Japanese American Internment

Japanese American Internment during World War II

Introduction: December 7th, 1941 will always be one of the most remembered days in US history. Before Pearl Harbor was attacked there were over a hundred thousand Japanese Americans in the United States. Once Pearl Harbor was, most of the Japanese Americans in the US were taken away and judged as if they were a part of the attack. But do we really know how many were taken away and what happened when they were taken? Through this research project I will go over how many Japanese Americans were incarcerated and why they were, how they were treated while in the camps and how long they were in the camps, and then end with the closure of the camps and what happened years after they were free.
First Primary Source: The number of Japanese Americans incarcerated and the reasons why they were held in camps. A couple months into World War II president Franklin D Roosevelt signed executive order 9066 on February 9th, 1942. Executive order 9066 was an order that was to relocate Japanese Americans into internment camps. Over the next twelve-twenty four months there was an estimated 120,000 Japanese Americans located in the internment camps for the duration of World War II. Of the 120,000 Japanese Americans an estimated 60 percent were American-born children of immigrants from Japan, or were Japanese children that were born in the US and were American citizens, the remaining 40 percent were Japanese immigrants.

• More than 110,000 innocent people based on their ancestry were in what Roosevelt called “concentration camps.” Although two-thirds were U.S. citizens, they were targeted because of their ancestry and the way they looked.
o “What does an American look like?”
o http://www.densho.org/causes/default.asp
• Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, dated February 19, 1942, this order gave the military the power to relocate any citizen to an internment camp. What some people didn’t realize is that Executive Order 9066 was also applied to smaller numbers of residents of the United States who were of Italian or German descent.
o “Executive Order 9066: The President Authorizes Japanese Relocation”
o http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5154/
• The majority (60 percent) of the Japanese people in the internment camps were US citizens of Japanese ancestry. The other 40 percent of them interned were Japanese “resident aliens”, although many had lived in the United States for decades.
o “Captured: The Japanese internment of American civilians in the Philippines, 1941-1945”
o http://books.google.com/books?id=OFKtPQHvFHsC&pg=PA208&lpg=PA208&dq=captured:+the+japanese+internment&source=bl&ots=ElIQ9Phxhe&sig=wnvNA8WqhQ0WJNOXTX34RrtOs0A&hl=en&sa=X&ei=__xyUMmUNu3KiAK8sYGIDg&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA
Second Primary Source: How the Japanese Americans were treated in the internment camps and how long they were there. The U.S. internment camps were overcrowded and were in very poor living conditions. Japanese Americans slept under as many blankets as they were given. Food was rationed out and was served by fellow internees in a mess hall of 250-300 people. Eventually the government allowed internees to leave the concentration camps if they enlisted in the U.S. Army. This offer was not well received. Only 1,200 internees chose to do so. There were ten internment camps in the US. The Japanese Americans were in the internment camps for a little over two years.
• The ten camps were located in Amache, Colorado, Gila River, Arizona, Heart Mountain, Wyoming, Jerome, Arkansas, Manzanar, California, Minidoka, Idaho, Poston, Arizona, Topaz, Utah, Tula Lake California, and San Francisco, California. All the camps besides San Francisco were located in smaller areas and the Japanese Americans were treated very poorly throughout their time there.
o Japanese Internment
o http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1679.html
• The food was barely eatable and was rationed out between all the internees throughout the camp. The food was served by fellow internees in a room with around 300 people.
o “Captured: The Japanese internment of American civilians in the Philippines, 1941-1945”
o http://books.google.com/books?id=OFKtPQHvFHsC&pg=PA208&lpg=PA208&dq=captured:+the+japanese+internment&source=bl&ots=ElIQ9Phxhe&sig=wnvNA8WqhQ0WJNOXTX34RrtOs0A&hl=en&sa=X&ei=__xyUMmUNu3KiAK8sYGIDg&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA
• There was one way to get out on the internment camps and that was to enlist in the U.S Army. Not a lot of Japanese Americans chose to enlist but the ones that did enlist were apart of 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team.
o “Fighting for Democracy”
o http://www.pbs.org/thewar/at_war_democracy_japanese_american.htm

Third Primary Source: The closure of the Japanese American internment camps and many years after. In 1944 about two years after signing Executive Order 9066, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the closure of the internment camps. The last internment camp was closed by the end of 1945. After the Japanese Americans got out of the internment camps, around 5,766 Nisei ultimately renounced their American citizenship. Over forty years later in 1987 U.S. House of Representatives formally apologized to the former evacuees and provided $1.2 billion as compensation.
• Two years after signing Executive Order 9066, Japanese Americans were finally becoming free. The last camp was closed in 1945.
o “Japanese American Internment Camps”
o http://www.bookrags.com/research/japanese-american-internment-camps-sjpc-02/
• It wasn’t until 1976 when our president Gerald Ford said the evacuation and internment camps was the wrong thing to do. It was no surprise that around 6,000 renounced their American citizenship after the way they were treated.
o “Japanese American Internment Camps”
o http://www.bookrags.com/research/japanese-american-internment-camps-sjpc-02/
• Later on in the late 1980’s the U.S House of Representatives formally apologized. They provided 1.2 billion dollars in compensation, but money doesn’t buy back two plus years of being in internment camps.
o “Japanese American Internment Camps”
o http://www.bookrags.com/research/japanese-american-internment-camps-sjpc-02/

Conclusion: Even though the U.S apologized and compensated 1.2 billion dollars to the Japanese Americans I still don’t know if I would accept their apology. Two years in internment camps with 300 plus people and poor conditions doesn’t seem like a great two years to live your life. Like I said money is nice but it doesn’t get two years of your life back. And the worst part of this whole period of time is that they were incarcerated by the way that they looked. Back then it probably was the right thing to do because of the affect that Pearl Harbor had on us Americans, but Japanese Americans were incarcerated for two years just based on how they were born. They couldn’t help it and they were judged right away and their rights were taken from them.
Primary Sources:
• This had a lot of information throughout about the three topics I talked about. Especially the after effects of the internment camps and the compensation given to the Japanese Americans after the camps were out.
o “Japanese American Internment Camps”
http://www.bookrags.com/research/japanese-american-internment-camps-sjpc-02/

• This was a book that I used a lot to talk about the conditions of the of the camps and how many people and how long they were there.
o “Captured: The Japanese internment of American civilians in the Philippines, 1941-1945”
http://books.google.com/books?id=OFKtPQHvFHsC&pg=PA208&lpg=PA208&dq=captured:+the+japanese+internment&source=bl&ots=ElIQ9Phxhe&sig=wnvNA8WqhQ0WJNOXTX34RrtOs0A&hl=en&sa=X&ei=__xyUMmUNu3KiAK8sYGIDg&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA

• This also had a lot of information about the three topics in my research project. It was very long and informational and went over a lot of things for the Japanese Americans and for people to be put in their shoes when reading everything they had to do.
o “Fighting for Democracy”
http://www.pbs.org/thewar/at_war_democracy_japanese_american.htm
Secondary Sources:
• This was used as a source to find some information on what the internment camps were like and how the Japanese Americans were treated.
o Japanese Internment
o http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1679.html
• This was used to figure out what exactly the Executive Order 9066 was and what it exactly did. It was pretty useful and well explained.
o “Executive Order 9066: The President Authorizes Japanese Relocation”
o http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5154/
• This had a lot of insight as to why the Japanese Americans were locked up for the way that they looked. It was a Japanese source and it really put it into perspective as to what the Japanese Americans went through during the camps.
o What does an American look like?”
o http://www.densho.org/causes/default.asp
Digital Reflection: When I first started this project I was kind of worried about researching Japanese Americans because whenever I watched the movie “Pearl Harbor” or read anything about Pearl Harbor I would always get angry with Japan. I did a lot of research on the Japanese Americans and what they all went through and during a two year period.
I learned quite a bit about the Japanese Americans and in the end it really made me feel bad for them. Like I said in my project before I do understand why us Americans put the Japanese in camps because we were trying to protect our country, but at the same time it was awful how we did it. We just took people based off of looks and we didn’t give them a chance. So in the end I gained a lot of respect for the Japanese Americans that went through the internment camps. I do think that they did deserve compensation but in the end it doesn’t fix what they had to go through and I think that we at least did the right thing and apologized and gave them compensation.
The fact that I picked this topic based off of me knowing a lot about Pearl Harbor turned out to be completely different than I thought it was going to be. I thought this topic would have a little to do with World War II but it really didn’t have much to do with that besides that Roosevelt said that one way to get out of camps was to serve in the U.S. Army. I learned a lot about the Japanese American culture and in the end it was good to learn about something that I initially had zero interest and never thought I would learn anything about.
Overall I liked this project but it was tough trying to find a lot of sources. Honestly I don’t know if I would be able to write fifteen to twenty pages on this topic. Using books instead of websites is a lot tougher because I am used to finding everything on the internet. So that limited me quite a bit when trying to find a lot of the information I was looking for. The nice thing about books though is that there usually isn’t too many liabilities like there are when using internet sources, so in a way I understand why we were supposed to find a lot of book sources. In the end it was a pretty good project having to use both books and other sources. Both have their limitations and liabilities but put them together and it should turn out to be a pretty reliable project with a lot of useful information.

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