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  • On December 7, 1941,

  • 16 year-old Aki Kurose shared in the horror of millions of Americans

  • when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor.

  • What she did not know,

  • was how that shared experience

  • would soon leave her family and over 120,000 Japanese Americans

  • alienated from their country,

  • both socially and physically.

  • As of 1941,

  • Japanese American communities had been growing in the US for over 50 years.

  • About one-third of them were immigrants,

  • many of whom settled on the West Coast and had lived there for decades.

  • The rest were born as American citizens, like Aki.

  • Born Akiko Kato in Seattle,

  • Aki grew up in a diverse neighborhood

  • where she never thought of herself as anything but American

  • until the day after the attack, when a teacher told her:

  • You people bombed Pearl Harbor."

  • Amid racism, paranoia, and fears of sabotage,

  • people labelled Japanese Americans as potential traitors.

  • FBI agents began to search homes, confiscate belongings

  • and detain community leaders without trial.

  • Aki's family was not immediately subjected to these extreme measures,

  • but on February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066.

  • The order authorized the removal of any suspected enemies

  • including anyone of even partial Japanese heritage

  • from designated 'military areas.'

  • At first,

  • Japanese Americans were pushed to leave restricted areas and migrate inland.

  • But as the government froze their bank accounts

  • and imposed local restrictions such as curfews,

  • many were unable to leaveAki's family among them.

  • In March, a proclamation forbid Japanese Americans from changing their residency,

  • trapping them in military zones.

  • In May, the army moved Aki and her family,

  • along with over 7,000 Japanese Americans living in Seattle

  • to "Camp Harmony" in Puyallup, Washington.

  • This was one of several makeshift detention centers

  • at former fairgrounds and racetracks,

  • where entire families were packed into poorly converted stables and barracks.

  • Over the ensuing months,

  • the army moved Japanese Americans into long-term camps

  • in desolate areas of the West and South,

  • moving Aki and her family to Minidoka in southern Idaho.

  • Guarded by armed soldiers,

  • many of these camps were still being constructed when incarcerees moved in.

  • These hastily built prisons were overcrowded and unsanitary.

  • People frequently fell ill and were unable to receive proper medical care.

  • The War Relocation Authority relied on incarcerees to keep the camps running.

  • Many worked in camp facilities or taught in poorly equipped classrooms,

  • while others raised crops and animals.

  • Some Japanese Americans rebelled, organizing labor strikes and even rioting.

  • But many more, like Aki's parents, endured.

  • They constantly sought to recreate some semblance of life outside the camps,

  • but the reality of their situation was unavoidable.

  • Like many younger incarcerees, Aki was determined to leave her camp.

  • She finished her final year of high school at Minidoka,

  • and with the aid of an anti-racist Quaker organization,

  • she was able to enroll at Friends University in Kansas.

  • For Aki's family however, things wouldn't begin to change until late 1944.

  • A landmark Supreme Court case

  • ruled that continued detention of American citizens without charges

  • was unconstitutional.

  • In the fall of 1945,

  • the war ended and the camps closed down.

  • Remaining incarcerees were given a mere $25

  • and a train ticket to their pre-war address,

  • but many no longer had a home or job to return to.

  • Aki's family had been able to keep their apartment,

  • and Aki eventually returned to Seattle after college.

  • However, post-war prejudice made finding work difficult.

  • Incarcarees faced discrimination and resentment

  • from workers and tenants who replaced them.

  • Fortunately, Japanese Americans weren't alone

  • in the fight against racial discrimination.

  • Aki found work with one of Seattle's first interracial labor unions

  • and joined the Congress of Racial Equality.

  • She became a teacher, and over the next several decades,

  • her advocacy for multicultural, socially conscious education

  • would impact thousands of students.

  • However, many ex-incarcerees, particularly members of older generations,

  • were unable to rebuild their lives after the war.

  • Children of incarcerees began a movement

  • calling for the United States to atone for this historic injustice.

  • In 1988, the US government officially apologized for the wartime incarceration

  • admitting it was the catastrophic result of racism, hysteria,

  • and failed political leadership.

  • Three years after this apology,

  • Aki Kurose was awarded the Human Rights Award

  • from the Seattle Chapter of the United Nations,

  • celebrating her vision of peace and respect for people of all backgrounds.

On December 7, 1941,

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醜い歴史。日系人強制収容所 - 伝書 (Ugly history: Japanese American incarceration camps - Densho)

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    Amy.Lin に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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