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Japanese American internment

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Japanese American Internment
"Persons of Japanese ancestry arrive at the Santa Anita Assembly Center from San Pedro. Evacuees lived at this center at - NARA - 539960.jpg
Manzanar internment camp for Japanese Americans
Period February 1942 – June 30, 1946
Location United States
Cause Attack on Pearl Harbor; racism; war hysteria[1]
Total Over 110,000[2][3] Japanese Americans, including over 66,000 U.S. citizens[4], forced into internment camps
Deaths 1,862 from disease in camps[5]

Japanese American internment happened during World War II, when the United States government forced about 110,000 Japanese Americans to leave their homes and live in internment camps. These were like prisons. Many of the people who were sent to internment camps had been born in the United States.

Background[change | change source]

On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and declared war on the United States. Many Americans were angry, and some blamed all Japanese people for what had happened at Pearl Harbor. They spread rumors that some Japanese people knew about the attack ahead of time and had helped the Japanese military. The FBI and other parts of the United States government knew that these rumors were not true, but did not say anything.[6]

Japanese Americans began to feel that other Americans were becoming upset with them. For example, John Hughes, a man who read the news on the radio in Los Angeles, California, spent about a month saying bad things about Japanese Americans. There were reports of businesses that had anti-Japanese signs. For example, a barber shop put up a sign saying "Free shaves for Japs" and "not responsible for accidents." A funeral home hung a sign saying "I'd rather do business with a Jap than an American."[7]

Internment begins[change | change source]

[My family were] Americans. [We] were citizens of this country. We had nothing to do with the war. We simply happened to look like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor. But without charges, without trial, without due process—the [most important part] of our justice system—we were summarily rounded up, all Japanese Americans on the West Coast, where [most of us lived], and sent off to 10 barb wire internment camps—prison camps, really, with [guard] towers, machine guns pointed at us ... I was a five-year old ... We lost everything. - George Takei[8]

In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This order said that people who lived in some parts of the country could be taken out of those areas for any reason.[9] While the order did not use the exact words "Japanese Americans", people knew that those were the people who would be taken out of those areas. The areas included all of California and the western parts of Oregon, Washington, and Arizona. (See the area marked "exclusion zone" on the map on this page.) This was where most Japanese Americans lived at that time.

To keep Japanese Americans from leaving these areas on their own, the government stopped many of them from taking money out of their bank accounts. This made it harder for them to move.

Japanese Americans were given only 48 hours to leave for internment camps in other states. They were only allowed to carry one bag with them, and could not bring radios or cameras.[10]

Who was interned[change | change source]

In total, the United States forced over 110,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps.[2][3]

About 80% of the Japanese-American people who lived in the continental United States were forced to leave their homes and live in internment camps.[11] More than three out of every five of these people were born in the United States, and were United States citizens.[4][2] About half of the people sent to the camps were children.[12]

Most of the Japanese Americans who were interned lived in the continental United States. About 160,000 Japanese Americans lived in the state of Hawaii, but only a little over 1,000 of them were interned.[13] Because there were so many Japanese American people living in such a small state, interning them would be almost impossible.

In the camps[change | change source]

Map showing where the Japanese American internment camps were.

There were three government agencies that ran camps. Ninety percent of the Japanese Americans were in camps run by the War Relocation Authority (WRA). Only Japanese Americans lived in the WRA camps.

Ten percent of the Japanese Americans were in mixed-race camps. These were either run by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) or the United States Army. Many different people were interned in INS and Army camps. These people included:[14]

WRA camps were surrounded by barbed wire.[15] They were also guarded by soldiers who waited in watchtowers holding guns.[16] Some people were shot.[17] For example, James Wakasa, who stepped outside the barbed wire fence, was shot and killed. The guard who shot him said that Wakasa was trying to escape, but the Japanese Americans in the camp did not believe the guard.[18] Most of the camps were many miles away from the coast, and often in rural areas. Many of the camps were in the desert,[19] which was uncomfortable for many of the Japanese Americans who were not used to that type of climate. This also meant that even if somebody escaped, there would be nowhere for them to go.

In the camps, people had to stand in line to eat or to go to the bathroom.[20]

One famous camp was Manzanar, which was in California. Many Japanese from Los Angeles and San Francisco were sent there. Other camps included Poston in Arizona and Minidoka in Idaho. There were a few camps outside of the western U.S., such as Jerome in Arkansas. Japanese Americans were often crowded into small spaces, such as race tracks, before being sent to the camps.[21]

A grandfather and grandson at Manzanar. The elderly and very young children may have been more likely to get sick from the very hot and cold weather at the camps[5]

The camps tried to provide medical care. Many of the people who worked in the camp hospitals were Japanese American doctors and nurses who lived in the internment camps. However, there were not enough doctors and nurses, and not enough medical supplies. Also, conditions at the camps helped cause some diseases. For example:[5]

A total of 1,862 people died from medical problems while in the internment camps. About one out of every 10 of these people died from tuberculosis.[5]

The End of Internment[change | change source]

By 1943, the government allowed some Japanese Americans to leave the camps to work or go to school. However, the government would not let them return to the West Coast. Some Japanese Americans were even allowed to serve as soldiers in the U.S. Army, and many served with honor in Europe.

In 1944, the United States government said that it would stop putting Japanese Americans in internment camps.[22] The people who were placed in the camps were given $25 and a bus ticket home.[23] However, it would take more than 40 years for the government to apologize to Japanese Americans for what had happened. In 1988, the government said it was sorry and paid $20,000 to people who had been sent to internment camps.[24] Canada paid $21,000.

Photo gallery[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 100th Congress of the United States (April 10, 1987). "S. 1009". Internment Archives. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "The War Relocation Authority & the Incarceration of Japanese-Americans During World War II". Harry S. Truman Library & Museum. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Daniels, Roger; Taylor, Sandra C.; Kitano, Harry H.L. (eds.) (1991). Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress (2nd ed.). University of Washington Press. p. 135. ISBN 978-0295971179.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Report, Semiannual Report of the War Relocation Authority, for the period January 1 to June 30, 1946, not dated. Papers of Dillon S. Myer". Harry S. Truman Library & Museum. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Fiset, Louis. "Medical care in camp". Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  6. "Children of the Camps - VIEWER'S GUIDE TO PRINT". Retrieved November 10, 2010.
  7. Dorothy Swaine Thomas and Richard Shigeaki Nishimoto. The Spoilage, University of California Press, 1974. p. 20
  8. "George Takei on Arizona’s Anti-Gay Bill, Life in a Japanese Internment Camp & Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu". Democracy Now. February 27, 2014. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  9. "Executive Order 9066 Dated February 19, 1942, in which President Franklin D. Roosevelt Authorizes the Secretary of War to Prescribe Military Areas". National Archives Catalog. National Archives and Records Administration. February 19, 1942. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  10. ""Suffering under a great injustice": Ansel Adams's Photographs of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar – For Teachers". Library of Congress. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
  11. Okihiro, Gary Y. (2001). The Columbia Guide to Asian American History. Columbia University Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-0231115100.
  12. "About the Incarceration". Densho Encyclopedia. Densho. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  13. "Internment busters". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
  14. "Brief Overview of the World War II Enemy Alien Control Program". National Archives: Research Our Records. United States National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  15. Morgan, David S. (December 23, 2006). "Bush To Preserve WWII Internment Camps". CBS News. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  16. "Japanese-American (Citizen) Relocation (Concentration) Camp Cases". Rutgers University. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  17. "Shootings". Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  18. "United States War Relocation Authority Central Utah Project Records – Special Collections, UW Libraries". University of Washington. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  19. "Japanese Internment Camps". Retrieved March 30, 2010.[dead link]
  20. "OurStory : Activities : Life in a WWII Japanese-American Internment Camp : More Information". National Museum of American History. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  21. "Calisphere – JARDA – Relocation and Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II". University of California. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
  22. "End of Exclusion > The Camps Experience - Exploring JAI". Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  23. "We're All Complicit in Torture – Jacob Weisberg". May 1, 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  24. "Digital History". University of Houston. Retrieved March 30, 2010.

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