CAPAC Members Observe Day of Remembrance for Japanese Internment

Feb 18, 2022 Issues: Civil Rights

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, and was recognized in a statement today by President Biden who called the order “one of the most shameful chapters in our Nation’s history.” In observance of this day, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:

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

“Eighty years after President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, the imprisonment of 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans during WWII remains one of our country’s most shameful acts. This policy, born completely out of prejudice and xenophobia, stripped Japanese Americans of their civil rights simply because of their race, taking them from homes and communities and forcing them to live in prison camps, even as other Japanese Americans were bravely serving our country in the Armed Forces. Today we remember this cruel order and the years of suffering it caused. This is especially important now as xenophobia and war mongering are once again leading to racist policies that infringe on the civil rights of Asian Americans. That’s why it means so much to have President Biden issue such a strong condemnation of this order as well. It is time to stop treating Asian Americans as others, and that begins with our laws and messaging.”

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

"Eighty years ago today, President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 forced 120,000 Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II – regardless of the American citizenship status of nearly two-thirds of those interned. When fear grips the nation, we invite irrationality to seep into our decision-making process. Executive Order 9066 destroyed the lives of these interned Japanese Americans, many of whom valiantly served their country fighting in the United States Armed Forces despite the xenophobia and discrimination they faced at home. Let this Day of Remembrance serve as a reminder to never again allow hysteria, bigotry, xenophobia, and baseless accusations to play a role in shaping our laws. Let us strengthen our resolve to fight for the inalienable rights of all people and safeguard our liberties so that we do not repeat the mistakes of our past."

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

“February 19th marks the 80th Anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of over 120,000 innocent Japanese American civilians, including members of my own family. This Day of Remembrance is a humbling time to recall the hardships that our Japanese American ancestors had to endure at the hands of their own government, and reflect on ways in which we can do better. We will never forget this injustice and always speak out against hate, discrimination, and xenophobia. Together, as a country that welcomes diversity and equality, we can use our voices to stand as one union, free of prejudice and intolerance.”

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

“On this day 80 years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the unjust incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans. During one of the darkest chapters in American history, racism and xenophobia tore families apart and caused unimaginable trauma within the Japanese American community. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent attacks on members of the Asian American community serve as a stark reminder that the fight against discrimination and bigotry cannot rest. On this Day of Remembrance, may we honor the memories of the Japanese Americans interned during World War II by leading with compassion and reason, rather than fear and division.”

Senator Mazie Hirono (HI):

“Long-standing racism and xenophobia led to one of the worst decisions made by a President of this country 80 years ago. Due to unsubstantiated fear of Japanese Americans in 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 which led to the unjust and unconstitutional internment of Japanese in the U.S. This horrific treatment of Japanese people, simply because of their ancestry, is a stain on our country’s history. Although we have come a long way since 1942, the last two years have shown us that we still have a long way to go when it comes to treating everyone in this country with dignity and respect. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, we again saw the detrimental consequences of unfounded fear and misinformation as discrimination and racism incited a disturbing rise in violence and hate crimes against Asians in communities across the country. In honor of the sacrifices made by those who survived such horrendous treatment, it is our responsibility to ensure that history does not repeat itself. We must do everything in our power to prevent the mistreatment of not just AAPI communities, but also all marginalized groups.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL):

“The imprisonment of more than 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans within our own borders was a grave mistake we must never forget, and our nation has a solemn duty on this Day of Remembrance and every other day to ensure this travesty never happens again,” said Senator Duckworth. “As anti-Asian hate and violence continues to terrorize the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, Congress can send a clear message that our nation is committed to preventing civil rights violations of our fellow Americans from ever happening again by passing my Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act.”

Congressman Ed Case (HI-01):

“With this Day of Remembrance, we again pause to focus on one of the worst travesties by Americans against Americans in our country’s history,” said Congressman Ed Case (HI-01). “For all Americans this should and must recall the moments in our lives when we faced the full import of that tragedy and recommitted ourselves to never forget its dark lessons. For me I remember a somber day at Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial in France, the final resting place of Americans of Japanese ancestry who fought and died for the same country that had seized their property and interned their families and friends. We remember you.”

Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03):

"On this Day of Remembrance, we pause to remember the actions taken by our own government against Japanese Americans 80 years ago and reflect on what happens when we look at each other as 'others' instead of neighbors. The era of internment stands as a painful reminder of the longstanding hate and discrimination the Asian American community continues to face to this very day. We must confront this challenge head on and use today to rededicate ourselves to speaking out against hatred in all forms and taking an active role in building a more just and equitable future for America."

Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17):

“The era of Japanese incarceration is one of the darkest periods in our nation’s history. Never again should we govern by bigotry, xenophobia, and paranoia. As we reflect on these injustices, I stand with my CAPAC colleagues and community in the Bay Area to preserve the freedoms of every American.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13):

“Eighty years ago, Executive Order 9066 mandated the imprisonment of 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans across concentration camps in the Western United States. All of the people held were Americans and hopeful immigrants who were wrongfully treated as enemies of the state because of their ethnicity. Today, I join the East Bay Community in remembering the stories of these brave individuals who suffered because of the government’s blatant abuse of power and disregard for their rights. On this day of remembrance, I urge Americans across the country to stand against racial prejudice and to demonstrate resilience against bigotry.”

Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-05):

“The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is a dark stain on our history. Fear, bigotry, and hate fueled the imprisonment of Japanese Americans, and sadly, prejudice against Asian Americans persists to this day. On today’s Day of Remembrance, I am thinking of all the families who carry the legacy of Japanese internment and encourage us to reflect honestly on our past to ensure we never repeat it."

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12):

“February 19, 2022 marks 80 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 anniversary affords us an opportunity to reflect on a dark period in our nation’s history and serves as a reminder that we must always speak out against all acts of xenophobia and hate. We cannot allow these atrocities to ever happen again.”

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45):

“We have to be honest about our history to learn from it. Eighty years ago today, the United States began unjustly uprooting the lives of and imprisoning Japanese Americans simply because of their ancestry. This shameful chapter is a stark reminder of how important it is that we all stand up against hate, whenever and wherever it arises, including in government."

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09):

“80 years ago, on February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which set into motion the forced removal and incarceration of over 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry. These individuals were ripped from their homes and sent to concentration camps solely because of their ethnicity – an egregious violation of America’s own principles of liberty and justice for all. Today we observe the Day of Remembrance to reflect on the injustices of our past and recommit ourselves to make sure they are never repeated. Now more than ever, as we have seen a sharp rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in recent years, we have a duty to counter this form of discrimination, hatred, and violence. Today I extend my support to the Japanese American community in Washington’s Ninth – and across the country – and I promise every day to continue to work towards a brighter future in which the civil rights of every individual in America are safeguarded and upheld.”

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14):

“Each year, we recognize February 19th as a shameful moment in our history when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, leading to the forced removal and incarceration of over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry during World War II. This was one of our lowest points in American history—a day that bigotry prevailed, the Constitution was scrapped, and America lost its way. As we vow ‘never again’ we must also admit it could happen again lest we forget our past mistakes and injustices. That is why I was so proud to join the recent groundbreaking for the Tanforan Assembly Center Memorial in my district, and why I join my colleagues in Congress, my constituents, and Americans everywhere in observance of this Day of Remembrance for Japanese Internment.”