The Japanese American Citizens League and 18MillionRising.org, joined with the voices of 3,522 petitioners, forwarded a letter on April 13 to Amazon Vice President and General Counsel Mark Hoff, demanding that Amazon discontinue the marketing of Japanese American World War II incarceration photographs as decorative art for one’s home or office.
The joint letter from Cayden Mak, executive director of 18MilllionRising.org, and David Inoue, executive director of JACL, states:
“On behalf of the undersigned … we are writing to ask that you remove listings of photographs and memorabilia of Japanese American incarceration marketed as ‘timeless images’ that would make great gifts for decoration for home and office.
“As you may know, nearly 120,000 people of Japanese descent were incarcerated by the U.S. government because of their ethnic background in ten concentration camps and other federal facilities and prisons. There was no due process and the government purposefully suppressed evidence that they were no threat.
“As the world’s largest online platform for merchants, we ask that you send a clear message: remove listings that sell images and items from prison camps.
“Walmart, another retailer featuring these products, has already removed the items after engaging in conversations with us and other members of our community. Simply because many of these pictures are available in the public domain does not mean that they should be used for personal profit. While we value these pictures as historical evidence of the injustice of World War II mass incarceration, they should be used in the classroom and other educational settings, not as a profit center for ecommerce businesses who have no relationship connection to this history.
“Marketing prints of civil rights atrocities as home decor is desecration. These third-party sellers are capitalizing on our painful history and exploiting our anguish for profit.
“We urge Amazon to take these down these listings immediately. You have a golden opportunity to lead and express to your customers your values as a company.”