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The Handbook of Reparations$
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Pablo de Greiff

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199291922

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199291926.001.0001

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Report on Redress

Report on Redress

The Japanese American Internment

(p.257) Chapter 7 Report on Redress
The Handbook of Reparations

Eric K. Yamamoto

Liann Ebesugawa

Oxford University Press

How does a country repair its harm to a vulnerable minority targeted during times of national fear because of race? How did the United States redress its then popular yet unconstitutional WWII incarceration of 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans in desolate barbed wire prisons without charges, hearings, or bona fide evidence of military necessity? In response to a Congressional inquiry, political lobbying, and lawsuits, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 directed the President to apologize and authorized over one billion dollars in reparations. Congress also created a fund to educate the public about the government’s false assertion of “national security” to restrict civil liberties. Some considered redress a tremendous victory — rewriting history and personal healing. Others questioned reparations for one U.S. group but not others. Japanese American Redress served as a catalyst for reparations movements worldwide. This paper examines its genesis, legal implementation, and apparent effects. It also explores wide-ranging political mobilization and social meanings of redress and “unfinished business”. Reparations cannot be measured by laws alone. Diverse communities must engage contested questions of history, justice, and belonging. Reparations claims face often unforeseen benefits and limitations. The paper concludes with these “lessons learned” to date.

Keywords:   United States, World War II, Japanese Americans, Civil Liberties Act, reparations movements

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