A | More | Perfect | Union --  Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution
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Apologies and Redress

In addition to seeking to correct justice in the courts, Japanese Americans sought legislative redress for the injustice, hardships, and suffering that resulted from wartime incarceration. For these fundamental violations of the basic rights of individuals of Japanese descent, Congress apologized on behalf of the nation. Success came with the passage of the bill H.R. 442 by the 100th Congress. On August 10, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed that bill into law; it is now known as the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

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Much of the impetus for this legislation came from the investigations and report of the Federal Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, working between 1980 and 1982. The Commission concluded that the Japanese American internment was a wartime injustice based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership," not on military necessity.

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The Office of Redress Administration that oversaw the distribution of redress payments officially closed by operation of law on February 5, 1999. By that time, they had verified and delivered redress payments to 82,220 claimants. There remain a number of claimants unpaid due to failure to submit necessary paperwork. These cases are still filed as "pending" for future processing in the event that additional funding is obtained through legislation.

Frank Y.: Is $20,000 a Remedy (oral history transcript)

Rae T.: Hopes for Redress (oral history transcript)

Smithsonian - National Museum of American History - Behring Center