Film documents the Japanese American experience in WWII

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Less than three months after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, a date which President Franklin D. Roosevelt said “will live in infamy,” the United States began its own “days of infamy.”

On Feb. 19, 1942, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which allowed the U.S. military to exclude Japanese Americans from the U.S. Pacific Coast. Within months, more than 120,000 Japanese Americans, the majority of whom were U.S. citizens, were stripped of their homes and businesses on the coast and sent to War Relocation Camps inland.

The U.S. Census Bureau illegally provided confidential neighborhood information about Japanese Americans, making the military’s job easier, and, in 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Roosevelt’s order. It wasn’t until 1988 that President Ronald Reagan issued an official apology to interned Japanese Americans.

Documenting those dark days of American history and one Colorado governor’s fight to defend the Constitutional rights of Japanese Americans, Nitto Tire has sponsored a 50-minute video titled “The Untold Story of Ralph Carr and the Japanese: The Fate of Three Japanese Americans and the Internment.” Starting this month, the documentary is being shown on All Nippon Airways international flights.

According to the Colorado State Archives, Carr served as the state’s governor from 1939-1943. He was born in 1897 in Rosita and educated in Cripple Creek. After graduating from the University of Colorado he moved around the state, living in Victor, Trinidad and Antonito.

Before being elected governor, he served as Colorado Assistant Attorney General and as a U.S. District Attorney. As a Republican, Carr didn’t support Roosevelt’s New Deal but had been a strong supporter of his foreign policy. That is until the fear of the so-called “Yellow Peril” pushed the nation into rampant discrimination against a group of its own citizens.

Carr was one small but strong voice against internment and his fight to help Japanese Americans keep their U.S. citizenship eventually cost him a seat in the U.S. Senate.

“If you harm them, you must harm me,” he said. “I was brought up in a small town where I knew the shame and dishonor of race hatred. I grew to despise it because it threatened the happiness of you and you and you.”

Carr died in 1951.

According to a news release from Kourtney Schepman, of the Los Angeles-based Pacific Design Center, the documentary marks the 69th anniversary of the internment. The hope is that it will convey two messages — “never forget” and “never again.”

It follows three Japanese Americans as they experienced the 1940s. One of these was Robert Fuchigami, who, with his family, was uprooted and forced to live in Colorado’s Camp Amache. He speaks of the deterioration of family unity and the sadness he felt while living in the camp.

The second account, that of Herbert Inouye, recounts one family’s move from California to Colorado’s safe haven. He said that, while traveling across country, his family met with angry mobs and soldiers with guns but at the Colorado border they were met with warmth and kindness by Colorado State Troopers.

The third story is that of Mitchie Terasaki, who avoided government evictions and became a Colorado civil servant after she was hired by Carr.

The video can be viewed at http://vimeo.com/28381711.

Nitto Tire has factories in both the United States and Japan and is a supporter of the Japanese American National Museum and other organizations dedicated to building awareness of Japanese American history and culture.

Founded in 1952, All Nippon Airways is the ninth largest airline in the world, according to its revenues.

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