Leslie Unger - - 213-830-5690


Los Angeles, CA—The Japanese American National Museum adds its voice to the growing outcry against the Trump Administration’s intention to use Fort Sill, a former World War II incarceration site for people of Japanese ancestry, as a prison for unaccompanied minors who have fled their homes in countries south of the United States to seek asylum.

The incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II was wrong, and the US government acknowledged as much when it passed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. That Act formally apologized for the grave injustice that was perpetrated due to “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.” To perpetrate a similar wrong today, against young people who are guilty of nothing more than seeking safety and a better life, is unacceptable and must be stopped.

“The Japanese American National Museum was founded by individuals who knew it was imperative to prevent what happened to them and their families during World War II from ever happening again,” said Ann Burroughs, President and CEO of JANM. “The use of Fort Sill for detaining minors only further demonstrates that without action from those who understand the failures of our history, regardless of background, this country’s leadership will continue to chart a course toward tragedy.”

Fort Sill’s history as a place of imprisonment isn’t limited to WWII. It was also a Native American boarding school where indigenous children were forcibly removed from their parents and communities as part of the government’s efforts to assimilate them. It served as a prisoner of war camp for members of the Chiricahua Apache tribe as part of their forced removal from the Southwest in the late 1800s. For the location to again be used for the incarceration of people of color, and children in particular, is deeply troubling.

“Immigrant children are among the most vulnerable among us and should not be detained under any circumstances. Locking them up in a place where so much injustice has already been committed threatens to add another tragic chapter to history. Though few stood up for Japanese Americans in the 1940s, the Japanese American National Museum is steadfast in its support of any community now being targeted, including the minors who may be destined for Fort Sill and all of the children who have been separated from their families as a result of the government’s inhumane policies toward migrants. We are committed to using our voice to prevent history from repeating itself. History does not shout much louder than this,” added Burroughs.


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About the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), a Smithsonian Affiliate
Established in 1985, the Japanese American National Museum promotes understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. Located in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, JANM is a hybrid institution that straddles traditional museum categories and strives to provide a voice for Japanese Americans as well as a forum that enables all people to explore their own heritage and culture. Since opening to the public, JANM has presented nearly 100 exhibitions onsite and traveled 20 of its exhibitions to locations around the world, including the Smithsonian Institution and the Ellis Island Museum in the United States, and several leading cultural museums in Japan and South America.

JANM is located at 100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. General admission is $12 adults, $6 students and seniors, free for members and children under age five. Admission is free to everyone on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and every third Thursday of the month from noon to 8 p.m. General admission prices and free admission times may not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions. Closed Monday, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. For more information visit or call 213.625.0414.



Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey through the World of Japanese Toys
Through July 7, 2019
In California in the 1970s, Mark Nagata was living an all-American childhood when an aunt and uncle serving on a US military base in Japan sent him a box filled with some of that country’s most popular toys. They were kaiju and heroes, and these gifts inspired him to zealously collect vintage Japanese vinyl toys over the course of his entire life. Kaiju translates to “strange creature” in English but has come to mean “giant monster” referring to the creatures like Godzilla and Mothra that inhabited the postwar movie and television screens of Japan. The advent of these monsters brought about the creation of characters to combat them—hence the emergence of pop-culture heroes like Ultraman and Kamen Rider. Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey through the World of Japanese Toys showcases hundreds of dazzling vintage and contemporary Japanese vinyl toys, providing a feast for the eyes and the imagination.

At First Light: The Dawning of Asian Pacific America
Through October 20, 2019
At First Light: The Dawning of Asian Pacific America is a multi-media exhibition that explores and celebrates the emergence of a politically defined Asian Pacific American consciousness and identity. A co-production of Visual Communications (VC) and the Japanese American National Museum, At First Light chronicles the transformation of the un-American categorization of “Oriental” to the political identity of “Asian Pacific American” that rejected racist stereotypes, stood up for human rights, recovered lost histories, and created new cultural expressions. The exhibition draws from the collections of VC, the first Asian Pacific American media organization in the country, which formed in Los Angeles in 1970 to capture and cultivate the newfound unity that was Asian Pacific America. The resiliency and resistance embodied in At First Light serve as a reminder—as well as a call to action—of what can be accomplished when people unite as a community with commitment.

Common Ground: The Heart of Community
Incorporating hundreds of objects, documents, and photographs collected by JANM, this exhibition chronicles 130 years of Japanese American history, from the early days of the Issei pioneers through the World War II incarceration to the present. In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, the final section of Common Ground has been reimagined to further emphasize the redress movement, the landmark passage of the Act, and its relevance today.