Remembering the Fight for Japanese American Reparations

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A women looks through an album.
Naomi Kubota Lee looks through her archive of documents and photos relating to the Japanese American redress and reparations movement on Jan. 27, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Reparations in California is a series of KQED stories exploring the road to racial equity in the state.

California is in the process of a first-of-its-kind study into reparations for Black Californians.

The process of hashing out reparations can seem daunting. and the U.S. has not fully reckoned with its deepest harms, like enslavement of Black Americans or the genocide of Native Americans.

However, the U.S. has provided reparations before — namely, for Japanese Americans, who were taken from their homes all over the West Coast and incarcerated during World War 2. Now, California’s current reparations task force is modeled, in part, after the commission that studied and recommended reparations for  American citizens of Japanese ancestry.

Today, we look back on what it took for Japanese Americans in the Bay Area to fight for reparations — and how that history is linked to the reparations process unfolding right now.

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Guest: Annelise Finney, KQED reporter

Episode Transcript