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California To Formally Apologize For Mistreatment Of Japanese Americans

Andrew Nixon/CapRadio
Marielle Tsukamoto stands next to the Florin lot where her family's farm used to be.

Marielle Tsukamoto was five years old when her family was sent from Sacramento to an incarceration center in Arkansas during World War II.

She and her parents were held for over two years; her grandparents were held for more than three. 

“Because we were of Japanese ancestry, a lot of people blamed us and said we would not be loyal to the United States,” she said.

“Of course, that certainly wasn’t true.”

Now, the state of California is ready to formally apologize.

California Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi introduced a resolution apologizing for the state’s history of mistreatment toward Japanese Americans. It describes a series of harms done in the 20th century, including the incarceration and prohibiting the purchase of land.

Tsukamoto says she wishes her parents were alive to witness the apology.

“It not only recognizes a wrong that was done to a group of people in the past, it is a lesson for future generations that every American citizen and resident has a right to certain civil liberties,” she said.

Muratsuchi tweeted that he introduced the resolution to coincide with the Day of Remembrance, which falls on the 78th anniversary of the incarceration this week. President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, calling for the incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry in the United States, on February 19, 1942.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office says he supports the resolution. Last year, he issued a formal apology for the state’s history of violence against Native American populations.

Editor’s Note: We have used the term “incarceration” instead of internment to describe the forced relocation of Japanese American citizens. Our decision is informed through conversations with historical experts and incarceration survivors, and you can hear more about the conversation surrounding this terminology from Insight here.

Copyright 2020 CapRadio