Friday's editions incorrectly designated the party affiliation of former Sen. Edward W. Brooke. He is a Republican.
A U.S. commission yesterday recommended that Congress, as an "act of national apology," spend up to $1.5 billion to pay compensation of $20,000 each to about 60,000 surviving Japanese Americans who were interned in relocation camps during World War II.
The unprecedented recommendation was part of a redress package proposed after two years of study by a congressionally established commission, which has called the evacuation and internment of 120,000 West Coast Japanese Americans a "grave injustice" unsupported by military necessity.
The commission's announcement yesterday brought an angry denunciation from prominent New York attorney John J. McCloy, 88, an assistant secretary of war at the time and one of the architects of the roundup.
McCloy telephoned reporters to defend the internment as "the most benign episode" of the war. "No one got away with as little damage" as the Japanese Americans, he said.
"It is utterly unconscionable and unfair to all those who suffered from the attack on Pearl Harbor that Sunday morning, none of whom were adequately compensated," McCloy said. "How can you adequately compensate those who are still entombed in ships sunk in Pearl Harbor ?
"How about those who are dead? Were they ever compensated? How about those tortured by the Japanese on Bataan? . . . I guess I'm a little emotional on this subject."
Rep. Norman Y. Mineta (D-Calif), a Japanese American, endorsed the findings and said he would work for their enactment. "As one who was placed in military detention when 10 1/2 years of age, I know the terror and despair of being taken away from home and guarded for years under machine guns," he said. "Can anyone name a monetary figure which is precisely worth the value of two or three years lost in a prison camp?"
McCloy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and other members of his administration defended the evacuation as a necessary precaution to protect the West Coast from espionage in event of a Japanese invasion. The invasion never came, and documents uncovered by the commission show that many government officials, including FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, felt there was no threat of disloyalty from Japanese Americans.
In the hurried evacuation, they gave up jobs, homes, property and businesses. Some 85,000 were still interned at the end of the war, the commission said yesterday.
In addition to individual compensation, the nine-member commission, chaired by Washington attorney Joan Z. Bernstein, recommended creation of a foundation to fund research and educational activities in the field of civil liberties and racial prejudice.
The commission also suggested pardons for the 15 or 20 Japanese Americans convicted on criminal charges in connection with resistance to the evacuation. It further proposed liberal treatment for Japanese Americans seeking restitution of lost jobs or entitlements.
Finally, the commission recommended that Congress pass a joint resolution to be signed by the president that "recognizes that a grave injustice was done and offers the apologies of the nation . . . . "
The commission also proposed compensating the survivors among 900 Aleuts evacuated when Japan invaded their islands. The evacuation was justified, the commission said, but the government "failed to meet" its responsibility to care for them. About 10 percent of the Aleut evacuees died during their two to three years in camps, the commission said. It recommended a $5 million program to aid the Aleutian community and payments of $5,000 to each survivor.
One commissioner, Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Calif.) opposed compensation for the Japanese Americans. "This is no different than the case that could be brought by other members of society, blacks and Indians." He said he objected to the idea that redress is meaningful "only if money is attached to it."
He also questioned whether Congress, already facing budget problems, would appropriate the money. "We ought not to stir the hopes of individuals if those hopes are not going to be satisfied," Lungren said.
McCloy, who said the commission ought to be investigated, called it "effrontery to suggest that the president and Congress should apologize--just to think of it makes me stagger--apologize for the attack on Pearl Harbor."
"Nobody probably suffered as little as those ethnic Japanese who were moved," McCloy said. "Their children were educated. They had all sorts of amenities."
Asked why Americans of German and Italian descent were not evacuated, McCloy said that Germany and Italy "didn't attack us."
"That's a mighty consideration and there were some 90 million of them, scattered all over the country," he said. "These people the Japanese Americans were concentrated on the West Coast. It was easier."
The members of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians are Bernstein, the Rev. Robert F. Drinan, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas Judge William M. Marutani (an internee who said yesterday he would not accept any compensation), former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, former Massachusetts Democratic senator Edward W. Brooke, former Civil Rights Commission chairman Arthur S. Flemming, the Rev. Ishmael V. Gromoff and former Washington senator Hugh B. Mitchell. Washington lawyer Angus Macbeth is special counsel.