JACL-CCDC Luncheon to Highlight Untold Story of Japanese Latin Americans

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FRESNO — The JACL Central California District Council (CCDC) Day of Remembrance and Installation Luncheon will be held on Sunday, Feb. 16, at Pardini’s, 2257 W. Shaw Ave. in Fresno.

Art Shibayama and his family were uprooted from Peru and interned at Crystal City, Texas. (Densho)

Art Shibayama and his family were uprooted from Peru and interned at Crystal City, Texas. (Densho)

A social hour will begin at noon, with lunch following at 1 p.m. Tickets are $35 per person. RSVP deadline is Feb. 7. For more information, contact Travis Nishi at (559) 281-6497 or [email protected] Registration form can be downloaded at www.fresnojacl.org.

The program will feature a screening of the film “Hidden Internment: The Art Shibayama Story.” Keynote speakers will be Grace Shimizu, leading organizer for the documentation and redress of the World War II Japanese Latin American incarceration, and Blanca Katsura of Reedley, who will share her personal incarceration experience.

From December 1941 to February 1948, the U.S. government orchestrated and financed the mass abduction and forcible deportation of 2,264 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry from 13 Latin American countries to be used as hostages in exchange for Americans held by Japan. Over 800 Japanese Latin Americans were included in two prisoner-of-war exchanges between the U.S. and Japan.

The remaining Japanese Latin Americans were imprisoned without due process of law in U.S. Department of Justice internment camps until after the end of the war. Stripped of their passports en route to the U.S. and declared “illegal aliens,” most of the incarcerated Japanese Latin Americans were forced to leave the U.S. after their release from camp.

However, since many were barred from returning to their home countries, more than 900 Japanese Latin Americans were deported to war-devastated Japan. Over 350 Japanese Latin Americans remained in the U.S. and fought deportation in the courts.

Eventually, about 100 were able to return to Latin America. It was not until 1952 that those who stayed were allowed to begin the process of becoming U.S. permanent residents. Many later became U.S. citizens.

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