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Schatz Introduces New Bill To Fund Education Of Japanese American Internment, Preserve Confinement Sites

Legislation Would Extend Site Preservation Beyond 2021, Create New Educational Grant Program

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) introduced new legislation that would promote public education about Japanese American internment during World War II. This bill would permanently reauthorize the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) program with $38 million in annual funding to preserve internment camps across the country. The bill would also create a new $2 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. “This new bill would 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 in 1988 and created the JACS program in 2006, it is critical that we continue efforts to educate the public, preserve these sites, and honor the brave Japanese Americans who were subjected to interment.

The Japanese American Confinement Education Act will eliminate the sunset provision of the Preservation of Japanese American Confinement Sites Act of 2006 that would end the program in 2021, as well as provide $38 million to preserve JACS — including the Honouliuli Internment Camp in Hawai‘i. The bill will also create a new $2 million grant program to create educational materials about Japanese American confinement during World War II.

The 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.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Groups supporting this 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 Hawaii.

The full text of the bill is available here.