On Thursday, June 20th, Asia Society hosted an extraordinary event titled, “An Asian American Triumph: From Internment Camps to Reparations.” As one of the event’s outreach partners, International Student Conferences was invited to attend. Yuuki Shinomiya, Executive Director of ISC was joined by Jenny Kai, KASC 3 (2010), and Rachel Horton, JASC 63 & 64 (2011 & 2012), in representing both conferences and engaging in discussion afterwards. A few other JASCers were also in attendance, most notably, Ambassador and Consul-General of Japan in New York, Shigeki Hiroki, JASC 28 & 29 (1976 & 1977), and Consul Kengo Yoshihara, JASC 41 (1989).
The event was both informative as well as inspiring. Ambassador Hiroki and Nicholas Platt, Asia Society President Emeritus, introduced the speakers and significance of the event. Fred Katayama, the moderator of the event, told his father’s story of internment in the United States during World War II. After he spoke, he welcomed Grant Ujifusa, Redress Strategy Chair of the Japanese American Citizens League, and then Tom Kean, former Governor of New Jersey, to share their personal stories of President Ronald Reagan reversing his opposition to the Japanese American redress bill and eventually signing the HR 442 on August 10, 1988. The event continued with questions and answers that added even more to the history surrounding the redress and how we can use what happened in the past as a way to pave a future of less suffering and segregation. By signing the HR 442, President Ronald Reagan showed the United States that justice being served and the reparations paid to those interned were more important than the fiscal budget.
Although the history of Japanese Americans interned during WWII is not taught in all schools across the United States, it is a shameful part of the nation’s history and a lesson that should be imparted so as to never be repeated. JASC has always made efforts to educate young leaders from the US and Japan about Japanese American community’s history and contributions to the American society.