SAN JOSE (KPIX) – This week, the State of California is set to offer an official apology to Japanese Americans for mistreating them during World War II.
A resolution is expected to be approved nearly 80 years after 120,000 mostly American citizens of Japanese ancestry were rounded up and sent off to concentration camps all over the country.
“It’s never too late, to acknowledge something that was wrong,” said Alice Hikido of Campbell, who was incarcerated in a camp when she was a child.
“We were the victims of Executive Order 9066. So the fact that California is recognizing their part in this, is very meaningful to all of us,” Hikido said.
Mrs. Hikido was sent to the Minidoka Camp in Idaho when she was 9 years old. She said her father was separated from the rest of their family and sent to another camp in Texas until she was 13.
“Those were some real formative years for me,” she said.
Hikido’s husband, Katsumi, said he was 17 when he was sent to camp. He went on to serve in the legendary 442nd regimental combat team made of all Japanese American soldiers.
“I thought they were wrong to do that to us, and I wanted to prove them wrong,” Mr. Hikido said.
This week, the California legislature is expected to approve a resolution apologizing for its
support of the executive order resulting in quote: “the unjust exclusion, removal and
encarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.”
“It was a situation where the constitution was completely ignored, and due process rights were completely ignored,” said Richard Konda, a San Jose lawyer.
Both of Mr. Konda’s parents were incarcerated and he says it’s one of the main reason he
became a lawyer and founded the civil rights group, Asian Law Alliance.
“I think the important thing now is that we see the same kinds of things happening to
Muslim Americans or people on the southern border.”
Mr. and Mrs. Hikido say there was a time when they never spoke about what happened to them.
But they say the California apology helps give them a voice to speak out when they see other
groups being targeted.
“Putting people in camps and cages and separating families, that is not the right approach.
And since we’ve experienced it, it seems all the more important for us to speak out,” Mrs. Hikido said.