Senate committee approves Inouye’s bill to preserve sites of WWII Japanese-American internment camps

A Senate committee recently approved legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawai‘i, that would preserve internment-camp sites where 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were unjustly and unconstitutionally confined during World War II.

The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved the bill on a voice vote, advancing the measure to the full Senate.  

“The purpose of this bill is to recognize a challenging period in our nation’s history, and teach us that prejudice and wartime hysteria must never again be allowed to justify the violation of human dignity and the fundamental freedoms afforded under the United States Constitution,” Inouye says in a press release.

“This legislation would enable not only Japanese-Americans — the largest group that was wrongly incarcerated — but also interned Americans of German and Italian ancestry to share their stories of courage, perseverance, and quiet determination,” he said. “All interned Americans have a stake in preserving their internment history, and the internment sites will inspire all Americans to reaffirm their commitment to our national ideal of equal justice for all.”  

“This legislation will ensure that the historic sites where Japanese-Americans were detained during World War II are preserved,” said U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai‘i, one of the co-sponsors of Senator Inouye’s bill. “All citizens, elderly and young, must continue to learn from this important part of our country’s history.”  

Under the provisions of Inouye’s bill, the Secretary of the Interior would create a program within the National Park Service to restore and acquire historic confinement sites, the release states. The initial group of sites identified for acquisition includes Jerome and Rohwer, both in Arkansas; Topaz, Utah; and Honouliuli in southern O‘ahu, all places where Japanese-Americans were held during the war.

Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, Orrin Hatch, R-Utah and Robert Bennett, R-Utah.

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