Election Section

Documentary will shed light on internment camp

The Associated Press
Saturday November 11, 2000

SAN ANTONIO — A group seeking restitution for Japanese Latin Americans detained in the United States during World War II began filming a documentary Friday on one man’s experience at an internment camp in South Texas. 

The group, the California-based Campaign for Justice, is working to bolster support for legislation that would provide $20,000 to Japanese Latin Americans forcibly brought to this country. 

The bill, which is pending in the House, also would order an apology by the U.S. government and reauthorize $45 million for an education fund to support programs and research on the internment camps. 

More than 120,000 Japanese-Americans were interned in U.S. camps during the war.  

Most of the 80,000 survivors who applied for reparations for lost property and freedom have received $20,000 each under a 1988 law. 

But because the fund wasn’t invested as required in government securities earning at least 5 percent interest, there wasn’t enough money for those who came forward later, such as the Japanese Latin Americans. 

The documentary, financed with a grant from a state of California civil-liberties education program, will focus on the experience of Art Shibayama, a 70-year-old retired gas station owner from San Jose. 

Fighting back tears at a news conference Friday, Shibayama explained how he and his family were taken from his hometown of Lima, Peru, to the camp in Crystal City, where they lived for 2 years. 

After the war, many of the internees were barred from returning to their home countries and, stripped of their passports, were considered illegal immigrants in the United States.