The economic losses of Japanese-Americans interned during World War...


WASHINGTON -- The economic losses of Japanese-Americans interned during World War II are estimated in a new report to be as high as $6.2 billion, a federal commission said today. The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians released the study made by ICF Inc., a Washington consulting firm with 14 years experience, ICF calculated only property and income loss and did not consider compensation for pain and suffering.

'The excluded people suffered enormous damages and losses, both material and intangible,' commission Chairwoman Joan Bernstein said in a statement.


'Undoubtably, the ethnic Japanese suffered many other kinds of losses from their lives being uprooted and from their careers and education being disrupted,' she said.

The commission, established by Congress in 1980 to study the relocation of 120,000 Japanese-Americans shortly after Pearl Harbor, will offer its own recommendations later this month.


The consulting firm concluded that because the losses occurred 40 years ago, there is no straightforward way to arrive at a single figure for a value of losses, so it used several different figures in computing the loss:

-Value of the loss in 1945 dollars.

-Value of the loss in 1983 dollars, thus accounting for nearly four decades of inflation.

-Value of the loss in 1983, taking both inflation and accumulated interest into account. The interest was calculated two ways, by actual corporate bond rates over the 38-year period, or by a 3 percent real interest rate plus inflation.

The study estimated that the Japanese-Americans lost between $149 million and $370 million in 1945 dollars, and adjusting these figures to account for inflation alone, between $810 million and $2 billion in 1983 dollars.

'Total uncompensated economic losses of the ethnic Japanese adjusted for the corperate bond rate range from $1.2 billion to $3.1 billion and at a 3 percent interest rate and inflation from $2.5 billion to $6.2 billion,' the study said.

The study of income loss covered 88,000 Japanese-American adults detained in relocation camps. The total net loss of income alone was placed at $108 million to $164 million in 1945 dollars, or $589 million to $893 million in 1983 dollars. Using an adjustment based on the corporate bond rate, the study put the net income loss at $1.8 billion to $2.7 billion.


The study estimated the total uncompensated property loss alone, adjusted to count for the corporate bond rate, falls between $335 million and $1.7 billion. Including 3 percent interest plus inflation, the property loss would between $680 million and $3.4 billion.

Under the 1948 Japanese-American Evacuation Claims Act, the federal government paid out $37 million for property losses, but the study said there was good reason to believe the figure did not represent the true losses.

ICF Inc., of Washington, is headed by Michael C. Barth, who served in the old Department and Health, Education and Welfare as director of income security policy analysis, 1973-1975 and deputy assistant secretary of income security policy 1980.

During the commission's hearings, several Japanese-American groups asked for compensation. One, the 700-member National Coalition for Redress-Reparations, asked for a minimum of $25,000 for each person interned, or $3 billion in all.

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