SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) commented Jan. 10 on the California State Personnel Board’s decision to adopt a resolution apologizing for World War II-era policies that suspended the employment of state workers of Japanese ancestry.

Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada received the Sacramento JACL’s Bunka Isan (Cultural Heritage) recognition at the chapter’s 17th annual Community Awards Dinner on Nov. 15 from outgoing President Miko Sawamura. Sacramento United Methodist Church, Sakura Minyo Doo Koo Kai, and Sacramento Senator Lions Club were also honored.

“As a member of the California Assembly, I believe in the foundational principles of our democracy, and commend the board for adopting this expression of regret for the displacement of these state workers,” she said.

The board’s actions in 1942 reflected anti-Japanese sentiment — and official government policy —  after the U.S. entered the war. These policies culminated in tens of thousands of persons of Japanese descent, the majority of whom were U.S. citizens, being forced from their homes and held in internment camps in California and six other states.

Yamada, whose grandparents, parents, and siblings were interned at California’s Manzanar War Relocation Center for the duration of the war, had written a letter urging board members to adopt the resolution.

“Born after my family’s release, I experienced the difficult aftermath and recovery from their internment,” Yamada wrote, “and their loss of trust in the government that violated their constitutional rights as American citizens.”

Although 70 years have elapsed since these unfair employment actions were taken, Yamada said she supports those who are in a position of public trust in taking responsibility to correct past actions. “For me, it is never too late to address an injustice.”

Yamada enlisted the support of newly sworn-in Assemblymember Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), whose district includes the Tule Lake internment camp site.

“Upon learning of this issue during a quick elevator chat we had in the Capitol … Mr. Dahle also submitted a poignant letter supporting this effort,” Yamada said. “He told me that his family homesteaded in the Tule Lake area decades ago, and that his grandmother provided extra food to internees who were forced to work on their farm during the war period. A wonderful gesture of long-time bipartisan cooperation!”

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