The US Japanese Internment

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The Japanese internment in the United States was one of the most divisive and vilified crimes in history. The US government committed the deed in early 1942, during World War Two, when 110.000 people of Japanese descent were evacuated and interned. The relocation began when Japan launched a violent war, making Americans fearful of perceiving American Japanese who had lived in America for a long time and Japanese foreigners as enemies. Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, prompted the United States to enter World War Two. It was then that the Americans across the country developed anti-Japanese attitude and sentiments. The anger and frustrations by the Americans were directed to the innocent Japanese aliens and Japanese-Americans who had nothing connected with the attack. Subsequently, the US West Coast was dominated by the Japanese-Americans who were thought to aid the invasion by the Japanese military forces (Cohen et al. 198). Therefore, due to the panic and fear of another attack, the Japanese Americans had to be isolated and put in well-guarded camps. The event sparked fear, racial animosity, and uncertainty and it was termed as an episode of national embarrassment to a state like America.

The act caught public and international concern, intervention, and anti-racial plan. It was due to the emotionally divisive torment that the Japanese-American internment caused to thousands of innocent people during the War. Therefore, the magnitude of the controversial historic event led to a mega debate about the disposition of the War to detainees (internees). The internees suffered without any constitutional rights like speedy trial and habeas corpus accorded to them. However, the controversial event seemed to attract support and discontent from the political analysts who argued both sides of the event. The government of the US lifted the Executive Order 9066 on January 2, 1945 as time and pressure on the constitutional rights of the internees increased. The Japanese Americans were allowed to move freely back to their homes and visit any place they wanted. Following the messes and the losses caused on them, the American government through the American Japanese Claims Act, compensated all surviving internee with $20.000. The significance drawn from the event was not merely a historic analysis; however, more could be learnt from the 1942-1945 internment.

The present research was aimed at examining critically the US Japanese internment during the World War II. In this context, the historic event was analyzed and different views held by a number of scholars were unraveled. Furthermore, the correct sources, which best explained the event, were argued out.

Literature Review of the Sources

Considering the research, a number of scholars held different views about the controversial event – the US Japanese internment during the World War II. The significance and shortcoming of the historic event was a point of concern in today’s historical study. Consequently, a myriad source of information was currently examined to justify the occurrence of the event. The stand of each scholar justified the real controversy that had spark endless arguments in the historic event. Through secondary sources, information by scholars would have aided in meeting the demands, objective, and the hypothesis of the research. The secondary sources contained the information that scholars in the field of study analyzed giving a concrete evidence and information as per their philosophy about the study. The sources showed reasons for and against the occurrence of the historic events in the US.

According to Cohen et al. (208), the internment was geared by forces of racism and not issues pertaining national security as a core-motivating factor. The authors also claimed that, the Pacific Coast was the major place inhabited by the Japanese Americans for a number of years. Therefore, hostility and white racial prejudice had existed a number of decades before the beginning of the World War II. The influx of the more than 90% of the Japanese immigrants in the 20th century to the Pacific Coast warranted them to be viewed as racially inferior. Such treatment bred the discriminatory laws that existed over a period of time, such as the 1905 California Anti -Miscegenation Law. The law restricted marriage between the Caucasians and Mongolians (the Chinese and Japanese). Moreover, the 1906 San Francisco Law that made it mandatory for the Japanese and Chinese students to attend their own segregated schools and hence not allow to mingle with the white American students. It was followed by the Oriental Exclusion Law that was passed by the Congresses in the year of 1924 after being compelled by the West Coast legislators. The law restricted the Japanese from obtaining the US citizenship and therefore they stayed up to 1941 when they were still not US citizens. Considering all these, it was clear that, racial prejudice was the core reason for the relocation of the Japanese Americans and not the national security concerns.

In addition to that, Kinoshita (16) suggested that, the Executive Order 9066 was a great violation of the ‘constitutionally protected rights’ of the Japanese Americans (71.000) who were among the 100,000 relocated. The 71.000 who were American citizens were deprived freedom of movement, which was against the provision of the Fourteenth Amendment. It was a clear evidence of the Constitution breach, since the target was only the people with the Japanese ancestry. However, the law would have been unbiased, if justice was accorded to the internees especially by giving them speedy trial or considering the Japanese Americans who had the right of being American citizens as per the law. Disorganizing and denying them their right in the name of restoring national security was inhuman and they did not deserve that type of treatment.

Furthermore, the Japanese Americans suffered immense and unnecessary hardship especially due to short evacuation notice. The notice demanded them to be in collection centers within hours to be transported to the camps. The torture in terms of restriction on what to carry, short notice, and loss of personal property especially the Japanese farmers were unbearable. For instance, most of them were only allowed to carry cloths in simple bags. Subsequently, majority of the people left important goods that were worth thousands of dollars. Although the US government made efforts in ensuring the properties were put to store, many of the items were looted and destroyed. Furthermore, evacuation was severely affected women and children, since they were forcefully exited from their homes without proper plan and taken to the internment camps. Generally, the deplorable camps were in poor conditions, since they were established in remote places that belonged to the Indian reservations. The weather conditions were unbearable than those for the Pacific Coast, hence, the cold conditions with poor beddings and clothing were a big problem for the survival of the internees.

Physical and emotional distress was one of the challenges experienced by the internees as per Bush (37). According to this source, the armed guards kept the internees on toes and they could shot any person who went outside the camp. Such torture and poor medical conditions led to death of a number of internees. The drugs and the medical personnel were harsh on the internees as they treated them with a racial and open-enmity kind of attitude. It was the worst moments for Japanese Americans. Dillon S. Meyer, the camp administrator reported in 1945 that, immense emotional distress, depression, and helplessness affected the internees (Bush 43). That kind of feeling was not worth any form of compensation, since it psychologically affected the internees and such traumatic experience demanded medical attention (psychiatry). Hence, depriving the internee’s liberty, education, and economic opportunities was the core repercussion.

On the contrary, Reeves (51) suggested that, at the time the internees were evacuated from the Pacific Coast, the event seemed timely and such a step was worth undertaking. The state of security by then was a threat to the US Pacific Coast. This was because after the Japanese attacked the Pearl Harbor, the next vulnerable place was the Pacific Coast. The security and the presence of the Japanese Americans at that place would easily be an avenue for Japan to launch another mega attack by 1941. It was evident that four days after President Roosevelt had signed the Executive Order 9066, a Japanese Submarine was sighted at the Coast of Goleta, California. Consequently, it led to panic and the FBI and US military were directed by the President to round up the Japanese interns. In addition, other than the security of the nation, the event was aimed at protecting the Japanese Americans from the harsh treatment and racial segregation that existed before the break of the war. As a result, if the Japanese Americans were allowed to stay, the hatred and hostility against them would have intensified. The anticipated riots, violence, and chaos would have been sparked by the attack and it would have been directed towards the Japanese Americans. Therefore, it would save the Japanese from the injuries and death that would occur as a result of the war and hostility towards them.

Gitlin (22-27) viewed the act as a sacrifice for the war attempt. During the World War II, all Americans were needed to make sacrifices in bid to aid the war effort. It included the sacrifices, which were made by thousands of American military soldiers who died during the War. There was rationing of basic substances like food and gasoline and dislocation of the American population. Therefore, the relocation of the Japanese Americans was not severe as compared to the majority of the American soldiers and the entire population who were affected during the War. The source also suggested that, the act was a historical precedence, especially for President Roosevelt not to follow the law (habeas corpus, for 71.000 Japanese Americans born in America). Such a case existed during the time of President Abraham Lincoln during a period of the War that was a threat to the country by arresting and detaining without trial thousands of suspects. Despite the court refusing to affirm President Lincoln’s Order, he ignored it. However, the case of Executive Order 9066, the Supreme Court affirmed it and President Roosevelt had his way to execute the Order.

Furthermore, Ng (19) in his source suggested that, the event led to more freedom experienced by the Japanese Americans in the US especially after the exclusion order was lifted up in 1945. The Japanese Americans had the freedom to move out of the camp and any place in the US. Most of them were given chances to go back to their countries by the US government. In addition, the majority were allowed to work, attain education on the American colleges and universities, and own property in the US as they wished. It was the greatest freedom they ever enjoyed in the US, which was not the case before the internment.

Synthetic Analysis of the Conversation of the Texts (Sources)

Considering the source discussed about the US Japanese internment during the World War II, different scholars held a number of philosophies, which tried to seal the gap between the controversies. The scholars evidently supported their sources either for or against the event. Cohen et al., Kinoshita, and Bush in their argument supported the fact that the US Japanese internment was completely out of the Order. Each of them in their sources clarified why it was an act of a racial segregation and not a matter of national security for the Japanese Americans to be forced to leave the West Coast and taken to the isolated camps. For instance, Bush and Kinoshita clearly articulated that, there was maximum violation of the rights of the Japanese Americans as per the US Constitution, which supported the rights to freedom, property, and liberty. The US Japanese were American citizens, since they were born and lived in the US for some time. Therefore, it was unconstitutional to evacuate them from their places of residents to confined camps. In addition, the conditions in which they were subjected were of severe tortures. The majority of the internees were shot by the military guards, some died due to sickness, and poor weather conditions. Overall, the event had wrong intensions from the word go, since it was just ignited by the War. It had existed sometime back as Jones (10) called it hypocrisy of the US government in his book, The Hypocrisy of Japanese Internment. It was also supported by Gentry (16) when he suggested that the American government was hiding behind the wars to undertake the action of the Japanese American Internment.

On the other hand, the authors Reeves, Gitlin, and Ng supported the US Japanese internment event and considered it worth to have occurred. Myriad reasons deemed it necessary to have the event occurred, since the security of many Americans and the entire population were of concern than a few Japanese Americans (Gitlin 45). In addition, the chaos and the hatred towards the Japanese Americans by the white Americans could only be mitigated by having the US Japanese internment. Subsequently, the Japanese Americans had to be put in well-guarded camps to avoid being attacked by the Americans who were resented by the Japanese attack. The consequential freedom attained after the exclusion order was another justification of the author Ng (27). The Japanese Americans achieved maximum freedom and the rights to access whatever they wanted in the United States. For instance, proper medication, school, jobs, and free visas backed to their countries for those who opted. From the sources used and argued by the authors, it was clear that two sides had competing views.

The Source that Accurately Explains the Event

The analysis of the sources gave the magnitude of truth about the event in context. Therefore, it was worthwhile to show the objective and achievement of the controversial historical event that still found way in the current generation. Furthermore, the author Reeves in his book The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II clearly explained the event and argued out the reasons as to why it was worth occurring. From the security of the US Pacific Coast to the general security of the US, the President’s Roosevelt Executive Order 9066 was the best for that time. The country was insecure and in a state of turmoil, and the only solution was to put to camp the potential population that could have accelerated the attacks in the region. Furthermore, Japan would have succeeded to use her own population to launch deadly attacks to the US if the US Japanese were free to interact with the outside world (Bush 53). The loophole had to be sealed for the rest of the population to be safe. In addition, it was aimed at protecting the Japanese Americans from being mistakenly attacked and severely beaten by the whites who were in a state of panic by then. They could divert their attention to revenging on the innocent Japanese ancestry people instead of blaming the Japanese government who had launched the attack. The source therefore explained the course through justification of the US Japanese internment and the significance of its occurrence.


To conclude, the occurrence of the US Japanese interment, though it received much condemnation from a number of scholars, was a blessing in disguise. According to the scholars who were arguing for the internment, the occurrence of the event was for the entire countries’ security and not for a single place. It was therefore a sound to put the interest of the nation’s security above that of a few individuals. Moreover, if the freedom of a number of individuals would be a threat to the peace of the country, then it was prudent to have their rights sacrificed for the sake of peace and security. Despite the pain and the consequences of the interment, I fully supported the occurrence of the event because the positive side outweighed the negative side.

Works Cited

Bush, Elizabeth. “Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience during World War II by Albert Marrin”. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, no. 70(2), 2016, pp. 83, Accessed Oct. 2016.

Cohen, Lauren, Gurun, Umit G., & Malloy, Christopher. “Resident Networks and Corporate Connections: Evidence from World War II Internment Camps”. The Journal of Finance, no. 72(1), 2017, pp. 207-248, Accessed 12 Jan. 2017.

Gitlin, Martin. World War II US Homefront: A History Perspectives Book. Cherry Lake Publishing, 2014.

Gentry, Melissa. The Japanese American Internment Camps Map., 2016, Accessed 11 May 2016.

Jones, Khyri. The Hypocrisy of Japanese Internment. Oral Presentations,, 2016, Accessed 13 Mar. 2016.

Kinoshita, Lisa M. The Japanese Internment during World War II and the Second-Generation Nisei: An Examination of their Past and Present Coping and Adjustment. Dissertation, Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, 2002, pp. 1583-1583.

Ng, Wendy L. Japanese American Internment during World War II: A History and Reference Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002.

Reeves, Richard. Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II. Henry Holt and Company, 2015.

May 17, 2023

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