Warner Bros. Chief's Personal Story of His Parents' Internment in Japanese-American Camps (Guest Column)
Warner Bros. Chief’s Personal Story of His Parents’ Internment in Japanese-American Camps (Guest Column)
Amid heated election rhetoric about race and tolerance, Kevin Tsujihara reveals why his mother and father never lost faith in their country: “Today, that sense of belonging is something I want for all of us.”
Imagine you are a U.S. citizen living in California. One morning you read in the paper, hear in church or see posted on telephone poles that you have two weeks to sell your land and belongings, keeping only what you can carry, and report to a “relocation center.” Now imagine that you’ve been singled out — labeled a National Security Concern — not because of anything you’ve said or done, but simply because of who you are. This isn’t a scene from some dystopian fantasy or the logline of an upcoming Warner Bros. movie — it’s exactly what happened to my parents and grandparents, less than 75 years ago. My mother, Miyeko, was 16 when she was put on a train to Poston, Ariz.; my father, Shizou, then 22 or 23, was sent to Amache, Colo.
As most of us learned in middle school, nearly 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry — two-thirds of them American citizens — were rounded up and forcibly incarcerated after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor during World War II. Decades later, a government study confirmed that the cause had been racism, not legitimate security concerns, and the U.S. apologized. But the scars remained.