Life is what happens when you are making other plans~ John Lennon
An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind~Gandhi
The time is always right to do what is right~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Japanese American Internment

Japanese American Internment
-Refers to the relocation and internment by The United States government in 1942 of 110,000+ Japanese Americans and Japanese citizens living along the Pacific coast of the US. They were moved to "War Relocation Camps" in the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Army.
-This process was done throughout the US.
-All who lived on the west coast of the US were interned, while those in Hawaii, where the 150,000+ Japanese Americans composed over 1/3 of the population, had about 1,200-1,800 interned. Of those interned, nearly 62% were American citizens.
-President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized this with Executive Order 9066, issued Feb. 19, 1942

In the first half of the 20th century, the US, specifically California, experienced a severe tidal wave of anti-Japanese racism.
-Over 90% of all Japanese immigrants settled in California. That's why the Asian population is so high out on the west coast, primarily Chinese and Japanese immigrants.
-In Oct. 1906, the San Francisco Board of Education separated Japanese students from white students. It ordered 93 students of Japanese descent to go to a segregated school in Chinatown. 25 of these students were American citizens. In 1924, the "Oriental Exclusion Law" blocked any Japanese immigrants from becoming citizens.

-Of the 127,000 Japanese American citizens living in the continental US at the time of the Pearl Harbor bombing, 112,000 lived on the West Coast. 80,000 were Nisei(2nd generation, Japanese people born in the US, holding American citizenship), sansei(3rd age, sons/daughters of nisei) and issei(1st generation, immigrants born in Japan who were ineligible for US citizenship)

After Pearl Harbor
-Attack went down on Dec. 7, 1941
-This led military leaders to suspect that Imperial Japan was preparing an attack on the West Coast of the US. Civilians and military had severe concerns about the loyalty of the ethnic Japanese living in the US after the Ni'ihau Incident. This was a result of a civilian Japanese national and 2 Hawaiian-born Japanese living on the island of Ni'ihau freed a downed and captured Japanese airman, attacking fellow Ni'ihau islanders also
-Many of the concerns about the loyalty of the Japanese stemmed not from evidence of actual loyalty, but simply from racial prejudice. Major Karl Bendetsen and Lt. General John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Command, both questioned the loyalty of the ethnic Japanese living in the US. This man authorized the ability to conduct search and seizure of Japanese making radio transmissions. This basically means that any Japanese family living along the coast could not own a radio, because they would be suspected of helping the Japanese troops.

-On Jan. 2, the Joint Immigration Committee of the California Legislature sent a manifesto to California newspapers, which attacked the ethnic Japanese. This manifesto also said that all who were of Japanese heritage were loyal subjects of the Emperor of Japan, who at this time would have been Hirohito.
-This manifesto was backed up by the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West, which in January declared that all Japanese with dual citizenship should be put into concentration camps. The internment was not limited to those who had been to Japan, but also to a small number of German and Italian enemy aliens. By February, Earl Warren, the Attorney General of California made it official to remove all Japanese from the West Coast.

-Any person who was even as little as 1/16 Japanese could be put into these concentration camps. Arguments could be said that it was racially motivated, rather than a military need. In the "War Relocation Program", infants with one drop of Japanese blood were interned

Executive Order 9066 and other actions
-March 24, 1942: General DeWitt begins to issue Civilian Exlcusion Orders for certain areas within "Military Area No. 1". American-born Japanese on Bainbridge Island, Washington, were the first to be in this order, due to the island's closeness to naval bases;

Non-Military advocates
-The idea of internment was a good idea for white farmers who hated their Japanese-American competitors. The white farmers saw this as a way of getting rid of their Japanese competitors. Franklin D. Roosevelt then created the Roberts Commission Report, and this report basically said that all Japanese Americans were linked with espionage activity, and that they were associated with the Pearl Harbor bombing.

-There were several types of camps involved. The best known ones are the Assembly Centers run by the Wartime Civil Control Administration(WCCA) and the Relocation Centers run by the War Relocation Authority(WRA). These were unofficially referred to as 'internment camps'. The Department of Justice(DOJ) ran the Internment Camps, which were used to detain those who were suspected of actual crimes or "enemy sympathies". German American internment and Italian American internment camps also existed, sometimes sharing with the Japanese. The WCCA and WRA facilities were the largest and most public. The WCCA Assembly Centers were temporary locations that were set up on race tracks, fairgrounds and other large venues before the internees were sent to the WRA Relocation Centers. They were transported by bus, truck or train. The WRA Relocation Centers were camps that housed people removed from the exclusion zone after 1942 or until they could relocate somewhere outside the exclusion zone.

DOJ Internment Camps
-During WWII, over 7,000 Japanese American and Japanese from Latin American were held in internment camps run by the Immigration and Naturalization Service(INS). During this, Latin Americans of Japanese ancestry were gathered up and sent to the American internment camps.
-There were 27 U.S. Department of Justice Camps, 8 of which (in Texas, Idaho, N. Dakota, New Mexico and Montana) held Japanese American people. The camps were guarded by Border Patrol officers rather than military police and the camps were for non-citizens, like Buddhist ministers, Japanese language instructors, newspaper workers and other community people.
-2,264 people taken from the Latin American countries were held at the Department of Justice Camps. 2/3 of these people were Japanese Peruvians. Most of these Japanese Peruvians were granted American citizenship in 1953

WCCA Civilian Assembly Centers
-Executive Order 9066 authorized the removal of all who were of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast; it was signed at a time when there was no place for these displaced Japanese to go.

WRA Relocation Centers

-State: California
-Opened: March 1942
-Population: 10,046
Tule Lake
-State: California
-Opened: May 1942
-Population: 18,789
-State: Arizona
-Opened: May 1942
-Population: 17,814
Gila River
-State: Arizona
-Opened: July 1942
-Population: 13,348
-State: Colorado
-Opened: August 1942
-Population: 7,318
Heart Mountain
-State: Wyoming
-Opened: August 1942
-Population: 10,767
-State: Idaho
-Opened: August 1942
-Population: 9,397
-State: Utah
-Opened: Sept. 1942
-Population: 8,130
-State: Arkansas
-Opened: Sept. 1942
-Population: 8,475
-State: Arkansas
-Opened: Oct. 1942
-Population: 8,497
List of Camps
-There were 3 types of camps; Civilian Assembly Centers were temporary camps, frequently at horse tracks where the Nisei were sent as they got evicted from their communities. Most of them were sent to Relocation Centers, aka internment camps. Detention camps housed Nikkei considered to be of special interest to the government or suspected of loyalty to Emperor Hirohito.

Civilian Assembly Centers
-Arcadia, California(Santa Anita Racetrack, stables)
-Fresno, California(Big Fresno Fairgrounds, racetrack, stables)
-Marysville/Arboga, California(Migrant workers' camp)
-Mayer, Arizona(Civilian Conservation Corps camp)
-Merced, California(county fairgrounds)
-Pinedale, California(Pinedale Assembly Center, warehouses)
-Pomona, California(Los Angelese County Fairgrounds, racetrack, stables)

Relocation Centers
-Gila River, Arizona
-Granada, Colorado
-Heart Mountain, Wyoming
-Jerome, Arkansas
-Manzanar, California
-Minidoka, Idaho
-Poston, Arizona
-Rohwer, Arkansas
-Topaz, Utah
-Tule Lake, California

Justice Department detention camps
-Crystal City, Texas
-Fort Lincoln
-Fort Missoula, Montana
-Fort Stanton, N. Mexico
-Kenedy, Texas
-Kooskia, Idaho
-Santa Fe, N. Mexico
-Seagoville, Texas

Conditions in the camps
-According to a 1943 War Relocation Authority report, internees were housed in barracks made with tar paper of simple frame construction with no plumbing or cooking facilities of any kind.
-These bad conditions met laws, but were not up to par.
-Heart Mountain was in northwestern Wyoming, and they had a barbed wire surrounded compound with unpartitioned toilets, cots for beds, daily budget of 45 cents a day. Most internees lived on the west coast, meaning they were unaccustomed to rapid climate changes and they came with just the clothes on their backs.

-Internees were treated very politely unless they violated rules. There are reports of internees trying to walk outside the fences. One instance of this would be the case of James Wakasa at Topaz. This led to a re-evaluation of the security measures in the camps. As time went on, internees were allowed to leave the camp to find work.
-There is a phrase for this, "shikata ga nai" meaning "It cannot be helped". This phrase is used quite often in the memoir Farewell to Manzanar. I'd recommend reading this, it's a wonderful book, it gives you a firsthand look into the horrors of the internment camps.

Questions of Loyalty
-Some of the Japanese Americans began questioning the government.
-When the Army began looking for volunteers, many of them signed up. That's how the very famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team was born. This battalion team was all Japanese and they fought in Europe.

Internment Ends
-On Dec. 18, 1944, the Supreme Court of the United States rules that the exclusion process under Executive Order 9066 was unconstitutional. In the case of Korematsu v. United States, a 6-3 decision ruled that people, regardless of race, could not be detained with out cause
-On Jan. 2, 1945, the order was removed. The internees began to leave the camps to rebuild their lives elsewhere. The internees were given $25 and a train ticket to their former homes. The camps remained open for those who were not ready to make the move back.
-The last camp was closed in 1946
-Manzanar was designated as a National Historic Site in 1992 to honor the memory of people who were there and also to "provide for the protection and interpretation of historic, cultural and natural resources associated with the relocation of Japanese Americans during WWII"

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