Internment of Japanese Americans in World War II Essay

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On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into World War II (Prange et al., 1981: p.174). On February 19, 1942, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 authorizing the Secretary of War and Military Commanders to prescribe areas of land as excludable military zones (Roosevelt, 1942). Effectively, this order sanctioned the identification, deportation, and internment of innocent Japanese Americans in War Relocation Camps across the western half of the United States. During the spring and summer of 1942, it is estimated that almost 120,000 Japanese Americans were relocated from their homes along the West Coast and in Hawaii and …show more content…
officials eventually began to recruit these internees into the American army. Not only was WWII a war about political alliances and geographical sovereignty, but it was also a war about race and racial superiority throughout the world. Propagating this idea, Dower (1986) argues, “World War Two contributed immeasurably not only to a sharpened awareness of racism within the United States, but also to more radical demands and militant tactics on the part of the victims of discrimination” (War Without Mercy: p.5). In elucidating the racial motivations and fallout from WWII, Dower helps one realize the critical role that race and racial politics played during the war and are still at play in our contemporary world. An analysis of this internment process reveals how the ultimate goal of the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans and the United States’ subsequent occupation of Japan was to essentially “brainwash” the Japanese race into demonstrating allegiance to America.
Startled by the surprise attack on their naval base at Pearl Harbor and anxious about a full-fledged Japanese attack on the United States’ West Coast, American government officials targeted all people of Japanese descent, regardless of their citizenship status, occupation, or demonstrated loyalty to the US. As my grandfather—Frank Matsuura, a nisei born in Los Angeles, California and interned in the Granada War Relocation Center (Camp Amache)—often…