- Term Papers and Free Essays

Japanese Internment Camps

Essay by   •  December 16, 2010  •  1,974 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,846 Views

Essay Preview: Japanese Internment Camps

Report this essay
Page 1 of 8

Japanese Internment Camps

The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Many Americans were afraid of another attack, so the state representatives pressured President Roosevelt to do something about the Japanese who were living in the United States at the time. President Roosevelt authorized the internment with Executive Order 9066 which allowed local military commanders to designate military areas as exclusion zones, from which any or all persons may be excluded. Twelve days later, this was used to declare that all people of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the entire Pacific coast. This included all of California and most of Oregon and Washington. Executive Order No. 966 does not mention detention of Japanese specifically, but was used exclusively against the Japanese. (Ferrante pg. 97)

Because of this order, 120,000 people of Japanese descent living in the U.S. were removed from their homes and placed in internment camps. The United States justified their action by claiming that there was a danger of those of Japanese descent spying for the Japanese. However more than two-thirds, approximately 62 percent, of those interned were American citizens and half of them were children. None had ever shown disloyalty to the nation. In some cases family members were separated and put in different camps. Only ten people were convicted of spying for the Japanese during the entire war and they were all white people. None of them were Japanese. Because of the wartime hysteria and prejudice, many Japanese people were forced to leave their homes and go to the intern camps. At the time of the evacuation, many of the evacuees disposed of their properties, especially their household goods, in quick sales that frequently involved heavy financial losses. They were given very little time to get their affairs in order. (Daniels, pg. 46)

However, the military officials were concerned about the loyalty of Japanese descendants. They were considered to be security risks. These concerns were based more on racial bias than on actual risk. There is a quote from the administrator of the internment program, Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt. He testified to congress that "I don't want any of them persons here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty. It makes no difference whether or not he is an American citizen, he is still 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." (Spicer pg.57) They also feared that the Japanese would sabotage the factories in the United States. They were also concerned about the safety of California's water systems, which they considered to be vulnerable.

The early years of internment were very harsh for the Japanese. They had to endure severe living conditions. "In them 30,000 families were living under overcrowded conditions, close surveillance, and with no knowledge of what would happen to them next." (Spicer pg. 61) However, conditions improved because the Japanese united with each other to make conditions better by forming an administration. Conditions in these camps through the early months were hard for the Japanese to adapt to. Upon moving into the internment camps, families were separated and some were sent into different detention centers. In addition to not being with family and loved ones, the Japanese were forced to live in overcrowded barracks. These barracks held between fourteen and sixteen rooms. Six to seven people were forced to live in a room the size for only two people. "Victims of war time hysteria, these people, two-thirds of whom were United States citizens, lived a bleak humiliating life in tar paper barracks behind barbed wire and under armed guard." (Yu, 1996) Most detention centers were not finished when the Japanese arrived. Some portions of the blocks were not complete. This left the Japanese vulnerable to the climate weather conditions. They also had no running water, no furniture, nothing to prepare food with, and no supplies to clean up with. This left the mess halls filthy. The mess halls were used as the bathroom, laundry room, and trash area all at once. "As families and individuals completed the process of being unloaded with their baggage from the buses, registering, and signing the forms of induction they found themselves in bare rooms about twenty feet square or in unpartitioned barracks." (Spicer pg. 72)

The weather and the location of the detention centers also made conditions harsh for the Japanese. The Japanese detention centers were all located on the West Coast. They were located in Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. In each of these states weather conditions varied drastically. Some detention centers were located in the mountains which contained cold, bitter, and snowy conditions. Some were in the desert that contained hot and humid conditions. Camps were placed in remote locations, which made it almost impossible for the Japanese to escape. (Spicer pg. 73)


Some of the Japenese who were forced to live in the camps did question their loyalty to the United Sates after they were forced to live in the camps. This is because the government had separated them from their families and friends, and had made them live in the camps. In fact, several pro-Japan groups started inside the camps. There were even a few demonstrations and riots.

The government gave everyone over the age of seventeen in the detention centers a survey. It only had two questions

1. Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered?

2. Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, to any other foreign government, power or organization?

When the government gave this questionnaire, only 6 percent answered that they would volunteer to serve in the Army. However, many responded that they would volunteer if they would have their rights restored to them, because they felt that it was unfair for them to have to fight for the freedoms that were being denied them. (Daniels, pg. 24)

Many did volunteer to serve. Some of them wanted to prove their loyalty to the United States. However, some felt that it was the only way for them to get out of the internment camps. They would rather volunteer for the Army than be stuck in a camp for the rest of the war. American soldiers of



Download as:   txt (11.6 Kb)   pdf (135.1 Kb)   docx (13.1 Kb)  
Continue for 7 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 12). Japanese Internment Camps. Retrieved 12, 2010, from

"Japanese Internment Camps" 12 2010. 2010. 12 2010 <>.

"Japanese Internment Camps.", 12 2010. Web. 12 2010. <>.

"Japanese Internment Camps." 12, 2010. Accessed 12, 2010.