Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians

The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) [1] was a group of nine people appointed by the U.S. Congress in 1980 to conduct an official governmental study of Executive Order 9066 (1942), related orders during World War II, and their effects on Japanese Americans in the West and Alaska Natives in the Pribilof Islands. In February 1981, the Commission concluded that the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II was a "grave injustice."[2] In July 1981, the Commission held public hearings in Washington, D.C. to hear testimony from Japanese-American and Alaska Native witnesses. Public hearings followed in other American cities, including Seattle, San Francisco, Cambridge, New York City, Anchorage, the Aleutian Islands, Pribilof Islands (St. Paul), Chicago, and Los Angeles, where the testimonies were recorded.[1][3] More than 750 people testified.[4]

In 1983, the CWRIC issued its findings in Personal Justice Denied, concluding that the incarceration of Japanese Americans had not been justified by military necessity. Rather, the report determined that the decision to incarcerate was based on "racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership."[5]

Lastly, the Commission recommended legislative remedies: an official Government apology and redress payments to survivors. Congress passed legislation and on August 10, 1988, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 was signed into law.[6] The Act's purposes included the government's acknowledging and apologizing for the injustice of the evacuation and internment of US citizens and long-term residents; creating a public education fund to inform the public; making restitution to parties affected; discouraging a similar event from happening in the future; and demonstrating the U.S.' consideration of human rights violations.[7] By this act and a related one in 1992, the US government paid reparations to more than 82,200 Japanese Americans.

Members of the Commission

Joan Z. Bernstein, Chair[8]

Daniel E. Lungren, Vice-Chair

Edward W. Brooke

Robert F. Drinan

Arthur S. Flemming

Arthur J. Goldberg

Ishmael V. Gromoff

William M. Marutani

Hugh B. Mitchell

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