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Justice
Post War

On December 17, 1944, Public Proclamation Number 21 ended the mass imprisonment of Japanese resident aliens and American citizens of Japanese ancestry. On the following day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Ex Parte Endo that claims of military necessity could not justify holding American citizens against their will. This ruling eventually would have ended the relocation program, and government officials were well aware the ruling was coming when it issued the proclamation.




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Rejoining society was difficult for many. Each individual received a $25 payment and transportation tickets at the time of release. Many detainees discovered that their pre-1941 communities had vanished, and their homes and businesses were lost.




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The postwar housing shortage, the competition for jobs with returning veterans, and lingering discrimination added to the difficulties. In some West Coast communities there was a special effort to welcome old neighbors home. In other areas, there were episodes of vandalism and threats against life and property.




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"That which happened to the Japanese on the West Coast must not happen again... to any minority group... I am convinced that if some form of token justice is not done to the wronged loyal Japanese of the U.S., that the U. S. will be the sufferer in the long run. Not from the Japanese-rather from internal instability... A frank admission and attempt at retribution will give America more than a thousand 'slurring-overs'... I yet maintain, that in Truth there is strength... a strength that will stand the test of time and endure for the good of all." —Letter from Sgt. Chester Tanaka to friends in St. Louis, 1944

Nancy Araki: Remembering the Camps (oral history transcript)




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Japanese Americans began the fight for monetary compensation for losses as a result of evacuation through the early 1948 claims act, and later through a 1983 Class Action lawsuit. Hohri et al vs. the United States, which asked for $25.2 billion in damages from the Federal government as redress for the wrongs done to Japanese Americans during and after World War II, was set aside following the October 1988 passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.


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