The redress movement began with the Japanese-American Evacuation Claims Act of 1948. The act attempted to reimburse evacuees for their enormous financial losses during the evacuation. The act required documented proof of such losses. "Holding onto receipts had not been a high priority for many Japanese-Americans, who were given only a few days to pack up one bag of belongings" (Maki, Kitano, and Berthold 1999: 54). Due to the lack of proof, many Japanese-Americans did not receive compensation. The compensation was also settled on 1942 prices, without interest, and minus lawyer's fees. Litigation relating to the Claims Act lasted over seventeen years (Weglyn 1996: 274).
Due to the lack of actual compensation for the Japanese evacuees, civic groups began pressuring the government for redress. On July 31, 1980 President Jimmy Carter created the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. The Commission was charged with reviewing the facts and circumstances leading to Executive Order 9066, to review the directives of military forces requiring the use of internment camps, and to make recommendations for appropriate remedy of the past situation. Over the course of three years the nine-member panel interviewed former evacuees, ex-governmental officials, administrators of the camps, and reviewed archival materials and examined numerous secondary source materials.
In 1983 the commission issued its report. The report ultimately found that the there was no threat of national security along the west coast and the mass exclusion of people of Japanese ancestry was not necessary and unjustified. The Commission further made the following recommendations for remedies.
- Congress should pass a joint resolution, to be signed by the President, which recognizes the injustice that was done and offers the apologies of the nation.
- The President should pardon those Japanese who were convicted of violating the statutes imposing a curfew on American citizens. Furthermore the Department of Justice should review other wartime convictions.
- Congress should apply restitution for positions, status or entitlements lost in whole or in part because of the evacuation.
- Congress should recognize the injustice imposed upon the evacuees and the need to redress these events by appropriating money to establish a special foundation. The fund should be used to sponsor research and public educational activities so that the events of this inquiry will be remembered.
- Congress should establish a fund to provide for personal redress. The fund should be used to provide a one-time compensatory payment of $20,000 to each of the approximately 60,000 survivors. (Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians 1997: 462-465).
Before leaving office in 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation into law which offered a formal apology to America's ethnic Japanese. In 1990 survivors of the evacuation began receiving notices from the government that checks for $20,000 would be forthcoming and that the oldest survivors would be receiving the checks first. It was extremely unfortunate that compensation was not given to the evacuees until fifty years later because thousands of evacuees were no longer alive.