Better late than never: LA ends WWII Japan camp order

Agence France-Presse
Los Angeles city fathers voted Wednesday to formally rescind a World War II order forcing Japanese citizens into US internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941

LOS ANGELES, United States of America (AFP) – Los Angeles city fathers voted Wednesday to formally rescind a World War II order forcing Japanese citizens into US internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

“Star Trek” actor George Takei was among those who gave moving accounts of life in the camps, set up amid concerns about the loyalty of Japanese and Japanese-American citizens after the US was drawn into the war.

“To ignore this and to treat it as unfinished business is to trivialize it,” said LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, recommending the revocation of a 1942 resolution that urged the forcible Japanese relocation into camps.

“It’s never too late to do the right thing,” he added.

At the time LA was home to America’s largest Japanese American population — about 37,000 people, two-thirds of them US citizens — and “gave aid and comfort to a decision-making process clouded by hysteria and bigotry,” he said.

Some 110,000 Japanese nationals or dual nationality American-Japanese citizens were moved into camps on the US West Coast under Executive Order 9066, decreed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in February 1942.

The camps, designed to allay concerns that Japanese US residents would attack the country from within, were not closed until three years later, shortly before Germany’s surrender.

Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu in the “Star Trek” TV series, recalled how he was taken with his family aged five to Santa Anita Racetrack and moved into horse stables still reeking of manure.

“My mother remembers it as the most degrading and humiliating experience of her life,” he said, describing guard towers with machine guns and searchlights, which followed him to the latrine at night.

Like others, he was required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States. “I could see the machine guns and the barbed wire fences … while I recited the words ‘with liberty and justice for all’,” Takei said. – Agence France-Presse