A U.S. government plan to publicly apologize and pay $20,000 to Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II is unconstitutional, the Anaheim-based American War Veterans Relief Assn. Inc. claimed in a lawsuit filed Thursday.
The plan violates constitutional guarantees by "denying payment to or even acknowledging the existence of the German- and Italian-Americans placed in relocation and internment centers alongside the Japanese," said John P. Coale, attorney for the organization.
Rita Takahashi, representing the Japanese-American Citizens League, called the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, "groundless" and said she expects it to "fizzle."
The Anaheim organization provides financial assistance to veterans across the country and refers them to hospitals through a toll-free number, according to Albert Lyon, 65, a World War II veteran and a part-time employee with the organization.
Lyon said the organization, which claims 30,000 members, is a two-man operation consisting of himself and John Kirby, who founded it in 1980.