Japanese American Concentration Camps | EssayIvy.com

Japanese American Concentration camps

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Japanese American Camps
After the Pearl Harbor, a lot of Americans started to fear and suspect Japanese Americans.
They blamed them for the attack and accused them of espionage. On the west Coast, there was
open hostility and vandalism of property belonging to Japanese Americans. This prejudice reached
its peak with the Order 9066 where President Roosevelt ordered that Japanese Americans be
evacuated and relocated to internment camps. This was two months after the attack. This caused
loss of property and homes to many Japanese Americans. Families even broke up as men were
abducted and labelled “potential enemy aliens.” Before the government made an apology in 1988,
it had taken many petitions and almost four decades.
The Executive Order
The 1940 census showed that Japanese Americans were about 127,000. President
Roosevelt, in 1941, hired John Franklin Carter to carry out an investigation on Japanese
Americans. Carter sent Munson to West Coast, and Warren to the Southeast and the borderlands
of Mexico. The report from Munson, in November 1941, showed that there was no unanimous
response from Japanese Americans in supporting Japanese efforts to war. He emphasized that
Japanese Americans were loyal to the U.S. Carter forwarded this report to President Roosevelt
with a memorandum one page long that included a quotation from the report that said that “..for
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the most part the local Japanese are loyal to the United States or, at worst, hope that by remaining
quiet they can avoid concentration camps or irresponsible mobs (Song, Min, and Jean 91).
Following the Pearl Harbor attack and the rise of prejudice towards the Japanese
Americans, the president and his cabinet discussed a policy of removal regarding the population
of Japanese Americans. The then secretary of war, henry Stimson, and Secretary if Navy, Frank
Knox, favored the removal policy, while Attorney General Francis Biddle did not support it as he
felt it violated the constitutional rights of individuals. The president accepted the policy of removal
and on February 19, 1942, he issues Executive Order 9066, which saw relocation and internment
camps created for Japanese Americans.
Deportations started on the 25
of February when the United States Navy ordered that
Japanese Americans vacate terminal Island within a time frame of 48 hours. In March the same
year, the Wartime Civil Control Administration asked all Japanese Americans in Oregon, the D.C.
area, Arizona, and California to show up in 16 concentration centers. They were to brig only what
could be carried in their hands, usually a suitcase. The largest detention center hosted 18,000
people, it was in the Santa Anita Race Track. Here, the people moved into stalls for horses. The
Japanese Americans in the assembly centers were under the War Relocation Authority. This had
been established solely for this purpose. The WRA completed the construction of ten relocation
camps in May 1942 in Arizona, Colorado, Arkansas, Wyoming, Utah, California, and Idaho. It
started transferring Japanese Americans to these camps from the assembly centers.
Although the camps were called relocation camps by the United States government, the
camps that had been newly built had barbed wire, military barracks, search lights and guard towers.
Everett Rogers and Nancy Barlit write that "this terminology implied that the Japanese Americans
were simply being relocated from the West Coast to other parts of the country. This euphemistic
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label, however, would not call for barbed wire, armed guards, and searchlights. The guns
pointed inside" (Rogers and Bartlit 155).
Barlit, in a 2013 interview with the Atomic heritage Foundation states the condition of the
camps, they “were situated in particularly isolated godforsaken places, characterized by unpleasant
weather, physical isolation and difficult living conditions (Rogers and Bartlit 155). The cause of
the isolation was a security emphasis, where the government wanted to ensure that Japanese
Americans were kept as far away as possible from manufacturing plants and military installations.
There were internment camps that were different from the relocation camps. These were run by
the Immigration and Naturalization service and not the WRA. The Japanese Americans in the
internment camps were. As Bartlit says, most of the people in the internment camps were“teachers,
newspaper editors, or leaders of a Japanese religious or cultural organization (Rogers and Bartlit
157). They awaited court hearings in any of the four internment camps. They would be sent to
army POW camps if they were thought to be dangerous, and reunited with their families in the
WRA relocation camps if they were not seen as dangerous. Those in the relocation camps had less
legal rights than the Japanese Americans in the internment camps. Those in the WRA relocation
were subject to the President’s Order 9066. In contrast, in the internment camps, the rights of the
Japanese Americans were guaranteed
There were strict curfews and ruled in the relocation camps. The relocation camps offered
employment opportunities and education programs. The Japanese Americans organized some
classes for the Japanese language as well as other programs that sought to maintain their cultural
identity. In Tule Lake Camp, the people strongly identified with their Japanese culture, which
caused them to organize a pro-Japanese group that was involved in a riot, resulting in the sending
of its leaders to internment camps in Santa Fe. This, ironically, contradicted the motivation of
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ensuring Japanese Americans were as far as possible from military instalments. Bartlit wonders
“why they were brought as “dangerous enemy aliens” away from the coast as potential spies and
brought to the CCC Camp, to the gateway to the biggest secret of all of World War II is kind of a
puzzle, it was in the [Santa Fe] city limits. It was not very far from where Dorothy McKibbin had
her office at 109 E. Palace Avenue (Rogers and Bartlit 159). The WRA hired photographers to
come up with documentaries of the lives of the Japanese Americans at the concentration camps.
After the war ended, the Japanese Americans were let out of the camps. Many went back
home only to find that their goods had been stolen and a lot of their property sold. Over 40,000
Japanese Americans moved from West Coast and went to spend their lives in other places in
America. In the 1970s, political figures of Asian American origin like Senator Daniel Inouye and
Matsunaga of Hawaii and Mineta of San Jose and Matsui of Sacramento, both congressmen, led a
process in which they sought restitution for the relocation and internment camps. Inouye has served
in a 442
all-Japanese American Combat Team. He has then been awarded the Medal of Honor,
which is the highest United States military honor. Matsui and Mineta has grown up in the Heart
Mountain and Tule Lake relocation camps respectively.
In 1981, there was a federal commission appointed to carry out an investigation on Order
9066 and the involvement of the military in the relocation and detention of Americans. It was also
charged with recommending remedies that would be appropriate. The results were published in a
1982 report with that stated “broad historical causes which shaped decisions were race, prejudice,
war hysteria, and failure of political leadership. Widespread ignorance of Japanese Americans
contributed to a policy conceived in haste and executed in an atmosphere of fear and anger at
Japan (Rogers and Bartlit 163). The report also states that “not a single documented act of
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espionage, sabotage, or 5th column activity was committed by an American citizen of Japanese
ancestry or by a resident Japanese alien on the West Coast (Bookman 88).
The Civil Liberties Act was passed by the United States Congress in 1988 and signed by
President Ronald Reagan. All the surviving Japanese Americans, who were 82,219, that had been
interned during that time were sent an official apology letter coming from the president. They were
then awarded each $20,000. The first payments were made to the oldest Japanese Americans in
October 1990. The last payments were made in 1999. On the 29
of June, 2001, a memorial was
constructed in Washington DC. This was to remember the Patriotism of Japanese Americans in
World War II. This came about due to the efforts that the two Congressmen, Matsui and Mineta,
put into ensuring that the efforts of the Japanese Americans were recognized. The memorial has
two cranes, one of the cranes has its wings tied in a barbed wire.
Out of all the ten camps for relocation, Minidoka, Manzanar, and Lake Ture have been
made into National Historic Sites. Rohwer, Granada, Topaz, and Heart Mountain have been made
into National Historic Landmarks. Poston and Gila River have been returned to the control of
American Native communities. Jerome has been turned into private farmlands. Monuments,
museums, and memorials have been built at the sites of many of the camps and there are continued
efforts for education and preservation. A great number of the Japanese Americans who were
interned or kept in the relocation camps wrote stories explaining their experiences in the relocation
camps after the war by publishing books, documentaries, and songs. George Takei, a Japanese
American actor, starred in a Broadway musical that showed the experiences of the Japanese
Americans in the concentration camps. George Takei had been interned at Tule Lake at the time
of the war.
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Japanese Americans both refused to relocate to internet camps and fought federal orders in
court during the World War II. These American claimed the government to deprive them the right
to walk outside during the night. They urged further that living in their own homes violated their
civil liberties. After the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, by Japan, the government of the
United States detente over 110,000 Japanese Americans through force to camps. However, Minoru
Yasui, Fred Korematsu, and Gordon Hirabayashi disobeyed orders. They were ultimately arrested
and jailed, cases taken to Supreme Court and finally lost. The 1954’s policy of Supreme Court,
“separate but equal” violated the Constitution. However, striking down Jim Crow in the South
proved restriction in cases related to the confinement of Japanese Americans. The Japanese
Americans presenting cases on high court upon deprived civil rights were forced to wait for
vindication until 1980.
Minoru Yasui v. the United States
Minoru Yasui was the first Japanese American lawyer admitted to the Oregon Bar. He
worked with the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago but resigned after the attack on Pearl
Harbor and returned to Oregon. After his arrival on Oregon, an Executive Order 9066 was signed
by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Feb. 19, 1942, authorizing the military to prevent Japanese
Americans from entering definite regions and relocating them to internment camps but he resisted
the curfew intentionally. In the book And Justice for All, he explained that “It was my feeling and
belief, then and now, that no military authority has the right to subject any United States citizen to
any requirement that does not equally apply to all other U.S. citizens” (Tateishi, p. 70)
He was detained moving on the streets past restriction. The presiding judge in the District
Court of United States in Portland stated that the order violated the law. The judge further
sentenced Yasui for a year in jail for forsaking his citizenship of United States by working for
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Japanese Consulate and learning the Japanese language. In 1943, the Supreme Court of United
States ruled that he is a U.S. citizen and the curfew he had violated is valid.
Hirabayashi v. the United States
Hirabayashi was a student at the University of Washington. He obeyed the President’s
Executive Order by cutting his study session short. He considered the curfew to violate his Fifth
Amendment rights and immediately defied it. “I was not one of those angry young rebels, looking
for a cause. I was one of those trying to make some sense of this, trying to come up with an
explanation.” He said in a Press Interview Associated with 2000. He was arrested and convicted
in 1842 ending up in a custody for 2 years. The Supreme Court urged that the command was not
biased as it was the necessity of the military and had to wait until 1980’s to see
justice (Hirabayashi et al, p. 98). He spends the years after World War II pursuing a master's
degree and a doctorate in sociology from Washington University.
Korematsu v. the United States
Fred Korematsu defied the order of reporting to an imprisonment camp by only not willing
to leave his girlfriend. He was arrested in 1942 and fought his case to Supreme Court. The court
opposed, arguing that the internment was a military necessity but not internment of Japanese
Americans (Alonso & Karen, p. 171). Decades later, these three Japanese Americans were luck
Peter Irons gave evidence that officials in the government withheld some documents from the
Supreme Court stating that there was no threat posed by the Japanese Americans in the United
States (Irons & Peter, p. 120) . The official government apologized for internment and
compensated $20,000 to the internment survivors after the Congress passed the Civil liberties Act
in 1988 (Robinson & Greg, p. 87). Yasui, Korematsu, and Hirabayashi died in 1986, 2005 and
2012 respectively.
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Even today, there are controversies regarding Japanese Americans internment following
the Executive Order 9066. Bartlet claim that“$20,000 did not even cover what they had lost in
terms of careers. Their property was often lost, stolen, not protected, twenty thousandand it was
only given to the people who were still alive who had been in the camp, not their heirs (Rogers
and Bartlit 163). Some of the veterans of the Manhattan project criticized the internment and
relocation camps. Jacob Beser says, “We have a blot on our history in this country as a democracy
that we will never outlive. Jacob Beser was on both the planes that stuck the bombs on Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. “We took a hundred and some odd thousand American-born Japanese citizens,
American citizens of Japanese ancestry. We seized their property, we seized their land and we
threw them in concentration camps because some damn fool in California said, “Gee, they might
stab us in the back” (Rogers and Bartlit 169).
Works Cited
"Jacob Beser's Lecture". Manhattanprojectvoices.Org, 2018,
https://www.manhattanprojectvoices.org/oral-histories/jacob-besers-lecture. Accessed 9
May 2018.
Alonso, Karen. Korematsu V. United States: Japanese-American Internment Camps. Springfield,
NJ: Enslow, 1998. Print.
Bookman, John T. The Mythology of American Politics: A Critical Response to Fundamental
Questions. Washington, D.C: Potomac Books, Inc, 2008. Print.
Hirabayashi, Gordon K, James A. Hirabayashi, and Lane R. Hirabayashi. A Principled Stand: The
Story of Hirabayashi V. United States. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013.
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Irons, Peter H. Justice at War: [the Story of the Japanese American Internment Cases]. Berkeley,
Calif. [u.a.: Univ. of California Press, 1993. Print.
Robinson, Greg. A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America. New York:
Columbia University Press, 2009. Print.
Rogers, Everett M, and Nancy R. Bartlit. Silent Voices of World War Ii: When Sons of the Land
of Enchantment Met Sons of the Land of the Rising Sun. Santa Fe: Sunstone Press, 2005.
Song, Min, and Jean Y.-S. Wu. Asian American Studies: A Reader. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers
Univ. Press, 2000. Print.
Tateishi, John. And Justice for All: An Oral History of the Japanese American Detention Camps.
1999. Internet resource.

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