January 17, 2007

あけましておめでとうございます! (Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!)

Posted by: Melissa Todd

Happy New Year!
In Japan it is very important to wish everyone good luck for the New Year, but only AFTER January 1st. At the beginning of this year I found an article in the Northwest Asian Weekly about the Japanese internment camps established during World War II. Just in time for the New Year, the Bush administration signed into law a $38 million grant program to preserve internment camp sites for historical and research reasons. These sites will be administered by the US National Park Service.

The article reminded me of an amazing website called Densho, based here in Seattle, which deals with the history of the internment camps and Japanese-American history. Densho has created a free archive of primary resources about Japanese-American history during World War II, which includes photos, interviews and other historic documents. It also has great resources to learn more about that era, such as maps of the internment camps, timelines of immigration policies, and links to current events. This is a great way to discover the importance of the sites under the stewardship of the US National Park Service.

Densho also pushes for remembrance of this event, to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Is this kind of historical memory important to prevent racial prejudices in the future? Or would we all be better off not trying to pass on guilt to a generation that had nothing to do with that era? What do you think?

- Melissa