Japanese American Interment in WWII
Feb 05, 2019
Jim Tanimoto
Japanese American Interment in WWII

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt 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 rounded up and sent to one of ten internment camps constructed in remote parts of the western United States.  One of those people was Jim Tanimoto, an eighteen old second generation American citizen living in Gridley who was forced to move with his family to the Tule Lake Segregation Center in far Northern California near the Oregon border.  Most families lost everything they owned after spending up to four years behind barbed wire and armed guard towers.  Today, at the age of 95, Mr. Tanimoto is the last living member of a group of 36 protesters in Block 42 who took a stand, and refused to sign loyalty papers.  That act of civil disobedience led to a supreme court decision that overturned Executive Order 9066 as unconstitutional.  In 1990, nearly fifty years later, Mr. Tanimoto received a letter of apology from President George W. Bush and a check for $20,000 to “recognize that serious injustices were done to Japanese Americans during World War II”.

Jim Tanimoto was born in Marysville, CA and lived most of his life in Gridley as a farmer.  His own father and mother immigrated to the United States legally, first to Hawaii and then to California.  He is the subject of the documentary films “Mr. Tanimoto’s Journey – The story of one man’s resistance and “Resistance at Tule Lake”.  Today at the age of 95, he still makes his home in Gridley and give talks to school groups and community organizations.