Japanese Americans commemorate Memorial Day

- through Henry Oudin

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People leave a Buddhist church at the Manzanar Relocation Center, California, in 1943. From msn.com

Japanese Americans commemorated Memorial Day on February 19. During this time, they reflected on the unjust detention of Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II following Executive Order 9066, signed into law by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942, which stated that all American citizens of Japanese descent should be incarcerated in the name of national security.

Duncan Ryuken Williams, professor of religion and East Asian languages ​​and cultures at the University of Southern California, explored the role of Buddhism in the lives of many who were interned across the United States. United.

“Although it has become common to view their wartime incarceration through the lens of race, the role that religion played in assessing whether or not they could be considered fully American – and , in fact, the rationale for the legal exclusion of Asian immigrants prior to this is no less significant,” Professor Williams writes. “Their racial designation and national origin made it impossible for Japanese Americans to blend in with whiteness. But the vast majority of them were also Buddhists. . . . The Asian origins of their religious faith meant that their place in America could not easily be captured by the notion of a Christian nation. (Smithsonian Magazine)

This action took place after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and more than 100 people were forced from their homes before being shipped to internment camps across the United States. After the end of the war, many of them could not recover the real estate and personal property they had before their internment.

Dr. Duncan Ryuken Williams. Image courtesy of Duncan Ryuken Williams

As part of the internment, Japanese Americans from the states of California and Washington had to go to checkpoints and register with the federal government. After their names and the names of their family members were collected, they were given a time and place to go so they could be transported to a camp.

Many people tried to challenge the internments in court. A 23-year-old welder named Korematsu refused to show up for the camps. Before the Supreme Court, he challenged the constitutionality of the internment of Japanese Americans. However, the court upheld Executive Order 9066, considering it an important part of national security.

From rafu.com

Once Japanese Americans arrived in the camps, they faced harsh conditions: they lived in uninsulated barracks, slept on cots, and used coal stoves for warmth, bathrooms and laundry were shared by a large number of people, and the barracks were surrounded by barbed wire. Armed guards roamed the perimeters of the camps and were instructed to shoot anyone who tried to escape.

Several members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released statements in response to Remembrance Day. CAPAC President Judy Chu (Rep. Democrat, Pasadena) said:

This Sunday marks the 81st anniversary of President Roosevelt's signing of Executive Order 9066, which led to the wrongful incarceration of more than 120 Japanese Americans on the basis of xenophobia and racism. This day of remembrance continues to be important as xenophobia and fearmongering once again lead to anti-Asian hatred and racist policies that undermine Americans' civil rights.

(The Rafu Shimpo)

CAPAC Second Vice President Mark Takano (Rep. Democrat, Riverside) commented on Remembrance Day:

On this Memorial Day, we reflect on the pain and suffering endured by Japanese Americans during internment during World War II with the signing of Executive Order 9066. More than 120 people of Japanese ancestry, including including my parents and grandparents, suffered because of unjust fear and discrimination combined with a failure of political leadership. We are a nation that celebrates diversity and equality, and we must remain committed to forming one union, free from prejudice, intolerance and xenophobia.

(The Rafu Shimpo)

Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California, issued a proclamation to commemorate Memorial Day, which describes the internments:

A decision motivated by discrimination and xenophobia, the internment of Japanese Americans was a betrayal of our most sacred values ​​as a nation that we must never repeat. This stain on our history should remind us to always stand up for our fellow Americans, regardless of national origin or immigration status, and to protect the civil rights and freedoms we hold dear.

(Office of Governor Gavin Newsom)

In 1988, Congress declared the incarcerations to be "motivated largely by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership", and it authorized the payment of US$20 to Americans for of Japanese descent who had suffered in internment camps. (Britannica)

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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