Biden vows to ‘never again’ mark 80 years of Japanese American internment

US President Joe Biden pledged to fight racism on Friday as his country marks 80 years since the signing of an executive order that led to the incarceration of some 120,000 Japanese Americans during the Second World War. World War.

Supporting the U.S. government’s apology to Japanese Americans who were wrongfully sent to internment camps following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Biden said in a statement, “We reaffirm our commitment to ‘Nidoto Nai Yoni’, which translates to ‘Let It Not Happen’ Again.'”

The incarceration of Japanese Americans – about two-thirds of whom were born in the United States – was carried out by an executive order issued on February 19, 1942 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on the pretext that they could spy for Japan or sabotage the war effort.

“Despite never being charged with a crime and without due process, Japanese Americans have been forcibly removed from their homes and communities and incarcerated, simply because of their heritage,” he said. Biden said.

For years, many Japanese Americans have lived in harsh, overcrowded conditions, surrounded by barbed wire fences and armed guards. They not only lost their homes, businesses, possessions and savings, but also their liberty and basic freedoms, he said.

Despite the unfair treatment of their community and family members, many second-generation Japanese Americans, known as nisei, volunteered or were drafted for service in World War II, not only to defeat the enemy, but in the hope that a strong combat performance might help reduce the prejudices they face in their own country.

The all-Japanese 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team have become known as two of the most decorated and distinguished military units in United States history.

“The incarceration of Japanese Americans 80 years ago reminds us today of the tragic consequences we attract when we allow racism, fear and xenophobia to fester,” Biden said.

US President Joe Biden speaks Friday at the White House. | AFP-JIJI

The US government apologized for the incarceration and promised compensation in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan.

Biden was sworn in last year at a time when hate crimes against Asian Americans were on the rise amid the spread of COVID-19, first detected in China in late 2019.

The administration has taken a series of steps to combat racism against Asians and others in the country, including enacting legislation in May last year to strengthen the response of the forces of the order to hate crimes.

Declaring Saturday a “Japanese American World War II Incarceration Day of Remembrance,” Biden called on people across the country to commemorate the injustice of the war on civil liberties and “commit together eradicating systemic racism to heal generational trauma in our communities.”

At an online event hosted by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History and other organizations, Japanese Ambassador to the United States Koji Tomita said Tokyo will continue to develop ties between two countries with a “special emphasis” on the relationship with Japanese Americans. community.

The ambassador also regretted that the tragic story is not widely known to the Japanese people today and pledged to promote knowledge and understanding on the issue among Americans and Japanese.

Former US Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who was sent to Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming with his family members, recalled how Japanese immigrants were labeled as “foreigners” and Native Americans Japanese like him as “non-foreigners” instead of being called “citizens” because they were forced to leave their homes.

Noting that such terms were apparently used because it sounded “bad” to bring “citizens” together, he said: “I am 90 years old and to this day, since that day in 1942, when I heard for the first time I was considered a non-foreigner, I cherished the word citizen.

He said it was necessary to “look very clearly in the rear view mirror at what has happened in the past, not to dwell on this issue, but to ensure that our hands are firmly on the steering wheel” for head into “the future to make sure something like this never happens to anyone again.

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