Councilmembers, Japanese American community leaders, activists, and supporters crowd onto the dias for the Proclamation of Remembrance. February 19, 2017 marked 75 years since the issuance of Executive Order 9066. Photo by Ned Ahrens, courtesy of King County.

On February 21, 2017, members of the community gathered in the King County Council chambers to reflect on the effects of Executive Order 9066 and its continuing relevance today.

Executive Order 9066, issued by President Franklin Roosevelt 75 years ago, triggered the forced removal and mass incarceration of approximately 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, roughly two-thirds of whom were American citizens. This included 8,870 residents of King County.

The order, which resulted in massive civil rights violations, was defended as a “military necessity” in the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Following later investigation, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians released a report in 1982, finding the incarceration was undertaken not out of wartime necessity, but was driven by “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”

King County’s 75th anniversary commemoration was spearheaded by Councilmember Rod Dembowski and Council Chair Joe McDermott. The council presented a Proclamation of Remembrance signed by all nine councilmembers.

Guest speakers included Densho executive director Tom Ikeda, Benson Wong from Gordon Hirabayashi’s coram nobis legal team, Bill Tashima of JACL–Seattle Chapter, JCCCW executive director Karen Yoshitomi, Louise Kashino of the Nisei Veterans Committee, and representatives from the University of Washington Libraries.

View the full commemoration event below:

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Previous articleSnapshots in Time: Karen Yoshitomi (right), executive director of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington (JCCCW), spoke about the failure of political leadership that led to the incarceration at King County Council’s 75th anniversary Proclamation of Remembrance for Executive Order 9066. Photo by Lexi Potter, February 21, 2017.
Next articleSnapshots in Time: Henry Chin, a Chinatown cook, shows his room at the Republic Hotel. Photographer and date unknown.