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Japanese WWII Internees Get Honorary Diplomas

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COMPTON (AP) — Nearly 70 years after their studies were interrupted by World War II, dozens of Japanese Americans forced into relocation camps now have California college degrees.

The Compton Community College District on Saturday presented honorary associate in arts degrees to the internees.

One of them was 87-year-old Lawson Sakai, who was awarded a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars during World War II. His studies at the former Compton Junior College were suspended in 1942 when the government forcibly relocated about 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry to internment camps.

Sakai says he has four children and seven grandchildren and he was the only one without a degree.

The Los Angeles Times says 78 second-generation Japanese Americans were qualified for honorary degrees and 46 of them planned to be on hand Saturday to claim diplomas in person.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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