese community.

My father told them he hadn’t done anything wrong, but they didn’t listen to him,” she recalls.

Japanese people began migrating to Peru in considerable numbers at the end of the 19th Century, drawn by opportunities to work in the mines and on sugar plantations.

By the 1940s, an estimated 25,000 people of Japanese descent lived in Peru. Many had become lawyers and doctors, or owned small businesses.

An undated photo of a  relative of Art Shibayama in his shop in PeruMany Japanese-Peruvians did well in their new homelands and set up successful businesses 

Their prosperity, further fuelled by racism, soon triggered anti-Japanese sentiment in Peru, Stephanie Moore explains.

Ms Moore, a scholar at the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project, says after the outbreak of World War Two, the Japanese community in Peru became a target, and their assets were confiscated.

In May 1940, as many as 600 houses, schools and businesses belonging to citizens of Japanese descent were burned down,” she says.

Following Japan’s 1941 attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the US government asked a dozen Latin American countries, among them Peru, to arrest its Japanese residents. Records from the time suggest the US authorities wanted to take them to the US and use them as bargaining chips for its nationals captured by Japanese forces in Asia.

Italian, German and Japanese residents of Latin America are seen leaving a temporary internment camp in the Panama Canal Zone Many Japanese-Latin Americans were taken to a camp in the Panama Canal Zone first

Mr Katsura was among the 2,200 Latin Americans of Japanese descent who were forcibly deported to internment camps in the US. Blanca Katsura, who is now 83 and lives in Northern California, remembers how she learned of his fate.

A month after my father was detained, he sent me a letter because it was my birthday,” she recalls. “He had been taken to Panama from where they were planning to send him to the US,” she adds.

Six months later, Blanca Katsura’s mother decided to take her three small children to the US to search for her husband.

When we arrived in New Orleans after a month-long trip, they confiscated our passports and then sent us by train to the Crystal City camp.”

As many as 4,000 people were interned during World War Two in this camp in Texas run by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service. Most of the detainees were of Japanese descent, although some German and Italian immigrants were also held there.

Undated aerial view of Crystal City Internment Camp, TexasCrystal City Internment Camp was located 180 km (110 miles) south of San Antonio in Texas

It was at Crystal City that Blanca Katsura was reunited with her father. “I was shocked, he had lost so much weight,” she remembers.

For the next four years, her family lived in the barracks at the camp. Her memories of that time are not particularly traumatic, she says.

Being a child at the time time, I had no worries and made lots of friends.We were able to go to school and learn Japanese,” she adds.

Japanese-Peruvians attend a class at the Federal High School in the Crystal City Internment Camp in Texas in 1944Children in Crystal City attended classes inside the camp
Ms Katsura says she later learned that the camp authorities were keen for the children to learn Japanese so they would be able to speak the language once they were deported to Japan.
Chieko Kamisato Chieko Kamisato now lives in Los Angeles
Chieko Kamisato’s memories of life at Crystal City are less positive.

You could call it a concentration camp, because we were surrounded by barbed wire fences and guards with guns,” she says.

We couldn’t go out at all, although we were free to move around inside,” she recalls.

My parents were really bitter about the situation because they were forced to come to the US. They had no choice,” she says.

Ms Kamisato’s father had moved to Peru from Japan in 1915 and had worked hard to open a bakery in the capital, Lima. Now 81, she lives in Los Angeles.

Of the 2,200 Latin Americans of Japanese descent to be interned in the US, 800 were sent to Japan as part of prisoner exchanges. After World War Two ended, another 1,000 were deported to Japan after their Latin American home countries refused to take them back.

A group of children poses for a photo in Crystal City Camp in this undated photoWhile there were also Germans interned in Crystal City, the majority were of Japanese descent

Ms Katsura’s and Ms Kamisato’s families successfully fought deportation and were eventually allowed to remain in the US. In 1988, then-President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act and apologized on behalf of the US government for the internment of Japanese-Americans. Under the act, the government paid tens of thousands of survivors of the camps $20,000 (£13,000) each in reparation.

But Japanese-Latin Americans did not qualify for the payments because they had not been US citizens or permanent residents of the US at the time of their internment. Outraged, they filed a class-action suit and 10 years later, the US government agreed to pay them $5,000 each. Most accepted, but a small group headed by camp survivor Art Shibayama decided to hold out, demanding to be paid the same as Japanese-Americans.

Blanca Katsura says that even though her childhood at the camp may not have been traumatic, no amount of money can compensate her family for its loss.

My parents wanted to go back to Peru but couldn’t. They missed the life they had there,” she recalls.

The Peruvian government sold us out to the US government and that is not a very nice feeling. How would you feel about it?

George Takei to star in Broadway musical about interned Japanese-Americans

NY Times: 

Allegiance,” a musical about Japanese-Americans in United States internment camps during World War II, will begin performances on Broadway in October at a Shubert Theater to be announced later, the show’s producers said Thursday. The musical, which will cost a relatively hefty $13 million to mount, will star George Takei, who is best known as Mr. Sulu in the original “Star Trek” television series, and whose personal experiences in internment camps in Arkansas and California inspired “Allegiance.”

Mr. Takei, in a telephone interview, described the show as “very, very personal” and a tribute to his parents as well as the tens of thousands of people of Japanese ancestry – the majority of whom were American citizens – who were forcibly relocated to camps from 1942 to 1946 under an order by President Roosevelt. Mr. Takei said that he had invested a “substantial” amount of his own money in the musical, and that it features characters drawn from his family and life, including a grandfather character that Mr. Takei will portray in his Broadway debut.

I consider this my legacy project,” said Mr. Takei, who is 77 and spent about four years of his childhood in two camps. “This is the first time that this dark chapter of American history will be done on the Broadway stage.”

Mindful that theatergoers often skip Broadway musicals that are tagged (however unfairly) as ruminations on history, like “The Scottsboro Boys” and “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” Mr. Takei highlighted the romantic subplots and centrality of baseball in “Allegiance,” as well as the overarching theme of family unity.

The show’s backdrop is the imprisonment of innocent Americans simply because we looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor, but the story is universal – people falling in love, getting married, having a family,” Mr. Takei said. “The musical will find an audience because whether you are white, black, Latino, young or old, people can identify with the idea of family and the stresses put on a family, which in this case were enormous.”

Allegiance” had its world premiere in 2012 at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, receiving mixed reviews but drawing large and ethnically diverse audiences. Since then, Mr. Takei said, some scenes and dialogue have been tweaked but the show is essentially the same. The Old Globe cast included the Tony Award winner Lea Salonga (“Miss Saigon”) and Telly Leung (the 2011 Broadway revival of “Godspell”). Mr. Takei said Ms. Salonga and Mr. Leung were in negotiations to do “Allegiance” on Broadway but no casting beyond his was confirmed at this point.

The musical’s producers, Lorenzo Thione and Andrew Treagus, have been waiting for an available Broadway theater for about two years, but other shows – some more evidently commercial than “Allegiance,” and some flops – landed them first. “Allegiance” will arrive during a period of increasingly steady opportunities for Asian-American theater actors in New York: a Broadway revival of “The King & I” is set to open this spring, while the hit London revival of “Miss Saigon” looks likely to arrive on Broadway at some point, though probably not before the 2016-17 theater season.

Allegiance,” which has a book by Marc Acito and music and lyrics by Jay Kuo, will be directed by Stafford Arima (Off Broadway’s “Carrie,” “Altar Boyz”). Preview performances are scheduled to begin Oct. 6, with an opening night of Nov. 8.

The musical grew out of a chance encounter several years ago that Mr. Takei and his husband, Brad, had with Mr. Thione and Mr. Kuo at back-to-back theater outings in New York, after which Mr. Takei shared his childhood memories of the camps over dinner.

We talked for a long time about my childhood imprisonment, about my father’s anguish at being challenged over his loyalty to America – my dad was born in San Francisco and played baseball, my mother was born in Sacramento,” Mr. Takei said. “I’m a weeper, and when Jay emailed me a song after that, about my father and the idea of allegiance, I just gushed. I knew I had to do this.”

James Shigeta, top Asian-American actor of early ’60s and ‘Die Hard’ co-star, dies at 81

He starred in such films as “The Crimson Kimono,” “Flower Drum Song,” “Cry for Happy,” “Bridge to the Sun” and, later, as a terrorized executive in the Bruce Willis movie.

James Shigeta, a top Asian-American actor of the early 1960s who starred in the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Flower Drum Song, died Monday in Los Angeles, publicist Jeffrey Leavitt announced. He was 81.

The handsome Hawaiian, who later appeared as the ill-fated chief executive of the Nakatomi corporation in the Bruce Willis action film Die Hard (1988), had a great two-year run in Hollywood starting in the late 1950s.

Shigeta made his feature debut in Sam Fuller’s Los Angeles-set noir The Crimson Kimono (1959), playing a young detective, and followed that by portraying a young Chinese man in the American Old West who battles a freight line operator (Jack Lord) over a woman in James Clavell’s Walk Like a Dragon (1960).

Shigeta then starred with Glenn Ford and Donald O’Connor as American Navy men billeted in a Tokyo geisha house in director George Marshall’s Cry for Happy (1961). And in Bridge to the Sun, he portrayed a Japanese diplomat who is married to an American (Carroll Baker) at the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

In Flower Drum Song (1961), set in San Francisco and directed by Henry Koster, Shigeta plays Wang Ta, who’s dazzled by a showgirl (Nancy Kwan) before he realizes an immigrant from China (Miyoshi Umeki) is really the one for him. A natural baritone, Shigeta did all his singing in the film.

The Golden Globes in 1960 named him (along with Barry Coe, Troy Donahue and George Hamilton) as “most promising male newcomer.”

Shigeta later had recurring roles on the 1969-72 CBS drama Medical Center and appeared on episodes of Ben Casey, Lord’s Hawaii Five-OEllery QueenLittle House on the PrairieFantasy IslandT.J. HookerThe Love BoatMagnum, P.I.Simon & SimonJake and the Fatman and Murder, She Wrote.

His film résumé includes Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966) with Elvis PresleyNobody’s Perfect(1968), Lost Horizon (1973), Midway (1976), Cage (1989) and the animated Mulan (1998).

Born in Honolulu of Japanese ancestry on June 17, 1933, Shigeta moved to New York and studied at New York University, then joined the U.S. Marine Corps and fought during the Korean War.

He relocated to Japan and became a star on radio and television in that country, then returned to the U.S. to sing on The Dinah Shore Show in 1959. Also that year, he starred with Shirley MacLaine in a production of Holiday in Japan in Las Vegas.

Link

Ansel Adams’ haunting photos of WWII Japanese American internment from the Manzanar War Relocation Center

Huffington Post:

In 1942, still reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government ordered thousands of Japanese Americans to leave their homes behind and take up residence in remote detainment camps. About two thirds of them were U.S. citizens.

The most famous of the camps, located in California’s Owens Valley, was called the Manzanar War Relocation Center.

manzanar street scene winter

Starting in the fall of 1943, photographer Ansel Adams chronicled the day-to-day existence of the people held at Manzanar. He was distressed that the lives of American citizens had been uprooted in such a way, and strove to capture on film the humanity of the detainees as they faced dehumanizing circumstances. “Nothing is more permanent about Manzanar than the dust which has lodged in its tar-papered barracks, except the indelible impression incised on the lives of thousands of its inhabitants,” Adams wrote.

Adams is mostly remembered for his art photography — but what’s less often remembered are his works of documentary photography during the war.

The photographs were exhibited in 1944 at the Museum Of Modern Art, and published in book form under the title “Born Free And Equal: The Story Of Loyal Japanese-Americans.” In the preface to the book, Adams wrote:

This book in no way attempts a sociological analysis of the people and their problem. It is addressed to the average American citizen, and is conceived on a human, emotional basis, accenting the realities of the individual and his environment rather than considering the loyal Japanese-Americans as an abstract, amorphous, minority group… Throughout this book I want the reader to feel he has been with me in Manzanar, has met some of the people, and has known the mood of the Center and its environment — thereby drawing his own conclusions — rather than impose upon him any doctrine or advocate any sociological action.

The U.S. eventually apologized for the internment of Japanese Americans in 1988, and admitted it was “motivated largely by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” Now, more than 70 years after Adams visited Manzanar, we can still take a tour of the camp through his lens.

Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress

Mrs. Naguchi And Two Children

Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress

Calisthenics

Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress

Entrance To Manzanar


Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress

Louise Tami Nakamura
Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress
Mess Line, Noon
Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress
Michael Yonemetsu, [i.e., Yonemitsu] X-Ray Technician

 

Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress
Nurse Aiko Hamaguchi, Patient Tom Kano

 

Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress

Pictures And Mementoes On Phonograph Top, Yonemitsu Home 

 

Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress
Mrs. Kay Kageyama

Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress

Monument In Cemetery
Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress
Farm Workers, Mt. Williamson In Background

 

 

Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress
Baton Practice, Florence Kuwata 
Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress
In Biology Class, High School, Kiyo Yoshida, Lillian Watkatsuki, Yoshiko Yamasaki
Ansel Adams via Library Of Congress
Tom Kobayashi
Check out this link:

 Ansel Adams’ haunting photos of WWII Japanese American internment

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The Newsweek Archives: How We Covered the Internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII

 

2.21_japanese-internment
In the midst of WWII fears, 120,000 people lost their property and their freedom. Here 82 Japanese-Americans arrive at the Manzanar internment camp in Owens Valley, Calif., March 21, 1942. Eliot Elisofon/Time & Life Pictures/Getty

Newsweek:

Could a George Bernard Shaw play, annotated with invisible ink, have been used by Japanese living in America at the beginning of World War II to send coded messages back to Japan? This was one of the paranoid assertions of a document called the Dies Report, made public in February of 1942 — just months after the attack on Pearl Harbor — that asserted that Japan could be planning a U.S. invasion, from the West coast moving east, and aided perhaps by intelligence provided by people of Japanese descent living in the States. The report was mentioned in Newsweek at the time, noting that the 285-page document had surfaced just before the U.S. government was “preparing to move all Japanese, citizens as well as aliens, out of Pacific Coast ‘combat zones.’

Last week marked the 72nd anniversary of the beginning of that dark chapter in our history. On Feb. 19, 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an Executive Order paving the way for people of Japanese heritage, both U.S. citizens and not, to be moved into internment camps. More than 120,000 people would eventually be forcibly relocated from their homes, businesses, and communities into 10 camps.

Paranoia compelled some Americans to be eager to make this happen. Newsweek reported at the time that people in coastal areas “were more anxious than ever to get rid of their aliens after rumors that signal lights were seen before submarine attacks” off Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

The policy was by no means greeted with unanimous support. A column in Newsweek in March of 1942 carefully discussed the arguments for and against the relocation, saying that opponents of the move protested that American citizens would have their rights violated. Another argument against the move was an inconsistency in policy: Japanese Americans were not being forced to relocate from Hawaii, a “vulnerable area” which had been hit by the attack on Pearl Harbor a little over three months earlier; and there had been no acts of sabotage. The response to that argument, presented at the time, is that it would be impractical to move Japanese Americans from the Hawaiian Islands, and the fact that there had been no sabotage yet implies that it could come later—a dubious line of reasoning asserting that because something hasn’t happened yet it is more likely to happen later.

The opponents of the policy were aware of the bad optics, internationally, too. If Japan was making World War II “a racial war,” the nations opposed to it “cannot stand for white superiority.” Our “battle cry must be ‘democracy,’ with all that it implies as to equality,” Newsweek said, paraphrasing the reasoning of those opposed to the relocation. In other words, how can we wage a moral war overseas if we’re oppressing a certain ethnic group at home? And besides, as this line of reasoning went, Japanese Americans could be helpful in the war effort, possibly in espionage or propaganda. (Indeed, Japanese Americans did serve in the war, providing valuable assistance in combat and in intelligence and linguistic work.)

And yet these arguments were mooted, because the relocation happened anyway. As for the consequences? “At best it will leave wounds,” the column reflected. At worst, the cost could be “the permanent alienation of a group of citizens” who might have been useful to the U.S. in the war.

The next week’s issue chronicled the first stages of the relocation in a matter-of-fact article titled “Japs Transplanted.” About 500 Japanese Americans gathered in the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California, on March 23, 1942. They were the first wave of “the greatest forced migration in American history,” as Newsweek described it. From there, with soldiers accompanying them, the men, women and children traveled 235 miles to the “windy Owens Valley.” In a camp built by the Army they would be “put to work digging irrigation ditches and growing crops for their own subsistence.”

Seventy years later, in 2012, author and Newsweek contributor Julie Otsuka wrote an evocative, melancholy essay on her family’s internment at the Topaz Camp in Utah during World War II. It’s the details she presents that make the piece so vivid: the way on her mother’s last day of school before being relocated her mom recalled that “the whole class had to say goodbye to me.” Or the way they were brought there on a train with its windows blacked-out, or that in the winter the temperatures dipped to minus 20, or that the camp was ringed with “barbed wire fences and armed guards.” And then there’s the heartbreaking fact that her uncle, then 8, had brought a canteen along, thinking “he is going to ‘camp.’

I think on some deep level it’s something that I’m clearly obsessed with,” Otsuka told Newsweek, when asked how the legacy of her family’s internment had affected her. Her family dealt with that period with “a lot of silence,” she says, which compelled her to try to get to the bottom of what had happened. She talks about anger and sadness in her family, and the fact that those emotions were repressed, which “was very cultural.” She added: “Just as a strategy for survival, most Japanese Americans after the war just tried to kind of get on with things, and not really look back.”

Newsweek, in 1942, wondered what the cost might be. I asked Otsuka what she thought the ultimate cost might have been—although it might be an impossible question to answer. “On one level, I think that Japanese Americans were so eager to be accepted, that in many ways maybe they would not let their rage get the better of them. But it is a hard question to answer, because I feel like people had so many different responses to that experience… Some people remained deeply bitter till the end of their lives. Some people were able to put it behind them.” For just her own family, the cost of internment “was economically devastating.”

That generation was deeply, deeply, alienated,” she added. “This was not what they expected of America. And yet, on another level—not a big surprise—it’s also the culmination of decades of racism.”

They had been alienated already, for a long time, by the time they were sent away.

The issue came up again recently, when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was asked about a related Supreme Court decision in Hawaii while teaching a class. “It was wrong,” he said, “but I would not be surprised to see it happen again, in time of war. It’s no justification, but it is reality.

Check out this link:

The Newsweek Archives: How We Covered the Internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII

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President Obama Meets Japanese American World War II Veterans

 

President Barack Obama returns the salute from one of the members of the group of Japanese American WWII veterans during a meeting in the Oval Office

President Barack Obama returns the salute from Tommie Okabayashi, one of the members of the group of Japanese American WWII veterans during a meeting in the Oval Office to congratulate them on their Congressional Gold Medal, Feb. 18, 2014.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

On February 19, 1942, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, leading the United States government to confine more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent in internment camps across the United States. Almost two-thirds of those incarcerated were United States citizens.

Despite tremendous prejudice and the internment of their families, more than 33,000 second-generation Japanese Americans (nisei) volunteered to serve in the United States Army during World War II – most notably, in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most decorated units of World War II, and the Military Intelligence Service.

In 2010, over 65 years later, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal – one of the highest civilian awards in the United States – to thousands of these veterans, finally recognizing the sacrifices they made for their country.

On February 18th, the President met with seven of these surviving veterans, all in their 90s, to thank them in person for their service.

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President Obama Meets Japanese American World War II Veterans