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Japanese Latin Americans Detained During WWII Seek Redress from U.S.

LADB Article ID: 80349
Category/Department: Peru
Date: 2017-07-14
By: Janelle Conaway

During World War II, more than 2,200 people of Japanese ancestry living in Latin American countries—80 percent of them in Peru—were captured against their will and taken to the US, stripped of their homes, their businesses, even their personal identity documents. Some would be exchanged for US citizens who had been taken hostage in war zones in the Far East; others would be held in US internment camps for the duration of the war, like their Japanese American counterparts. Only a small percentage of them would be able to return to Latin America. In a March hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Isamu Carlos “Art” Shibayama, 86, testified about what it was like for him, as a 13-year-old Peruvian boy, to be interned with his family in Texas—and later, as an adult, to fight for justice in the US, a country that considered him an “illegal alien.” The story of Japanese Latin American deportees in World War II is somewhat of a footnote to the better-known history of the mass imprisonment of some 45,000 Japanese nationals and 75,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry in the US.

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