A Step Forward For Japanese Latin American Commission Legislation

The Campaign for Justice on May 29 announced that the House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on H.R. 662 for July 31, 2008, marking a momentous step towards the establishment of a commission that will investigate the internment of over 2,200 persons of Japanese ancestry from 13 Latin American countries by the U.S. government during World War II.

The “Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act” was introduced by Rep. Xavier Becerra, Rep. Dan Lungren, Rep. Mike Honda, and Rep. Chris Cannon on January 25, 2007 in the House of Representatives.  This bill would create a commission to investigate U.S. government policies and actions resulting in wartime violations (including hostage-taking, indefinite internment without charge or trial, forced labor, and placement of civilians into war zones) and to make recommendations for any appropriate remedies to Congress based on their findings.  The commissioners would be composed of 9 members, 3 each appointed by the President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President pro tempore of the Senate.

The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties will hold a hearing on this bi-partisan effort.  The Subcommittee will hear testimonies from several witnesses, including Members of Congress, scholars, community supporters and former internees themselves.

“We are grateful for Committee Chairman John Conyers, Ranking Member Lamar Smith as well as Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Ranking Member Trent Franks for their support and willingness to hold a hearing on this very important bill,” Grace Shimizu, Campaign For Justice Coordinator said.  “I expect that, as a result of this hearing, Congress will gain a better understanding of the need for a Commission to investigate the injustice faced by Japanese Latin Americans.”

A community delegation of former Japanese Latin American internees and supporters will travel to Washington, D.C. to attend this important Congressional hearing.  For more information, contact Grace Shimizu at 510-459-7288 or info@campaignforjusticejla.org.

Campaign for Justice was founded in 1996 as a collaborative effort by individuals and organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress, and the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project.

Campaign for Justice has two primary goals. First, it continues to help former Japanese Latin American internees secure proper redress. Second, it works to educate the public about the wartime and redress experiences of the Japanese Latin Americans.

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