March 26, 2021

Wyden Co-sponsors Bill to Fund Education of Japanese-American Internment, Preserve Confinement Sites

Legislation Would Extend Site Preservation Beyond 2021, Create New Educational Grant Program

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden said today he is co-sponsoring legislation that would promote public education about Japanese-American internment during World War II.

This bill would permanently reauthorize the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) program with $38 million in annual funding to preserve internment camps across the country. The bill would also create a new $2 million federal grant program to promote education of Japanese-American internment.

“The internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II etched a shameful chapter in the history of Oregon and our entire country,” said Wyden, who met on Friday in Portland with local officials to discuss what must be done to combat hate crimes against the Asian-American community throughout Oregon. “The best way to prevent any similar stain of discrimination against any group is to study this history so everybody learns that it must never happen again.

“I’m proud to support this bill that preserves these internment sites for generations to come and educates more people about racism against Japanese-Americans,” said Wyden, who this week also co-sponsored a resolution that condemns all forms of anti-Asian sentiment, racism, and discrimination, and addresses the rise in COVID-19-related hate crimes.

In one of the largest violations of civil rights in United States history, the federal government forced about 120,000 Japanese-Americans from their homes and into internment camps during World War II. While the United States provided a formal apology and compensation to surviving victims in the Civil Liberties Act in 1988 and created the JACS program in 2006, it is critical that we continue efforts to educate the public, preserve these sites, and honor the brave Japanese-Americans who were subjected to interment.

The Japanese American Confinement Education Act will eliminate the sunset provision of the Preservation of Japanese American Confinement Sites Act of 2006 that would end the program in 2021, as well as provide $38 million to preserve JACS — including the Honouliuli Internment Camp in Hawai‘i. The bill will also create a new $2 million grant program to create educational materials about Japanese-American confinement during World War II.

In addition to Wyden,  the bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Groups supporting this legislation include: Japanese American Citizens League, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation, Japanese American National Museum, National Japanese American Historical Society, JACS Consortium, Anti-Defamation League, Fred T. Korematsu Institute, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation, and Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.

The full text of the bill is here.