Japanese American Quakers Among Thousands Protesting Auction of Art from WWII Internment Camps

Update 4/16/15: The petition worked! The contested artifacts were withdrawn from auction by Rago (via NYTimes).

Quakers of Japanese-American descent in the Philadelphia, Pa., area are among thousands protesting an auction of 450 art objects in the collection of the late historian Allen Eaton, objects and artifacts created by Japanese Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government in internment camps during World War II.

Image from Change.org petition
Image from Change.org petition

“These are historical and cultural artifacts about a terrible episode in America’s history of civil rights and race relations and should be treated with respect,” said Chiyo Moriuchi, a member of Newtown (Pa.) Meeting.

“Friends were very involved in supporting Japanese Americans during and after the WWII incarceration,” said Moriuchi, who asked that American Quakers join those asking the auction house, Rago Arts of Lambertville, N.J., to delay the auction of the lots in question until the living descendants of the artists who created the works could be consulted on their rightful disposition.

A petition on Change.org was created to gather support: “Please sign this petition to ask Rago Arts to remove Lots 1232-1255 and our cultural patrimony from the auction block. These items were not meant to be viewed in the privacy of a collector’s home and that a price tag should not be put on our cultural property.” There is also a Facebook page posting updates.

The auction is slated for the morning of Friday, April 17.

1 thought on “Japanese American Quakers Among Thousands Protesting Auction of Art from WWII Internment Camps

  1. Dear Friends,
    I was the spokesperson for the ad hoc committee that was formed to protest the auction and was interviewed by the NY Times, which printed their story this past Tuesday. So many groups were involved and I still do not know the names of many of them. These include the individual chapters of the JACL (Japanese American Citizens League). I thank the presidents of local JACL chapters for jumping in when the outcome was still uncertain. Their presidents/co-presidents are George Hirose and Mike Ishii (New York), Scott Nakamura (Philadelphia), and Sharon Yoshida and Lenore Wurtzel (Seabrook). Today I learned that the Honolulu and Florin Chapters of JACL were the first two to protest. It is an incredible feeling to know that there is so much support out there. Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart.

    Toshi Abe
    Philadelphia Chapter JACL

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