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Internment of Japanese Latin Americans subject of alumna’s teaching

June 11, 2014

  • Japanese Peruvians en route to U.S. Internment Camps. April 2, 1942. U.S. Army Signal Corps Photo. National Archive.

In a recent commentary for the Huffington Post, Moé Yonamine M.A.T. ’10 revealed an untold story behind Japanese internment during World War II.

Most U.S. history textbooks today cover how beginning in 1942, the U.S. government sent more than 110,000 people of Japanese descent to internment camps. However, textbooks typically don’t mention that the United States encouraged Latin American countries to take the same steps, forcing 2,300 Japanese Latin Americans, largely from Peru, into internment.

“How then do we ‘undo’ injustice?” Yonamine wrote. “I believe it is through empowering young people to imagine a different world.”

In the article, Yonamine describes her efforts to open up discussion in her Roosevelt High School classroom. She showed the class a map of incarceration camps and detention centers, including one at the Portland Expo Center. She then let students debate whether Japanese Latin Americans should receive redress for their forced internment through a role playing exercise.

Following the commentary’s publication, a reporter at the Ryukyu Broadcasting Company—the only Okinawan-run TV station—expressed interest in interviewing Yonamine for a series about the untold histories of Okinawan people. Filming is expected to take place in Portland this summer.

Caleb Diehl ’16 contributed to this story.

Read the Huffington Post commentary


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