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Japanese Americans

In: Historical Events

Submitted By justathought11
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World War II:
The Internment of Japanese-American Citizens

American History 129
History 129
22 April 2005

On December 7, 1941, the United States of America suffered from an unanticipated attack on Pearl Harbor. President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that this day would live in infamy. This attack brought forth an array of drastic changes for the lives of Japanese-American citizens that were currently living in the United States at the time. Officials in Washington became highly involved in deciphering a plan to prevent further espionage, and sabotage from happening. After the attack many Americans had strong anti-Japanese attitudes (NARA). This brought the Executive Order 9066 into full effect. Two months following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt decided to instate the Executive Order 9066 into full effect. Executive Order 9066 was the starting point for the internment of Japanese-American citizens living inside of the United States. Officials feared that Japan had plans of further invading the homeland. Officials believed that Japanese-American citizens would side with Japan, and aid them rather than the United States. Order 9066 would bring the fear of invasion to a since of security. This order had to power to have the ability to relocate all people of the Japanese decent on the western coast to the Midwestern states, and it did exactly that. This order affected 117,000 people of Japanese descent, and two-thirds of those people were native-born citizens of the United States (NARA). The other one-third was illegal aliens, and was placed in internment because they violated the Alien Enemies Act (Wikipedia). Within those people, there were two generations of Japanese. The first generation of Japanese-Americans was called Issie. This generation arrived in the United States before the Immigration Act of 1924. They were brought to the United States as a supply of cheap labor ( The second generation of Japanese-American citizens was called Nisei. This generation was the generation of Japanese-American citizens that were reaching adulthood by the time of World War II. This group numbered 70,000 people at the time of internment (NARA). In a matter of weeks, the Japanese were sent to one of the seventeen center were they waited to be placed into a more permanent relocation center. Permanent location centers were located in ten different locations around the United States. Colorado had one camp along with Wyoming, Idaho, Arizona, and Utah. California had two locations were camps were held. Arkansas the furthest eastern state had the highest number of camps with three different locations. The camps were basic military style bunkers built with simplicity. According to a 1943 War Relocation Authority report, internees were housed in "tarpaper-covered barracks of simple frame construction without plumbing or cooking facilities of any kind." (Wikipedia). Camps were surrounded with barbed wire, and cots for beds. With prison like facilities, some internees became troublesome, and had to be sent to a camp at Tule Lake, California (NARA). With the war drawing to a conclusion, internment camps were slowing being dismissed and Japanese-American citizens were able to return to their normal lives. Some families were returning to their homes, and others were relocating to different locations. As time passed, congress realized what had happened was ethically wrong, which had lead to the passage of Public Law 100-383 in 1988 which provided a $20,000 cash payment to each person who suffered the harsh internment camps. The question is was the internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II justified? I would have to answer this question with a strong ‘no’. However, it is understandable why the thought of internment camps were necessary at the time. Our homeland was attacked by Japan, and during war time, a sour impression evolved over the Japanese-American citizens of the United States; a stereotype. Americans views only saw the Japanese-American citizens as Japanese, not Americans. Stereotyping happens all the time, and will continue to happen throughout the existence of the human race. The Japanese-Americans were stereotyped by their ancestry, not on their citizenship. This brings racism into play. America at the time was already dealing with the civil rights of African-American citizens within the country, but now another race was dealing with the realities of this as well. This was an extremely racist and unethical event that happened. Many of people’s civil liberties were violated to an extent that is unimaginable. It is an amazing statistic that of all Japanese-American’s taken in, two-thirds were full citizens of the United States. This is very sad, because America is supposed to be a place were people of every race should be able to live freely without persecution of their government. This is especially distasteful when the citizens that are being persecuted have actually done nothing wrong. Almost forty years after this remarkable event, congress realized what they had actually done was unjust. The passage of Public Law 100-383 in 1988 provided a $20,000 cash “apology” for what had happened. Realistically, $20,000 is not nearly enough of an apology for what had happened. People were forced to sell their properties for a percentage of what the property value actually was. They were also forced to sell personal belongings, and what they decided to keep was promised to be given back to them, but in all actuality went into holding in warehouses. Internment houses were in my views barns considered to the normality of standard living. No running water, and no facilities, is not just. People consider this almost on the same level as the concentration camps that Hitler’s regime was using. I agree. We were engaged in a war that’s main focus was to stop the persecution of a group of people because of religion, but in our homeland, we basically were doing the same thing, just on a slightly more humane manner. In regards to whether the internment of Japanese-American citizens was unjust or not, I would say yes. I see this event as a disgrace to our country and to what our country stands for.…...

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