A Long Road to Justice


The Shibayama family of Lima, Peru lost everything and was forcibly removed from the country during World War II.


By MARTHA NAKAGAWA, Rafu Contributor

Isamu Carlos “Art” Shibayama, the son of a textile importer, had an affluent life in Lima, Peru, with his parents and five siblings. When he was 13, all that came to an end.

His family was among the more than 2,264 Japanese Latin Americans (JLA) kidnapped from their homes in 13 Latin American countries during World War II by the U.S. government to be used in hostage exchanges with Japan.

Seventy-three years later, almost to the day, he will finally get to tell his story before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) next week in Washington, D.C.

“We want to let the people know what happened to us,” said Shibayama. “We’ve been fighting the U.S. government at the IACHR for over 13 years.”

“This is a historic event,” said Grace Shimizu, who has been heading the Campaign for Justice: Redress NOW for Japanese Latin Americans! (CFJ) for decades. “We are asking for redress because we’re charging the U.S. government with the ongoing failure to provide redress for war crimes and crimes against humanity that were perpetrated against the Shibayama brothers, who were children during World War II.”

Although the IACHR hearing comes nearly 14 years after Shibayama had submitted the petition, Shimizu said this was not uncommon and that they had been given expedited consideration. Had the petition followed chronological order of filing, Shimizu said they may have had to wait another year and a half.

“It just