An oral history of the Office of Redress Administration

In 1988, Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, a historic piece of legislation that sought, for the first time, to provide a measure of justice to Japanese Americans nearly 40 years after their incarceration during World War II. The Japanese American Redress program that resulted is a little-known success story of the United States government - a program whose history is now captured in this film and oral history project. The Office of Redress Administration bore the seal and support of three different presidential administrations, and was run by a federal workforce that represented a diverse cross-section of the American people. And over its decade-long operation (1988-1998), the ORA reached 81,000 people with a redress payment and official apology letter from the President of the United States.

The Office of Redress Administration (ORA) Oral History Project is an effort to capture and preserve the first person recollections of those tasked with carrying out this historic government program, as well as the community leaders that made it possible. These interviews are featured in the short film below.

Watch the Video

About the Project

Emi Kuboyama initiated the ORA project in 2018. A native of Hawaii, she was no stranger to the history of Japanese internment or the impact that dark period still held in Japanese American communities. She began her legal career with the ORA in 1995. In 2017, she received training at the University of California, Berkeley’s Advanced Oral History Institute, and with the assistance of Todd Holmes, a historian at Berkeley’s Oral History Center, set out to conduct interviews with former ORA staff and community leaders affiliated with the program. This film and collection of interviews is the product of that work.


Emi Kuboyama - Project creator, Interviewer

Todd Holmes - Project Consultant, Videographer, Assistant Editor & Producer

Geoff McGhee - Senior Video Editor & Producer


Tom Ikeda and the staff of Densho Digital Repository

Dale Minami

David Brazer

Anthony Antonio

Stanford University

The Oral History Center at University of California, Berkeley

Kay Ochi

Bill Kaneko and JACL

Footage generously provided by the Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR) and Visual Communications.

View the archive

Materials from the ORA Oral History Project are available at the Densho Digital Repository, including raw video interviews and transcripts.

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of the Interior. This material received Federal financial assistance for the preservation and interpretation of U.S. confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability or age in its federally funded assisted projects. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to:

Office of Equal Opportunity

National Park Service

1849 C Street, NW

Washington, DC 20240