February 2021

To the Honorable Jerry Nadler and Jim Jordan.   

This letter is to express my support for the passage of HR 40 so that justice might be sought for the African American community. 

My name is Jim H. Matsuoka of West Covina, California. I am represented in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Grace Napolitano of District 32 from the State of California. 

As a former internee of Manzanar, the call for justice by those who suffered and is still suffering from the effects of "White Privilege," racism and social and economic poverty ring loud and true to me.  Having to endure the poverty and humiliaton of being imprisoned for no crime other than that of my racial origin, I understand this call clearly!    

Our family was stripped of everything other than what we could carry into the camp with our two hands.  This tragic act was not repeated with the German American population or the Italian American population.  This  demarcation is consistant with the treatment of people of color in this country as anyone can readily tell you. 

After we were released from Manzanar after some three and a half years of imprisonment we sank into a life of poverty epitomized by a tiny shabby trailer we were forced to live in at Long Beach.  There were times when we couldn't even make the rent on this "shelter."  My father was unemployed and stayed that way for the rest of his life except when he managed to find a job washing dishes occasionally. 

He was all the things that to this day make many minority people unacceptable.  The wrong color, the wrong nationality. appearance, education and age..  The Los Angeles Times printed a graph in 2019 that showed that the medium wealth of Black families was ten times less than that of White families.  An ugly testament to "income inequality" and a poor reward for people whose sweat and labor literally helped build the foundations of this country. 

My fathers "crime" along with 120,000 of us was his ancestry.  His life savings were frozen at the Sumitomo Bank by the U.S. and wiped off the books as "enemy alien assets." Twenty years of his dream to start a new life in this country were wiped off the books in a second. 

Redress, had he lived long enough to receive it could have made a difference in his life.  He died believing that he tried to make a new life but was leaving behind a family to a country that dispised them.  Perhaps a letter of apology and monetary redress from the government could have made a difference to him before he passed on..  Redress to me has made me a life long seeker of justice.  I often wondered what sort of life existed out there outside the confines of the barb wire fencing at Manzanar.  As as a seven year old I knew I had donenothing wrong, but I also knew that there must be something about me that caused me to be rejected and imprisoned. .   

I urge you to help a study commission come into being.  It's time to bring justice home to America. Lets remove the barriers of color once and for all.  I look forward to taking down all the barbed wire of racism and hatred that imprisoned me and destroyed my fathers reason for being in America!  


 Jim H. Matsuoka