Japanese Internment - George Washington High School
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Japanese Internment During World War II
A Comparison of U.S. & Canadian Internment Policy
Historical Context • Japanese immigration to the U.S. and Canada began in the 1860s and saw the greatest influx from 1900-1920 • U.S. Japanese immigrants settled in California, Washington, and Oregon. 90% in California. Most made their living in farming. • In 1941, approximately 110,000 Japanese nationals lived in states along the Pacific. 150,000 lived in Hawaii. 62% were American citizens • Canadian Japanese immigrants settled in British Columbia making their living in fishing. • 1941, 22,000 Japanese nationals lived in British Columbia. Over 70% were Canadian citizens.
Racial Tension in the U.S. • Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor anti-Japanese (Chinese, Korean) sentiment grew as the immigrant population increased. For example: • U.S., Asiatic Exclusion Leagues form to prevent Asians from joining labor unions • Webb-Haney Act (1913), state law denying Asians the right to own land in California.
Racial Tensions in the US • U.S. Supreme Court rules in Takeo Ozawa v. U.S. that naturalization is limited to "free white persons and aliens of African nativity,“ i.e. not Asians. • Congress passes Cable Act (1922). “…any woman marrying an alien ineligible for citizenship shall cease to be an American citizen.” Repealed in 1932. • Congress passes Immigration Exclusion Act (1924), barring all immigration from Japan
Racial Tension in Canada • Canadian election of 1935 was marked by anti-Japanese smears, some candidates recommending forcing Japanese into ghettos like German Jews. • Some believed that Japanese rural and coastal patterns of settlement was proof that they were part of a Fifth Column of spies and saboteurs placed strategically to aid in a possible invasion.
A fifth column is a group of people who undermine a larger group such as a nation from within.
Racial Tensions in Canada • British Columbia began limiting the number of fishing licenses issued to Japanese • Prime Minister McKenzie King did nothing to halt the rising discrimination. A clue to King’s feelings toward Japanese is quoted in his diary: – "It is fortunate that the use of the bomb should have been upon the Japanese rather than upon the white races of Europe." • Canadian Nisei were not allowed to vote in 1941
Internment in the U.S.
Los Angeles, Santa Fe Station, 1942
• Those of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast were to be relocated. • Internment refers to the forced imprisonment and relocation of a group of people.
People Sent to Internment Camps • 62% of the people relocated were Nisei, American-born with Japanese heritage, and Sansei, the children of the Nisei. They were American citizens. • The rest (38%) were Issei, the Japaneseborn immigrants.
FBI Roundups • December 7th, 1941, Pearl Harbor attacked • Dec. 8th, Congress declares war on Japan. FBI arrests 736 Japanese nationals as security risks • Dec 11th- 2000 prominent Issei in Hawaii and are imprisoned by the U.S. government
Pre-9066 Actions • Lt. General John DeWitt, head of the Western Command, requested approval to conduct search and seizure operations to prevent alien Japanese from making radio transmissions to Japanese ships • Department of Justice required probable cause & warrants
Lt. General John DeWitt • In congressional testimony, DeWitt “I don't want any of them [persons of Japanese ancestry] here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty... It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty... But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map.”
Executive Order 9066 • Signed by FDR on Feb.19, 1942, allowed authorized military commanders to designate "military areas" at their discretion, as "exclusion zones” • Exclusion was applicable to anyone that a military commander might choose, citizen or non-citizen
U.S. Internment Camps
Post-9066 March 1942: • Executive Order 9095 created the Office of the Alien Property Custodian, giving it authority over all alien property. • Public Proclamation No.3 declares an 8 pm to 6 am curfew for "all enemy aliens and persons of Japanese ancestry" in military areas. May 1942: • DeWitt issued Civilian Exclusion Order No. 346, ordering all people of Japanese ancestry, citizens or non-citizens, to report to assembly centers, where they would live until being moved to permanent "Relocation Centers."
FDR’s Decision • In spite of the FBI reports that found no evidence of Japanese disloyalty, FDR issued 9066 knowing that it would lead to internment. Why? • In his book By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans, Prof. of History Greg Robinson argues – FDR had “unenlightened views of the Japanese” seeing them as Japanese first, then American & shared the anti-Japanese prejudices of his age and class. – FDR was content to leave the “Japanese question” to Lt. Gen. DeWitt
• In, Magic: The Untold Story of US Intelligence and the Evacuation of Japanese Residents From the West Coast During World War II, former Assistant Director of the NSA, David Lowman argues – FDR agreed to remove the Japanese from the Pacific Coast to avoid the possibility of charging anyone with espionage because, an espionage trial would require that the government disclose evidence, i.e. that they intercepted and broken Japanese naval coded transmissions.
• Greed and Racism among California farmers – “White farmers can take over and produce everything the Jap grows. We don’t want them back after the war either.” Austin Ansen, head of the Salinas Growers Association
Internment in Canada
R.C.N. officer confiscating the boat of a Japanese-Canadian fishermen, 1942
Confiscation of Vessels
Boats corralled at mouth of the Fraser river
• Within hours of the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese also invaded Hong Kong (part of the British Commonwealth) • Municipal governments & newspapers in British Colombia called for the internment JapaneseCanadians. • In spite of Canadian military assurances to the contrary, the public believed fishermen were mapping the coastline for Japanese Navy. • Japanese fishing boats were first confined to port, & eventually, the Canadian Navy seized 1,200 vessels.
Internment of Japanese Men
• Jan.1942, a 100 mile exclusion zone was established along the B.C. coastline. • All men of Japanese descent ages 18-45 were removed from the zone and taken to road camps in the British Columbian interior, to sugar beet projects on the Prairies, or to internment in a POW camp in Ontario. • Canadian Pacific Railroad & other business fired Japanese employees. • The Canadian government spent 1/3 of $ on internees than the U.S.
War Measures Act ‘42 • February 24, 1942 the War Measures Act gave the federal government the power to intern all "persons of Japanese racial origin." • Under Canadian "Custodian of Aliens" the government sold the possessions of Japanese Canadians without the owners' permission. – Auctioned off items, ranging from farm land, houses possessions sold at prices below market value. – Funds raised went towards the fees of realtors and auctioneers, and storage/handling charges, and Japanese owners rarely received much income from the sales.
Canadian Internment Camps
King’s Decision • In spite of assurances that there was no evidence of Japanese disloyalty or Fifth Column activity, King made no attempt to stop relocation via the War Measures Act. Why? • In her book, The Politics of Racism: The Uprooting of Japanese Canadians During World War Two, Ann Sunahara describes Prime Minister King – King was an astute politician who often changed positions to suit popular opinion. Thus he was swayed by the unfounded paranoia from B.C. & the racism of west coast politicians – In a quote to Vancouver Sun MacKenzie declared "It is the government’s plan to get these people out of B.C. as fast as possible. It is my personal intention, as long as I remain in public life, to see they never come back here. Let our slogan be for British Columbia: ‘No Japs from the Rockies to the seas.”
Life in the Camps
WRA Relocation Center Manzanar, California
U.S. Facilities • War Relocation Authority (WRA) directed by Milton Eisenhower managed the ‘Relocation Centers.. Largest at Tule Lake, California held over 18,000. The most distant facilities were in Rohwer & Jerome Arkansas • The Department of Justice operated ‘internment camps (aka detention centers’) which held those suspected of Japanese sympathies, causing trouble at relocation centers, or Japanese nationals rounded up and turned over to the U.S. by governments in Latin America (ex. Peru, Bolivia and Guatemala)
• Eventually 120,000 Japanese were settled into 10 War Relocation Centers. 2/3 were American citizens. In the largest forced migration in U.S. history • Internees were housed in "tar paper-covered barracks of simple frame construction without plumbing or cooking facilities of any kind. Facilities met the requirements of Geneva Convention for POWs. • Based on designs for military barracks, most of the buildings were poorly equipped for cramped family living. • Heart Mountain War Relocation Center in Wyoming (above) was a barbed-wire-surrounded enclave with unpartitioned toilets, cots for beds, and a budget of 45 cents daily per capita for food rations.
Life in Internment Camps • "In the detention centers, families lived in substandard housing, had inadequate nutrition and health care, and had their livelihoods destroyed: many continued to suffer psychologically long after their release" - "Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians"
• "In desert camps, the evacuees met severe extremes of temperature. In winter it reached 35 degrees below zero, and summer brought temperatures as high as 115 degrees. Rattlesnakes and desert wildlife added danger to discomfort." - Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians.
Life in Manzanar
Photos taken by Ansel Adams (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage)
U.S. Facilities • Armed guards were posted at the camps, which were all in remote, desolate areas far from population centers. • Internees were typically allowed to stay with their families, and were treated well unless they violated the rules. • Some camp commanders were very lenient with security
• The phrase shikita ga nai (translated as "it cannot be helped") was commonly used to summarize the interned families' resignation to their current condition. Most internees cooperated to prove loyalty to the U.S. • Internees were encouraged to form civic organizations within the camps and given responsibility to manage their communities. • Activties like baseball leagues, traditional holiday celebrations like Shogatsu (New Year) were allowed in most of the camps that housed families. Camp Manzanar California
Internment Ends •
December 18 Korematsu v U.S.: the U.S. Supreme Court rules that one group of citizens may be singled out and expelled from their homes and imprisoned for several years without trial, based solely on their ancestry.
December 18 In ex parte Endo, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that WRA has no authority to detain a "concededly loyal" American citizen.
• The Japanese Americans were given $25 and a free ticket for a train ride back to their homes. • Some migrated back to Japan, but most stayed to rebuild their lives.
Aftermath and Compensation of Internment • Although compensation was paid for property losses, the ex-internees were still not able to fully recover their losses. • Young Americans started the Redress Movement in 1960 for an apology. • The Manzanar Camp was reformed into a National Historic Site to “provide for the protection and interpretation of historic, cultural, and natural resources associated with the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II”
Civil Liberties Act • In 1988, Under President Reagan, Congress implemented the Civil Liberties Act, apologizing on behalf of the nation for the "grave injustice" done to persons of Japanese ancestry. • Congress declared that the internments had been "motivated largely by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership" and authorized $20,000 payments to Japanese Americans who had suffered injustices during World War II.
Was the United States Government Justified in Interning Japanese-Americans in 1942?
• Arguments Supporting Internment: • The United States was suddenly attacked by Japan. • These people’s presence on the West Coast was a “Clear and Present Danger” to the nation’s security. • The President as Commander and Chief has the Constitutional power and responsibility to defend the nation. • Citizens may not have all their civil liberties in wartime. • It was generally believed that Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor was made possible with help of ethnic Japanese. • It is not useful to judge the events of that time with the knowledge we have today.
• Arguments Against Internment The evacuation of the Nisei was motivated by racial prejudice. No evidence was ever uncovered that these citizens were involved in espionage as a group. Executive order 9066 took away the citizenship of an entire group of people. German and Italian Americans were not relocated. These people were denied due process guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.