· Executive Order 9066 singed by Roosevelt on 19 February 1942 forced 120,000 Japanese-ancestry persons into 10 internment camps [26,000 Japanese-Canadians were interned]
· they represented more than the population of the Five Civilized Indian Tribes who were moved to OK in the 19th century
· only Japanese-Americans on the West coast, NOT in HI, were interned!
· 66% were US citizens (Nisei)
· 33% were Japanese-born (Issei), who could not be US citizens
· US justification: “military necessity” — unsupported allegations of disloyalty
Many Germans and Italians were also interned, including US-born citizens and “aliens” (legal immigrants) of these two nationalities.
· 1880s US wanted cheap labor: Asian were imported
· by 1908, 135,000 Japanese had arrived
· Oriental Exclusion Proclamation (1907) limited Japanese immigration
· 1924, US prohibited Japanese immigration and barred those that had entered from becoming US citizens
· US lifted ban in 1952 Organization of Camps
· many camps built on Indian reservation lands
· US Supreme Court argued (7 to 2 vote) that camps were justified for military/security reasons
· guards called them “Japs”
· “interns” built, maintained all buildings, and produced their own food
· surrounding towns were hostile: Parker, AZ, barber shop sign: “Jap, keep out, you rat.”
· Chief of Police of Los Angeles, where 33% of Japanese-Americans lived, said:
“You have racial characteristics, that of being a Mongolian, which cannot be obliterated from these persons, regardless of how many generations are born in the US.”
· by 1944, 1,500 Japanese-American men from the camps volunteered for military service
· fighting in Italy for freedom that their parents and relatives did not have in USA
· very high casualty rates compared with other ethnic/racial groups
· one of the most heavily decorated units in US military history
1) Japanese-American themselves
· 6,000 young people renounced their US citizenship
· 5,000-8,000 returned to Japan after the war
2) Groups Supported Japanese-American Rights
· Socialist Party, especially its head, Norman Thomas
· American Friends Service Committee
· Workers Defense League
· Post War World Council
Restitution and Remembrance
1) 2 January 1945 US Supreme Court: ruled that detention camps were unconstitutional – yet in Hood River, OR, the American Legion erased the names of Nisei in the armed forces from the town’s Honor Roll
2) 1948 Truman signed “Japanese Evacuation Claims Act”– claims were made: $131 million; only $38 million was paid (used 1942 value of the dollar)
3) 1981 US Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians
· in 1988, US officially apologized in the Civil Liberties Act — first time in US history
· compensation: $20,000 (not taxes) for each living survivor of the camps (if dead, then their spouses or children)
· 60,000 former internees were entitled to payment when Reagan signed law (60,000 x $20,000 = $1.2 billion — the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund was authorized for $1.25 billion)
· no payment has been made yet: 16,000 are 70 years and older and are dying at 200/month
· in 1942 prices, estimated total lost in property and income: $2 billion
4) National Park Service Historic Site (established in 1992): Manzanar – Manzanar held 10,000 internees; 80% from southern CA – in the desert of the Owen Valley, CA
· Manzanar site today: – small cemetery with a monument – two stone guard houses built by internees – an auditorium – everything else gone of one square mile camp & 36 blocs of barracks · Park Service justification for park: “. . .reflection of America as a nation made up of diverse ethnic and racial groups. All of these groups, not just a chosen few, should be included in the story of our national heritage.” * now the salad bowl metaphor, and not the melting pot metaphor, is used
5) annual pilgrimage, especially large at the 50th anniversary of Manzanar in 1992, by Japanese-American and others to keep alive this injsutice.
6) war memorial in Washington, DC (established in 2001) for the Japanese-American soldiers who served in World War II while their parents were interned.
U.S. constitutional issues involved in the internment of Japanese-Americans:
due process — must be accused of a crime and have broken a law, before being charged.
innocent until proven guilty — not jump to conclusions about criminal behavior before due process has been completed.
upholding bill of rights — regardless of circumstances and the kinds of people involved.
upholding the equal protection clause of the U.S. constitution — fighting discrimination & racism individually; and in private & public institutions.