The Internment of Japanese Americans: Something We Shouldn’t Have Done

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.

9 thoughts on “The Internment of Japanese Americans: Something We Shouldn’t Have Done

  1. Great post!
    I also agree that the internment of Japanese-Americans changed their ideals of citizenship. How can you be proud of your country when they are sending you to interment camps? I would not feel protected and confident as a Japanese-American citizen post Pearl Harbor. I could not imagine being incarcerated for something beyond my control.

  2. I cannot imagine being a Japanese-American during this era, especially one on the West Coast. The vast amounts of hostility not only from the public but the government would be incredibly difficult to handle, and the entire attitude towards this group of people during the war was very demeaning. If I were to be one of the citizens in an internment camp, I would definitely turn against the United States with anger for being punished for something that I did not do. It is amazing how so many Japanese-Americans stayed loyal to the United States after what they went through.

  3. To be a Japanese-American citizen at this time in history, a lot of them went through life changing events. Though it may not have been deserved or fair, I think what FDR did was in the best interest of our nation’s internal safety. Who is to say what happens if he doesn’t order that executive order. I mean, I am sure 99.99% Japanese-Americans were stand-up people, and they are great American citizens, just like anyone else. But it only takes one spy to get inside information, and then who knows what would have happened from there. Who is to say. I know that it probably wasn’t fair, and they did not have anything to do with the war, and it certainly wasn’t their fault any of this happened. But I think it was in the best interest of our nation. Were there other ways to go about things if you’re FDR? Perhaps, but that not how history played out.

  4. Well written! It’s sad to see what we did to people just because they are from a different country. To hate this group so much just because they look like the group we are in a warm against is terrible. Some of these people served in the military and where Still treated like this.

  5. It is heart breaking to think about how the Japanese people of this era got treated. It is almost like they were guilty by association. It is was very unfair to the Japanese heritage. They should not have been treat this way,living in awful conditions with no evidence that they were the cause or had anything to do with the Pearl Harbor bombing.

  6. I agree that the Japanese-American people were treated down right wrong. You cannot nail an entire race to the cross for the mistakes of a few. This was an act of the military that I wouldn’t have been able to stand behind. To be uprooted from your home, be forced to sell off you possessions for pennies on the dollor and then be held against your will by a military of the country that you call home would be downright humiliating. There are times in our country’s history that I’m not proud of and this rates right up there with the way we interacted with native americans when we came to american. You are right, our actions were not justified when i came to the treatment of Japanese-Americans and i feel that fear lead our country to make unjustified decisions.

  7. I agree that Americans were scared by the bombing of pearl harbor. Before then they believed that they were untouchable and that nobody would dare attack the mainland. This was, however, the push the population needed to join the war. Before the attack the population wanted to stick to ourselves and had a very isolationist attitude.

  8. I really enjoyed your post! I wanted to highlight when you commented on how the internment of Japanese-Americans must have negatively affected their concept of citizenship. I completely agree with this idea, as a citizen of the United States I am extremely proud and as someone with Polish ancestry I am also proud to be Polish. However, there is a distinct difference between the loyalty and pride that I have and being one doesn’t make me less of the other, if that makes sense. I also like that point because I think that it could potentially have done the opposite of what they intended. With Executive Order 9066 the United States Government could have taken loyal citizens and allowed them reason to be loyal to Japan. My thought is that why would you continue to be loyal to a country putting you in an internment camp for being who you have always been, which in most cases was an American citizen.

  9. This was an amazing post, you did a good job of using reasoning and evidence to form and defend your argument. I completely agree though, that Japanese-Americans were unfairly treated during the war. While the public opinion was against Japan, a stance justified by Pearl Harbor, it does not, by any means justify the horrible treatment of those who immigrated and made lives in America during this time. The issue was with Japan, and should not have meant this type of treatment toward Japanese immigrants. Many found good lives here and did nothing but benefit the communities they lived in, what the government did and people supported was unjust and I could not imagine being in a Japanese-American’s metaphorical “shoes” during this time. I can’t imagine being forced to sell everything I have worked for and rightfully earned for unreasonable low prices and be forced into a camp for my appearance. I personally still can not believe that the supreme court even backed this legislation.

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