Japanese Americans driven from jobs in '40s get apology
It took 71 years, but California's State Personnel Board has issued a formal apology for a World War II-era resolution that essentially kicked 265 Japanese Americans out of state service and prevented countless others from taking state government work.
The apology, laid out in a resolution adopted earlier this month, has no legal consequences.
The state rescinded its discriminatory resolutions many years ago and gave back pay to 88 Japanese Americans who challenged their terminations. A 1983 law awarded up to $5,000 to Japanese American employees who lost their jobs.
But until last week the board had never said it was sorry for its part in the institutionalized discrimination.
The board's resolution retraces the nation's paranoid politics after Pearl Harbor, beginning with a 1942 California order that purged state job eligibility lists of "any person or persons who are citizens, naturalized citizens, or native-born citizens who are descendants of nationals with whom the United States is at war."
David Unruhe, spokesman for the Japanese American Citizens League, applauded the board for its resolution.
"This apology was a long time coming," Unruhe said, "but it is a sincere apology nevertheless."
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GOV. JERRY BROWN, in his proclamation declaring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in honor of the civil rights leader's birthday last week