Japanese internment during the war

On December 7th 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. US citizens feared another attack and war this fear seized the country. State reps pressured President Roosevelt to take action against those of Japanese descent. On February 19th, 1942, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Under the terms of the Order, some 120,000 people of Japanese descent living in the US were removed from their homes and placed in internment camps. The US justified this by claiming that there was a very real fear of those of Japanese descent “spying” for the Japanese. This was irrational seeing more than two thirds of those interned were American citizens and half of them were children. None had ever shown disloyalty to the nation. In some cases family members were separated and put in different camps. During the entire war only ten people were convicted of spying for Japan and these were all White men.

The camps continued until the war ended in 1945. the fear of another attack stopped. The Japanese where freed and left to rebuild their lives as best they could. Some left and moved pack to Japan completely done with the United States. During the rebuilding process Two disadvantages the Japanese faced was they where poor many had lost their businesses, occupations and property and lingering prejudice. They suffered from being “generalized” and being accused of Being spy’s some Japanese report young children saying to Their parents “he’s probably a spy.” The Seattle Council of Churches an organization that helped with the return of the Japanese to the west coast. They  helped by aiding the Japanese in its struggle to re-establish themselves back onto the west coast.  They educated the city on Christian values of hospitality and acceptance, hoping it would cause people to accept the Japanese back. The council established hotels to function as temporary housing and it also created the United Church Ministry. The United Church Ministry provided many services to the returning Japanese.  It set up a program to provide jobs, housing, and social services  including counseling and medical care. The Council also set up a program in the community by sending out enlistment cards.  People could sign up to sponsor and provide temporary or permanent housing to the Japanese. This program was overwhelmingly successful, many people were expressing their willingness to welcome the Japanese back. The Council’s ability to bring the city together was inspiring to many independent groups, who decided to join in with the Council rather than go a separate way.

How did the Japanese feel about this?  Rob kashiwagi said. “as far as I’m concerned I was born here and according to the constitution that I studied in school, that I had the bill of rights to protect me and until the very last minute I got onto the evacuation train I said this can’t be how could they do this to American?”  Putting myself in this shoes is difficult, what we did to our own people is horrible. Today we have been attacked by other nations on a few different occasions. We did not assume every person of this ethnicity was a threat or spy. They were not stripped of citizenship and pushed into camps. The United States acted irrationally when this decision was made. If was in  put into this situation I would feel lost and betrayed by the very county who gave me all my rights. I would return to my home land in Japan or go to a different country. I would not stay in the country that stabbed me in the back. During this ending of the war with so much happening it would be hard to trust that the government would not do it again, even with all of the organizations helping. faith in the United States died for many Americans.

Japanese internment camps. History.com editor. 2009


US history editor. 2009


7 thoughts on “Japanese internment during the war

  1. I agree with you, Nick. I think our government acted completely irrationally and impulsively. On one end of the spectrum the government was scared, and was trying to assure the American people that they were safe. However, on the other hand they took things to a new extreme and ultimately incarcerated some of their own, American people. It’s a scary thought to think that something like this part of history could be repeated. Being able to acknowledge and stay educated in what has happened in the past, gives us the opportunity to learn and grown from these past mistakes.

    “These are valuable lessons for all Americans—citizens, immigrants and refugees alike—to remember as we confront challenges like Islamophobia, increasing hate violence, and the deep-seated nature of institutional racism that criminalizes Black and brown communities across the country.” (DENSHO).

  2. I agree they were trying to keep other people safe but looking at it it weren’t we’re kind of doing the same thing as hitler just not as aggressive. They put every person that resembled Japanese in camps. They were mad they didn’t care they wanted them to pay for what they did. Now we have to learn from what history we did in the pass so we don’t do it again. Good blog by the way!

    1. I agree with this comment – though obviously the actions against Japanese-Americans are vastly less inhumane, horrifying, and destructive as those that Hitler committed against Jews, Romanis, Communists and other political enemies, the LGBTQ population, war prisoners, and other groups, we must remind ourselves of the atrocities in our past. Hopefully we have fully learned from this black mark in our history, but I am not sure that we are fully resistant to not recreating this period at some point. With those who lived through the period dying off, it would be devastating for people to forget how poorly we treated American citizens – all of these prisoners were people, above all – during this time.

  3. I agree that the United States acted irrationally when they put the Japanese in internment camps. I know that the United States did this with the nation’s security in mind, but this wasn’t fair for the loyal Japanese-americans in the United States. As you said, the only people who were convicted of spying for Japan were white, so the internment policy was not deserved of Japanese-americans.

  4. Great post! It is very sad to think that families were torn apart due to the lack of trust in the Japanese decedents. I could not imagine having to try and rebuild my life once being let out of these camps, especially being poor! It is interesting what The Seattle Council of Churches did to help break the prejudice views towards the Japanese. Additionally, help from The United Church Ministry was certainly beneficial as well. I agree, the United States did act irrationally when making the decision to evacuate the Japanese descendants.

  5. I know that the United States was just thinking about their nation’s security, but the U.S. acted irrationally. Just because these people had a Japanese background, does not mean that they are going to harm anyone. These people lost their lives, they had to start all over again, everything they owned was taken away from them. I could not imagine having to go through that. This was a great post!

  6. Great post! I really enjoyed your statement about how the United States acted irrationally, as most replies did. However, I want to look at it from a citizens point of view rather than the governments. I really wonder how non Japanese-Americans handles this situation and whether they advocated for their fellow citizens or not. I understand being scared of the Pearl Harbor attacks but what was happening to a huge population was wrong. I thought to myself if something happened like this today how would American’s handle it? I hoped to myself that we would be better but made me think of the 9/11 terrorist attack and how the islamic community is treated in America today. Although Arabic-Americans aren’t being put into internment camps, there are some parallels that can be seen. Again, I really enjoyed your post!

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