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Lesson to be Learned

The internment did not just affect Japanese Americans. It certainly didn't just affect Asian Americans. It affected everybody in the country because it was done by the American government. And so I think one of the lessons that has to be learned is that in time of war -- and this is exactly what Judge Patel said in her opinion -- in time of war or national emergency, passions are aroused, and any group can be singled out. ... The thing that we can hope for is that more and more people will realize how important it is to learn these lessons and to be willing to work and take sacrifices and risks of protecting what's most important to us, the values of our Constitution, even though during wartime and crisis, as John J. McCloy once said, "The Constitution is just a scrap of paper."


governments imprisonment incarceration law

Date: October 27, 2000

Location: Washington, US

Interviewer: Alice Ito, Lorraine Bannai

Contributed by: Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

Interviewee Bio

Peter Irons was born in Salem, MA in 1940. While a student at Antioch College, Irons became involved in political and social activism and organized demonstrations addressing racial inequality, the war in Vietnam, and workers’ rights. In 1966, Irons was sentenced to three years in prison for resisting the draft. After his release, Irons earned a Ph.D. in political science and entered Harvard Law School. While a law student, he filed a writ of coram nobis with the court and succeeded in having his conviction vacated. Irons decided on a career in teaching and eventually joined the faculty of the University of California at San Diego.

The discovery of key documents at the National Archives by Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig enabled Irons to mobilize the effort to challenge the Supreme Court rulings in the “internment cases.” The evidence was used to show the U.S. government’s misconduct during World War II by refuting the rationale of “military necessity” for the mass incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry in 1942. Coram nobis petitions were filed in 1983 for three cases: Hirabayashi, Yasui, and Korematsu, resulting in the successful overturning of each conviction. Justice was finally served, but just as important, the victory in court legitimized the call for redress. (April 15, 2008)

James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Life in camp as teenager

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Didn't have rights that whites had

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Californians didn't know about evacuation

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Conditions of assembly centers

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Visit to assembly centers by E. Stanley Jones

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Hiding what happened in camp

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Issei are hard-working

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Arrest of father

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Camp as a positive thing

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yukio Takeshita
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Yukio Takeshita

Involvement in JACL

(b.1935) American born Japanese. Retired businessman.

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Grayce Ritsu Kaneda Uyehara
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Grayce Ritsu Kaneda Uyehara

Importance of education in achieving redress for incarceration

(1919-2014) Activist for civil rights and redress for World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans.

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Roy H. Matsumoto
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Roy H. Matsumoto

Finding work in the assembly center

(b.1913) Kibei from California who served in the MIS with Merrill’s Marauders during WWII.

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Roy H. Matsumoto
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Roy H. Matsumoto

Train ride to Jerome Relocation Center

(b.1913) Kibei from California who served in the MIS with Merrill’s Marauders during WWII.

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Peggie Nishimura Bain
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Peggie Nishimura Bain

Evacuation

(b.1909) Nisei from Washington. Incarcerated at Tule Lake and Minidoka during WWII. Resettled in Chicago after WWII

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Peggie Nishimura Bain
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Peggie Nishimura Bain

Conditions at Pinedale Assembly Center

(b.1909) Nisei from Washington. Incarcerated at Tule Lake and Minidoka during WWII. Resettled in Chicago after WWII

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