CAPAC Members Observe Day of Remembrance for Japanese Internment

Feb 19, 2021

Washington, D.C. — On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the forced removal and incarceration of over 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry during World War II. This day is recognized annually in the Japanese American community as the Day of Remembrance. In observance of this day, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) reintroduced the Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act to prohibit these atrocities from happening again and released the following statements:

CAPAC Leadership

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“Today, amid a rising tide of anti-Asian xenophobia and violence, we reflect on one of the darkest, most unjust periods in American history where thousands of innocent Japanese Americans were stripped of their civil liberties and imprisoned in desolate internment camps during World War II simply because of their ethnicity. The signing of Executive Order 9066 was a hateful policy fueled by prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a lack of political leadership that traumatized thousands and left lasting scars on the Asian American community. It will forever be a stain on our nation and one we must remember every day to ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of our past.

“While we have made progress in addressing the prejudice and racism that our nation grapples with, many Americans still are struggle with these realities. Whether it’s anti-Asian hate crimes, anti-Muslim bigotry, police brutality in Black communities, or the inhumane treatment of immigrants, we must continue to speak up against all forms of prejudice. This is especially true now, more than ever, as the Asian American and Pacific Islander community struggles with disproportionate unemployment, small business closures, mortality rates, and a spike in hate crimes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On this Day of Remembrance, let us re-dedicate ourselves to opposing racism, discrimination and inequality in all forms and work together to create a brighter and more equitable future for all Americans.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair:

“Today marks the 79th anniversary of President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 that incarcerated 120,000 Japanese Americans – two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens – in internment camps around the United States during World War II. This haphazard action was in response to Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The Executive Order stripped Japanese Americans of their property, livelihoods, and their rights because of their ancestry. The internment of Japanese Americans is a warning beacon to the United States that we must never again allow bigotry, xenophobia, political expediency, and fear to dictate our laws. The Trump Administration’s inhumane treatment of immigrants at the U.S. southern border and its Muslim travel ban bore the hallmarks of the hysteria that characterized Executive Order 9066. As we reflect on this Day of Remembrance, let us learn from our past mistakes, and commit to fighting for the inalienable rights of all people.”

Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Second Vice Chair:

“79 years ago today, the signing of Executive Order 9066 led to the internment of more than 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans, including members of my own family. On this Day of Remembrance, we reflect on the horrors of our nation’s past, denounce discrimination at the hands of our own government, and vow to always speak out against injustice. As the nation reckons with our past and attempts to right the wrongs that have occurred, Asian American communities are still facing racial injustices and are being targeted by hate and violence. But unlike the silence from leaders surrounding Executive Order 9066, today, communities, activists, and elected officials are speaking out against hate. We must continue being vocal advocates for justice, equality, and acceptance and build an inclusive America where everyone’s freedoms and liberties are protected under the law.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip:

“Today is the 79th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the incarceration of over 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry during World War II. This was a stain on our nation’s history, stemming from xenophobia and hatred following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Today we reflect on the pain and suffering that Japanese Americans endured while being interned solely because of their ethnicity. The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 was the U.S. Government’s apology, but we will never forget the injustice Japanese Americans faced. This wrongful policy was brought on by bigotry and discrimination, which we continue to see in the way many Asian Americans have been treated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. On this day of remembrance, we must recommit ourselves to safeguarding the civil rights of all Americans so that what happened to Japanese Americans never happens again.”

CAPAC Senators

Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL):

“As a nation, we must never forget or repeat the horrors thousands of Japanese Americans experienced as prisoners within our own borders and we must continue to do everything we can to ensure such a national travesty never happens again. That’s why, in honor of the courage of Fred Korematsu and in remembrance of my dear friend and former colleague Mark Takai, I’m proud to join Congressman Takano and Senator Hirono to help re-introduce the Korematsu Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act to protect civil liberties and strengthen our resolve to ensure we do not repeat such shameful acts.”

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI):

“Executive Order 9066 paved the way for the shameful incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. This discriminatory policy was born out of prejudice and fear, dangers that continue to give rise to discrimination today. As we reflect on this Day of Remembrance, we stand together to fight against prejudice and to protect the civil rights and liberties of all people.”

CAPAC Executive Board Members

Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34):

“Nearly 80 years ago, our nation witnessed one of the most shameful actions in our history – the internment of over 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II. While this dark chapter is behind us, remnants of this period persist today. As we face this COVID-19 crisis, our Asian American communities have faced increased hate crimes, attacks, and violence across the country. It’s a stark reminder that we cannot rest in our fight to disarm hate and we must stand up to protect our neighbors from intolerance and bias in all of its forms.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17):

“The era of internment is one of the darkest periods in American history. It stands out in our history as one of the most poignant examples of allowing our fears to supersede our collective love for our fellow Americans. We cannot govern by paranoia. As we usher in the new era of the Biden Administration, I am deeply optimistic that the xenophobia of our past is firmly behind us. Humbled to follow former Rep. Mike Honda, who himself was interned by his own government, as California’s 17th Congressional Representative. We stand united in our commitment to preserving the freedoms of every American.”

Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03):

“The Day of Remembrance is a reminder hate and discrimination against Asian Americans isn’t just a problem we face today. The actions taken by our own government against Japanese Americans are an example of what happens when we look at our fellow Americans as ‘others’ and not neighbors. The lessons learned from the mistakes of the past are remembered on days like today, and we must rededicate ourselves to speaking out against anti-Asian hate and discrimination.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13):

“The incarceration of Japanese Americans was one of the darkest moments in our country's history. 79 years ago, today, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 to wrongfully imprison over 120,000 Japanese Americans. I join my community in the East Bay in observing this day of remembrance and pledging to fight against prejudice and xenophobia. I urge people across the country to stand against racial prejudice in every form.”

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06):

“It has been 79 years since Executive Order 9066 stripped over 120,000 American citizens, including my parents, of their most basic civil rights – using fear as an excuse for discrimination, racism and injustice. Over the past few years, we have seen how volatile and racially charged policy can quickly become normalized. Yet, those of us in the Japanese American community realize that when the ugly moments of our history rear their head, we look to the past for guidance. We listen to the voices and remember the experiences of those who suffered and those who were discriminated against. Day of Remembrance stands as a time to reflect on these injustices so that they never happen again and remind our younger generations of the work that remains to build a more inclusive, equitable future for us all.”

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10):

“Today, we remember the over 120,000 Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II. We remember their hardship, stories, and bravery during this dark period in our history. We know that we cannot undo this trauma or give back the precious time that was stolen from those who were interned. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as members of the AAPI community are facing a spike in anti-Asian violence and discrimination, we must recommit ourselves to standing up to hatred and injustice in all forms.”

CAPAC Associate Members

Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01):

“During World War II, thousands of Japanese Americans were unjustly taken away from their homes and forcefully imprisoned simply because of their heritage. We must never forget the xenophobia, racism, and hate that led to this terrible chapter in our history and the generational trauma that Japanese families live with today. As we battle a global pandemic that has led to the use of racially charged language and dangerous stereotypes and resulted in increased hate crimes and violence against the Asian American community, it is clear that we still have much work to do. With a new Administration in office, we can learn from our history, so we don’t repeat it and build a more just and equitable future for all our communities.”

Congressman Steven Horsford (NV-04):

“79 years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which wrongfully imprisoned over 120,000 Japanese Americans. On this Day of Remembrance, we look back at a shameful chapter in our country’s history and an unconscionable policy driven by racism and hatred. The internment camps that many Japanese Americans suffered stood in direct contrast to the ideals that drive our country forward. As we remember and recognize these atrocities, we must confront the hateful and divisive rhetoric that so often enters public discourse and work towards a better future.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12):

“February 19, 2021 marks the 79 years since the signing of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the unjust incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. This shameful period in our nation’s history serves as a reminder that we must remain vigilant in speaking out against xenophobia and bigotry whenever and wherever it occurs. We must never allow this to happen again.”

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45):

“The internment of Japanese Americans that began 79 years ago on this day is a shameful part of our nation’s history, and it’s one that we must continue to remember so that it doesn’t happen again. There’s no place for racism, xenophobia, or hate in our government—and it’s on all of us to stand up for everyone’s right to live free from discrimination. Particularly as hate crimes against Asian Americans have become more prevalent during the coronavirus pandemic, we cannot be complacent.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09):

“On this day 79 years ago, Executive Order 9066 was signed which resulted in one of the most shameful actions in our nation’s history. Over 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry were wrongfully forced to abandon their homes and businesses, put into internment camps, and stripped of their basic civil liberties simply because of their ethnicity. On this Day of Remembrance, we acknowledge the unacceptable mistreatment of Japanese Americans and we must ensure that we learn from our past mistakes. Unfortunately, we have seen a drastic increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we must condemn these racist acts of violence. Together, we can confront the xenophobia present in our nation, stand tall against discrimination, and protect the civil liberties of all who call the United States their home.”