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Kansas reminds license plates after complaints about ethnic complaints

(WICHITA, CANADA) – Kansas remembers hundreds of road signs that contain the inscriptions "JAP" as a result of complaints of an attack on Japanese Americans.

The Kansas Revenue Department reported that there are 731 active registrations that contain this combination of random letters on standard license plates. Vehicle owners were sent a letter on Tuesday and asked them to return the plate to the Regional Office for Vehicles within ten days to replace them free of charge. Plates that have not been replaced during that time will be identified in the state system and will be replaced in their annual renewal.

The problem arose last year when Keith Kawamoto saw a car with a Kansas record in operation near his home in Culver City, California, and took a photo. A 70-year-old California man wrote several letters to Kansas officials, including Governor Jeff Colyer.

"I told them he was considered a very devious racial hatred and I do not think it should be allowed anywhere," Kawamoto said.

He got the excuse back from the State Motor Vehicle Division, but Kawamoto wanted Kansas to get the descrambled boards.

Kawasaki's Kawasaki photo was first released by Pacific Citizen, a newspaper of the Japanese American Civil League.

When a woman 67 years old, a Japanese-American woman, Barbara Johnson, who lives in Abilene, Kansas, she saw the Kawamoto image with a license plate read and read a story in the Pacific of America, bringing memories of her childhood.

"It was not a good time to be Japanese because of Pearl Harbor and World War II," she said. "I remember alive that the baby is called" Jap "- and how I felt so small and wounded by calling it."

Johnson knew that the license plate was not a blatant record of offensive offense and said he might think that the Kansas officials "simply do not know what it means because it was World War II, several generations ago."

Together with her husband Rick, Kansas's couple might have thought they could do what Kawamoto of California could not do in the past year: he took the plates back out of the way.

"It was very gratifying to know that someone in the government is willing to hear our story page and recognize it and proactively act as fast as it was," said Rick Johnson.

Rachel Whitten, a Kansas Revenue Department spokeswoman, said this question was submitted to the Department of Control, which decided at the end of October to print all of the current license plates marked "JAP" and limit its use in future records.

"We are very serious about these complaints and we appreciate being warned," said Whitten.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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