Japanese Internment of World War II

Internment of
World War II
US History & Government
Pearl Harbor
• Pearl Harbor,
Hawaii was
attacked on
December 7,
• Hawaii was still a
US territory
Ramifications on Japanese
• On the day after the attack
on Pearl Harbor, an
Oakland, CA, grocery
store bore a “Sold” sign as
well as one proclaiming
the patriotism of its owner.
The Japanese American
shop owner, a University
of California graduate was
later sent to an internment
Executive Order 9066
• As a result of the attack on Pearl
Harbor, on 2/19/1942 FDR issued
this order which defined “Military
Area No.1” as the area from
which "any or all persons may be
– It was basically the entire West Coast
– Hawaii was placed under Martial Law
• The order stated that people of
"Foreign Enemy Ancestry" were
to be “excluded” from this area
– The government was to provide for
the transportation and relocation of
the “excluded” people
• Approximately 120,000 Japanese
and Japanese Americans sent to
internment camps
– 62% were citizens of the US
American Distrust
• The government ordered “all
persons of Japanese ancestry” to
register with the government
• They were given 6 days to get their
affairs in order before being sent to
an “Assembly Center” to live
• These were located at race tracks,
fairgrounds and other large public
meeting places across the Western
– There were 17 of these centers
– The Puyallup Fairgrounds was one
• A good fiction book to read:
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and
Sweet by Jamie Ford
Going to the Camps
• Here, local
JapaneseAmericans board
a bus headed
toward Camp
By military jeep & by train
Being Sent to the Camps
At the time, government called
the camps “Relocation Centers”
or “Concentration Camps”
Today, we refer to them as
“Internment Camps” though that
was the official term used for
the camps for those suspected
of actual crimes or those with
“enemy sympathies”
There were 10 camps in AR,
The most well-known for us are
Manzanar and Minidoka
A good non-fiction book to read:
Farewell to Manzanar by
Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
Life in the Camps
Internees were housed in "tar paper-covered barracks of simple frame
construction without plumbing or cooking facilities of any kind" in their own
homes—the camps had public bathrooms & mess-halls
The camps were guarded by armed border patrol agents, were surrounded
by tall fences and barbed wire, and had enforced curfews
Over time, there was relatively free movement outside the marked
boundaries of the camps where internees grew their own gardens or
Some got jobs or went to college outside the camps; schools for elementary
& high school students were set up within the camps
Camp Life
Camp Life
• As normal as they
tried to make it,
there was always
the reminder that
they were being
held against their
• Pair/share
Internees’ Reactions
Pledging Allegiance at
school (before internment)
• Japanese-Americans tended to comply
with the US government to prove
themselves loyal…and where else could
they have gone?
– The term “shitkata ga nai” or “it cannot be
helped” summarizes their resigned attitude
• 5,600 Japanese-Americans renounced
their citizenship when asked to sign a
loyalty oath to the US (of these 1300
moved back to Japan)
• 6% of military-aged males volunteered to
serve in the US army
– The 442nd Regimental Combat team is the most
decorated unit from WWII
– They fought in Europe, not the Pacific
A Japanese-American
soldier on furlough at a
internment camp
Supreme Court Challenges
• In Yasui vs. US (1943) & Hirabayashi vs. US (1943) the Court
upheld the constitutionality of curfews based on ancestry when
the nation was at war with the country from which that group
• In Ex parte Endo (1944) the court ruled that after the war the
government could not continue to detain a citizen that the
government itself conceded was loyal. This helped lead to the reopening of the West Coast for resettlement by JapaneseAmerican citizens after World War II
• In Korematsu vs. US (1944) ruled that the exclusion order (33)
was constitutional and that people could be interned based on
their ancestry
Getting Out
• It was often
hard to find
jobs, or a
place to live,
after the war
Monument at Manzanar,
now a National Historic
Minidoka is a National
Monument today
• In 1948 the Japanese American Claims Act
disbursed over $38 million to 26,000 families for
their losses
• In 1976 President Gerald Ford publically admitted
that the internment was wrong
• In 1988 President Reagan signed the American
Civil Liberties Act. Approximately $1.6 billion was
set aside for the 80,000 survivors
• In 1990 the survivors each received a $20,000
check and a letter of formal apology signed by
President George HW Bush