Public Hearing Set for Japanese Peruvians Interned During WWII

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WASHINGTON — The struggle to redress the unjust government treatment of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II reached its latest landmark with the announcement by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a body of the Organization of American States, that the petition of three former Japanese Peruvian internees is set for public hearing.

Art Shibayama

The Shibayama brothers – Art, Kenichi, and Takeshi – are seeking acknowledgment and equitable redress from the U.S. government for war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated against them as children during World War II.

The public hearing of Shibayama, et al. vs USA, Case 12.545, has been set for Tuesday, March 21, from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. at the Padilha Vidal Room of the GSB Building of the Organization of American States at 1889 “F” St., N.W., Washington, D.C.

In a little known episode of World War II, the U.S. government orchestrated the abductions of over 2,200 persons of Japanese ancestry who were citizens and residents of 13 Latin American countries. The U.S. government brought these men, women and children at gunpoint on U.S. military transports, confiscated their passports and ID documents, and imprisoned them in U.S. internment camps for up to six years.

They, along with over 4,000 German and over 200 Italian residents of Latin America, were part of a U.S. scheme to obtain hostages to exchange for U.S. citizens held by Japan, Germany and Italy. Thousands of Germans and a number of Italians were deported to Germany and Italy, respectively. Over 800 Japanese Latin Americans were exchanged during the war, among them the Shibayama grandparents, whom the family never saw again.

After the war, the Latin Americans’ usefulness as hostages ended. The U.S. government labeled them “illegal aliens” and deported over 1,000 Japanese Latin Americans against their will to war-devastated Japan. Peru initially refused to accept the return of these internees, even if they were citizens. More than 300 Japanese Peruvians remained in the U.S. fighting deportation, including the Shibayama parents and siblings.

The Shibayama brothers have been denied an apology and $20,000 in redress compensation granted to Japanese Americans under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (CLA), because the government continues to uphold the claim that they were “illegal aliens” at the time they were interned and therefore are ineligible for redress under the CLA.

The brothers rejected the settlement agreement reached in a lawsuit filed in 1996 (Mochizuki v. USA), which provided $5,000 and an apology to Japanese Latin American internees, and took their case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The remedies they seek include a proper apology reflecting the severity of the government violations, equitable redress compensation, expungement of the “illegal alien” classification from government records, full disclosure of the facts, and assurance of non-recurrence of such violations.

Karen Parker, attorney for the Shibayama brothers, has stated, “Until these crimes are properly redressed, they are considered ongoing. By refusing to admit the truth and denying the brothers even an apology and token reparations for the crimes committed, the U.S. government has clearly shown that it has total contempt for them. The government is still continuing their violations to this very day.”

For more information, contact Diana Tsuchida at (408) 712-0184 or [email protected]

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