SACRAMENTO — Assemblywoman Marian W. La Follette (R-Northridge) on Wednesday criticized payment of reparations to Japanese-Americans interned by the U.S. government during World War II, drawing accusations of racism from other legislators.
La Follette voiced opposition to a bill to make reparations received by Japanese-Americans for wartime internment exempt from the state personal income tax. The federal reparations are already exempt from federal income tax.
The Assembly, by a 50-9 margin, approved and sent to Gov. George Deukmejian the bill by Assemblyman Patrick Johnston (D-Stockton).
In opposing Johnston's bill, La Follette told her colleagues on the Assembly floor that she "would like to see an apology from the Japanese government for the maiming and killing of our young men" during World War II.
In an interview, the four-term lawmaker, who was a teen-ager in Van Nuys when World War II began, said she vividly remembers friends who were killed in the Pacific. "It will always remain in my mind that the war resulted from an attack by the Japanese government," she said.
Her comments drew fire from several lawmakers.
Assemblyman Phillip Isenberg (D-Sacramento) called La Follette's remarks especially insensitive because they came on the same day that President Reagan signed the federal bill apologizing to Japanese-Americans who were interned and authorizing reparation payments. Under its provisions, about 60,000 survivors--about half of those who were interned--would be eligible for $20,000 each.
Assemblyman Richard Floyd (D-Hawthorne) assailed La Follette's remarks as racist. "We're not talking about people who bombed Pearl Harbor," Floyd said. "We're talking about U.S. citizens.
"This has nothing to do with the Japanese government. We took our own citizens and put them in concentration camps."