The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) decries the recent comments by Czech President Petr Pavel that minimized the incarceration of people of Japanese descent in the U.S. during World War II and suggested that Russians living abroad today should be subjected to similar treatment.

In an interview with Radio Free Europe on Thursday, Pavel said that Russian nationals living abroad should be “monitored much more” by intelligence services in their host countries, stating that during World War II “all the Japanese population living in the United States were under a strict monitoring regime as well” and calling it “simply a cost of war.”

More than 125,000 people of Japanese ancestry were unlawfully uprooted from their homes and lives and unjustly imprisoned in U.S. Army, Department of Justice, and War Relocation Authority camps during World War II. The incarceration of Japanese Americans was systematically conducted by the U.S. government without evidence of espionage or sabotage.

With the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, President Ronald Reagan issued a formal presidential apology and symbolic payment of financial reparations to surviving Japanese Americans.

“To suggest that this shameful chapter of American history was an acceptable ‘cost of war’ is a denial of the great injustice that was committed. To further suggest that people of any group should be treated similarly today flies in the face of the hard-fought lessons accrued from that history. JANM was founded to tell the stories of the Japanese American experience in order to ensure that such tragic discrimination does not happen again,” said Ann Burroughs, president and CEO of JANM.

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