Japanese American Incarceration Essay

1885 Words 8 Pages
The Incarceration of Japanese Americans is widely regarded as one of the biggest breaches of civil rights in American History. Incarceration evolved from deep-seated anti-Japanese sentiment in the West Coast of the United States. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, pressure from the military leadership, politicians, media and nativist groups in the West Coast eventually convinced the President Franklin Roosevelt that action had to be taken to deal with the national security “threat” that Japanese Americans posed. In reality, Japanese Americans were no real threat to the United States, but the racist sentiments against them prevailed and greatly influenced United States policy during the war.
When discussing
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government officials, including President Roosevelt. Prior to World War II concentration camp was used to simply describe prison camps outside of the normal judicial system; however, in light of the atrocities committed in Nazi concentration camps, the term has garnered an association with horrific abuses. In contrast, the term “prison camp”
There is also debate over the term Japanese American. Due to racial based immigration laws, first generation Japanese immigrants, also known as Issei, were aliens ineligible for U.S. citizenship. Had these laws not been in place, it is reasonable to assume that nearly all of the Issei would have sought U.S. citizenship. However, their children, the second generation, or Nisei, were U.S. citizens by birth. Because of these racially based laws and because Issei were later granted citizenship, it seems more appropriate to refer to these immigrants as Japanese Americans than true Japanese nationals.

When examining Japanese American Incarceration, it is valuable to examine the history of Japanese immigration to the United States. In 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry forced the Japanese to open their ports to the United States under threat of bombardment. In 1868, after overthrowing the shogun, Japan’s new government began to focus on modernizing the nation after centuries of isolation.