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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Japanese Americans remember internment apology

Scores of Japanese Americans gathered at San Jose City College on Saturday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the day many of them never thought they'd live to see: the signing of legislation by President Ronald Reagan officially apologizing for interning them during World War II.

It may seem today that the apology was a given, but it took many years of lobbying politicians and convincing some of their fellow Japanese Americans who thought the ugly chapter was "best left in the dustbin of history," said Norman Mineta, an influential U.S. congressman at the time who later became U.S. secretary of commerce and then secretary of transportation.

"It happened because there was a group of people who demanded it must happen and because tens of thousands of our fellow citizens agreed that it must," said Mineta, who was interned in Wyoming as a boy. "It will always mean more to me than I can ever adequately express."

Mineta was one of 120,000 Japanese - some born in Japan and others born in the United States - who were forced from their homes by the U.S. government and into internment camps after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Japanese American families lost their homes and businesses and were not given the right to challenge their internment in court. [Link]

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