Redress and Reparations
The surge in 1960s and 1970s activism galvanized earlier movements that sought redress for the mass violation of civil liberties during internment. In response to the lobbying by Japanese American activists, Congress and President Jimmy Carter established the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians in 1980.
The Commission’s investigation included twenty days of hearings where over 500 former internees testified, many of whom had never shared their incarceration experiences even with their families. The Commission’s final report concluded that internment was not enacted out of “military necessity,” but instead by “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”
While Japanese American activists and organizations often disagreed on the form that reparations should take, decades of activism culminated with the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The Act resulted in a formal apology from the government, presidential pardons for resisters, financial redress in the sum of $20,000 to each individual survivor, and the establishment of an educational community fund.