Oct 5, 2022 - News

Honoring the 125,284 Japanese Americans imprisoned in WWII

Japanese-American internees wave to friends departing by train from the Santa Anita Assembly Center at Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California, 1942.

The Santa Anita Racetrack was a temporary detention facility for some of the 120,000 Japanese Americans imprisioned. Photo: Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

More than 150 people, including two Virginians, gathered at a museum in Los Angeles late last month for the unveiling of the Ireichō, the book of names.

The big picture: The book lists the 125,284 Japanese Americans incarcerated at internment camps during World War II and will be on display at the Japanese American National Museum for the next year.

Why it matters: It is the first comprehensive list of the tens of thousands of Americans imprisoned for their Japanese heritage at one of the 75 sites across the country, including one at the Homestead resort in Hot Springs.

  • The book is more than 1,000 pages long and weighs 25 pounds, in part because soil collected from all 75 sites is embedded into its fabric.

Driving the news: No one knows for sure how many Virginians were interred in the camps, but through the book and the accompanying project, there's hope that will change, Emma Ito, director of education at Virginia Humanities, tells Axios.

  • Ito attended the event along with Richmonder Regina Boone, whose yearslong effort to find out what happened to her Japanesse-born grandfather was chronicled in a documentary in 2020.

Details: Ito, who wrote her master's thesis on the Japanese experience in Virginia, attended the unveiling as a representative for the roughly two dozen Japanese-born people held at the Homestead, who were mostly diplomats sent from D.C.

  • She was also there as a descendent, as her great, great grandmother was incarcerated in Utah.
  • Boone was there on behalf of her grandfather and provided soil from Fort Howard in Maryland, where she learned he was sent after being arrested near his home in Suffolk, per LAist.

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