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Japanese community shows support for African American reparations

By Aaron Facundo, AsAmNews Intern

A movement is in the works to pass H.R. 40, a bill to study and develop proposals to provide reparations for Black Americans to address the ongoing harm of slavery.

This bill has been introduced at every congressional session since 1989 but has never reached a committee vote which is the first step towards passing legislation. 156 years after the official end of slavery, the bill was finally passed out of the House Judiciary in April, but it will face difficulty becoming a law unless it generates more support.

Japanese Americans are among those joining the effort to support this bill

Stanley Shikuma, Co-Chair and President of the Japanese American Citizens League of Seattle, noted the signing of Executive Order 9066 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. This authorized the forced removal and indefinite incarceration of 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent during World War II.

The process for Japanese Americans to be redressed for these traumatic experiences took decades. Coordinated organizing began in 1970 to help repeal Executive Order 9066. Two of the biggest organizers for this movement, the Japanese American Citizens League and Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress, are still active today and are in support of the passage of H.R. 40. By 1981, Congress created Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians which acted as an outlet where Japanese Americans were able to display their experiences during World War II. This long grassroots campaign helped create a new bill to redress Japanese Americans.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed H.R. 442 which authorized $20,000 in monetary compensation to camp survivors alongside the establishment of a community education fund to teach students about this injustice.

Because of these parallels in history, many Japanese American organizations stand alongside the Black community for the passage of H.R. 40.

“We very strongly support the passage of H.R. 40,” Tsuru for Solidarity told AsAmNews. “In addition to co-sponsoring a forum about the movement for reparations, we also issued a call for letters for support from Japanese Americans as HR40 makes its way through congress.”

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on February 17 which took these letters into consideration.

The organization suggests that people reach out to their representative to co-sponsor H.R. 40 while it makes its way through congress.

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