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Japanese-American Internment Camps During Wwi

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We think of Franklin D. Roosevelt as one of our greatest presidents. We see Roosevelt as the president that helped the American people regain faith in themselves, especially at the depth of the great Depression. They say he brought hope as he promised prompt, vigorous action after asserting this statement, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But no one looks back to notice Roosevelt to be the president who signed an executive order to condemn, and relocate all Japanese Americans living along the West Coast to internment camps. Roosevelt signed the Japanese Americans off to be personally humiliated and in some cases, to die. During this time of World War II the Japanese Americans were not protected when they were put into the internment camps, and they were left to fight against the racial discrimination that fell upon them that caused all their pain and suffering.

By all means, Roosevelt was a great president, but his flaws and mistakes should always be pointed out too, along with his wonderful achievements and accomplishments. So in conclusion of Roosevelt, one of his biggest mistakes as president was issuing the Executive Order 9066 after the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This act was based on ethnicity, which permitted the military to bypass the constitutional safeguards of American citizens in the name of national defense. So the U.S. government forced more than 120,000 Japanese Americans to leave their homes, businesses, schools, and, in some cases, family members due to separation during the relocation process. The order included all peoples of Japanese ancestry. More than two thirds of them were U.S. citizens who were put into the internment camps and half of them were children. They were all detained up to four years, 1942-1945. This was one of the first acts in the U.S. that started to raise questions about the rights of American citizens as embodied in the first ten amendments to the Constitution. To justify their action, the U.S. claimed that there was a danger of those of Japanese descent, a danger of them spying for the Japanese. None of the internees were ever accused of disloyalty to their country, that they were now lived in and supported. During the entire war around maybe ten people were ever convicted of the crime spying, and all those people happened to be white Caucasians.

While being relocated, the internees were only allowed to bring a few possessions with them, so this made life living in the internment camps hard. In most cases the internees were only given 48 hours to evacuate their homes.

“It was really cruel and harsh. To pack and evacuate in forty-eight hours was an impossibility. Seeing mothers completely bewildered with children crying from want, and peddlers taking advantage and offering prices next to robbery made me feel like murdering those responsible, without the slightest compunction in my heart.” Joseph Yoshisuke Kurihara speaking of the Terminal Island evacuation.

When the Japanese arrived at the “War Relocation Camps,” they were forced to live behind barbed wire while under the surveillance of armed guards. The internment camps were very bleak and were located in very remote locations. The internees taken to the internment camps in the desert areas had to cope with extreme heat and temperatures. Some suffered from high levels of emotional stress, or some just died from inadequate medical care.

Across the water of the Pacific Ocean on the Islands of Hawaii, the territory contained the nation’s largest concentration of Japanese Americans because 37% of the total population was of Japanese decent. This is more than 150,000 Hawaiians, but the Japanese remained an essential part of the island’s workforce as the U.S. prepared for war, because the Japanese specifically came to Hawaii to search for job opportunities at the sugar plantations. So the Hawaiians of Japanese decent carried an extreme importance in the territory’s economy working the sugar plantations, and with them living in a very small white populated area the Japanese Americans in Hawaii didn’t endure the same act of harsh racism as their Japanese brothers on the U.S. West Coast. With less white Caucasian people, and more people of Asian heritage the Japanese Americans living in Hawaii were technically a part of the majority, so they had it way easier, especially when civilians, military authorities, and newspapers didn’t spread false rumors about the Japanese Americans to sabotage their lives. The Japanese American internment camps so much different, so being so much farther away from the rest of the country really made a difference for the state of Hawaii.

During World War II, the Japanese American incarceration was due to the combination of Asian racial discrimination history throughout many years. It began when the Chinese people first started to migrate to the U.S. in the 1800s. In the beginning, much like the Chinese, the Japanese were seen as a source of cheap labor, so they were welcomed with open arms into the U.S. They were soon prime targets of anti-Asian campaigns because of being a source of cheap labor. They also soon became the owners of many small businesses and farms. Soon, in the early 1900s, discriminatory laws were passed hat denied the Japanese the right to become an actual U.S. citizen. To add onto that, they didn’t have the right to own their own land and they didn’t have the right to marry outside their own race. Also, they couldn’t be employed to certain jobs, and they were not allowed to buy a house anywhere they pleased. Even the children were punished, because some could only go to a segregated school. Then finally, in 1924, immigration of Japanese people from Japan was completely stopped. As we all know, the U.S. during the 1930s acquired very small tolerance towards people of color. At least, most of the U.S. as a whole country didn’t fancy the people of darker skinned color. Racism pretty much prevented the Japanese from living wherever they wanted, and working wherever they chose. Native Americans even lived in poverty on their reservations.

The internment camps were never made to hold as many internees as they did. Many camps would crowd two-thousand more internees into a space than it would generally hold, and many camps made the internees live in space made only for four people, and they would pour up to twenty-five internees into these tiny spaces. Some internment camps were located in the desert, and the climate and weather in these areas were not suitable living areas for internment camps. Temperatures would reach as low as thirty-five degrees below zero during the winter, and one-hundred and fifteen degrees during the summer, along with the discomfort of wildfires



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