November 6th

The Congressional hearing on Japanese Redress gave a similar insight to Yuriko Nakai’s book Gasa Gasa Girl on the variety of impacts internment had on the lives of Japanese Americans. The major difference, however, was that we also heard a bit of the non-Japanese American perspective as well. The two Japanese congressmen who testified discussed how internment stripped them of their lives and transgressed on their American identity, and the other two non-Japanese congressmen who testified in favor of H.R.442 also described internment as antithetical to the American ideology of individual freedom from government overreach. One significant point that Congressman Matsui stressed was that the central goal of the redress was to carry out justice and put an official close to the solemn chapter of American history.

Congressmen Mineta and Matsui’s stories of how they remembered internment demonstrated how their imprisonment affected their everyday lives. Their parents were forced to sell their homes, businesses, and other possessions at a moment’s notice and for a fraction of their actual worth. The biggest transgression they described was the U.S.’s automatic assumption of guilt of Japanese Americans. The testimonies the two congressmen gave showed how they were true Americans. They were born in America and had an established life if America. So, they and their families were deeply offended when their loyalty to the state was questioned. They also expressed how their rights were violated as they were imprisoned without due process. This process of imprisonment and assumption of guilt ultimately challenged their identity as Americans. It was an overt expression of how America at the time relegated Asian Americans as permanent foreigners.

The testimonies of Congressmen Stratton and Lungren against the bill and its stipulations gave a clear picture of the perspective of the average non-Japanese American on internment. They stressed that the internment camps were a natural response to the shock of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Most importantly, they stressed that they should not pass moral judgements on the people of the past because the context of what was acceptable and what was not was different from that of the 1980s when the hearing took place.

3 thoughts on “November 6th

  1. When Stratton said that FDR wouldn’t override the meaning of the constitution and used this as an argument to justify Japanese Internment I was very disappointed. I feel like we still see a lot of this blind- following today where people will say that political figures are correct because they side with them, especially because of politicians attacking reputable news sources and scientists. Just because Stratton wants to believe FDR did the right thing, does not mean he did the right thing.

  2. I also thought that it was interesting that there was such strong opposition towards the Japanese-Americans, even after the many years since the end of WWII. Despite the numerous testimonies from Congressmen and citizens alike, I was still shocked that there was a lack of interest from some parties about what reparations would be set in place.

  3. I agree with your thoughts on how non Japanese Americans were included as testimonials during the hearing brcause it gives an outside point of view. It allowed the government to not be blind to how it actually looked locking Americans of Japanese ancestry because of race, I think that was a strong point that proves that not only Japanese Americans were suffering but Americans who witnessed this and knew it was wrong had to indure this as well.

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