Friday 23rd February 2018,

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Japanese Americans Stand in Solidarity with Muslim Americans, Speak Out against Discrimination and Incarceration Camps

posted by Takuma Okada
Islamphobia protest sign

Photo from New American Media

Members of the Japanese American community are organizing against President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban  .

Jo Ann Ota Fujioka, Ph.D, is a survivor of the incarceration camps and lives in Denver, CO, where Governor Ralph Carr was the only state governor to oppose Executive Order 9066, the policy that called for the eviction of Japanese American citizens from their homes and their imprisonment in camps.

“Though separated from this policy of fear and xenophobia by 75 years, it seems that our country is at risk of falling into the same political trap,” Fujioka says. She was only a baby when her family was given three days notice and then taken by guarded trains to Postun, Arizona. The camp there was poorly constructed and surrounded by barbed wire, searchlights, and armed soldiers.

Eventually the family was permitted to move to Colorado, where they lived in migrant quarters. But when Fujioka’s mother became ill with uterine cancer, they could not find a doctor to treat her. Fujioka was seven when she died.

Islamphobia protest sign

Photo from New American Media

The Colorado State Legislature is currently considering a bill, the Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act, in remembrance of the governor’s legacy in his support of the Japanese. From their website, this is the current form of the act.

The bill prohibits a state or political subdivision from:

  • Providing the race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation of a Colorado resident to the federal government without determining it is for a legal and constitutional purpose;

  • Aiding or assisting the federal government in creating, maintaining, or updating a registry for the purpose of identifying Colorado residents based on race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation;

  • Aiding or assisting the federal government or a federal agency in marking or otherwise placing a physical or electronic identifier on a person based on his or her race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation; and

  • Aiding or assisting, including using state or local lands or resources, the federal government in interning, arresting, or detaining a person based on his or her race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation.

Fujioka asks that the people of Colorado join her in supporting the bill and demonstrating that Americans have learned from our mistakes. She asks that Americans across the country recognize that President Trump’s rhetoric is full of hate and fear, and likewise to not repeat the mistakes of the past.

That’s why an event which also includes the Jewish community together with Muslim and Japanese Americans will occur today in Redmond, WA. Entitled Vigilance Against Justice, event organizers hope to discuss lessons from the incarceration camps.

Protest against Muslim ban in San Jose

Zahra Billoo of Council of American Islamic Relations and Lisa Washio-Collette at protest in San Jose. Photo from New American Media

A group of 200 marched from San Jose’s Japantown to San Jose City Hall on March 25th. Organized as a collaboration between the Nihonmanchi Outreach Committee (NOC) and the South Bay Islamic Association (SBIA), the march is another instance in a small but growing movement among Japanese Americans expressing solidarity for American Muslims.

Fumi Tosu, a speaker at the march, recalled the Quakers during World War II that condemned the internment and worked to help Japanese American communities during the war. Calling out the “good Germans” and “good Americans” who looked the other way when their neighbors were forced from their homes, Tosu said, “Let’s make sure Muslim Americans don’t suffer the same injustice that our parents and grand-parents suffered. Let’s fight for radical equality.”

Full story from New American Media: The San Jose March

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