by John Tateishi
This is the unlikely but true story of the Japanese American Citizens League’s fight for an official government apology and compensation for the imprisonment of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Author John Tateishi, himself the leader of the JACL Redress Committee for many years, is first to admit that the task was herculean in scale. The campaign was seeking an unprecedented admission of wrongdoing from Congress. It depended on a unified effort but began with an acutely divided community: for many, the shame of “camp” was so deep that they could not even speak of it; money was a taboo subject; the question of the value of liberty was insulting. Besides internal discord, the American public was largely unaware that there had been concentration camps on US soil, and Tateishi knew that concessions from Congress would come only with mass education about the government’s civil rights violations. Beyond the backroom politicking and verbal fisticuffs that make this book a swashbuckling read, Redress is the story of a community reckoning with what it means to be both culturally Japanese and American citizens; how to restore honor; and what duty it has to protect such harms from happening again. This book has powerful implications as the idea of reparations shapes our national conversation.