The reason for the internment of Japanese Americans is obvious, but the justification is lacking. They were put into these camps because of the Pearl Harbor attacks by the Japanese forces and the ensuing Pacific Theater the Allies would be fighting in. Japanese, American citizens or not, were seen as a threat and isolated from society because of this. The implementation of this policy was immediate, as over 1,000 Japanese community/religious leaders were arrested hours after the Pearl Harbor bombing.
This was nationally justified by the government because it was passed off as a way to keep Americans safe. Their logic was pretty straightforward- the Japanese bombed us so we need to isolate all Japanese people in order to make sure another attack can’t happen on American soil.
Conditions were not good as you’d expect. The Japanese were forced to live in over crowed barracks with no plumbing or any way to cook. Food was tightly rationed at 48 cents per person and leadership positions in the camp were only given to Japanese people born in America. Their only way out of the camps was to enlist in the army and go fight the war, as anyone who tried to get through the barbed wire perimeter would get shot by the armed guards.
Life after the camps was hard for most as many had lost everything they had before they were relocated. Businesses, land and jobs were lost with no refund available and the Japanese Americans were forced to start from nothing and try to get back to how their life was before the war. Aside from losing everything, many faced prejudice from other Americans as they were still seen by some as enemies of war, not equal citizens. I think these camps definitely made them feel like they weren’t citizens at all, as no citizen should be treated like this in a country that values freedom more than anything. They probably lived in fear thinking they could get relocated again at any time and not know when their entire life would be ripped away from them with no warning or reason. Many likely had a chip on their shoulder after this and felt it was unfair that if they were going to jail people, why just them? Shouldn’t German immigrants be jailed for the genocide committed by the Nazis?
Obviously I would feel angry and confused about why this was happening to me. Just because one fraction of my population has done something bad means everyone should be jailed for it? Blaming the masses for the actions of chunk of your people is clearly wrong and I would be furious with my government and rightfully so. I would find it completely unfair and unjust as it goes against everything America is about.
History.com, A&E Television Networks, http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/japanese-american-relocation.
Infoplease, Infoplease, http://www.infoplease.com/japanese-relocation-centers.
“Japanese-Americans: Life after the War and Internment.” The Japan Times, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2012/08/19/books/book-reviews/japanese-americans-life-after-the-war-and-internment/.