Watching the first hour and 50 minutes of the 1986 hearing on Japanese redress and HR 442 effectively supplemented what we learned in class. I think the most interesting testimonies were that of Congressmen Stratton and Lungren, and that of Senator Matsunaga. Congressman Stratton’s testimony was utterly shocking, and almost as hard to watch as Blue Collar and Buddha, because of how dismissive he was of Japanese Americans and their lived experience in the camps, regardless of their age. To say that they didn’t really live through the war simply because they were not adults or because they didn’t serve in the military is ridiculous and extremely offensive considering what their families went through. Congressmen Mineta and Matsui’s childhoods were directly impacted by a war they did not choose to participate in, since they were both civilians and children. I was relieved when Senator Matsunaga began to speak, not only because he directly called Congressman Stratton for being “misguided” but also because he was so eloquent and captivating when he gave his testimony. He shot down every single one of Stratton’s points because he also served, he told the story of a kid who was shot by a watchtower guard, he told the story of a fellow soldier who committed suicide, he told the committee that even J. Edgar Hoover was opposed to internment, he described the positive way Japanese government officials were treated by the US government even after Pearl Harbor, and finally, he mentioned the Oriental Exclusion Act of 1924 and the desperation with which Japanese Americans wanted to become naturalized citizens. It was extremely satisfying, but also saddening, to watch Matsunaga’s testimony.
In terms of other things I thought were interesting during the hearing, I noticed that the Constitution was mentioned quite a few times, especially by Congressman Matsui, in order to demonstrate how abhorrent the internment camps truly were. I also thought it was interesting that monetary reparations for victims of internment was so broadly supported, especially in comparison to reparations for the descendants of enslaved people, and for Native American communities affected by colonial genocide. Even today, very few places have put reparations related to slavery into practice, and most “reparations” are simply formal apologies without any money attached. There has been a bill put before Congress recently, but it hasn’t gone anywhere and definitely doesn’t have the large base of support that Japanese redress had. I really appreciated Congressman Lowry’s mention of the federal defense budget in comparison to the budget for reparations, since it really made the budget for reparations look tiny. Finally, even though Congressman Lungren’s testimony was in opposition to the monetary reparations, I appreciated his emphasis on education, since I think education affectively contributes to tolerance and peace, no matter the subject.