To the editor:
In response to John B. Hooper's June 16 Reader's Forum letter, it appears he has completely forgotten that persons of Japanese ancestry were forcibly evicted from their homes and incarcerated by official actions of the U.S. government during World War II.Such actions discriminated against one group of Americans with total disregard for the basic and constitutionally-guaranteed right to individual freedom which forms the basis of American democracy.
The Japanese-American Claims Act of 1948 compensated only a small and inadequate fraction of real and personal property losses alone. The act did not take into consideration such things as loss of freedom, loss of income, death, injuries, loss of increased land values, mental suffering, etc.
Because the government placed an unreasonable burden of proof on the claimants in the act, only $37 million was recovered, or an average of $200 per family for those who were able to file a claim.
The current redress effort, however, is not an attempt to recover property losses but to rectify the constitutional injustices committed against Japanese-Americans.
Under our legal system, children are not locked up just because their parents are incarcerated. Children's constitutional rights were violated, too, during the WWII episode. The children have a right to redress for false imprisonment, defamation of character, and emotional damages. They were burned with the life-long stigma of having spent their childhood in captivity in their own country.
Japanese-Americans made the same sacrifices that all other Americans made during the war, including serving this country in uniform and giving their lives for this country on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific.
But no other group of American civilians was forcibly evicted from their homes under armed guards and imprisoned because of their ancestry. Their sacrifices were more than ordinary: their losses were the result of the U.S. government acting against American citizens.
Mitsugi M. Kasai
Japanese-American Citizens League