For immediate release:                    Contacts:    Keith Kamisugi (415) 876-0589

February 21, 2003                                          John Ota (415) 370-4497        


Media Advisory • Media Advisory




WHO: Speakers will include:

·              Dale Minami, Chair, Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, Coram Nobis Legal Team.

·              Dorothy Ehrlich, Executive Director, ACLU-Northern California.

·              Chizu Iiyama, former internee and member, Bay Area Day of Remembrance Consortium.

·              John Handa, Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), San Francisco chapter


WHERE:    AMC Kabuki 8 Theater, 1881 Post St., San Francisco, upper lobby


WHEN:       Sunday, February 23, 2002, 12:30 pm


WHAT:  At an event commemorating the 61st anniversary of the Executive Order that set in motion the internment of over 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry in U.S. detention camps, leaders of the Japanese American community and the civil rights community are calling for President George Bush and other leaders of the Republican Party to repudiate Rep. Howard Coble’s recent comments defending the wartime internment.


On Tuesday, February 4, 2003, Congressman Howard Coble publicly supported Japanese American internment in a radio interview, stating that Japanese American internment was for the “safety” and protection of those detained, and implying that it was justified because some Japanese Americans intended to do harm to the country.  Both assertions are demonstrably false.


President Bush issued a sharp public rebuke to Senator Trent Lott for saying that the country would have been better off if Senator Strom Thurmond, then a rabid segregationist, had been elected president in 1948,  It is imperative that President Bush similarly repudiate Rep. Coble, say the local leaders, for his endorsement of a drastic racial action that has been described by some as the government’s most serious violation of constitutional rights in modern history. 


The United States government officially apologized for the wartime internment of Japanese Americans when Congress enacted the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 and then-President Ronald Reagan signed the bipartisan measure into law.  The U.S. Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, established by Congress, had earlier concluded after years of research and hearings, that the internment was the result of “race prejudice, wartime hysteria and a failure of political leadership.”   Rep. Coble was among the most strident opponents of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.


Does President Bush and the Republican Party agree with Rep. Coble that the wartime internment of every man, woman and child of Japanese ancestry in the West Coast states purely on the basis of their race, was justified?  This is the clear implication if President Bush and the Republican Party leadership continue their deafening silence in the wake of Rep. Coble’s irresponsible remarks, say local leaders.


The demonstrable factual inaccuracies underlying Rep. Coble’s remarks also underscore the need to complete the funding of the Civil Liberties Education Fund to promote greater public understanding of the wartime internment of Japanese Americans, an effort supported by community activists.