Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

Asian Americans Advancing Justice Demands Apology from Secretary Zinke for Ignorant Remark Directed at Congresswoman Hanabusa

LOS ANGELES - Today, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) called for U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, to issue a formal public apology to Representative Colleen Hanabusa for his inappropriate use of the Japanese language in response to her question about preserving funding for memorials recognizing the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans. 
Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five Asian American civil rights organizations, releases the following statement in calling for Zinke’s apology: 
“Secretary Zinke’s remark was both inappropriate for the occasion and insensitive to Congresswoman Hanabusa, who had just imparted a deeply personal story of her grandfathers both being held in internment camps. Instead of showing sensitivity toward the subject and Representative Hanabusa, Secretary Zinke chose that inopportune time to share his lack of Japanese cultural knowledge when he responded flippantly, ‘Oh, Konnichiwa’ rather than offer a serious reply to the Congresswoman’s question. His remark also demonstrates the “perpetual foreigner” problem faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Although she is a fourth-generation American-born member of Congress, Secretary Zinke somehow thought it appropriate to greet the Congresswoman in Japanese. 
The most appropriate remark Secretary Zinke could and should have made would have been to acknowledge Rep. Hanabusa’s tragic story and respect our shared history of the incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans as a shameful, dark moment in U.S. history that should be remembered as such by this administration. Secretary Zinke’s gaffe demonstrates how little we have learned from our history and why the administration must continue to fund these memorials.”
Jessica Jinn, (213) 241-8817,
About Advancing Justice - LA: 
Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation's members are: Advancing Justice | AAJC (Washington, DC), Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice - Los Angeles, Advancing Justice - Atlanta, and Advancing Justice - Chicago.
Friday, March 16, 2018


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Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.