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Schatz Bill To Fund Education Of Japanese American Internment, Preserve Confinement Sites Signed Into Law

New Law Will Extend Site Preservation, Create New Educational Grant Program

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden signed the Norman Y. Mineta Japanese American Confinement Education Act into law. The bill, authored by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and U.S. Representative Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), will reauthorize funding for the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) program to preserve internment camps across the country. The new law, which was included in the government funding bill last month, will also create a new $10 million federal grant program to promote education of Japanese American internment.

“The internment of Japanese American citizens remains one of the darkest and most shameful periods in our history. The stories of so many who unjustly lost their freedom, lost property, and were forcibly uprooted from their homes should be a constant reminder of our duty to uphold the rights of every American,” said Senator Schatz. “Our new law will ensure that we continue to preserve internment sites and create a new grant program to educate more people about Japanese American confinement.”

In one of the largest violations of civil rights in United States history, the federal government forced approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes and into internment camps during World War II. While the United States provided a formal apology and compensation to surviving victims in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 and created the JACS program in 2006, it is critical to continue efforts to educate the public, preserve these sites, and honor the brave Japanese Americans who were subjected to interment.

The Norman Y. Mineta Japanese American Confinement Education Act will reauthorize funding for the JACS program to continue the preservation of these sites — including the Honouliuli Internment Camp in Hawai‘i. The bill will also create a new $10 million competitive grant program to educate individuals on the historical importance of Japanese American confinement during World War II, ensuring that present and future generations learn from Japanese American confinement and the commitment of the United States to equal justice under the law.

Schatz’s bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Chis Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.).

Groups supporting the Schatz legislation include Japanese American Citizens League, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation, Japanese American National Museum, National Japanese American Historical Society, JACS Consortium, Anti-Defamation League, Fred T. Korematsu Institute, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation, and Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i.