In Robert Matsui’s testimony he discusses what it was like being a child during internment and how he was considered an enemy alien as an infant. He also mentions that years later when he was in high school and in college he still felt singled out because he was a Japanese American. Watching his testimony was emotional because it was visible how discussing internment was painful and brought him to tears. In his speech he also mentioned how some people thought that since something like internment could never happen again the subject of redress was not necessary (37:45) he responded by saying that redress was necessary because America needed to fix its mistakes and openly admit to its wrong-doings. I find it interesting how some people believed that redress and Japanese internment was an issue that did not need to be discussed, because the political, social, mental, and physical implications of internment were so vast and they did not simply end because internment ended.
In Samuel Stratton’s speech he discusses how he does not support the legislation because he believed that President Roosevelt would not be one to misinterpret or undermine the Constitution, he also opposed it because he thought internment had happened 40+ years prior to the legislation. Stratton mentions how Pearl Harbor was completely unexpected and was unforeseen. He believed that because the US was in a state of shock and in a vulnerable position, President Roosevelt decided to intern Japanese Americans. He stated that it was reasonable that the United States would imprison and limit the rights of Japanese Americans during World War II because the government had an obligation to protect the nation. I found it interesting that he compared Japanese Americans being taken from their homes and sent to camps to Americans being sent to war and those who were pushed into the war effort; mostly this confused me because I did not understand how the two were comparable seeing as one group was forcibly and maliciously removed in masses and sent to camps where they were purposely separated from society while the other group went to battle (which in my opinion has more of a glorious connotation).
The following speaker, Dan Lungren, agrees with Stratton’s opinion that under the conditions that the United States and President Roosevelt were faced with it was understandable that the decision to intern Japanese Americans was made. In his speech Lungren read a portion of a message sent by the Japanese government saying that they had ties in America, Lungren states that President Roosevelt had to respond to the situation as if Japanese Americans were criminals as a precaution. Lungren does however believe that the US government should in fact provide an apology to Japanese Americans.
I also liked when Congressman Matsui indicated that thinking internment would never happen again was not enough to address the problem. The deeper issue of the notion that Japanese-Americans were not real Americans and did not deserve the same legal rights as Americans still hung in the atmosphere so long as the problem of internment was not overtly and formally addressed. The first step to solving a problem is acknowledging it. Matsui was correct is stating that a passive belief that internment would never happen again was not enough. So long as government infringement on the rights of its people goes formally unaddressed, the action is granted an implicit approval and so remains at risk of recurring.
I thought that Dan Lungren’s statement was almost paradoxical from what he said about the actual topic of Japanese American Internment and then about Japanese American Redress. He started by saying that he found learning about this internment was very “interesting” and he was shocked he didn’t know about it and more research needed to be done and I thought to myself that he was in favor of this movement. Then he turned around to say that the government should not provide monetary compensation because it gave too much power to the “coin” and would set a precedent of other acts of violence. This was a bit of a roller coaster for me but I thought it was interesting to hear someone who did not necessarily dismiss the situation but still not support the entirety of Japanese American Redress
I agree that oftentimes, testimonies are a powerful tool in cases and hearings such as this. It was hard for me to hear testimony after testimony full of emotion when there were opinions and people that still didn’t seem to care about these people’s experiences. The comparison between the Japanese-American experience as the same as the American soldier experience seemed uncalled for to me.