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The Japanese word “nisei” means a son or daughter of Japanese immigrants who is born and educated in America, especially the United States. It literally means “second generation” (from “ni” = second and “sei” generation. First known use was in 1929.)
The reaction in the United States brought on by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, became a catalyst for challenging the loyalty of all citizens of Japanese descent. Between 1942 and 1945, the U.S. government forced more than 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes, farms, schools, jobs, and businesses in violation of their constitutional civil rights and liberties.
In 2009, Assemblyman Furutani authored Assembly Bill 37, which bestows honorary degrees on individuals whose college education was disrupted due to the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The California Community Colleges, California State University, and University of California systems all participate in the Nisei project. Since this historic legislation was signed into law, hundreds of Japanese Americans have received honorary degrees, some posthumously, from colleges and universities throughout California.