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Testimony Given in Support of the Japanese American Confinement Education Act

By June 4, 2021October 20th, 2022No Comments

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands holds a hearing to reauthorize the JACS program.

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held a hearing, presided by Chair Raul M. Grijalva, on May 27 to discuss the reauthorization of the Japanese American Confinement Education Act. Among those testifying were Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and former JACL Executive Director/National President Floyd Mori.

“I believe this legislation will help lay the foundation for a stronger and more inclusive future,” said Matsui. “… The essence of the American experience isn’t that we are perfect. Our history is littered with failures. But the true American essence is that we continue to right our wrongs. Today, far too many people still experience discrimination, far too many experience injustice, but we are continuing bending the moral arc of this country by sharing our stories, lifting our voices and fighting so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. Our country will reach higher heights when we have the wisdom to listen to those who came before us. The Japanese American experience is a vital piece of this puzzle. It’s a story that we cannot afford to lose in time. I ask for your support of this important bill.”

Added Mori: “We need to broaden the scope of opportunities for people to learn more about this part of American history. … It has been said many times that if we do not learn from history, history will repeat itself. This is a part of history that should not be repeated, and learning more about this shameful period will prevent many injustices to occur in the future. I urge you to support this concept and vote for the passage of 1931 that has bipartisan support.”

The Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) Grant Program was established in order to help preserve the American concentration camps in which Japanese Americans were held as prisoners during World War II.

Public Law 109-441 (the original JACS grant bill), which was established by Congress in 2006, provided $38 million in funding over a number of years. Its purpose is to teach the history of Japanese Americans to ensure that such a travesty of justice as the incarceration is never allowed to happen again. This original legislation was introduced by then-Rep. Bill Thomas, Rep. Doris Matsui and Rep. Mike Honda.

Since the first year of funded projects in Fiscal Year 2009, 247 projects have been funded in 22 states and the District of Columbia with more than $32.8 million.

However, funding for the bill is now running out, and the JACL, the Japanese American National Museum, the All Camps Consortium and other groups are working to ensure that the JACS grant program will continue into the future.

Support is being sought for HR 1931, which will remove the sunset provision of Public Law 109-441 and provide an additional $38 million in funding. The bill will also add a new element that will provide an additional $10 million to be allocated for educational purposes.

This grant would require the recipient museum to develop and nationally disseminate accurate, relevant and accessible resources to improve awareness and understanding of Japanese American confinement during WWII. This program is modeled after the Holocaust Education Act passed by Congress and signed into law in 2020.

JACL chapters and members, along with other organizations and individuals, are being asked to contact their members of Congress to seek their support for HR 1931. JACL will be compiling the letters to submit as a group to the subcommittee for admittance into the hearing record.

—By Floyd Mori with additional reporting by P.C. Staff and JACL National