SACRAMENTO — The California State Assembly is scheduled to declare a Day of Remembrance during its Friday session in order to increase public awareness of the events surrounding the internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II.
A member of the Assembly also plans to recognize a Nisei cartoonist who was among those interned.
A Day of Remembrance resolution is presented every year on or around Feb. 19, the date when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in 1942.
This year’s resolution, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 104, was introduced by Speaker of the House John Perez (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Warren Furutani (D-Long Beach).
The co-authors are Assemblymembers Mike Eng (D-Alhambra), Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward), Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco), Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) and Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), and Sens. Ted Lieu (D-Redondo Beach), Carol Liu (D-Glendale) and Leland Yee (D-San Francisco). All are members of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.
ACR 104 states, “Feb. 19, 2012, marks 70 years since the signing of Executive Order 9066 and a policy of grave injustice against American citizens and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry.”
This action “deferred the American dream …by inflicting a great human cost of abandoned homes, businesses, careers, professional advancements, and disruption to family life,” the resolution says, adding that President Ronald Reagan officially apologized for the government’s actions by signing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.
ACR 104 mentions the Supreme Court cases of Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi and Min Yasui, who challenged the constitutionality of the government’s treatment of Japanese Americans. Their cases were reopened 40 years later and their convictions were reversed.
The resolution also cites the accomplishments of the Nisei who served with the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service, the presentation of the Medal of Honor to 20 Nisei veterans by President Bill Clinton in 2000, and President Obama’s granting of the Congressional Gold Medal to the three units in 2010.
Recognition for Cartoonist
On the same day, Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) will present a commendation to cartoonist Jack Matsuoka for utilizing his talents to educate young people about the camps.
A native of Watsonville, Matsuoka was interned as a teenager in Poston, Ariz. Now residing in San Jose, he was a cartoonist for the Pacifica Tribune, the Hokubei Mainichi and other Bay Area publications, and became known for his caricatures of local athletes, particularly members of the San Francisco Giants and San Francisco 49ers. He also did a comic strip called “Sensei,” later published in book form.
In the 1970s, Matsuoka wrote and illustrated “Camp II, Block 211,” a book for young readers about his camp experience. With his daughter Emi Young as editor, the book was republished in 2003 as “Poston Camp II, Block 211” with additional text, drawings and photos. The new book was funded by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and published by the San Mateo-based Asian American Curriculum Project.
In conjunction with the book, an exhibition was presented at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose and bilingual storyteller Megumi created a show about Matsuoka’s life story.
Alejo, who presented Matsuoka with a city proclamation as mayor of Watsonville, wanted to honor the cartoonist again at the state level.
Matsuoka will not be able to attend this time, but a member of his family will accept the honor on his behalf.