World War II
1st period PNW
December 7, 1941 Japanese bombed pearl harbor, ultimately marking the beginning of WWII, and the horrors of the Japanese internment camps or what the government would like to call war relocation centers. These camps held Japanese-Americans during the duration of almost the entirety of WWII. These camps where scattered all across the United States.
After the pearl harbor attack the united states where in a state of panic. This is when the hysteria all began. The rest of America where conscious of the difference between the Japanese and the Japanese-Americans in the beginning but that all changed. The US government began to get suspicious, and paranoid. Most of them thought that the Japanese-Americans where more loyal to their native country than to the current one. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the executive order 9066, which made it official that local military commanders could designate military areas as “exclusion zones,” from which any people may be excluded. This gave permission for all Japanese, the issei (the first generation of Japanese who came to America) and the nisei (the second generation, or the off springs of the first generation who where born in the US)
to be excluded from California, and most of Oregon and Washington, unless however, they where placed in internment camps. After this order was put in effect the Americans who where before very conscious of the fact that the Japanese-Americans had been loyal to America where now skeptical and as time went by until they eventually became racist towards all Asians. Some people even posted signs in there business stating, “No Japs,” and other variations.
Over 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans where evacuated from their homes and jobs and relocated to internment camps. They where put on buses and shipped out to different internment camps across the United States. Their personal belongings where confiscated if they where not essentials, and some Japanese-Americans reportedly said they where robbed of there dignity, and or pride. Others said they came to this country and earned the rights that where in the constitution, and that they where American Citizens. The where sent to a specific internment camp, stationed in a military base.
The Rights that Japanese had in the internment camps where some what decent but in most senses not a desirable place to live, beside the fact that they didn’t want to be there in the first place. They lost there right to move freely, and in some logic they lost there right to speak there opinion because if they said the wrong thing to the wrong person they could very well be shot or worse. More than half of the internment camps where populated by school children. They attended classes in barracks with teachers who where from inside the camps or outside the camps. Unfortunately for the children no teachers could conduct there classes in the Japanese Language, essentially forcing them to learn English in order to participate. Many where encouraged to join Boy or Girl Scouts, and also participate in activities such as baseball. Residents in the internment camps lived in tar paper housing with no plumbing and no kitchen facilities. Internees where aloud to live with their families. This was good and bad however, because although they did get to be together, and likewise there was limited space in there living quarters. There where several young Japanese-American men who refused to join the US army before their rights where restored, and they where released from the internment camps, these where the No-No Boys. Though some Japanese-Americans did choose to serve in the War most of the where placed in the 100th Infantry Battalion which then merged with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and “became the most decorated unit for its size and length of service.”
The US government was not justified in imprisoning Japanese Americans because they where just that - Japanese-Americans. They came to this country and earned the same rights you and I have today. The US where horrified by Hitler’s rain of terror but in retrospect we where doing the same thing. It may not have been quite as horrific but it was based on the same principles. We where doing this purely out of suspicion with no real evidence or reason to back it up.
Several Rights where in violation during this time but one sticks out very much in my mind. Amendment 9 “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” which was violated on account of us not giving the same rights to the Japanese-Americans as everyone else had.
Schlatter, Elizabeth "The Money Bean: A working coffee farm on Hawaii captures a segment of history." http://www.neh.gov/news/humanities/1998-05/kona.html, May/June 1998
“United States History," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2006
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2006 Microsoft Corporation
Wikipedia, “Japanese American Internment” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_American_Internment, February 2007
PBS, “Children of the Camps” http://www.pbs.org/childofcamp/index.html, 1999