The bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 shocked many Americans. Many people thought it to be an inside job and believed rumors that said Japanese-American farmers helped the Japanese in the attack. No evidence was found to prove this, and Japanese-Americans were too vital to the economy of Hawaii to be deported. Even so, Japanese Americans were still considered a possible threat to the mainland. To respond to this, FDR forcibly moved Japanese-Americans from their homes to internment camps, where they could be watched under armed guard. Not only were Japanese-Americans moved from their homes but were also forced to sell all their possessions for prices out of their control. Japanese-Americans did nothing to deserve this, for they were good law-abiding citizens. If I was in their place, I would find it hard to move into an internment camp for something I didn’t do. This leads me to believe that the Japanese-American people were treated unfairly in internment camps because of the war, government, and hatred of the Japanese.
As stated previously, one reason the Japanese-American people were treated unfairly was due to the war. On the West Coast, Japanese-Americans weren’t considered important to the economy. With the war developing in the Pacific, many Americans on the West Coast feared Japanese-Americans and immigrants to be potential Japanese agents. FDR responded to these fears by signing Executive Order 9066, which permitted the military to declare certain areas off-limits to any or all persons during the war. After this order was signed, General John L. DeWitt declared the West Coast off limits to all people of Japanese descent. Then FDR forcibly removed all Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants from their homes in the West Coast to internment camps. As was stated in the first paragraph, Japanese-Americans were forced to sell their possessions for unreasonably low prices. This goes to show how negatively affected Japanese-Americans were due to the war and proves that because of the war, Japanese-Americans were treated unfairly.
While the war was a key factor in the treatment of Japanese-Americans, the United States government also influenced the way Japanese were treated at internment camps. FDR was the one who created the War Relocation Authority to begin with. At the time, he most likely thought the forcible relocation of Japanese was justified for the sake of the country. It is understandable why he thought this way. When you are in charge of governing a nation, there will be times when you make mistakes. Even so, the Japanese-American people were not treated fairly during World War II. It would not be simply excusable for the government to confine the Japanese-American people to internment camps when they have done nothing wrong. This proves how the government was directly related to the Japanese-Americans’ unfair treatment in getting sent to internment camps.
The United States government was important in the treatment of Japanese Americans in internment camps, but hatred of the Japanese played an important role as well. Americans have long had a dislike towards Asian immigrants and their American-born children. According to Keene, many laws were put in place for Asians which segregated public facilities, denied the right to own land, prohibited intermarriage, and prevented Asians from becoming citizens (Keene 309). During the war with Japan, this hatred only increased as accusations towards Japanese-Americans sprung up about working with Japan. This eventually led to the establishment of internment camps and is another reason why Japanese-Americans were treated so unfairly there.
In conclusion, it is now evident that probable causes of the unfair treatment of Japanese-Americans in internment camps are war, government, and hatred for the Japanese. I believe that the internment of Japanese-Americans negatively affected their conceptions of citizenship. As I have already stated multiple times, the internment of the Japanese was not their fault. It was not deserved for them. It is clear to me that we were very unfair to Japanese-Americans during World War II. Our actions toward them were not justified, and in reading this, I hope you will agree with me.
Keene, Jennifer D., et al. Visions of America: a History of the United States. Vol. 2, Pearson, 2017.