Reprinted from NikkeiWest

Sept. 25, 2000

WASHINGTON -- Japanese Latin Americans who were kidnapped from their homes in Latin America by the U.S. government during World War II and imprisoned in the U.S. are still seeking justice in the courtroom.

Plaintiffs in the Shibayama vs. USA lawsuit filed their brief on Sept. 19 with the Court of Federal Claims.

The brief comes in response to the government’s motion to dismiss the case. A spokesperson for Campaign for Justice: Redress Now for Japanese Latin Americans said in a statement that "the U.S. government denies its own crime against humanity committed during World War II, when over 2,200 Latin Americans of Japanese ancestry were seized by the U.S. government in a hostage exchange program for Americana being held by Japan.

"In addition, the U.S. government refuses to admit that the U.S. brought the JLAs to the U.S. against their will, from countries with which we were not at war."

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, brothers Isamu Carlos (Art) Kenichi Javier, and Takeshi Jorge Shibayama, are seeking relief for having suffered clear violations of their civil and human rights by the U.S. government.

They were forcibly deported from Peru and incarcerated in a Department of Justice camp in Crystal City, Texas.

The brothers have been denied an apology and $20,000 in redress compensation granted to Japanese Americans under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 because the government continues to uphold the claim that they were "illegal aliens" at the time they were interned and therefore are ineligible for redress under the CLA.

The plaintiffs rejected the settlement agreement reached in a class-action lawsuit filed in 1996 (Mochizuki vs. USA), which provided $5,000 and an apology to JLA interness, and have filed their own lawsuit to seek a more equitable redress.

In Shibayama vs. USA, the plaintiffs are seeking not only compensation but also other remedies for redress equity as well, such as full disclosure of the facts, an apology that matches the nation’s "crime against humanity," a declaration of the "false and improper ‘illegal alien’ status," and education programming so that the American public will know what occurred.

Karen Parker, attorney for the plaintiffs, expressed outrage at the government’s position. "They are trying to say that Peru did it. But the U.S. government knows what really happened. They are attempting to revise history.

"They are trying to hide the facts from the judge that it was the U.S. that went to Peru, the U.S. that took custody of them U.S. boats that brought them to the U.S. and U.S. officials who held them under gunpoint to New Orleans and then onto Crystal City."

"The JLAs entered fully under the control of the U.S. How can they be ‘illegal aliens’?

"The U.S. took part in an ‘ethnic cleansing’ scheme. What the U.S. did was a crime against humanity, the most serious violation of U.S. and international law."

Parker also stated that the U.S. government has spent well over the amount the Shibayama brothers are seeking in financial restitution in the taxpayers’ money to continue this court battle.

"By refusing to admit the truth and denying the brothers even an apology and token reparations for the crime that they committed, the U.S. government has clearly shown that it has total contempt for these plaintiffs," Parker. "The government is still continuing their violations to this very day."

With both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s briefs submitted to the court, Judge Marian Blank Horn will now have to render her decision on the government’s motion to dismiss the case.

Latin American Japanese internment

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