Jump to content

Japanese American internment

This is a spoken article. Follow the link for more information.
This is a good article. Follow the link for more information.
From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Japanese American Internment
Manzanar internment camp for Japanese Americans
PeriodFebruary 1942 – June 30, 1946
LocationUnited States
CauseAttack on Pearl Harbor; Niihau Incident; racism; war hysteria[1]
Most camps were in the Western United States.
TotalOver 110,000[2][3] Japanese Americans, including over 66,000 U.S. citizens,[4] forced into internment camps
Deaths1,862 from all causes 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. Many of the people who were sent to internment camps had been born in the United States.

On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and declared war on the United States. Many Americans were furious, 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 and listened to the radio in Los Angeles, California, spoke 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 starts[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 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 territory, interning them would have been almost impossible.

Inside 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 were 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 apologized and paid a check $20,000 to people who had been sent to internment camps. However, some people had problems getting their checks. [24]

Photo gallery[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 100th Congress of the United States (April 10, 1987). "S. 1009". Internment Archives. Archived from the original on September 20, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  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. Archived from the original on January 19, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Daniels, Roger; Taylor, Sandra C.; Kitano, Harry H. L. (1991). Japanese Americans, from relocation to redress (Revised ed.). Seattle. ISBN 978-0-295-80150-6. OCLC 918854756.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  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. Archived from the original on June 16, 2018. 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". pbs.org. 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. Archived from the original on March 18, 2021. 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.honoluluadvertiser.com. The Honolulu Advertiser. Archived from the original on April 7, 2020. 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". cbsnews.com. CBS News. Archived from the original on November 11, 2012. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  16. "Japanese-American (Citizen) Relocation (Concentration) Camp Cases". Rutgers University. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  17. "Shootings". home.comcast.net. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  18. "United States War Relocation Authority Central Utah Project Records – Special Collections, UW Libraries". University of Washington. Archived from the original on August 15, 2010. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  19. "Japanese Internment Camps". library.thinkquest.org. Archived from the original on March 11, 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  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. Archived from the original on April 26, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
  22. "End of Exclusion > The Camps Experience - Exploring JAI". asianamericanmedia.org. Archived from the original on May 19, 2010. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  23. "We're All Complicit in Torture – Jacob Weisberg". newsweek.com. May 1, 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  24. {{Cite web digitalhistory.uh.edu/learning_history/japanese_internment/internment_menu.cfm |title=Digital History |publisher=University of Houston |accessdate=March 30, 2010 |archive-date=May 15, 2010 |archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20100515052656/http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/learning_history/japanese_internment/internment_menu.cfm |url-status=dead }}

Other websites[change | change source]

Listen to this article · (info)
Spoken Wikipedia
Spoken Wikipedia
This audio file was created from an article revision dated 2010-12-02, and does not play the most recent changes to the article. (Audio help)