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Lillian Baker; Denied Japanese Incarceration

October 29, 1996|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lillian Baker, a controversial conservative author and lecturer who maintained that Japanese Americans were not incarcerated in concentration camps during World War II, has died. She was 75.

Baker died Oct. 21 at her home in Gardena, said a spokesman for the Americans for Historical Accuracy, which Baker founded.

In recent years, Baker and her followers had opposed reparations for interned Japanese Americans and efforts to designate Manzanar, a former concentration camp in the Owens Valley, a national historic site.

"There were 25,000 people of Japanese descent who were residing in other states who were never touched," she told The Times in 1991. "So how can we say this was racism?"

Baker said the Japanese Americans from Los Angeles' Little Tokyo and elsewhere were voluntary guests at the camp, free to leave as soon as they proved their loyalty. She maintained that the Japanese Americans, far from being incarcerated and unfairly treated, benefited from the education and free food they received at Manzanar.

In addition to founding and leading the Anaheim-based Americans for Historical Accuracy, Baker wrote several books about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the Pacific theater of World War II. Her most recent book was "The Japanning of America: Redress & Reparations Demands by Japanese-Americans."

Baker was given awards by the conservative Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge and other historical societies.

The widow of a World War II veteran, Baker had given her voluminous files on the war and the camps to the Hoover Institute at Stanford University.

A memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. today at Wayfarer's Chapel in Palos Verdes.

Donations may be made to the Lillian Baker Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 17099, Anaheim, CA 92817, for scholarships for history students.

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