U.S. to pay WWII Latin-Japanese internees
LOS ANGELES -- (AP) -- Latin Americans of Japanese ancestry who were
interned by the United States during World War II will receive $5,000 in reparations
and an apology from the U.S. government.
``This was a tragic chapter in the history of our nation,'' Attorney General
Reno said Friday, when the settlement of a lawsuit was announced. ``It's time to
right this wrong and close the book.''
A hearing to make the agreement final was scheduled for Nov. 17.
More than 2,200 people -- most were of Japanese ancestry from Peru -- were
forcibly brought to the United States and held during the war. The government has
never provided an official explanation.
After internment, some were exchanged for U.S. prisoners of war held by Japan.
Between $5 million and $6 million is available to pay former internees
heirs, said Bill Lan Lee, an assistant attorney general for civil rights.
The internees will receive far less than the $20,000 paid to each Japanese
interned after Pearl Harbor under a 1988 reparations law. The lawsuit filed in Los
Angeles in 1996 had sought equal treatment for the Latin American internees.
``It has been very difficult to relive the horrible memory that we have
been trying to
forget, but I feel that for this cause, reliving this pain was worth it. I feel a sense of
closure and peace from the process,'' said one of the victims, Carmen Mochizuki.
The settlement covers surviving internees and heirs of those who were alive
10, 1988, when the reparations law was signed. The Justice Department has
received about 600 claims and believes that 700 more are still alive and eligible to file
President Clinton endorsed the settlement for those ``who suffered serious injustice.''