Advanced Laboratory for Visual Anthropology

Mr. Tanimoto's Journey

2017 / 26 minutes / Directed by Jesse Dizard

After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, 120,000 American citizens of Japanese descent were wrongfully imprisoned at internment camps across the country. Jim Tanimoto, born in California, is the last living member of a group of men known as Block 42, who bravely protested the loss of their constitutional rights. This is his story.

Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war upon Japan. Shortly thereafter, he signed the infamous Executive Order 9066, mandating the forced relocation of approximately 120,000 persons of Japanese descent, two thirds of whom were American citizens. They were summarily evacuated from their homes and businesses on the West Coast to one of ten prison camps that were hastily built in remote parts of the western United States.

The largest of these prisons, the Tule Lake Segregation Center, was constructed near Newell, CA only a few miles south of the Oregon border. The Tule Lake Segregation Center eventually was home to over 18,000 people, and was the largest town in California north of Sacramento in 1943.

Many of those imprisoned at Tule Lake were either naturalized American citizens, or were born in the United States to parents who had legally immigrated to this country. Tule Lake became the most abject symbol of what came to be regarded as a national disgrace.

Tule lake was the facility to which the War Relocation Authority transferred those individuals it deemed ‘disloyal’ or ‘troublemakers’ from any of the other nine prison camps. They were also forced to stand before a firing squad in the middle of the night.

Jim Tanimoto is the last living member of that group of protesters from Block 42 of the Tule Lake Segregation Center. This is his story.

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