The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 18, 2013
California board apologizes for WWII discrimination against Japanese Americans

130118 SPB logo.jpegThe State Personnel Board has issued a formal apology for a 71-year-old resolution that essentially kicked 265 Japanese Americans out of state service and prevented countless others from taking state government work during World War II.

The apology, laid out in a resolution adopted last week, has no legal consequences. Many years ago the state rescinded its discriminatory resolutions and awarded back pay to 88 Japanese Americans who challenged their terminations. A 1983 state law awarded up to $5,000 to Japanese American employees who lost their state jobs.

But until last week the board had never said it was sorry for its part in the institutionalized discrimination.

"I applaud the State Personnel Board for its resolution," said David Unruhe, spokesman for the Japanese American Citizens League. "This apology was a long time coming, but it is a sincere apology nevertheless."

The board's new resolution retraces the nation's paranoid post-Pearl Harbor politics, beginning with a 1942 California order that purged state job eligibility lists of "any person or persons who are citizens, naturalized citizens, or native-born citizens who are decendants of nationals with whom the United States is at war."

Following the federal and state mandates, the personnel board passed a resolution to suspend all California state workers of Japanese ancestry. Some 265 state workers lost their jobs.

If you want to delve further into the history and impact of discrimination against Japanese Americans by the state, here are links to prepared statements read to board members last month as well as other documents:

Miyoko Sawamura Testimony
A Conversation with Sally Taketa
Nisei Employees v. California State Personnel Board: A jounal of Ex parte Mitsuye Endo, 1942-1947
Letter from the Japanese American Citzens League
Letters to the State Personnel Board about the apology resolution

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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