Local woman whose parents were in Japanese American internment camp reacts to formal apology

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SAN DIEGO -- California formally apologized for its role in sending hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans to the internment camps during World War II.

The California assembly voted unanimously Thursday to apologize for its role of sending 120,000 Japanese Americans to internment camps. Kay hopes the apology serves as a lesson learned.

Kay Ochi of Chula Vista says her parents’ memories of internment camps were so full of shame that they never talked about it. But the Japanese-American says the apology may help prevent something like this from happening in the future.

“My mother and my father were 20 and 21 years old when Executive Order 9066 was issued by President Roosevelt and that authorized all persons of Japanese ancestry were forcibly removed from the West Coast to be placed in American concentration camps,” Ochi said.

There were two internment camps in California. Ochi’s parents were taken from San Diego to a camp in Arizona.

“What they lost was opportunity and some of the aftermath, you know, some of the racial prejudice and discrimination,” Ochi said. “I think that the government focused on Japanese Americans and treated them like the enemy. They wore that sort of veil of shame.”

Her parents rarely spoke of their experience. 

“You just suffer in silence,” Ochi said. “It’s cultural.”

But she hopes the apology may serve as a lesson learned.

“Our greatest hope, of course, is if we talk about it, if our kids learn about it in school -- which is also another important issue -- maybe it won’t re-occur,” Ochi said.

This bill was co-authored by several local San Diego lawmakers including assemblymembers Todd Gloria of San Diego, Marie Waldron of Escondido and Tony Rendon of Lakeside. 

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