WWII–-75th ANNIVERSARY DISCUSSION--#31---FEBRUARY 1942


  • The internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II was the forced relocation and incarceration in camps in the interior of the country of between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry who lived on the Pacific coast. Sixty-two percent of the internees were United States citizens. These actions were ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt shortly after Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Japanese Americans were incarcerated based on local population concentrations and regional politics. More than 110,000 Japanese Americans, who mostly lived on the West Coast, were forced into interior camps, but in Hawaii, where the 150,000-plus Japanese Americans composed over one-third of the population, 1,200 to 1,800 were interned. The internment is considered to have resulted more from racism than from any security risk posed by Japanese Americans, as those who were as little as 1/16 Japanese and orphaned infants with “one drop of Japanese blood” could be placed in internment camps.

    Roosevelt authorized the deportation and incarceration with Executive Order 9066, issued February 19, 1942, which allowed regional military commanders to designate “military areas” from which “any or all persons may be excluded.” This power was used to declare that all people of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the entire West Coast, including all of California and much of Oregon, Washington and Arizona, except for those in government camps. Approximately 5,000 Japanese Americans voluntarily relocated outside the exclusion zone before March 1942, and some 5,500 community leaders arrested after the Pearl Harbor attack were already in custody. But, the majority of nearly 130,000 mainland Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated from their West Coast homes during the spring of 1942.

    The United States Census Bureau assisted the internment efforts by providing confidential neighborhood information on Japanese Americans. The Bureau denied its role for decades, but this was finally documented in 2007. In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the removal by ruling against Fred Korematsu’s appeal for violating an exclusion order. The Court limited its decision to the validity of the exclusion orders, avoiding the issue of the incarceration of U.S. citizens with no due process.

    In 1980, under mounting pressure from the Japanese American Citizens League and redress organizations, President Jimmy Carter opened an investigation to determine whether the decision to put Japanese Americans into internment camps had been justified by the government. He appointed the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) to investigate the camps. The Commission’s report, titled Personal Justice Denied, found little evidence of Japanese disloyalty at the time and, concluding the incarceration had been the product of racism, recommended that the government pay reparations to the survivors. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act, which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government and authorized a payment of $20,000 (equivalent to $40,500.84 in 2016) to each individual camp survivor. The legislation admitted that government actions were based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” The U.S. government eventually disbursed more than $1.6 billion (equivalent to $3,240,067,530 in 2016) in reparations to 82,219 Japanese Americans who had been interned and their heirs.

    Of 127,000 Japanese Americans living in the continental United States at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, 112,000 resided on the West Coast. About 80,000 were nisei (literal translation: “second generation”; American-born Japanese with U.S. citizenship) and sansei (“third generation”; the children of Nisei). The rest were issei (“first generation”, immigrants born in Japan who were ineligible for U.S. citizenship by U.S. law).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment_of_Japanese_Americans

    Considering what is going on in America today, and i am NOT looking for a discussion on today’s political situation mind you, do you guys agree with what America did 75 years ago with Japanese, German and Italian-Americans at that time?

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    @RJL518:

    Considering what is going on in America today, and i am NOT looking for a discussion on today’s political situation mind you, do you guys agree with what America did 75 years ago with Japanese, German and Italian-Americans at that time?

    Without getting into the highly charged question of “Considering what is going on in America today,” which is a subject that pertains to present-day politics rather than history, this should actually say “with what America did 75 years ago with Japanese-Americans at that time” because German-Americans and Italian-Americans were not interned – or to put it more bluntly thrown into concentration camps – during the war.  There’s a scene in the movie Midway in which the Charlton Heston character meets with the young Japanese girlfriend of his son, who like his dad is a naval aviator.  She and her parents have been interned, and at one point she turns to Heston and says angrily, “Damn it, I’m an American!  What makes us different from German-Americans or Italian-Americans”?  The Heston character, who has the decency to look embarrased, answers, “Pearl Harbor, I guess.”  Yes, that was part of the answer…put another part of the answer is that Japanese-Americans were much more visible as minorities in the U.S. than German-Americans and Italian-Americans, both of those latter groups being European rather than Asian.


  • @CWO:

    @RJL518:

    Considering what is going on in America today, and i am NOT looking for a discussion on today’s political situation mind you, do you guys agree with what America did 75 years ago with Japanese, German and Italian-Americans at that time?

    Without getting into the highly charged question of “Considering what is going on in America today,” which is a subject that pertains to present-day politics rather than history, this should actually say “with what America did 75 years ago with Japanese-Americans at that time” because German-Americans and Italian-Americans were not interned – or to put it more bluntly thrown into concentration camps – during the war.  There’s a scene in the movie Midway in which the Charlton Heston character meets with the young Japanese girlfriend of his son, who like his dad is a naval aviator.  She and her parents have been interned, and at one point she turns to Heston and says angrily, “Damn it, I’m an American!  What makes us different from German-Americans or Italian-Americans”?  The Heston character, who has the decency to look embarrased, answers, “Pearl Harbor, I guess.”  Yes, that was part of the answer…put another part of the answer is that Japanese-Americans were much more visible as minorities in the U.S. than German-Americans and Italian-Americans, both of those latter groups being European rather than Asian.

    It is false to assert that German-Americans and Italian-Americans were not interred. Those who’d immigrated to the U.S. from Italy or Germany were in many cases placed in concentration camps. (I saw a television documentary about this.) But it was apparently felt that assimilation was more possible for Germans and Italians than it was for Japanese. Someone of German or Italian blood who’d been born here would not be interred; whereas someone of Japanese blood who’d been born here might.

    Conditions in the concentration camps were bad. The inmates were thin. Not so thin as to be in danger of death. But still clearly malnourished. Given that the U.S. as a whole was not experiencing any sort of food shortage during the war, this failure to adequately feed the concentration camp inmates is a black mark upon our record; quite apart from the justice or injustice of interning these people in the first place.

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